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Exclusive HnB UK review – the QoQ Honor

QoQ Honor

If you’re interested in vaping as well as Heat not Burn you’re probably familiar with the great clone debate. Within days of a new vapour product  appearing, whether it’s the latest must-have atomiser or an expensive custom mod, a dozen Chinese factories are cranking out reproductions at a fraction of the price. Some vapers (and most manufacturers) hate this; others think it’s a great way of giving more people access to the latest and best gear.

Well, so far the HnB industry hasn’t suffered – or benefited, depending on your point of view – from cloning, but for a while last week I did wonder. I’ve just spent a few days testing a brand new device that looks very like one I reviewed a few weeks ago. Is it a clone? Not exactly, as it turns out, but there’s definitely been some inspiration drawn.

My latest harm reduction toy is the Honor from QoQ. Before you start Googling, this device is so new that it isn’t on the market yet (yes, it’s yet another exclusive from the dedicated team at Heat not Burn UK) but it should be available soon. Is it worth buying when it does hit the shops? Well, you’re going to have to read on to find out!

QoQ actually contacted us a couple of months ago to let us know they were going to be displaying the Honor at a trade fair in Dortmund. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make it down for that, but they kindly sent me an example to review. As I said, this device is as new as it gets, and like the VCOT I looked at last month the retail packaging isn’t ready yet. Obviously I can’t do the unboxing thing if I don’t have the box, so let’s just skip straight to the interesting part – the device itself.

The Review

Once I’d thanked the postman and ripped open the package I found myself holding a very ordinary German carrier bag with a small bundle of newspaper in it. At this point I really started to wonder about cloning, because when I unwrapped the paper my first thought was “They’ve sent me a Lil.”

They hadn’t, of course. Firstly, I noticed that this device is built very differently from the Lil. Secondly it has a nice QoQ logo laser-etched on the front. Finally, the Lil didn’t come in pink the last time I checked. There’s a very strong resemblance between the two, though – much too strong to be a coincidence. It’s very obvious that when QoQ started to work on the Honor they took the Lil as their starting point.

Obviously this isn’t exactly unusual in industry. Equally obviously there are two ways to go about it. You can simply reverse engineer someone else’s product, maybe making just enough tweaks to get around all those pesky patent laws (although Chinese e-cig makers just don’t seem to care). Alternatively you can follow the same basic concept and develop it into a new product. Once I’d played with the Honor for a couple of minutes – poking and prodding it, playing with the moving parts and tapping it on things – it was pretty clear that QoQ had followed the second route. The Honor looks like the Lil’s twin, but there are a lot of differences.

The biggest difference is how it’s built. Both the original Lil and the new Lil Solid have plastic cases, although they feel like there’s metal underneath in the main body. The QoQ Honor is a much more solid device; both the main body and the top cap are solid aluminium. The metalwork is very nicely done, with a deep anodised finish (pink on mine, but there you go) and a good, if not quite perfect, fit between the two parts. The top cap is a very similar design to the Lil’s – so similar, in fact, that I checked if they’re interchangeable (they’re not). It just slips over the heating chamber and has a magnet to stop it sliding off again.

Again like the Lil, there’s a sliding metal button on top that covers the tobacco stick holder, but rather than the Lil’s plastic button – which slides in a stamped metal top plate – this one is nicely machined alloy just like the casing. Under the top cover is the heating chamber, complete with a removable plastic insert that pulls out for cleaning. This insert is interchangeable with both the Lil and Lil Solid, even though they’re not interchangeable with each other. Strange but true. As for sticks, QoQ say the Honor is compatible with all 7.2mm tobacco sticks. Basically that means PMI’s HEETs and KT&G’s Fiit.

The main control on the Honor is the power button on one side of the case. This feels like metal and has a battery status LED set into it, but it’s not quite as solid as I’d like. It’s nicely clicky, but wobbles slightly when I put my thumb on it. Still, it works well enough. On the base of the device is a micro-USB charging port and another button, very small and almost flush with the case. I’ll come back to that in a minute.

Obviously I have nothing to say about the accessories, because my Honor didn’t come with any, but the device itself is well made and very solid. The all-metal body gives it a very high quality feel, and the Lil-style design makes for a unit that’s small and slim enough to hold easily but large enough to contain a decent battery.

Anyway, enough of my rambling about what a nice gadget it is. Let’s see if it works.

