eLeaf iStick Pico Review
Tiny – Powerful – Performance
iStick Pico is a profoundly interesting ‘kit’. To write about the box mod without mentioning the sub-ohm tank would be like writing about a car without the engine, or a bike without the tires, or a Julia without a Kiera. Impossible. Together they are more then the sum of their parts. Sure, the eLeaf box mod is called the Pico, but what makes it a must-have is the Pico with the Melo 3 Mini Tank.
Mission: Using a single 18650 hi-amp battery and a full size low-ohm coil head selection, create the smallest lung-hit capable variable wattage, temperature sensing mod for under $55 retail. Oh, and include a worthy successor to the Melo Tank. Go!
Solution: eLeaf iStick Pico Kit
The eLeaf iStick Pico (available at Vapor Authority ) is a petite yet powerful box mod that will surprise the hell out of you. Powered by a single, replaceable, 18650 hi-amp battery (25a and above) that is accessed by a small, round, screw top cap on the right side of the device, is powerful enough to provide the user with huge lung hits with the included Melo III Mini sub-ohm tank. I’ll write more about the features and specs, as well as my real world usage in a moment, but first, let’s discuss the sudden rush to market with tiny box mods and tanks.
Let’s Get Small
The UD Balrog, the Council of Vapor Mini Volt, the Tesla Nano, and now the eLeaf iStick Pico are the latest entries in the “tiny mod” category of electronic cigarettes (God, how I hate that term). Each of these small wonders are somewhat powerful in their own way, 40w-75w, they provide a vape experience a hundred times better than they look like they should, and they are all under $60.
Why the sudden need to push out mods that can fit in your back pocket or the smallest purses? Is it as simple as “we can”, or is it something more? I honestly do not know, and I honestly didn’t know how I felt about them. Until now.
The only other experience I have with a ‘tiny mod’ is the Balrog by UD. I love UD tanks, so I thought I would love the Balrog. And well, I do love the mod, it too is a 75w box mod, but the tank is no where as good as the Melo 3 Mini. I would, and will, grade the Balrog a B+, but as you’ll see, the iStick Pico gets a Grade of A+. It’s the combination of the iStick Pico mod and the Melo 3 Mini that makes this starter kit such a great kit.
What I do know is that each of these tiny devices are unique, some of a lot better than others, and each user should consider them all before buying. That said, they all perform well, producing lots of vapor and lots flavor. Thankfully for fans of eLeaf/ismoka, the Pico performs really well, and as good as the CoV Mini Volt may be, it is stuck at 40w.
If you get excited by tiny mods the iStick Pico just might be the next mod purchase you make.
How Small is Small?
Measuring just 1.77-inches by .9-inches by 2.77-inches the Pico is very small. (For those of you that measure by millimeter, the size is 45mm x 23mm x 70.5mm). Of course, the height of 2.77 inches doesn’t include the Melo III Mini tank, so tack on another 2-inches in height with the Melo attached.
Figuring out where to put the battery access cover, the adjustment buttons and even the firing button took some imagination on eLeaf’s part. Whoever designed this thing deserves a raise. Let’s look at where the key components are and how they fit.
Battery – The 18650 battery is slightly taller than the Pico mod, so the solution was to place the battery on the far side of the device and build a screw-in cap that fit over the excess height of the battery… solving two problems… easy access and keeping the overall size down.
Adjustment Buttons – eLeaf found an acceptable solution to the adjustment buttons by bringing them to the bottom of the device. By doing so eLeaf was able to provide adjustment buttons the size of buttons on much larger mods. Instead of shrinking the buttons down to the micro level, these buttons are a cinch to use at full size.
Display – eLeaf didn’t skimp on the display either, although the display is certainly not on the level of the WISMEC made Vape-Forward devices (reviews coming soon). The screen is right up there with the size of screens on other eLeaf iSticks, so it will be easy to see the settings at a glance.
