Philip Morris launched their first electronic cigarette device, the iQOS Mesh. Being tested in the United Kingdom, it is very promising but disappointing from the user experience point of view.
The vape version of iQOS
Even though the “iQOS” name may initially seem slightly confusing, it should be pointed out right away that the iQOS Mesh is indeed a vape product that has nothing to do with combustible tobacco.
A name all the more ambiguous as “iQOS” has been a product for years, and now becomes a range of very different products with the Mesh. It’s a little confusing, but the iQOS Mesh is a personal vaporizer.
The world’s largest cigarette company clearly indicated its willingness to fully switch to reduced-risk products some time ago, so there is no need to specify the potential challenge of this launch. For the time being, the iQOS Mesh is only available in the United Kingdom, which has been a test market since August.
The iQOS Mesh is available at £19.99, and comes with an adapter and USB cable for charging, but without any e-liquid cartridge. A relevant choice in my opinion since it allows the buyer to choose his flavor without being forced to buy one he may not like with the kit.
The refills are sold at a pretty reasonable price: £2.99 for two cartridges, containing 2ml of e-liquid each. We are therefore on a cost of use very close to that of a clearomizer, but with a disposable sealed pods. A very aggressive positioning that could have led to fears of low quality. Well, not at all.
Far from it actually, this product is very well made. The battery body is made of aluminium to combine lightness and strength, the adjustments are precise and the surfaces feel comfortable. The design is simple, yet contemporary and efficient.
However, the size of the iQOS Mesh device goes against the current trends of lower and wider vaping devices, with a length of 17cm, which may not be unanimously praised. The overall volume is about average, but the shorter and wider formats give an impression of compactness this one does not have.
There is a small detail that shows how the ergonomics have been taken care of : the battery has a flat surface, opposite to the button, to prevent it from rolling on a flat surface which is quite handy!
The battery offers a convenient capacity of 900 mAh and can be charged through a USB connection in about 1 hour and a half. This charging time is a bit long by current standards, but still allows to reach 40% of the autonomy in half an hour, and a flashing LED indicates the battery level.
The essential characteristics of Philip Morris International’s iQOS Mesh :
- Type of equipment: starter kit
- Dimensions mod: 170 mm by 18.5 mm
- Battery capacity: 900 mAh
- USB charging
- Tank capacity: 2 ml
- Mesh heating elements
- Weight: 62g
The box includes:
iQOS Mesh battery (x1), USB plug (x1), USB cable (x1).
Temperature control made easy
Using the iQOS Mesh is as simple as it can be. There is only one button used to switch on the battery, the vape process is automatically triggered as the user inhales. Its LED indicates that the battery is running. An important detail because the device automatically goes into standby mode three minutes after the last use.
The idea is probably to save battery life, since there can be no unintentional triggering — for example, in a user’s pocket. Still, while this function is understandable due to safety concerns, it is quickly annoying. You have to systematically think about turning on your electronic cigarette every time you want to vape, otherwise you will inhale only fresh air.
But the really interesting thing about this battery is that it works in temperature control mode, which has several important advantages. The first is the protection of the cotton if it’s not soaked enough, which avoids dry hits.
It is fully functional, the iQOS Mesh indeed reduces the power when the e-liquid runs out and cuts down the vapor when the cotton is completely dry, thus avoiding the user enduring the terrible sensation of a dry hit at the end of the VEEV capsule.
The other advantage is to maintain a constant and controlled heating temperature. The pleasure of vaping is significantly improved by the consistency in the vapor production and the flavour rendering optimization.
The idea of implementing temp control on a device for new users is not new. Iit was implemented on Innokin’s itaste EZ-TC in 2016, for example, but it is nevertheless an excellent initiative on the part of Philip Morris. The company also has another point to develop temperature control, namely the total control of vapor emissions since it is the only manufacturer with a structure capable of the most advanced scientific analysis.
The “Cube”, in Lausanne, is a 100 million pounds building, housing an unparalleled arsenal of laboratories in which more than 400 scientists work daily. Thanks to temperature control in a sealed system, all the vaping parameters are constant and Philip Morris can display a total monitoring over the composition of the produced vapor. An point that no other manufacturer can afford to make.
