ELeaf iStick Basic Box Mod Review
Usually anyone that reviews a product here at Spinfuel HQ has to spend a minimum of a week using it as a primary device before a single word is written. If a new sub-ohm tank is under review, then the reviewer must use that tank exclusively the entire time. A new vaping device? Same thing, a week.
You just can’t look at something, or use it for an hour, to know if the product is going to perform well, and last a good long time. Money is too hard to come by for many of us. To praise a product that isn’t worth being praised means you’re trying to convince people to waste money. This is why today’s review is a bit different.
I haven’t spent a week with the new iStick Basic by eLeaf/iSmoka, yet I still believe I can offer a good review after just 3 days of continual use. For one thing I’ve owned and used just about every iStick that has come from eLeaf, and each one of them, except for maybe the 10w iStick Mini, a device my wife still uses on occasion and still loves, have proven to be well worth the money and last far longer than most other middle-of-the-road devices. And, you know it as well as I do, the iStick series, as popular as they are, are middle of the road devices. The other thing is, after using it for 3 days it’s just too damn cool not to get a review out in time for the holidays.
The Holiday Gift
The Under Twenty Dollar Complete iStick Starter Kit
Some online vendors that do business with US/UK/AU consumers that are based out of China are taking pre-orders (as of12-3-15) for the iStick Basic Starter Kit with a retail price of $19.96.
Now, we do not officially recommend buying direct from a China vendor because of shipping costs, customs issues, and the notorious counterfeiting that goes on, but I think it’s safe to assume that the under-twenty dollars (or so) will be a common price point for the iStick Basic in the US and elsewhere. But even if it winds up being $5 more at least buying it from a US/UK/AU-based vendor you have a better chance of getting a genuine product. And if you buy from our trusted vendors, MyVaporStore, Vapor Authority, and DirectVapor, then you will receive the genuine product, no doubt about it, at a great price point. You’ll have to search Google or check your local Vape Shop to see when, or if, you can pick one (or more) up in time for the Holidays.
Overview of the iStick Basic
The iStick Basic is, to me, much more than a “basic” device and Starter Kit. It has a clean and clever design, beautiful color finishes, uniquely removable GS Air 2 tank that neatly tucks into the small iStick body (0.9” Depth, 3” Tall and 2” width), and other features that give it a lot of value to the price. But I’ve barely scratched the surface…
When we received our iStick Basics early last week from eLeaf/iSmoka I smiled when I saw the attractive Holiday packaging, a cardboard slipcover decorated with a Christmas tree bulb, a red wreath, and the words ‘Merry Christmas’ and ‘Happy Holidays’ printed on it.
Slipping the holiday sleeve off revealed what looked to be a mash-up of an iStick ‘something’ and the Joyetech eGrip. All I could see on the cover was the body of the device and a tall drip tip sticking up from the top of the body. I loved the look, but wasn’t all that sure about a built in tank in an iStick body. It did not look natural after a couple of years of using iSticks.
Turning over the box I read the contents in the box. One of the parts included the GS Air 2 Atomizer, at 14mm in diameter. The capacity is 2mL of e-liquid. I still couldn’t quite figure it out how eLeaf could bury a tank in a body of the device in a “good” way, so I opened the box right then and there. I was too curious to leave it alone until it was time to review it.
Inside the box, on the top layer, was the body of the iStick and GS Air 2 atomizer lying side by side, along with an eGo adapter tucked in its own cutout in the corner. Underneath the top layer was the other items in the kit, an extra coil head for the GS Air 2 (0.75-ohm), a USB cable for charging, and a nicely written manual. And all of this is under twenty bucks?
As much as I would have liked to fire it up I was in the middle of another review so I handed out the kits to the staff, took the black one for me (the red one is gorgeous but Kiera basically demanded it), and placed the box on the pile of devices I needed to review by Christmas. On Tuesday morning, December 1st, I decided to give it a once-over, a rehearsal before the review.
Then Lisa (my wife) walked in and remarked on the holiday packaging and said to me, “Don’t you think that you should move the iStick to the top of your reviews?” I asked why and she told me that because the packaging was clearly for the holidays it might make a great gift. She was right, if the iStick Basic was a good product at a good price. That was yet to be determined, but it was worth taking it out and using it for a first impression.