The battery life indicator is a battery icon, and as the battery discharges the icon shows you in the simplest way possible. Along with the battery indicator the display gives you the usual information; ohms reading, voltage reading, and wattage/temperature reading. While the fire button is pressed it displays the running time of the draw and the wattage/temp setting. Simple stuff, but nonetheless, important stuff.
Lastly, this display nearly disappears into mod when the OLEDS are not lit, especially with the black mod. There is an opaque glass over the OLED panel causing a total blackout. With its Stealth Feature you can black it out while using it when you need to stealth vape.
Firmware & Charging – Sitting under the display is the Micro-USB port for Firmware upgrades and recharging with the included USB cable. Firmware updates can be checked anytime if you use a PC with Windows and plug the Pico in to charge the unit.
Venting: The iStick Pico has eight vent holes in a circular shape surrounding the battery on the bottom of the device. Moderate to heaving vaping at 34-watts with the preinstalled 0.3-ohm Kanthal coil head the mod gets warm to the touch, but never too warm.
Exterior Finish – Available in Black, White, Gray, Silver and Hot Pink, the finish is a non-slip matte finish that feels pretty nice.
Like the rest of the iStick line up the iStick Pico offers a full blown temperature sensing system. Featuring VW/Bypass/TC-Ni/TC-Ti/TC-SS/TCR the iStick Pico may have overreached a little. Does a $45 mod really need the advanced technologies of the latest version of the iStick 100W TC mod? I’m not so sure, but then again I don’t know many people that would turn down such technology offerings. Whether they actually use it is something else all together.
Accessing the Temperature Sensing tech is a 3-click of the Fire Button move. Do that and whatever mode you are currently in (it defaults at Wattage mode), you click the + (plus) adjustment button to cycle through the various modes. If you cycle past the mode you want you can click the – (minus) adjustment button and go back.
Advanced – The Temperature Sensing Functions and other modes, i.e., TCR values, are a bit too advanced for this review. But rest easy, the accompanying manual is written in excellent English, and provides step by step instructions for complicated maneuvers.
The Melo 3 Mini tank, which I’ll discuss below, comes with two full size EC Coil Heads of 0.3 and 0.5 ohms, both Kanthal, with two heating elements (wires) running in parallel. The 0.3-ohm is rated up to 80w (impossible with the Pico) and the 0.5-ohm at 100W (also impossible with the Pico). Also included are large ejuice ports, and pure organic cotton. Dry hits? Never heard of them! This tank can also use 0.15-ohm Ni200 coils, .5-ohm Ti and ECR coils heads in TC mode. The iJust2 tank can also use these coil heads.
The Melo III
eLeaf has decided that the tank for the Pico would be called the Melo III Mini because of the limited capacity for eliquid of only 2mL. However, after a few days of heavy usage I’ve come to believe that the coveted title of Melo is well earned.
The Melo III Mini features a wide-bore drip tip that is a permanent part of the top cap. The top cap unscrews for an easy top-fill method for refilling the tank. The airflow is hidden, at the bottom of the tank, and can be adjusted for full on lung hits or tight mouth-to-lung draws. The marvelous coil heads produce wicked amounts of vapor, and the flavor produced is up there with the best of the best. I was genuinely surprised by both. It also features a glass tank, extra O-Rings, and 2x coil heads.
Wattage Test – With the iStick Pico peaking at 75w both coil heads should be able to be used by the Pico at 75w since they are both rated and 80w and 100w. After about 6 hours of breaking in the 0.3-ohm coil head I pumped up the wattage to the 75w max, filled the tank with thick, Max VG eliquid and gave it a go.
Lo and Behold! At 75w the 0.3-ohm coil performed like I would have never believed! I mean we’re talking warm, but not too warm, extremely flavorful vapor so thick and so satisfying I almost cried. Here I was perfectly content with 34-watts when a much better vape was waiting for me at the top. Unbelievable! And to top it off, the drip tip stayed well within the limits of heat.
