Note: Current pictures are of the IPVD2 model, which I will correct here soon.
I grouped these together as I believe that these are the best compact mods out there that feature removable 18650 batteries (as of early 2016).
Dimensions (H X W X L in mm)
VTC mini : 82 X 22.2 X 38.2.
IPV D3 : 78 x 23 x 40 (barely over 3″ height)
SBody Macro: 75.2 X 22.1 X 34.8. (2.97 inches tall)
Magnetic battery doors and easy access to the 18650.
Metal construction. S body Macro and IPVD3 are aluminum, VTC mini is stainless.
Rechargeable via USB
Spring loaded 510.
Gel/silicone cases available for all three models (as of this writing).
Joyetech Evic VTC Mini
It appeared to have the best build quality of the three, however after a month of use, I noticed that on one one of these units ( a first generation white model) the 510 connector has a serious problem with tanks. For some reason , Joyetech opted to use a 510 that is not integral to the body- the 510 is mounted into the internal mounting sled and slides into a notch inside the body. It’s not a tight fit and there isn’t a lot of depth in this 510- long threaded tanks like the Aspire Triton do not sit flush and worse yet- it wobbles. Out of three units (the white one, an Aqua one and a second gen grey one ) only one unit has this problem.
Aside from the poorly integrated 510, the unit is made out of stainless and has a powdercoated finish. its virtually scratch resistant and unaffected from normal wear. It also has probably what is the largest screen of any vape device. There’s a lot of information there!
Accessing user menu is somewhat of a pain and not easy to adjust when on the fly. My primary gripe is that in TC mode only the TC settings can only be changed on the fly by using the up down buttons. To change the wattage in TC mode, you must access the user menu (press three times on the fire button when unit is on) and then scroll to the wattage setting with the left button. To make this even more aggravating, once you scroll to the wattage selection, you must use the right button and scroll up. There is no way to lower the setting- you have to scroll up , allow it to restart from the lowest setting and then scroll to where you want it.
This unit also boasts user upgraded firmware and Joytech has been active pushing releases. Current firmware pushes the VTC mini to 75 watts with support for nickle, titanium and stainless coil builds.
VTC mini also has USB charging on the side of the unit. I consider this a big plus as (1) you can charge the unit upright and (2) putting a delicate USB micro port on the bottom is just a plain stupid engineering flaw.
In the 45-75 USD range.
Pioneer For You IPV D3- the “Mini SX Mini”
Building upon the IPV D2, the IPV D3 is still likely the smallest temperature control mod with a removable 18650 that will take a 22mm diameter atomizer without overhang. It’s still the same exact dimensions as the D2- and slightly shorter than the VTC mini. The D2 left a favorable impression on me, however there were some shortcomings in the D2 that the D3 addresses.
It’s a powerhouse of a small mod. The D3 features 10 to – 80 watts of power (vs 7 to 75 watts on the D2) and up to 75 joules in TC mode (vs 60 on the D2) using an upgraded upgraded Yihi SX130 V2- now called the SX150. Aside from the slight power increase, the most notable feature of this chip is stepdown capability, which was lacking on the D2. I didn’t consider this to be a disadvantage for someone new to vaping- my wattage settings on high ohm kanthal coils such as the ones in the Aspire Natilus and my nickle TC coils were largely unaffected by the omission of this feature.
If you are familiar with the SX Mini M Class, the user interface is quite similar , except no cool tilt to change settings feature (“gravity sensor”) or no power settings features. It does seem like it has the most punch among the three test units at any power and temperature setting. Also like the VTC Mini, it supports nickel and titanium wire.
Other improvements over the D2 are that the unit now has a thicker battery door that is held in by magnets- door fit quality was an issue with the D2. Additionally it appears they are using an electrostatic process for the finish on the D3. Finish adhesion had been an issue with the D2, which is perhaps why IPV took the initiative to provide a silicon case for the D2. A silicone case is no longer included with the D3, however IPV does have one for the D3.
I do have some minor gripes with the unit. First off the battery must be installed upside down, but don’t worry- it has reverse polarity protection. I’ve done it and you probably will too. Furthermore the fire button requires a little more pressure to fire than what I would like. It has the opposite behavior of some of my other mods- the menu buttons are easier to press than than the firing button. However, if you’ve used an Innokin or are tired of having the HanaModz leaving a little round indentation on your thumb, it’s still a step up.
Like the D2, it charges via a usb to barrel connector – so no micro usb connector- which also means no firmware update support. I really cannot consider this a negative- no worries over a micro usb jack getting damaged. Despite the conveinence of sharing a standard smartphone USB cable, I just don’t understand WITF engineers got this great idea about putting USB micro connections on the bottom of mods. For this lack of inconvienence there is a positive tradeoff- If you accidentally spill a cup of coffee, a soda, or a bottle of vape juice on the desk it’s sitting on, it’ll survive. My D2 came out unscathed after getting dropped into a parts cleaning tank.
