My very first advanced (40+ watt) vape mod was an Eleaf iStick 50W (reviewed here). And it still sits on my shelf, reminding me of simpler days. Since that classic device was released, Eleaf has released a veritable boatload of other mods sporting the iStick name. Some have been great. Some have been mediocre. And then there’s a select few that missed the mark entirely. Sadly, the Eleaf iStick Amnis falls into that last category… and may have even created a lower one of its own.
I don’t mean to be harsh, but since you’re probably wondering why I’m coming out swinging, the Amnis might be the first entry-level vape device I’ve ever used that got nothing right in my eyes. When it comes to beginner vape mods, there are a number of variables I consider, most important of which is “what things would I recommend about it?” And the Amnis didn’t have one element I’d consider.
In the name of simplicity, the rest of the Amnis mod is purposefully uncluttered. There’s no display, no adjustments, no control – just a fire button and a 4-color LED battery and warning indicator. I won’t go into my usual rant about newcomers needing more information about the device’s operations, not less. Because it’s already been done. But this isn’t a low-end pod mod, it’s a 30-watt, tank-based vape mod system that could probably benefit users by giving them a little more control.
At first glance, the Amnis kit looks like it’s trying to serve more than a few audiences. Thanks to the device’s slight, unadorned, rubber-coated frame, there is definitely a pod mod-type vibe to the proceedings. But then you need to consider the included GS Drive tank, which looks like a direct descendant of the classic Kanger Subtank. (reviewed here)
Speaking of which, it’s nothing like that tank at all…
Looking deeper into the box reveals even more disparity. The installed 0.35-ohm mesh coil would certainly appeal to flavor-seeking cloud enthusiasts, right? But then you realize the direct wattage Amnis mod only reaches 30 watts at maximum battery power, with it hovering closer to 20 watts during the majority of use time.
AND the other included coil is a seemingly more-appropriate 0.75-ohm standard coil, which makes more sense given the Amnis power specs, but doesn’t really – ahem – mesh with the other coil choice. Is the Amnis a low-wattage sub-ohm mod? A mouth-to-lung pod mod replacement? A Boge cartomizer wearing new clothes?
Honestly, I have no idea. And I’m not really sure Eleaf did, either.
When it’s working properly, the GS Drive tank and coil system offers mid-level flavor and decent vapor production. Maybe not the worst I’ve ever seen, but not a winner, either.
The coils themselves were disappointing, though. Not only could I detect much flavor difference between the kanthal and mesh coils, but neither lasted much past two days. So it’s not even like the Amnis kit would serve as a viable emergency backup for the car – it’s too fickle, confusing and underwhelming for me to care.
What’s more confusing is knowing how to best use the Amnis kit and GS Drive tank. On one hand, the tank’s low profile and miniature juice flow ports lead you to believe this device is a mere reboot of a pod mod or AIO device. And for the most part, that’s the right play. But we’ll get to that in a bit…
Another gripe about the GS Drive is the construction, which seems like was conducted by angry people with large vise grips. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get the glass section apart from the tank to clean it… and before long, it started to feel like it was about to give way. Having read a review of this tank from a writer in the UK, I know the GS Drive is prone to coming entirely apart at a moment’s notice, so I stopped trying to muscle the tank, and conceded the battle.
All in all, a very confusing, low-performing, altogether disappointing effort, from a company that was around when tanks like this were the epitome of high-end equipment. Eleaf should really have this down by now.
Eleaf iStick Amnis MTL Kit Specs:
- Dimensions – 71mm by 24mm by 18mm
- Weight – 34.2g
- Integrated 900mAh Rechargeable Battery
- Maximum Wattage Output: 30W
- Resistance Range: 0.15-3.0ohm
- Tactile Firing Button
- Ergonomic Design
- Soft-Touch Rubberized Finish
- LED Battery Life Indicator Light
- Over-Charge Protection
- Over-Discharge Protection
- Over-Current Protection
- Over 15s Protection
- Short Circuit Protection
- Micro-USB Port – Charging
- Available in Black, Green, Purple, Red, Silver, Blue
Eleaf iStick Amnis MTL Kit Tank Specs:
- 16.5mm Diameter
- 2mL Standard Glass Tube
- Superior Stainless Steel Construction
- Pyrex Glass Reinforcement
- Retractable Top-Fill – Childproof Lock
- Dual Adjustable Bottom Airflow
- Eleaf GS Drive Coil Family
- 0.35 GS Air M Kanthal Coil Head – Rated for 10-25W
- Mouthpiece – Dual O-Ring Seal
- Detachable Structure
- Stainless Steel 510 Connection
- Available in Silver
Eleaf iStick Amnis MTL Kit Contents:
- 1 iStick Amnis Vape Mod
- 1 GS Drive Tank
- 1 0.35ohm GS Air-M Coils
- 1 0.75ohm GS Air Coils
- 1 User Manual
- 1 QC USB Cable
- 1 Spare Parts
Observations While Vaping
Earlier, when discussing the Amnis as a replacement for pod mods and AIO devices, notice I said it was… “for the most part.” Because even with the 20-30-watt output, the mod has a little too much power and airflow to comfortably vape higher nicotine liquids. While the salt nicotine juices I used were very flavorful and potent, over time, the GS Drive simply put out too much vapor to use as an everyday device. Even with the solitary airflow cut down to nothing, there was still too much assertive power to use it with any level of comfort.
Okay, so it’s not a pod mod replacement.
Moving to more traditional 60/40 VG/PG blend juices (which are becoming a rarity these days), the Amnis had different problems. Suddenly, that power was robbed from the device, and the stock coils (even the low-resistance mesh offering) suddenly choked on the thicker liquids, and each draw had virtually no oomph behind it.
Even worse, once I really started to push the Amnis to see how well it would hold up to heavy use, the battery completely tanked. With a mere 900mAh – a number more suited to gas station pen vapes than a device from an industry stalwart – under the hood, no one expected all-day power. But we also didn’t expect less than 80 minutes of performance.
Worse, the simplistic LED light indicators DIDN’T LET ME KNOW IT WAS FADING. Everything was hunky-dory until… well… it wasn’t. The Amnis just stopped working.
I know I used the Amnis kit more heavily than most of its audience would. But that’s no excuse for such shoddy technology and performance. Even the most casual vapers would get 2-3 hours at most. And that’s a pathetic total for 2018. Hell, it wasn’t that impressive back in 2015, to be honest.
(And before enthusiasts start claiming I received a faulty unit, Eleaf sent me two of them, and both provided the same weak results… and the same lack of communication from the indicators.)
If the most positive statement in a vape mod review is “mid-level performance and decent vapor production” then you know you’ve got a disappointing device in your hands. And I think that’s the better word to use. I never like to say something is outright “bad,” because there’s probably (maybe?) an audience for a mod kit like the Amnis. But I can’t figure out what it might be.
On one hand, it’s too powerful and open for salt nic juices. On the other, the battery power is too erratic and short-lived. It’s too restrictive with more traditional liquids. The airflow is too limited, the coils are too muted, the mod construction is limp and lightweight, and the entire thing just feels unfinished. This is not the Eleaf I know, and certainly not the same company that made my first-ever advanced mod all those years ago (one which still kicks ass today).
I will give the company the benefit of the doubt, and assume this was a misstep, and not a new direction for their product quality. But at the same time, I can’t recommend the Amnis kit to vapers of any type or experience level, no matter how fond my memories might be.