When I saw what the iStick Basic was selling for in the pre-orders, and having used it for an hour or so, I decided that I had to start my review. Yesterday, Friday, I made the decision to start writing the review, I had seen enough, I spent enough hours to determine the value vs performance and deemed it worthy of an early review. And, well, as it turned out, I just loved using it.
To my mind there is nothing ‘basic’ about the iStick Basic. But then again, I can understand the name. Here are some major differences between this iStick and the others:
- No variable wattage or voltage
- The 14mm GS Air 2 is the only tank you can use.
- One resistance coil at 1.5-ohms and one at 0.75-ohms, no others.
Like the Joyetech eGo ONE and the Innokin Endura T18, the iStick Basic offers a singular vaping experience, no fiddling required. So in that sense, yes this is the iStick at its most basic. But it is also part of its charm. Because it does not require, or even offer, adjustable wattage, the iStick Basic does adjust the output automatically by detecting the coil in the GS Air 2.
The iStick Basic is the iStick you buy for simplicity. It requires nothing more than its built-in 2300mAh battery, charged of course, a working 1.5-ohm coil head or 0.75-ohm sub-ohm, and e-liquid. At 1.5-ohms or 0.75-ohms any e-liquid, from 50:50 to MAX VG will work fine. The iStick Basic is the perfect backup for vapers that have a primary device they like to “play” with, and it is the perfect iStick to give to people on your shopping list, as well as the people you might know who still smoke cigarettes. Handing them this attractive, easy to use box mod will persuade them to at least give it a try.
The GS Air 2
The GS tanks, including the GS Air, doesn’t get enough attention in the vape community, at least not the amount of attention it deserves. No, they are not in the same performance class as high-end sub-ohm tanks, but they are dandy tanks that gives the vaper plenty of clean flavor and more than enough vapor.
The GS Air 2 series shares plenty of the same features with its larger cousin, the GS Air Tank, only the GS Air 2 is made to fit the iStick Basic, 14mm instead of 16.5mm, 2mL capacity instead of 2.5mL, and is limited to a mouth-to-lung 1.5-ohm coil, and a decent lung-hit 0.75-ohm coil head. Whereas the GS Air uses a total of 4 different coil heads, from sub-ohm to Ni200.
The lowest resistance the iStick Basic can handle is 0.4-ohm, so even if you have some spare Ni200 GS Air coil heads lying around they probably won’t work. But who cares? For $20 you can choose between a mouth-to-lung 1.5-ohm or a minimal sub-ohm of 0.75-ohms for ‘better’ lung hit vaping, so what’s not to love?
The GS Air 2 has a different airflow system than its larger cousin. The GS Air has series of circular holes for airflow control, while the GS Air 2 has a dual-slot airflow. I know some of you might be thinking how would air reach the slots if the tank is sunk into the body of the iStick, I did too at first. It’s understandable, but eLeaf has that covered, and I’ll talk more about that in a minute. But first…
The cool addition to the GS Air 2 is a removable magnetic under-base piece that provides a strong connection between the body and the atomizer. As you slip the GS Air 2 into the iStick body you’ll hear a crisp click of the magnetic base making contact with the metal plate inside the iStick body.
To test the strength of the magnet I filled the tank, inserted it into the body, turned it upside down and shook it like mad. It never fell out, not once. Yet, grabbing it from the drip tip and pulling straight up it comes off with a gentle pull. This is the first eLeaf device to employ a magnetic base, and they did so nicely. However, you can remove that base and use the GS Air 2 on other 510-threaded devices.
The iStick Basic Body
The body of the iStick Basic has a single firing button and nothing else. No display, no adjustment buttons…just two long, slender holes on either side that shows you the amount of e-liquid left in the tank, and to provide a way for the airflow slots in the tank to receive an air supply. And it’s effective, if left wide open.
The problem with the dual-slot airflow is that outside the body of the iStick you can get plenty of air into the tank, but inside the body the airflow is still somewhat restricted. Not enough to spoil the effectiveness, but enough to warrant keeping the slots wide open when using either coil head.