I still give this mod 2 thumbs up- It’s the best external tank mod for a working class guy or gal. Out of all my mods that take external tanks, it’s the only one I would consider taking out into the shop. All the shortcomings of the D2 have been addressed here with the D3 and like it’s predecessor, it’s build quite rugged, packs lots of balls, very compact but still comfortable to hold and use.
It’s not a stretch to call the IPVD3 a mini SX mini- An SX mini mini (SX Mini Macro, etc..I digress) – and at a quarter of the cost. If you love the SX Mini M Class, but want something smaller, lighter, cheaper and don’t want to risk carrying an SX mini around – this is what you want. It’s a perfect companion to the SX mini. You’ll love it.
Comparably priced to the VTC mini , in the 45–70 USD range.
Vaporshark’s S Body Macro.
Holy shit this thing is small- there is no way you can make a removable 18650 any smaller than this. The S Body Macro is the smallest of the three and really light. Good news: it’s aluminum, too. More good news: genuine Evolve DNA 40 board and with the large screen DNA display. It also has Vaporshark’s 2 Amp charging USB board- it will charge the batteries 4X faster than the onboard charging of IPVD2 or 2X faster than VTC mini (when using a wall charger – don’t expect a computer usb output to deliver this). Like the IPV D2 it has aluminum buttons and has great tactile feel to the buttons. Like all the aforementioned mods, it also has a magnetic battery door that it fits really well.
Some negatives, however it’s really no fault to be had with the designers of this mod because there are some tradeoffs engineering it to be so small and light. Anything wider than a 19mm tank will overhang. Natilus mini , Triton mini, Subtank Nano, 19mm Ego Ones/ Delta and the GS Air tank all work great on this. Also due to the light weight, large tanks will also make the device feel unbalanced in your hand. The battery housing does have a strap, but it’s really a tight squeeze getting any 18650 in and out.
It’s priced in the upper medium price range- $99. However, it is a genuine Evolv board, which makes it the lowest price mod out there with an Evolv chip- you do get true Evolv DNA40 performance. Vaporshark isn’t charging for shipping on these either.
I’ve had this one for the longest of the three (6 months) and it has zero issues. Like the aforementioned mods, it also features a spring loaded 510 connection and has been able to accommodate any tank I put on it.
There are several other mods out there that fall into this category, however I cannot recommend them.
I stick 60TC (or any I stick product ). At 77.4 X 36 X 22mm , this is just about the size of an IPV D2. I have owned the I Stick 30, 20 and both the 10 and 20 watt minis, and not one of them impressed me. Build quality was cheap and in recent versions the build quality hasn’t improved. There is no excuse for loose fitting buttons. I was given an Istick TC40 and a 50w that were broken and after going through them, I see no value in rebuilding them or any desire to use them. At best they are nothing more than a gift of screws. I have quite a collection of broke Eleaf products in a parts bin.
Kanger Kbox/Subox mini/Nebox. At 82mm, this is dimensionally close to the Evic VTC mini, however it’s an inferior device. Apparently Kanger hasn’t figured out this is the year 2016. This is the kind of product that a smoker will buy, try- and immediately go back to smoking. I have one of these- it was given to me by a coworker- he was a guy new on the scene and was talked into buying this kit. He couldn’t stand the hot vape, bought another tank and sank the 510. He’s pretty disgusted with his brief vape experience, so he wrote it off and went back to smoking- wouldn’t even let me try to fix it for him. The Evic VTC Mini and the IPV D3 are both superior devices and are in the same price range. I tapped it for a Varitube 510, played with it for a while and threw it in my Broke Ass Mods bin. At best I can rate it as nothing more than a gift of screws- absolutely nothing desirable that I find in usage- or salvage parts for projects.
HanaModz V4M, Vaporshark DNA 30/40 and Vaporshark RDNA’s. All three are even smaller than the SBody Macro, however none of these has a removable battery. In the case of the Vaporshark RDNA’s and the Hanamodz V4m, these are Lipo batteries. Really great idea- my V4M barely could last 60-75 minutes on TC at 15-18 watts of constant vaping. HanaModz replaced the Lipo (normally $25) at no cost and I saw no improvement. Vaping rule: Vapors do not let Vape Buds by LIPO mods. Period.
Cloupor Mini or any Cloupor product: If one argument can be made for why the vape industry needs to be regulated, it’s because of companies like Cloupor. After copying Hana Modz devices for a while, they came up with an original mod that was at the time the smallest 18650 removable mod out there. They are similar in size to the SBody Macro. They are also Ford Pinto’s. The company’s (ie; the Chinese shlocks who hid behind the guise of pretending to be in the manufacturing business) response was comical, arrogant and rather cavalier – “they were sorry this happened and that they were only aware of 2% of their devices exhibiting this behavior..”