I would love to be able to say that the amazing coil heads that come with the Pico kit are exclusive to the Melo 3 Mini and it was a combination of the tank and the coil heads that provided an excellent vape experience at 75W, but these coil heads are also sold separately as iJust2 replacement coils, so which component gets the real credit for allowing such a superb vape at 75w? Not the Pico because that’s the power source, and 75w from the Pico or a Presa is 75w. Another wattage test was needed to find out.
Wattage Test Two – With the 0.3-ohm EC Coil Head rated at 80w, and the 0.5-ohm rated at 100W, how would they perform, in the Melo 3 Mini, on another, higher wattage device? I decided to find out by putting the Melo 3 Mini on the iStick 100W TC.
I set the iStick 100W TC to 75w to first make sure that watt for watt I was going to get the same experience. And I did. So, up to 80w, the maximum suggested wattage…At 80w the vape was barely different from the 75w, but after 3 lung hits it got a little too warm for me.
Next, I swapped the coil head for the 0.5-ohm 100W rated, and started at 80w, which was similar to the .3-ohm vape, but you could tell there was more to be had. Up at 90w I got an identical vape of the 0.3 at 75W on the iStick Pico. Up at 100w, the maximum rating for both the coil head and the iStick 100W TC, and it was a glorious vape. I should note this was the glass ceiling for me, I had never vaped a prebuilt coil head at 100w before. I will never say 100W is a limit I would never need.
Decision: Common sense tells me the coil head is the reason for the 80w and 100w vaping pleasure, but without the bottom, hidden, airflow and the wide-bore drip tip, I’m not so sure I could have reached these heights. I think I see a few more Melo 3 Mini’s in my future.
Real World Usage
First, the battery life is much better than I thought it would be. I easily refilled the tank with a High VG eJuice 4 times before having to swap out the battery while vaping in the neighborhood of 35w. I have no issues with battery life using Sony VT4’s. However, I decided to stay at 75w for a while, and the battery life drained much faster. Later, using the Melo 3 Mini on the iStick 100W TC for a while, at 75w, I noticed the battery life drained just as quickly. So, while the Melo 3 Mini and the coil heads that come with it can certainly vape at the maximum wattage of the Pico, you can expect battery life to behave accordingly.
Despite the diminutive footprint the iStick Pico performs as well as devices 3 or 4 times its size, and there is no reason it shouldn’t. This little guy can output up to 75w, the Melo 3 Mini coil heads are full size and low ohm, and the airflow combined with the wide-bore drip tip provide all the tools you need for one powerful vape at 35w or 75w.
Who Would Use the iStick Pico?
I made the mistake of thinking the WISMEC Presa 100W TC would be aimed at mainstream users despite the 30mm atomizer that comes with it, and the manually adjustable TCR mode. I won’t make that mistake this time. The iStick Pico would definitely appeal to mainstream vapers looking for a small, but performance heavy, mod and tank, but it would also appeal to advanced users wanting powerful tools to fine-tune his or her vape, as well as a small footprint, not to mention high-wattage vaping with ease. I am very surprised to see preorders being taken at $35 for the mod with Melo 3 Mini. With performance like this, the iStick Pico is easily worth twice that.
Recommendation: Don’t buy the Pico without the Melo 3. Together they create magic.
Grade: A+ (as a combo)
iStick Pico Specs:
75W Max Output
Replaceable 18650 Cell
Matte non-slip finish in 5 colors
Top filling and hidden adjustable airflow
Unique bottom-flow design
iStick Pico TC Full Kit comes with:
- 1 x iStick Pico MOD (without cell)
- 1 x Eleaf Melo III Mini Atomizer
- 1 x Eleaf EC 0.3ohm Head
- 1 x Eleaf EC 0.5ohm Head
- 4 x Seal ring
- 1 x USB Cable
- 1 x User Manual