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IQOS ILUMA reviewReading Time: 6 minutes

Next Level Heated Tobacco.

Nobody can accuse Heat not Burn pioneer Philip Morris International, manufacturer of the market-leading IQOS, of standing still. Since 2016, there have been several iterations of the leading heated tobacco device with various modifications, ranging from the subtle upgrades to the internals to a significant design change.

Furthermore, many independent manufacturers have looked at other ways of heating tobacco though, for the most part, utilising HEETS from PMI. Several manufacturers looked at using traditional cigarettes instead of HEETS. But, for most, they stuck to what works well. Using a spike or a blade to heat the tobacco from the inside out.

This, of course, has some drawbacks in that a certain degree of charring can – and often does – happen, given the temperature needed to properly heat the tobacco inside a HEET. Thing is, the independents might have been on to something when they used convection heating that PMI have introduced something very similar. PMI call it the “Smartcore Induction System.”

Smart Heating?

Unlike HEETS, the new TEREA sticks don’t just contain the tobacco plug and a filter, they also contain a metal element coated in stainless steel which, when inserted into the new ILUMA device, takes advantage of the magnetic coil to heat the tobacco from the inside. One advantage of this method is that it eliminates the need for cleaning a heating spike/blade which, in turn, provides a more consistent taste experience as the element is now inside the stick instead of the device.

Our IQOS ILUMA review.


IQOS ILUMA Azure BlueAs you would expect, the new IQOS ILUMA is packaged in the usual Apple-esque box containing everything you need to get cracking. PMI helpfully included a nifty wrap which doubles as the quick start guide for those manual-aversive types.

The guide does, quite clearly, state the need to fully charge the device prior to use (mine arrived with around ¼ charge) which takes approximately 90 minutes or so. Once fully charged, PMI claim that it’ll be good for a single pack of TEREA sticks – which is about the norm for the majority of heat-not-burn devices on the market.

The Device.

IQOS ILUMA charging cable and plugThe ILUMA sports a 2700mAh battery which, for heavier users, may be underwhelming but, that being said, the charge rate has improved over the previous generation of IQOS products. There is, of course, still room for improvement in that area (something that I keep banging on about and will continue to do so) but it is, at least, a step in the right direction. It uses the latest favoured USB-C style connection.

As with the IQOS 3 Duo I reviewed (over three years ago!) many of the refinements made to that product line have made it into the ILUMA:

  • Fast holder charge rate
  • The same redesigned side door
  • The same redesigned outer shell
  • Adding enough charge to the holder for two consecutive uses

The device itself is reasonably lightweight, clocking in at 116.5g and the holder is a mere 30.5g. The whole package is slightly slimmer than the IQOS 3 Duo too. I doubt that a device of this nature can be made much smaller without sacrificing elsewhere.

The Experience.

Unlike the previous generation of IQOS, using the ILUMA is ridiculously easy. Sure, there is a button on the holder that you can press but there is zero need to do that – unless you need to stop a session before its natural conclusion. Simply pop the new TEREA stick in the holder and it will automatically start the heating process. The holder will vibrate once to indicate that heating has started and then, it’ll vibrate again (20 seconds later) that indicates the TEREA stick is good to go.

As with all other heat-not-burn devices and consumables, the session time is either 14 puffs or 6 minutes – whichever is reached first – and the device (as with many others) will vibrate when there is 30 seconds (or two puffs) remaining. Both of which, once seen as innovative, are now standard features on any device. Unlike other devices, however, the experience I had from the device and TEREA sticks is the closest I’ve experienced to being consistent throughout the session. Most devices, and even the previous generation IQOS had this, experienced a degree of taste degradation at some point during the session.

TEREA PacksThe TEREA sticks don’t seem to degrade in taste experience as much, or as early as HEETS or other brands seem to. This is a very nice improvement.

Speaking of TEREA sticks, there are (currently) 9 blends to choose from:

  • Yellow – Mild & zesty with a hint of citrus.
  • Amber – Balanced & roasted with a nutty aroma.
  • Teak – Rounded & nutty with a coconut aroma.
  • Sienna – Balanced & woody with a hint of black tea (my personal HEETS favourite).
  • Russet – Robust & malty (rapidly becoming a favourite).
  • Turquoise – Fresh & zesty with a hint of citrus.
  • Green – Cooling & balanced with a peppermint aroma.
  • Blue – Cooling & deep with a peppermint aroma.
  • Mauve – Fresh & forest berry with a blueberry aroma

The only HEETS blend that isn’t (yet) in the TEREA line-up are the Sienna Caps. Yellow, Amber, Teak, Sienna & Russet are all classic tobacco blends with Yellow being the mildest and Russet being the strongest. Turquoise, Green & Blue are the Menthol’s with Turquoise being the mildest and Blue the strongest (and it is strong, holy Hannah). Mauve is from the ‘Aromatic’ line.

For this IQOS ILUMA review, I managed to get my grubby mits on Russet, Sienna and Blue – my preference has always been towards taste and these are the most intense blends on offer. With the previous generation IQOS I was an avid Sienna consumer with the occasional Blue pack interspersed. Russet, however, takes the experience of Sienna to a new level.

The delivery of the strong, robust taste of Russet TEREA is excellent throughout the session though. Sadly, I haven’t tried Russet on the previous IQOS so I cannot be certain if this is a generational or stick design thing. I have, however, tried Sienna on both and while the unused TEREA sticks do smell as advertised there isn’t much of that smell present during use. There is some but it is lacking compared to previous generation IQOS.

I don’t need to say much about TEREA Blue that I haven’t said already. Blue will punch you in the nose, then give it a good scrub once it is done. Both previous generation and TEREA with ILUMA are pretty similar in terms of experience with Blue.


IQOS ILUMA Azure Blue Side ViewIt may have been a few years between the IQOS 3 Duo and the IQOS ILUMA, but they have been years well spent in R&D. Most of that time, I suspect, was spent on the evolution of the consumable rather than the device. The taste is more consistent throughout a session than HEETS.

Aside from the improvements that were in the IQOS 3 Duo and now as standard in the ILUMA, the only real enhancement – likely a result of the TEREA stick – is the automatic heating start. The device itself is an IQOS when all is said and done. It’s very good. There’s some improvement in charging time for the pocket charger which is nice but it still clocks in at 2 – 2 ½ hours from flat to full. I’m not sure which I’d prefer, longer lasting (which means bigger batteries and heavier devices) or faster charging.

Either way, the kingon particles have moved. The king is dead, long live the king.

We hope that you enjoyed our IQOS ILUMA review. We are now selling both the IQOS ILUMA, ILUMA ONE plus the new TEREA sticks right here in our online shop. Or click the banner below to buy the fantastic new IQOS ILUMA today!

This product is not risk-free and provides nicotine, which is addictive. Only for use by adults.

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