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Got an iPhone 5? You might be interested in this one…
Vaporetti, a hardware/eliquid vendor out of Rhode Island (and one of the most active ‘activists’ working for the rights of vapers), likes to gather feedback from their most loyal customers, and a few others, whenever they (Vaporetti) are contemplating the addition of a new product to their ever-expanding line of hardware.
Such was the case when a product showed up on my doorstep from Vaporetti. Inside was a new product called Vapor Case, and it is, quite simply, a terrific ‘idea’ for a product that just has not yet been fully realized. I suspect that there is indeed a market for this product, but before it can receive my recommendation, or that from other Spinfuel Staff, some things simply have to change. As it stands right now, this review is a ‘cautionary tale’. Do not be tempted, just yet, to fork over a $100 for a new iPhone 5/5s case until you’ve read this entire review.
VapeCase by Lotus
The VapeCase is a product that, once you hear about it, you’re tempted to go “Ah Ha! That’s brilliant!” especially if you own an iPhone 5. I mean, who wouldn’t love to at least try a sharp-looking iPhone 5 case that can also be used as an e-Cigarette?
Lotus is distributor in vapor products and e-liquids in the US. They supply products to nearly 7500 retail outlets across the United States. VapeCase is their attempt at something truly original, something that would appeal to every Vaper with an iPhone 5.
Mike Larsen, the Director of Sales at Lotus was a smoker for some twenty years, and when he discovered vaping, like many of us, he was ecstatic to finally get off that road to an early death and serious illness. But, also like many of us, vaping became a hobby, and as hobbies are wont to do, his collection of hardware became extensive over a short period of time. If you travel a lot for business you can probably identify with Mark’s problem of carrying around several extra bits of hardware wherever he went so that he could ‘properly’ vape with vape gear he has spent an enormous amount of time and money, to acquire.
According to legend, Mark remembered that he rarely forgets to grab his cell phone on the way out…. or drop it. I know that for me, grabbing my cell phone is as much second nature as grabbing my car keys when I walk out my front door, whether I’m traveling or walking to the mailbox at the end of my walkway. Me, you, Mark, we can forget to take many things we need when we leave the house, but our cell phone is rarely one of them. When Mark realized that, he had an epiphany. He decided that instead of expending the mental energy of trying to correct his second-nature thinking in order to make bringing his vape gear as second-nature as his cell phone or car keys, that he would instead, build an electronic cigarette “into” his iPhone by way of an iPhone case. A case that would have ample power and the ability of attaching a cartomizer or clearomizer to vape with.
Being smart was never a problem for Mark Larsen, he was born with it, and problem solving was a part of his natural ability. But he was also a wise businessman, so while developing the VapeCase in secret, he carefully guarded the beta testing so that no one would know what he was creating…until he had a patent on it.
A month ago Mark got ready to take his idea to the marketplace and share it with the world. You can actually buy one today if you wanted to.
Have you heard of “crowdfunding”? Crowdfunding is a way to raise money to complete a project, whether that project is the new Veronica Mars movie, an electric car, or even an electronic cigarette. Crowdfunding is an amazing way to involve others, to share the risk, and to share the rewards, all without the normal bullshit we go through trying to get money from a bank. I am a huge believer in both crowdfunding and crowdsourcing, very much the same concept; only they are used for different thing.
Mark, and Lotus, had the intention of crowdfunding this VapeCase project in order to develop and build 5000 VapeCases. Anyone who contributed over $100 would receive one of the very first VapeCases, and by receiving one you could help find the flaws in the product and even assist Lotus in their marketing plans through your feedback. As a businesswoman, I am impressed with the way this product came to fruition. Achieving things without the banks or the government is what drives true innovation.
If you’ve ever wondered why Apple, under the sorely-missed Steve Jobs, had so much money stashed away it was so they could innovate anything they wanted, without having to present their ideas and convince a board of ‘bottom-line greed-dwellers’.
From what I understand through my research, Mark brought his prototypes to vapers around the country to show them what he was building. This ‘tour’ was the campaign to raise the funds needed for the first 5000 units.
Funding this project in this way, through crowdfunding, Lotus would be able to move into other models; Galaxy S4, iPhone 5c, iPhone 4, and on an on, get them into production, and conquer the market before any other company even knew about it. Be honest, before you heard about an iPhone case that could be used as an electronic cigarette, did it ever cross your mind? It didn’t cross mine, that’s for sure.
Lotus did in fact get their initial 5000 VapeCases made, and they are now in distribution. This is how Vaporetti came to possess a few of them. Lisa Ciarlone, co-founder and co-owner of Vaporetti, asked me to look at one, give it a test drive, put it through the paces, and to let her know what I thought of it. I was honestly thrilled, and honored, that Lisa would come to me and value my opinion. (To be honest, I was not the only one to test it for Lisa, but I was one of them)
I decided to not only review it for Lisa, but also for our readers, you guys. There are things you need to know. You have the opportunity to plunk down $99 for your own VapeCase today, and I want you to go in with “eyes open.” I’m not going to tell you to absolutely avoid the VapeCase like the plague, but there are issues that you must know ahead of time.