The Firing button is placed near the top of the body, and it has a firm, quality feel like other iSticks. The finish on the body feels like the other iSticks as well, and the six colors are deep, dark, and add to the aesthetics of the device.
Mouth-To-Lung 1.5-ohm – Vaping with the preinstalled coil head, the 1.5-ohm, gives the vaper a firm mouth to lung vape experience. Intense flavor from my chosen e-liquid, decent vapor production for an above-1.0-ohm coil head, for MTL (mouth-to-lung) vapers the iStick Basic will deliver an excellent vape.
Coming off from my review period with the Innokin Endura T18 I was already getting used to MTL vaping again, so using the iStick Basic with its 1.5-ohm coil head wasn’t an issue. What was a minor annoyance, however personal, is that this is the first iStick in a very long time that I have used as a mouth-to-lung device. It felt a little weird to vape an iStick like that.
Switching to the lower resistance, 0.75-ohm sub-ohm coil head it took just a single drag to know that I preferred this coil head to the other. 0.75-ohms is still high, for me, in a sub-ohm vape, but I was able to get a lot of enjoyment out of vaping the iStick Basic with this particular coil.
In addition to an easier pull and probably 50% or more vapor production, the e-liquid I used, Sarcastic Fringehead Vapery’s Yo Ho Ho, produced a creamier flavor from this eliquid, it was more pronounced than it was in the 1.5-ohm. I believe it had everything to do with amount of VG in the e-liquid (High VG) vaporizing through a 1.5-ohm tight-draw coil head more than anything else. The lower resistance allowed more power into the coil, vaporizing the VG more efficiently.
This makes me think that performance with the 1.5-ohm coil would be significantly better with a 50:50 e-liquid blend, which, unfortunately, I do not have.
The Twenty (Five) Dollar iStick
I’m not going to even try to tell you that the vape experience you will get from the iStick Basic will be every bit as good as if you were using some adjustable high wattage marvel like a WISMEC Reuleaux DNA 200 and a Freemax Starre Pro, but what I will say is that I totally enjoyed my experience with it, and I plan on keeping it around for times when I just don’t want to fiddle with anything.
I’ll buy the 0.75-ohm coil replacements, maybe pick up an extra GS Air 2 tank just in case, but other than that, this is going to be a great backup or no-nonsense device for myself. I know it will become one of my “bedroom” devices where huge clouds of vapor are frowned upon by you-know-who. Who, you might be interested in knowing, has switched to the iStick Basic permanently.
The bottom line with the iStick Basic is this: eLeaf has introduced a very inexpensive, high quality Starter Kit for new vapers, mouth-to-lung vapers, or any vaper looking for a no-nonsense vaporizer that requires very little thinking. It also makes a great device for traveling, driving, out on the town, or just hanging around. All this for under $20, or, maybe $25? Either way, its as affordable as it can be while still providing a quality product.
This Holiday season you have a few choices for your new vaper friends or friends that are still using tobacco. Whether you think your friend or love one would prefer a box mod or a tube shaped mod, there is a new device worth putting under the tree, in a stocking, or wherever you happen to place your gifts, and the iStick Basic is an excellent choice.
In fact, you might consider picking one up for yourself.
- Removable drip tip
- Glass tank
- 2ml juice capacity
- Adjustable airflow control
- Chromed brass + glass construction
- 510 threading connection
- 14mm overall diameter
- Comes with 2 coil head (0.75ohm)
- eGo/510 threading connection
- Aluminum body
- Resistance: 0.4ohm-5ohm
- Innovative magnetic connector is first introduced in the iStick basic, making the device compatible to all 510/eGo atomizers with a diameter of 14mm
- Direct output voltage system is applied in the iStick basic. The higher the battery level, the higher the output voltage
- The e-liquid level can easily be noticed by a simple glance at the window
- Micro-USB charging port
- The button light will turn red when the device is charging and the light will go out when fully charged
Price vs Value
For about $20, there are NO cons. To offer more, like a larger battery capacity, a larger tank capacity, or anything else you’d have something that wasn’t the iStick Basic.