Mesh adapted to MTL
The second element of the kit, the VEEV cartridges follow the same pattern. The manufacturing quality is beyond criticism. They are made of a plastic that meets food and medical standards, have absolutely no leaks in any position in which they are placed and are pleasant to use.
Simply insert the VEEV into the battery until a clear click is heard and it’s ready to vape, and removal is just as easy. From a functional point of view, it’s perfect.
Inside, it is obvious that their design has received a lot of attention. Unlike the do-it-yourself style manufacturing of Fontem Ventures’ Blu crappy resistance that leaves no doubt about the priority given to reducing production costs in total disregard for the quality of the final product, Philip Morris clearly proves its desire to offer a really well made and safe to use product.
And here comes the mesh resistance. Again, the idea is not innovative and this style of resistances is in now widespread, but mostly in clearomisers dedicated to high-power vaping. The mesh of this iQOS is really different since it forms a fine screen of only 16 microns. This allows the resistance to have a large surface area of 11.7 mm² while requiring only a few watts to heat. It is of course made of stainless steel to be compatible with temperature control.
Another point, still within the framework of controlling the composition of the vapor, the mesh allows to have less variations from one resistance to another than a traditional coil in the production lines.
The third and final element of the kit is e-liquids. Tested on drippers to enjoy them in the best conditions, they are stunning, both truly original and remarkably well designed. The recipes are original and truly creative, and the aromas are precise, realistic, natural and balanced even in the most complex compositions. To be honest, I was far from expecting such a high level, especially since it is consistent across the whole range. Congrats to the flavorists who designed them, they did a really great job.
VEEV cartridges are available in 6, 11 and 18mg/ml nicotine, which should in theory cover most expectations. Considering their price point, there would even be enough to tempt more than one experienced vaper. But in practice, this is not the case.
But a disapointing vape
It is not the case because from the first puff, the vaping experience is disappointing. First of all because the throat hit is far too low compared to the nicotine level displayed. For a given nicotine level, the feeling is about half of what should be expected from most pods, and easily one-third of what is obtained with a conventional MTL clearomizer such as a Nautilus. If you usually vape a 3mg/ml e-liquid, you’ll find the 11 mg/ml VEEV perfect. And that’s no good news.
The other disappointing point is the vapor production. The air flow is restrictive and offers a very pleasant mouth to lung experience. We don’t expect a massive vapor production, and that’s clearly not the purpose of this device. However, vapor production with the iQOS Mesh is really, really low. A very tiny cloud of a very light vapor, too weak to be satisfying since it feels like you’re almost exhaling nothing. Too much vapor is not the goal, but there is a minimum, and we are quite below with this kit.
The positive point is in the flavor rendering , surprisingly good considering the two previous points, even if it does not equal the one you get from these liquids in a clearomizer.
The lack of vapor and throat hit considerably limits the relevance of this kit. As part of a transition to vaping, it may be suitable for a smoker who has been used to light cigarettes, certainly not a smoker of conventional ones. And for both, store shelves are not short of more efficient devices.
The feeling left by Philip Morris’ electronic cigarette is mixed. It is indisputable that the tobacco company has the willingness and has given itself the resources to produce a qualitative product that is consistent with its desire to focus on RRPs. But to be efficient, these products must meet two criteria: they must lower the risk for the user, but they must also satisfactorily replace the risky product. The iQOS Mesh perfectly fulfils the first criterion, in the continuity of the colossal scientific resources that Philip Morris has implemented.
As for the second criterion, the iQOS Mesh misses the point, at least for the majority of users. It is also possible that it will evolve in the future, the air flow near the resistance for example would deserve a significant optimization. To be continued when the product will be distributed everywhere, but as it stands I would not recommend it. Not that it is bad, but because there is more efficient on the market to make a successful transition to vaping.
- The general quality
- The ease of use
- The battery life
- Temperature control
- No leaks
- Excellent e-liquids
- The price point
We don’t like
- The really insufficient throat hit
- Very low vapor production