Welcome to our Ploom S 20 review
The Ploom S 20 is a high quality heated tobacco device made by JTI (Japan Tobacco International.) The company was formed in 1999 and is one of the largest in its field.
This handheld device uses an external heating method that Ploom have called HeatFlow technology. The device is fed with small tobacco sticks that are called EVO. EVO tobacco sticks use something called ActivBlend which is a special process whereby they use two different cuts of tobacco; microground and fine cut. This creates an effective release of flavour.
The Ploom S 20 device is available in three finishes (Matt Black, Soft Champagne and Steel Silver) and the EVO tobacco sticks are available in four flavours; Bronze, Emerald, Purple and Sepia.
What is heated tobacco technology?
If you have never heard of heated tobacco technology before here is a brief summary of what it is. Heated tobacco (also known as heat not burn) is a relatively new form of harm reduction where instead of the tobacco being burnt like it is with regular cigarettes it is only heated. The way it is heated is that a blade or heating chamber inside the device heats up the tobacco stick. Crucially it is only heated up to a certain temperature, enough to create a warm nicotine infused vapour but not heated up enough to actually burn the tobacco, hence the original name “heat not burn.” Most of the damage to a traditional smokers health is caused by inhaling the actual tobacco smoke. Because heat not burn doesn’t burn the tobacco it doesn’t produce anywhere near the amount of carcinogens that regular smoking does.
Anyway without further ado let’s get on to the Ploom S 20 review.
What’s in the box?
Modern packaging is usually excellent. Gone are the days of poor packaging as everyone tries to emulate Apple, who really nailed the art of perfect packaging over a decade ago. These days any decent company will have perfected their packaging, and Ploom have done just that.
Inside the box is the Ploom S 20 heated tobacco device of course, plus an instruction booklet, a small cleaning tool, a USB wall charger and a USB-C charging cable. USB-C (if you didn’t already know) is an upgrade on the standard micro-USB because with USB-C you don’t need to worry about which way round the connector is.
The device itself weighs 87.5g and it feels very nice in the hand. For an all-in-one style device it is quite diminutive too.
The finish is has a slight matt texture, I am guessing it is finished like this to help to hold the device comfortably without worrying about it slipping out of your hand if your hands were slightly sweaty.
Using the Ploom S 20
Most heated tobacco devices are extremely easy to use (which is a good thing!) and this is no exception. Firstly I gave the device a full charge. This took just over one hour to fully charge from completely discharged.
The device has a lovely illuminated white LED strip on the front of it and it slowly works its way up from the bottom to the top as it is charging so you know exactly how much charge is in the device at any one time. Once the bar is completely full you will have enough charge for approximately 20 of the EVO tobacco sticks, basically one packet.
Once it was fully charged I opened up a packet of EVO Bronze tobacco sticks and flipped the small lid on the top that exposes the hole that you insert the tobacco stick into. You push it down carefully as far as it will go. It fits inside really snugly.
Then you are ready to go! You simply hold down a small button at the base of the white led strip. Then you have two options. The first one is to release the button after one vibration, this puts you into something called “quick mode.” That means that the device will be fully ready in 20 seconds. The second option is to keep your finger on the button until you feel a second vibration, that will take you into something called “intense mode” and this time the device takes 50 seconds to be ready. Once the device has heated up and is ready the device will vibrate again.
The actual experience
First off I tried it in the “quick mode.” With heated tobacco devices you will never get much smoke (or vapour to be precise) because these devices are not designed for that purpose, but you do like to see some because it is all part of the experience. In quick mode I didn’t find I was getting enough. But stick it into intense mode and it is much better! It takes a bit longer to heat up, 50 seconds compared to 20 seconds, but trust me it’s well worth the wait! You get a bit more vapour too, but more importantly you get more flavour and throat hit. Both flavour and throat hit are very important to smokers switching over because that is what they are used to and is one of the reasons that these devices are so successful when compared to other methods of harm reduction.
As you are vaping your chosen flavour of EVO tobacco stick you will see the white LED strip slowly moving downwards, letting you know exactly what stage you are at during your current session. I found that you get up to 4 minutes or around 15 puffs on average, occasionally I would double-hit for a more intense experience. When the session is almost over you get a short vibration, then around 15 seconds later a much longer vibration as the device powers off, indicating that this particular session is over. You can usually nail a couple of final puffs in between the two vibrations. Each EVO tobacco stick contains around the same amount of nicotine that you would find in a regular cigarette.
Once finished just remove the spent EVO tobacco stick from the device and close the small cover to protect the heating chamber from dust etc. To see how much charge is remaining in the device simply slide the cover open and the white LED strip will show you exactly how much charge you have remaining in the device.
A quick word about the white LED strip, it is only a basic strip but it works really well. Considering there is only one tiny button on the device (at the bottom of the LED strip) it’s just perfect. Ploom have made the operation of the device so simple and that is essential to keeping the experience authentic and faff free.
As for cleaning the device it is sublime simplicity. Systems that use external heating on the tobacco sticks are always very easy to clean. Simply use the supplied cleaning tool every few days to ensure that the device is kept in perfect working order.
Unsurprisingly we have had quite a few emails and tweets already from people asking how this compares to the IQOS. We have deliberately left out any direct comparisons with the IQOS because they use different methods in both the device itself (Ploom use an external heating method and IQOS uses a heating blade) and also for the tobacco sticks themselves (Ploom uses two different cuts of tobacco and IQOS use some PG in theirs.) But I would say that they are quite evenly matched. They are both around the same price too and have similar flavours. Some people will prefer the all-in-one style of the Ploom whereas others will prefer the two-piece setup of the IQOS (pen holder and charging unit.)
It is great that we are able to offer people the choice because anything that helps a smoker to switch to a much safer option has to be applauded.
Here concludes our Ploom S 20 heated tobacco device review, we hope that you have found it useful.
A quick footnote on the EVO tobacco sticks. Two of the flavours are a traditional tobacco based flavour and the other two are menthol based flavours. The four different flavours are described by Ploom as follows:
- Bronze : A full flavoured tobacco.
- Emerald : Classic tobacco infused with cooling menthol.
- Purple : Classic tobacco infused with berry and cooling menthol.
- Sepia : A smooth and rounded tobacco flavour.
I tried them all extensively throughout my review and we will have a review up of these EVO tobacco sticks in the near future. Out of the four flavours I did find that the two menthol based ones (Emerald & Purple) offered the most throat hit and flavour. Out of the two tobacco flavours (Bronze & Sepia) I found that the Bronze flavour was the better one but as with anything like this taste is very much subjective.
Please see below for the three different colours available in our Ploom S 20 starter bundle that is currently just £29. Our entire Ploom range can be found in our online store by clicking here.
Ploom S 20 Starter Bundles