Top positive review
If you're new to the wireless earbud game, solid purchase! Upgrade worthy? Debatable.
March 12, 2019
I've been HYPED about these earbuds since they were announced during Samsung's Galaxy Unpacked Event, and now I have them! I also own the predecessor to these, the Gear Icon X 2018s. I also have a pair of Jabra Elite 65Ts as well, I threw in some photos of those for a size comparison. I like these earbuds. Sound is good, definitely marginally better than the previous generation. The Galaxy Buds look better, they feel better, they're smaller, and the case charges wirelessly which is actually SUPER useful.
Now, I'm a Samsung FanBoy through-and-through, that being said, I think Samsung took a couple of steps backwards on a few things comparatively. The gestures are essentially the same as the previous gen except they got rid of swiping up and down on the earbuds for volume control. It's not the biggest deal since you can still set up the earbuds to give you volume control (based on long presses of each earbud) but now you have to choose between being able to control the volume from the earbuds or triggering ambient sound or voice commands, you cannot do both (from the earbuds at least), and that's kinda lame. Additionally, it seems like they've weakened the capability of Ambient Sound? On the previous gen I REALLY felt like I could hear my surroundings, within at least a ~10-15ft radius when Ambient Sound was active. With the Galaxy Buds that listening-radius feels significantly abbreviated for some reason? Additionally, most likely in the interest of shrinking the form factor, the Galaxy Buds no longer have their own onboard storage, so you can not store music on the buds themselves. That feature was super useful when you wanted to go for a run or workout but didn't necessarily want to have to bring your phone, fortunately not having it isn't a deal-breaker by any means.
I feel like these decisions might have been driven by the desire for more people to download Samsung's Galaxy Wear app, which is fine as a companion app. I feel as though with the Gear Icon X 2018s the goal was to help you not have to rely on your phone very much, if at all, where as the Galaxy Buds definitely make your phone a bit more necessary.
In summation, they're awesome wireless earbuds! They sound great, they look great, they're compact, wirelessly chargeable, LOUD, comfortable, and not uber expensive! Personally, I love features and options. Even if I'm not particularly going to use something often, I still prefer to have the option just in case and I would say objectively speaking, compared to the Gear Icon X 2018s, your options are definitely a bit lessened with these guys.
Upgrade worthy? Ehhhh, if you're like me and prefer options and the Gear Icon X 2018s fit you comfortably then I would say you're not missing out on anything more than a slightly modified design. If that's worth an upgrade to you, go for it! If not, I think your Gear Icon X 2018s are worth hanging onto for a while longer! Lastly, if you're new to the wireless earbud game, for $130 these are definitely a solid contender, especially considering the competition. Would recommend!