Hey everyone, Jimmy with JimsReviewRoom. Testing truly wireless earphones last year, they’re slowly getting better in my opinion, and I think they’re starting to gain traction. I’ve been seeing more people wearing Apple Airpods for example when I’m at the airport traveling. Let me know in the comment section below if you’re seeing Truly Wireless Earphones more often – I personally want to gauge and see if there’s a demand for these in 2018. With that being said, I personally bought these Samsung Icon X 2018 edition. These are refreshed and updated coming in with a price tag of $199. As always, I’ll place my affiliate links up above. Click on those links and they’ll give you the most updated prices in real time. You never know when these things might go on sale.
Going over the physical features, the new IconX’s are hard plastic with three size earwings and ear tips. Although they’re in-ear earphones, they’re very lightweight and very comfortable. One of the biggest features that I’m relieved but excited to show, they have a low-profile unlike many of the other competitors on the market. Because they go inside the ear canal, the Icon X’s offer passive noise isolation, letting these earphones block out outside, environmental noises. For reference, the Apple Airpods sit more so on the outside of the ear canal and you can generally hear your surroundings. It’s a matter of preference on which you would prefer.
Touching base on how well these stay in, the earfins don’t feel to provide too much stability, but of course everyone’s ears are different, however on a positive note while testing, running, jogging, literally standing and shaking my head in front of you guys, they never fell out, the ear tips themselves does a great job of staying in. No question, these are stable.
WATER RESISTANCE – WITH A QUESTION?
The Icon X 2018 edition didn’t promote that there’s water resistance on their website or even their spec sheet at the time of this review. I called Samsung and the rep confirmed with his internal documents, the Icon X’s are indeed resistant against light water and sweat exposure. I did personally drench these, and while I don’t recommend this, after pouring water on these, the Icon’s are still working fine. A few other competitors offer better water protection against heavier water exposure. Samsung only offering very light water protection is good enough for most but I would have preferred better peace-of-mind.
BUTTONS & FEATURES
The Icon X provides sensitive and intuitive touch controls that are responsive – much easier than physical buttons compared to the competition. A gentle swipe on either earphone can adjust volume, tapping allows for skipping and going back on music… – all of the menu features should be on your screen. One of the features that is worth mentioning, the IconX like many other Truly Wireless earphones have Ambient Sound. Press and hold the Touchpad and the microphones activate, and it pumps your environmental surroundings into your ears. As I mentioned earlier, the Icon X does have passive noise isolation, but for runners, cyclists, even wearing them during your morning commute, the Ambient Sound feature is available for safety to ensure you’re not running into traffic or you can hear if someone is trying to sneak up behind you.
ON BOARD MUSIC KILLS THE COMPETITION!
One of the biggest reasons why you would consider buying the Icon X, you can store music right onto the earphones. I doubled checked and out of those 4gigs that are offered, 3.4gigs was actually available to use, and per Samsung, they’re claiming we can store up to 1000 songs. This means you don’t need to lug around your phone when you go on a run or… you can leave your phone back in the locker room and go into the gym carrying less. You can transfer your music with the supplied USB-C wire when plugged into your phone. It’s very easy to do and you can use a non-Samsung phone to do this. If not for your phone, you can transfer music from your PC as well.
Another positive to supplement this feature. If you’re exclusively using onboard mp3 files, the battery life on the 2018 Icon X’s is up to seven hours. If you’re using this exclusively with Bluetooth and having the earphones stream from your phone, Samsung is claiming up to 5hrs of battery life which is the upper end of average for Truly Wireless Earphones. With my test at 50% volume from a full battery to dead, I was able to achieve 5 hours and 3 minutes to be exact using this via Bluetooth.
And for those who are new to Truly Wireless Earphones that may believe up to 5 hours is not enough… if you think about it, 5hrs is more than most people’s commutes or workouts. When you get to the office or back into the car, you stow them away in the carrying case. The case itself works like a power bank recharging your Icons for the next time you use them. 10 minutes in the carrying case will give you an hour of audio if you’re ever in a crunch. The only downside with other competitors you get multiple recharges with the case. With Samsung, you’re only getting one full charge out of this. Not a big deal, it’s not going to prevent me from buying, but something I wanted you to be aware of.
Touching base on Bluetooth range and performance, the Icon’s are using Bluetooth 4.2, sadly no Bluetooth 5 considering their Samsung phones has the latest technology. But, Bluetooth 4.2 still performs exceptionally well. Testing this through several walls with my S8+, I was able to achieve 72 feet (21 meters) with two walls in between before the signal started to crackle.
HEALTH FEATURES AND BENEFITS
And right before I talk about audio, the last standout feature for the Icon X’s are the health benefits. Despite last year’s model not being accurate with a built-in heart rate monitor, I was hoping for Samsung to bring it back and improve on it. Unfortunately, with the 2018 version that we’re testing here, Samsung decided to get rid of it altogether. What makes a return though are audio prompts that you can set up to give you information on your run or workout. For runners who don’t want to whip out their phone to check their distance or speed and stay focused on the workout itself, you can set the Icon X’s at certain intervals to tell you audibly and automatically your duration, distance, calories burned and speed. That does sound great and I appreciate the feature, but keeping you guys informed, Strava, RunKeeper and similar running apps will offer audio prompts to any existing audio device. This is nothing special. Other than that, with no HR monitoring, I don’t see too much offered in this department.
Alright folks, to the audio test, the Icon X 2018 edition offers neutral and balanced bass when comparing to the competition. Bass is there with enough authority for most mainstream pop and rock music. On the positive side, it’s surely enough for most people and you’ll never hear them distort or become muddy and lose quality, but on the opposite end of the spectrum, I wasn’t experiencing a bass-boosted signature like the Jaybird Runs or the dimension and depth of bass you can get on the Bose Soundsport Frees. If you’re bass focused or enjoy a somewhat bassy sound signature, the Icon X’s either need to be tuned with an equalizer or you gotta look somewhere else.
The Mid-Range frequencies in audio is where most vocals and instruments are heard by the human ear and the Icon’s do a good job with offering again a very much neutral audio signature. It’s not recessed, not muffled yet… they’re not bright or forward. What you will experience is a clean signature, but it doesn’t sound as alive as I would have liked. Recently the B&O E8’s to Bose, and again Jaybird sounded more detailed and exciting, as though there was more color in the competition versus the Icons. It’s not bad, the Icon’s do sound good, but I have to acknowledge the new competitors on the block offers a bit more edge.
As for the high frequencies, it’s a very similar neutral experience as Samsung felt as though they played it safe. Nothing ear-ringing or ear tinging, and with Samsung, they’re very easy to listen to with minimal listening fatigue. As for soundstage, this might be where it’s actually lacking. I do achieve the left and right audio separation and some forefront and off to the side directional audio, but I wished they offered more depth and dimension. I do admit, the two that do better are more expensive, the B&O E8’s and Bose SoundSport Free specifically, but for Samsung at the $200 price range, the soundstage performed within reason.
It’s tough for me to say as I really like Samsung products and they usually provide stellar performance. The Icon X 2018 edition, they’re not bad at all and if you’re set on Samsung or the Icon X’s in general, it’s a good purchase, especially with the onboard storage, the low-profile comfortable earphones, and very intuitive touch controls. A lot of the competitors either fail or don’t even offer that. But I would say, if your top priority is the audio experience, the competitors offer a more vibrant, alive and expansive audio performance. So, folks, that’s it for this review. If you watched this far, be sure to show your support by following my social media handles. Again, I’m Jimmy and I’m here to help you make that purchase decision. You guys take care. I’ll see you on the next one.