Apple’s AirPods & Samsung’s Gear IconX are similar, yet miles apart

Apple’s AirPods & Samsung’s Gear IconX are similar, yet miles apart
Apple's AirPods & Samsung's Gear IconX are similar, yet miles apart

Alas! The era of the ‘truly’ wireless headset is upon us. For the cynics, replace wireless headset with a dongle, maybe? Call it what you may, but it takes a lot of ‘courage’ for some, to replace long-standing industry standards, because well, they can, and they should. For true innovation often breeds in such places. No one does it better, than Cupertino-based Apple. That, it is not the only one — and certainly not the first — to chuck the regular 3.5mm audio jack off of their phones in favour of going truly wireless, is a different story.

Apple was long-rumoured to ditch the regular jack in the iPhone 7 (and the iPhone 7 Plus) for some time now. On Wednesday, all rumours were laid to rest as the company did, eventually, do just that. Whether or not, the gamble would do any good, is something only time will tell. While Apple has clearly said that all models of the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus will include EarPods with Lightning Connector and a Lightning to 3.5 mm Headphone Jack Adapter inside the box, take note that these would likely be similar (audio-wise) to the existing wired EarPods that the company ships with the current iPhones. And existing wired EarPods are just bad.

The new batch of iPhones are being pitched for their audio prowess (they come with stereo speakers, a first for Apple), and already, these come sans the audio jack. Apple has to have a plan

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But, the new batch of iPhones are also being pitched for their audio prowess (they come with stereo speakers, a first for Apple), and already, these come sans the audio jack. Apple has to have a plan. It does. The company has designed wireless EarPods called AirPods for the new iPhones and priced them — in typical Apple style — well, quite atrociously. The AirPods have been priced at Rs 15,400 in India, and look just like the existing EarPods, only without the wires.

They look really weird to me. Of course, design is subjective. But, really, I don’t like things sticking out of  my ears like that (go, check out the product images please!), might as well have made them wired, and better, maybe? Again, their quality (and whether they justify their price tag) is reserved for another day, and another article. For now, let’s just stick to how the era of the truly wireless headset is upon us, now.

Apple isn’t the first big brand to have thought about it. Samsung got there first, without even killing the audio jack, that is. The South Korean major’s version is called the Gear IconX.

On the face of it, Apple’s AirPods and Samsung’s Gear IconX are very similar. And yet, they are miles apart, in actuality.

Apple’s AirPods are being marketed solely on their audio profile. They are supposed to sound awesome, and that’s all that there is to them, as per the company. Samsung’s Gear IconX however, cater to audiophiles with a fitness bend of mind. Thes are basically an extension of the Gear Fit 2. Sound is important, but, so is fitness tracking. In fact, it is paramount.

Both the AirPods and Gear IconX have more or less similar design frame (although, the Gear IconX look so much better) which means you get two earbuds, which are truly independent of each other. They are both stored inside specially designed cases which double up as charging stations. When not in use, the case can charge the IconX as many as two times, and fully. According to Samsung, the battery onboard the IconX can last for about an hour and a half when streaming music from your phone, or about three and a half hours when playing music stored within the device.

The AirPods, because they have been designed for listening to music, are claimed to offer better battery life: up to five hours on single charge, says Apple.

The IconX, because, they have been designed for fitness tracking, have sensors to monitor your movement, heart rate, and distance traveled. Heck, they can even calculate calories you burn, just like regular fitness trackers. The AirPods on the other hand have Siri and tap to basically, do everything, most of which has to do with music (streaming).

The IconX, because, they have been designed for fitness tracking, have sensors to monitor your movement, heart rate, and distance traveled

Both the AirPods and the Gear IconX are exclusive to their respective platforms. But, the Gear IconX offer more freedom of choice, in that, they are compatible with all Android phones running at least Android 4.4 and with 1.5GB or more of RAM. The AirPods will however require you to have an Apple device running the very latest iOS 10, watchOS 3, or macOS Sierra to work which kind of makes them a little more restrictive.

We will have more to say about Apple’s new AirPods along with a detailed overview and comparison between them and Samsung’s Gear IconX in the days to come.

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