Samsung Galaxy Buds vs. Icon X (2018): Should you upgrade?

Samsung Galaxy Buds
Samsung Galaxy Buds (Image credit: Android Central)

Samsung Galaxy Buds

The Galaxy Buds are likely what Samsung owners wanted from an AirPods killer. These headphones sport long battery life, a better equalizer, and who can ignore the wireless charging capabilities. One of the few downsides of these is the lack of onboard storage for music or podcasts.

Samsung Galaxy Buds

Hard to pass up

Longer battery life
Wireless charging
Better quick charging
Bluetooth 5.0
Less expensive
No onboard storage for music
Lack of workout detection
IPX2 water/dust resistance

Samsung Gear Icon X (2018)

When released, the Gear Icon X (2018) seemed to be a great follow up to the original Gear Icon X. However, in 2019, the only feature that could turn heads is the onboard storage, and maybe the automatic workout detection. Plus, being more expensive than the newer Galaxy Buds, it's a tough pill to swallow.

Samsung Gear Icon X (2018)

Better for workouts

IP67 water/dust resistance
4GB of onboard storage
Automatic/Manual workout detection
Limited to wired charging
Shorter battery life
Bluetooth 4.2
Limited Bixby control

Both of these headphones offer a great experience, but it's obvious that Samsung has been doing its homework while readying the Galaxy Buds.

The Galaxy vs the Icon

When Samsung released the Gear Icon X (2018), everyone was expecting to see a (much) slimmer version of the original Gear Icon X, and that just wasn't the case. Samsung believed in keeping the onboard storage as an option to set it apart from the competition.

That was all fine and dandy, but as evidenced by the Galaxy Buds, that wasn't as important of a feature as the company may have once thought. At the time, the Icon X (2018) had some extra goodies thrown in, including the fact that you could get an hour of playback with just 10 minutes of charging, along with the ability for your headphones to automatically (or manually) track workouts.

Now with the Galaxy Buds, the onboard storage has been removed, and there is no way for them to track your workouts without using your smartphone. However, just about every other aspect of the Galaxy Buds has been improved to really make these the de-facto choice for Samsung lovers, and Android users alike.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Samsung Galaxy BudsSamsung Gear Icon X (2018)
Battery Playback13 hours total10 hours total
Battery Talk Time11 hours total8 hours total
ChargingWired/WirelessWired Only
Quick Charging15 minutes = 1.7 hours10 minutes = 1 hour
Water ResistanceIPX2IP67
MicrophoneOne outer + one innerTwo outer
In-ear SensorIR + Accelerometer + ProximityIR Sensor
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.0Bluetooth 4.2
FeaturesAmbient Sound, Touch UXAmbient Sound, Touch UX
Built-in StorageN/A4GB
Charging Time120 minutes130 minutes
Samsung Health IntegrationN/AManual & Automatic Workouts

The biggest concern that folks may run into if they opt for the Galaxy Buds is the IPX2 water and dust resistance. This should be fine for some heavy workout sessions at the gym but may cause some issues if you tend to run in heavy rains. For that use-case, you may be better suited to opt for the Gear Icon X (2018) with its IP67 water and dust resistance.

What has many excited about the Galaxy Buds is the Bluetooth 5.0, wireless charging capabilities, and the fact that they are priced at just $129.99. This is a price cut of about $70 from the Gear Icon X (2018), which were released with a price of $199.99.

We would be remiss if we glanced over the wireless charging capabilities, as you can take advantage of PowerShare on your Galaxy S10 smartphone and charge your new Galaxy Buds. You don't need any extra cables or any additional adapters. Just place your S10 face down, set the Galaxy Buds on the rear casing, and watch them charge.

Another huge benefit of the Galaxy Buds comes from the weight of them, as these weigh in at 39.6g, compared to 55.8g on the Gear Icon X (2018). It's great to see Samsung really hit just about all of the marks here, and this has us excited to use these for an extended period of time without ear fatigue.

Andrew Myrick
Senior Editor - Chromebooks and tablets

Andrew Myrick is a Senior Editor at Android Central. He enjoys everything to do with technology, including tablets, smartphones, and everything in between. Perhaps his favorite past-time is collecting different headphones, even if they all end up in the same drawer.