SMOK X Cube Mini 75W Mod Review
Temp Ctrl: 200°F-600°F/100°C-315°C
Resistance: 0.06-3.0 ohm/0.10-3.0 ohm
The SMOK X Cube 2 160W temperature control mod was one of the most talked about vaporizers of 2015, yet despite its commercial success, there is no question that its bulky frame put off some of the vapers that might otherwise have been interested in acquiring a nice-looking high-power mod packed full of features. For this reason, the Chinese maker has recently launched the X Cube Mini, a downsized version of the original with a max power output of 75 watts and all the bells and whistles of its big brother.
Design-wise, the X Cube Mini is almost identical to the original SMOK temperature control mod. There are obvious size differences – 91mm x 50.6mm x 25.1 mm vs. 100mm x 60mm x 24.5mm – and the OLED display is visibly reduced in size on the smaller device, but other than that, the two look exactly the same. They are made of the same materials – zinc alloy and stainless steel – they have the same firing bar activation system, the same sliding magnetic cover and graphic design elements. Basically, if you’ve been looking for a miniature version of the SMOK X Cube 2, the Mini is exactly that.
The X Cube Mini comes in a variety of colors (stainless steel, black, white and red) and has the same great build quality as its more powerful big brother. Even though it’s 33 grams lighter than the X Cube 2, the Mini still feels heavy and sturdy in your hand, the buttons and firing bar are responsive and the OLED screen displays all the information you need when vaping. There’s a lot to be said about the general look and feel of the X Cube Mini, but little that hasn’t already been mentioned in my review of the original SMOM X Cube 2, so go ahead and read that if you’re interested in this kind of details.
It’s very important to mention is the fact that the X Cube Mini is powered by a single 18,650 battery, compared to the dual-battery SMOK X Cube 2. Battery life is greatly reduced on the smaller device, especially if you use it at high wattages, but that was to be expected due to its reduced size, and besides, it makes up in better handling.
I will dwell a bit more on some of the design elements that make the X Cube series unique and how they affect the functionality and performance of the mod. I will start with the firing bar, probably the most impressive design feature of the X Cube Mini. Instead of the classic firing button, SMOK took the bold decision to seamlessly integrate the activation mechanism into the body of its mod, by turning one of the sides of the device into a pressure-activated firing bar. Regardless of how you’re holding the device in your hand, all you have to do is squeeze and it will activate the battery.
That’s ingenious enough, but SMOK took it one step further by installing LEDs in the firing bar that can light up in 16 million different colors. This can be considered a bit of a gimmick, and it certainly takes its toll on battery life, but if you’re one of those vapers that cares about customization and standing out in a crowd, you’re going to love this feature.
I found the firing bar very original, but in terms of practicality I think it is inferior to the good ol’ fashioned fire button, simply because of the accidental firing issue. I was often in a situation where I had the X Cube Mini in my hand but also had to grab something else, and as soon as I tried to do that, I squeezed just a little bit and the mod fired. Sure, this thing has a lock – press the fire bar five times in rapid succession – but I tend to use that only when I store the device in my pocket, and it’s not a solution for when you’re in a hurry.
As I mentioned, the OLED display is slightly smaller on the X Cube Mini, but it it still positioned on the top of the device, right between the two ‘+’ and ‘-‘ buttons and the 510 spring-loaded connection. Obviously, with it so close to the atomizer, the risk of e-liquid leaking and potentially damaging the display did cross my mind, but SMOK had already put these worries to rest when the X Cube 2 launched, by clarifying that it is completely sealed and thus leak-proof. That doesn’t apply to the buttons next two it, though. E-liquid can definitely find its way inside through there, so always keep an eye for any leaks, to prevent damage.
Another thing I noticed about the display is that it is unusually dim, compared to most of the other mods I have used in the past. Even though the menu includes a “contrast” setting, which I originally assumed would help adjust the brightness, setting it to the minimum or maximum value doesn’t seem to make any difference at all. To be fair, the screen is not as dim as not to be visible in normal lighting condition, but, in bright sunlight, making out the information gets pretty difficult, especially if you consider its reduced size and small fonts.
On the X Cube 2, the micro USB port on the bottom was to be used exclusively for updating the firmware of the device, not for charging, but it seems SMOK has changed that for the Mini. You can now actually use the port for both updates and charging, which is definitely a pro if you don’t have a smart battery charger.
The magnetic battery cover, while smaller and a bit thinner than the one of the X Cube 2 is otherwise identical. It’s kept in place by two pairs of strong magnets, and even though you can sometimes feel it move in hour hand, it’s always pulled back by the magnets, so you’re never going to have it accidentally fall off.
The options menu on the Mini is the same as the one of the SMOK X Cube 2, with the only difference being the graphic design of some of the icons that show up on the display. To access the menu, you have to press the firing bar three time, quickly.
The first option is Bluetooth, which you can turn on so you can connect to a smartphone or tablet via the downloadable SMOK BEC app. I already talked about this feature in my review of the X Cube 2, but if you haven’t read it, this basically allows you to fiddle with some of the settings if you don’t want to do it directly from the mod menu, create vaping patterns – like programming the X Cube Mini to operate at a certain wattage for a number of seconds, then bump or lower the power output for a few more seconds, and so on – check your vaping history by day, although the app only records puffs while it is paired with the device, not when it is disconnected.