Sorry, I am not going to be your quality assurance team at my expense. Besides, the dumbasses put a USB charging connection on the bottom. If you think I am being overly cruel about Cloupor, that’s because more people need to be. Any device that has the potential to cause someone harm is a device that needs to be removed from the market- as the metaphor goes “what can kill you can kill you”- something like that. I have two of their products that were given to me by others. Both are in my Broke Ass Mods Box, keeping company with I sticks and Smok products.
Batteries/ Battery life
I refuse to make a comparison about batteries, however I will tell you I am currently using 2600mah Sony VTC5’s, 2800 mah MXJO’s and more recently I’ve been using some Brillipower 3100mah batteries. I also am not a high power vaper. In long term use, all three of these will get me through a workday (that is, when I have what YOU would call a normal workday) without having to bring another battery along or having to charge the mods. I might give an edge to the SBody Macro’s DNA 40 chip as being the most efficient of the three as I have ran that through a 14 hour workday and 40 minutes of drive time.
These mods may not see daily use and often do not leave the house- I haven’t seen the need to carry these around as Joytech OLED Egrips are my choice for road warriors and meet the needs for stealth vaping at work. None of these mods have been dropped. The majority of the use any of these three mods see is in the house. However the adage of if it quacks like a duck , it’s probably a duck (although mallards don’t quack) can be applied. Based on build quality, the Sbody Macro and IPV D3 should be fairly robust devices for on the go. The 510 issue I experienced with the Joytech VTC Mini does not give me the confidence to recommend the unit- the problem is severe enough that at some point atomizers will strip out the threads or the 510 internal connector will break due to stress- despite that it appears the replacement doesn’t have this issue. It is of no consolation to the user who happens to get stuck with a flawed unit, no matter how isolated the problem is .
Some thoughts about service and warranties
The ecig market has had explosive growth and evolution, especially in the year 2015- even beyond that of the computer hardware craze of 1995-2002. As an example, Eleaf started out the year with the IStick 20 watt – a cheap sealed battery device that unfortunately revealed its cheap ass self in poor build quality- to the current 60 watt removable 18650 TC device. I use them as an example, as they have fought to stay relevant in the madness that has gone on in this market and to do so, in the past 10 months they have developed and marketed four iterations of their entry level devices. and about 3 clean sheets of paper designs. The year also started out with the Evolv DNA40 temperature control board being the king of the hill with no competition, with Evolv equiped mods starting around 250 USD. By mid year the Yihi SX350J chip started giving Evolv competition and paired off- for maybe a month. Now both Yihi and Evolv stepped up their game (the SX350J V2 and the Evolv DNA200) as other manufactures jumped on their coattails and are pushing TC mods and high power devices in the 45-70 USD price range.
Unfortunately this rapid technology boost, competition and price warfare have made the customers who purchase these items into being the product development engineers. While some of these companies have been very receptive to feedback from the end users (and very flexible by incorporating the features and quality that users want), the product support for the devices has been poor. Secondly, a well made device shouldn’t need support. I have owned Hana Modz products and while I did get excellent support, the support shouldn’t have been needed if the device had at least some level of quality control.
Chinese mod companies are the worst. A few – I will name Joytech and Eleaf as I have witnessed it first hand- try to masqurade by pretending to have US support. There is nothing more aggrivating to me than to email one of the customer support and have some “Lucy” email me back in poor English stating that “they would like a video of the issue”- I didn’t realize that I was required to buy a fucking smart phone or a video camera if I needed service for your product. This is absolutely unacceptable, especially for someone who is new to vaping and trying their damnest to get off smoking.
If I was to choose one based solely on warranty, then I would pick the IPV D3 or the SBody Macro- you can call up and talk to a real live person. Many Pioneer For You (the manufacturer of the IPVD3 ) authorized vendors are standing behind the IPV’s at the counters. Additional both Pioneer For You and VaporShark have excellent customer email/phone support and stand behind what they are selling.
Overall , which one would I recommend?
I equally like all three of them enough that I have no desire to part with any one of them or throw them in the Broke Ass Mod Box (in other words, none of them suck), but if I was to recommend one for someone to buy- an experienced vapor or a newb looking to step up from the pens- it would be the IPV D3.
It’s not as charming as the Sbody or the VTC mini, however the D3 is:
a. overall the most versatile (the power).
b. the most balanced (as I stated the SBody Macro feels really weird when large tanks are put on it) .
c. the most intuative to use (no fighting with the menu like the VTC mini).
d. the best warranty: no dealing with “The Lucies” with bad English asking you to make a video.
If the vendor has an extra USB to barrel connector cable for the IPV, pick up an extra, too. Just remember to put the battery in the right way.