Vaping the Honor

My first attempt to use the Honor was, I have to say, a bit of a failure; it wouldn’t power up. I’d topped up the battery, so I knew it wasn’t that (a full charge takes about 90 minutes, by the way), and I tried every possible way of pressing the power button I could think of. I gave it three fast clicks, then five. I held it down until my thumb ached. I jabbed it in frustration and smacked it on the edge of my desk – the case really is pretty sturdy – and finally I called QoQ to say it didn’t work.

So, that little button beside the USB port? It’s the on/off switch. Hold it down for three seconds, until the unit vibrates and the status LED blinks through a brief colour sequence, and you’re ready to get started. Just slide back the top button, push a HEET into the chamber and hold down the power button for three seconds until it vibrates again and the status LED starts to pulse. Then all you have to do is wait until it heats up, which takes around 20 seconds – not spectacularly fast, but not slow either. When it vibrates again and the LED glows steadily, it’s ready to vape. You’re not going to miss the vibration on this device, by the way; it’s powerful and accompanied by a loud buzz.

As for the actual vaping experience, the Honor is impressive. The first eight to ten puffs deliver plenty of vapour; the flavour comes through very well, and the vapour is warm and dense on the standard setting. It does fall off quite sharply after that, though. The first few puffs seem to pretty much dry out the stick, so while vaping quality is nearly as good as iQOS at first, it doesn’t stay that way all through the session. It’s still good, though – very close to the Lil.

Each session with the Honor is set to four minutes and 20 seconds; at the four-minute point it vibrates to let you know time’s nearly up. It will also buzz if you reach 14 puffs before the timer runs out; when that happens you have two more puffs before it switches off. The problem – and several other devices have it too – is that a HEET doesn’t really last for that many puffs. Ten or twelve is about right.

The Honor has two other features worth noting. One is that it has dual temperature modes; to switch between them turn the device off, then click the on/off button three times. The unit will vibrate and the status LED will blink a few times – green for normal mode, or yellow for low temperature. The low temperature mode might suit you if you prefer very mild cigarettes, but I found it a bit anaemic and stuck with the standard temperature.

I’ve looked at a couple of HnB systems with temperature control now, so while this is a bonus it isn’t anything radical. The Honor’s other extra feature is quite radical, though. If you double-click the power button during a vaping session, it puts the device into pause mode. That will halt the heating timer so it doesn’t shut itself down while you’re away. If you’re half way through a HEET and need to answer the door or put the cat out, this is pretty handy. Once you’ve signed for your parcel or pitched the furball out into the rain, just double click again to restart the timer and carry on vaping. QoQ recommend you only pause once during each session, and I’d agree with that; I gave one HEET three one-minute pauses, and the traces of weak vapour it was still producing after the last one tasted pretty awful.

QoQ say the Honor has a 2,400mAh internal battery, which I believe is a standard 18650 cell. That’s smaller than the 2,900mAh boasted by both Lil and iQOS, and this shows up in shorter battery life. According to the product literature I was sent, a single charge is good for 25 sticks. I would say 20 is more realistic. That’s still reasonable; it just doesn’t come close to the new iQOS 2.4 Plus.

Maintenance of the Honor is exactly the same as the LiL. Because it uses a ceramic spike as the heating element, rather than a blade, it helps to give used HEETs a twist before removing them; that reduces the chance of the tobacco being left on the spike. If that does happen just take off the top cap and remove the insert from the chamber. The tobacco will come out with it. There were no cleaning accessories with my Honor (there will be in the retail packaging) so I just used a Lil brush, which worked fine.

Conclusion

Overall the QoQ Honor is an impressive device. With the same handy form factor as Lil, but a higher quality (and absolutely rock solid) case, it’s a great portable option; while it’s a lot bigger than the iQOS holder, it’s less than half the size of the portable charging case. Battery life is decent if nothing special, and the all-important vape is in the upper half of the devices we’ve tested.

My personal preference is still for the iQOS 2.4 Plus, with its compact holder and outstanding battery life, but if you like the style of the Lil this is definitely a good alternative. The case really is nice – by far the nicest, and toughest, I’ve seen yet on a HnB device. Performance is good, and the pause feature is a nice touch that some people will find useful.

So, in conclusion, the Honor from QoQ is a very nice Heat not Burn product with some interesting features and fantastic build quality. If you want to check out a few systems before buying, this one is definitely worth a look!

 

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