I would be tempted to label Bluetooth connectivity and the SMOK app as gimmicks, because I personally didn’t find them very useful, but they are actually necessary if you plan on using your SMOK device in temperature mode with anything else than Ni200 coils. Unfortunately, while the X Cube Mini does support titanium and stainless steel, you will have to pay a $2.99 fee to unlock this feature, and you can only do it via the app. Having to pay extra to enjoy the full TC capabilities of this device is definitely a big con in my book.
Next in the SMOK X Cube Mini menu is the mode selection. You can choose between Wattage Mode and Temperature Control mode, both with their respective submenus. In wattage mode, you can also set five different Special Draw Effect – ‘Min.’, ‘Soft’, ‘Norm.’, ‘Hard’ or ‘Max’. For example, in ‘Min’, the mod will fire at 15% lower power than what it is set for, for the first two seconds, before jumping back to the input wattage, while in ‘Hard’, it will fire at 10% more power than what it is set for, for the first two seconds. Again, if you appreciate customization features, you’re going to like this option.
The submenu for Temperature Control allows you to choose from the above listed Special Draw Effects, select the coil material from Ni200, titanium and stainless steel, dual coil or single coil, and adjust the temperature coefficient for every different material to ensure that the X Cube Mini temperature control feature works properly.
We then have a series of settings for the LED lighting for the firing bar. As previously noted, you can have it light up in up to 16 million colors by inputting their corrsponding RGB codes, although I found that easier to do via the downloadbale map. You can also set the colors to ‘Shift’, for a smooth transition between several colors, or to ‘Jump’, to have the lighting go through the colors rapidly. Both these options have adjustable speed settings.
The ‘Puffs’ menu allows you to both track your daily vaping patterns, and set a number of max puffs per day, if you’re trying to limit how much you vape. Once you reach the input value, the device will stop firing and alert you that you’ve reached your daily quota, via the OLED display.
In the General Settings menu you can set Stealth to ‘on’ or ‘off’, adjust the contrast of the display (which doesn’t seem to do anything), rotate the orientation of the screen, set the time and date, and adjust the initial resistance of the atomizer you are using with the mod. I found this last one to be a bit weird, since it basically allows you to manually change the resistance of the coil you are using, which in the wrong hands can be pretty dangerous. Does SMOK mean to imply that its mod can’t accurately detect resistance, so they allow you to adjust it instead?
The last two menus are ‘Power’, which you can use to shut down the device, and ‘Download’, for downloading firmware updates. I honestly never used these, since I prefer to just lock my X Cube Mini and let it hibernate until I use it again, and did the updating by connecting the mod to my laptop and using SMOK’s update tool.
While I do appreciate all the options available in the SMOK X Cube Mini menu, they can be a bit hard to handle for someone who is new to this kind of high-en device. The good new is that you don’t need to go through everything to enjoy a great vaping experience. Once you’ve fiddled with the wattage and temp. control settings, you’re good to go. All the others are optional.
Performance-wise, I expected the SMOK X Cube Mini to be very similar to the original X Cube 2, despite the considerable power difference. SMOK’s flagship device had a maximum power output of 160 watts at launch, which has since them increased to 180 watts, following the most recent firmware update, but I personally never took full advantage of that power, preferring instead to remain in the 70W – 90W area. With a maximum output of 75W, the Mini was supposed to almost as good for my needs.
However, my first experience with the X Cube Mini was a bit of a disappointment. Long story short, it just didn’t produce as much vapor as I was used to with the build I was using on it. The problem was that the delay between me pressing the firing bar and the device actually activating the battery was about a second, and while that may not seem very long, you could tell by the vapor production. Whether in wattage or temperature control mode you would have to prime the device before drawing on it, in order to get the most out of your atomizer.
Luckily, SMOK spotted their error early and released a firmware update that fixed the issue. The device fires instantly now, as it’s supposed to.
Another issue that was supposed to be fixed by the recent update was a problem with stainless steel coils in temperature control. I actually received an email from SMOK instructing me to update the X Cube Mini in order to fix an issue with stainless steel coils. I did just that, but I still can’t get it to work properly.
I have been using the Mini with the SMOK TFV4 Mini, which pairs wonderfully with this mod, by the way, i n which I installed the new stainless steel coil heads. They recommend a temperature of between 350 and 550 degrees Fahrenheit, but as I press the firing bar, the display just shows the temperature going up to around 150 -200 degrees and staying there. I just can’t get it to go up to the right temperature, for some reason.
I emailed SMOK about this issue, detailing my setup, resistance, temperature coefficient, but I have yet to hear from them. Maybe I’m doing something wrong, but as of right now, temp mode with stainless steel is just broken for me.
The good news is that these problems are easily resolvable through a new firmware update.
Otherwise, the X Cube Mini works pretty well in wattage mode, firing down to a minimum resistance of 0.1Ω. Even though, the 75W of power isn’t comparable to the 180W of the X Cube 2, it’s more than enough for the average vaper.
All in all, the X Cube Mini is a decent device, but with the bar set so high by SMOK’s previous releases, I was somewhat disappointed by its temperature control issues. Hopefully they will get resolved soon, at which point I will actually be able to recommend it. The price is also a bit high right now – around $70 – but it’s sure to come down, as it always does. If size is not an issue for you, I would recommend going with the tried and true SMOK X Cube 2, but once the aforementioned problems are fixed, the Mini should be a worthy alternative.
SMOK X Cube Mini
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