The VapeCase Review
I preface this review with the admission that I am huge Mophie fan. Mophie makes the best cases for all iPhones and iPad, among other brands as well, but I have had a Mophie on every iPhone I’ve ever owned. I am well versed in battery cases, so I knew what I wanted to see in the VapeCase.
The $99 VapeCase is equipped with a 2000mAh 3.7v Li-ion battery pack. It is very thin, no doubt using the latest battery technology available. The VapeCase is actually thinner than my Mophie Juice Pack Plus ($119). (Juice Pack Plus has a 2100mAh Li-ion battery, while the Mophie Juice Pack Air offers a 1700mAh battery at $99.95)
All the proper cutouts around the case are there, and they work splendidly. The feel of the VapeCase is nearly the same as a Mophie, a soft rubberized texture that feels luxurious and looks expensive. The VapeCase is not ‘shoddy’ in any way.
The e-Cigarette part of the case rests at the top of the case in a bump out. Attaching a 510 cartomizer looks no more strange that having a short black antenna sticking out the top.
In addition to the 2000mAh battery and the 510 connector, the VapeCase also offers:
- Variable Voltage – 4 setting for voltages, starting at 2.75v up to 5v – (2.75, 3.5v, 4.25v and 5v)
- LED battery level indicator
- Micro USB charging port
- Comes with a 510 to eGo adapter
The VapeCase also has some safeguards built into the device:
- 15A Power protection
- Over / under charge protection
- Self-shutoff short circuit protection (To restart the device connect to the wall charger)
Lotus urges users to use atomizers between 1.5ohm and 2.8ohm only, and suggests that 2.5ohm works best. I can assure you they are correct.
Real World Impressions
There are only two reasons why I believe the VapeCase is not ready for primetime; but they are substantial.
- The 2000mAh battery does not interact with the iPhone. It is completely dedicated to the e-cigarette part of the unit. I was hoping that the VapeCase would be a good stand in for my Mophie when I was out. This is a deal killer for me, if I didn’t need the extra power I wouldn’t have spent $120 for Mophie.
- Once it goes on… it stays on…unless you get violent. The VapeCase is of singular construction. It’s a one-piece case that snaps onto the iPhone 5 and it does not come off without expending a LOT of energy. I broke 3 fingernails trying to pry it off. I finally did manage to get it off the iPhone by slipping a butter knife between the case and the phone, and even then, it took a lot to pry it off. I was sure that either the case itself or my phone was going to break before I would get it off.
During my tests I used a couple of Boge XXL 510 standard resistance cartomizers and an X.Jet clearomizer. Performance was spectacular. Plenty of vapor from V-Drops (Vaporetti eliquid) and Rocket Fuel Vapes e Liquid, excellent vapor production and nice throat it. Naturally, the cartomizer and the e Liquid played a major part here, but the battery performed fine and lasted a good long while, probably in excess in 7 hours.
The ‘beauty ring’ and adapter work well, making clearomizers a natural if you don’t want to use a cartomizer. With the 4 settings you can find your sweet spot 90-95% of the time. Going through the variables voltages was actually fun, the performance changed the vape just as any other variable voltage e cigarette would do.
The VapeCase is an excellent “start.” But it’s just a start.
The fact that it is a one-piece design can be easily corrected in the next batch, and it does need to be corrected. I love how the case is super-secure, but it needs an easy way to come off the phone. Yes, the actually charging port for the iPhone 5 is easily accessible, they did think this through after all, but getting it off will be a nightmare.
As far as being a battery that will not interact with your phone and provide you with 100% more phone time, like the Mophie’s do, is a big deal to me, but if you’re the type of iPhone 5 user that never worries about running out of juice then it probably won’t matter.
The VapeCase is thin, luxurious, and very high-tech. It works well. Unless your normal everyday vape gear includes an expensive RBA and you need more in the variable voltage or variable wattage, you’re not going to suffer any degradation in your everyday vape needs.
I thought (for a few minutes after I had charged the battery, attached the case, and screwed a 510 cartomizer onto the case) that I would look ridiculous vaping from my iPhone. And, well, I didn’t. With a little work you can make it seem as though you’re talking on your phone while you actually ‘talk and vape’. I called Keira one day while she was out and through the entire conversation I would talk, listen, and vape, and she was never the wiser.(Until later, we have no secrets)
Yep, I do think this is a product that will have a market, and I think that once they work out the little issues that I have with it and begin shipping VapeCases for other iPhones and other popular smartphones Lotus will have a major hit on its hand. But right now, today, the VapeCase isn’t ready to take over for my Mophie. And until that time, it won’t see itself attached to my phone again.
For more information on the VapeCase, visit the Facebook Page
As always, your comments are most welcome