A challenger for the IQOS crown?
In the heat-not-burn market, IQOS is the dominant force. After all, PMI have spent a rather large amount of cash on research and development of the product (not to mention commissioning multiple scientific studies which independent science mostly agrees with). It is no wonder, then, that IQOS is popular. It is a very good product.
This doesn’t take away the efforts made by the smaller, independent, manufacturers making devices like the iBuddy, the Uwoo Y1, the Lambda T3 and the TFWIH among many others. Most of them we review right here on heatnotburn.co.uk. Each of them has good points and not so good points. Plus, there isn’t any “right” way of heating the HEET. Some choose a spike; others choose a blade. PMI chose a blade, no doubt they had their reasons. The SLS CP also uses a blade, but with a minor difference. The debate around whether a blade or spike is better will no doubt rumble on and, for the most part, it’s a good thing there’s different points of view as the spike may be better for some and the blade for others. Choice, people. Choice. It’s good.
As is typical, the packaging is well crafted and sturdy. The device itself, whichever colour you’ve chosen (Red, Black, White and Navy), is nestled in the plastic tray once you’ve opened the box. Underneath that are the usual accessories; a charge cable, a cleaning brush, some alcohol-soaked cleaning sticks and the manual and warranty paperwork.
The CP does ship with around 50-75% charge in the 650mAh battery so it is good to go right out of the box but, as is the norm, I stuck it on charge first – I can be patient. Sometimes.
As the CP is similar to the style of the IQOS 2.4/3 holder, albeit slightly heavier, it is reasonably comfortable to hold in-between the fingers (similar to a cigarette) or it can be held like the IQOS3 Multi or vape pen. Surprisingly, it doesn’t roll off surfaces as I expected given its near-cylindrical shaping (which happened a few times with the IQOS). However, the CP operates more like the IQOS3 Multi and the Lambda T3, being an all-in-one device, so comparisons are only to be expected.
About the device
Unusually for a heat-not-burn device, the SLS CP requires a 5-click on/off process – technically called a “lock/unlock”. Normally, this is found in vaping products. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing per se, it just may confuse users of other heat-not-burn devices. Personally, as a vaper, it is fine for me as it is.
To start the heating process (do make sure there’s a HEET in the device first), it is the same process as other heat-not-burn devices. A long press of the single button until the device vibrates and the led changes to green. Word of caution here, that LED is bright. Very damn bright.
With devices such as the IQOS, once the heating process has started, it can’t be stopped manually. It can only “go the distance”. The SLS CP, however, allows the user to stop halfway through, or even change their mind. A 2-second press of the single button either during the pre-heat phase or actual use, will shut the heater off. I’m not entirely convinced this is a needed feature in a heated tobacco product as the tobacco in the HEETS (and any other HEET-like consumable) isn’t really designed with that in mind. They are designed as a single-use, heat-it-use-it-throw-it cycle. Maybe someone will find this feature useful.
Also, as far as I am aware, the SLS CP has the only self-clean feature in the market right now. The self-clean, referred to as “decarbonation” in the manual and the product website, fires the heating blade up to around 500C for 90 seconds before shutting off and is started by 3 clicks of the button; the led turns purple and it vibrates to let you know the cycle has started. Maybe this is part of why the device has a ceramic heating blade, like the IQOS, rather than a metallic one – like the one in the Lambda T3, either way it’s a useful feature and one that, according to the manufacturer, should be used every two days or so. That’s in addition to a bit of manual cleaning with the brush and alcohol swabs.
Whew, that’s a lot of info to take in about the various button presses and led flashes. So, to summarise:
- 5 clicks of the button to lock/unlock device (LED flashes red, green and blue)
- Long (2-second) press of the button to turn on / go pre-heat /off (green LED and vibration)
- 3 clicks of the button for self-clean mode (purple LED and vibration)
- 1 click of the button to view the battery level (Blue LED for full, Green for half-full, and Red for little or no charge)
Considering that IQOS is the unacknowledged king of heat-not-burn I will freely admit that after trying many devices I still turn to IQOS because it simply is that good. But. The SLS CP is almost, but not quite, there.
As mentioned earlier, the CP is an all-in-one device, like the IQOS3 Multi I reviewed. It almost seems unfair to put an independent manufacturer against PMI but, for the David in this David-v-Goliath contest, the SLS CP does pretty well.
Battery life is a bit of a let-down. For the casual user such as myself the close-to-90-minute charge from flat is irksome. Especially as, for the most part, the battery only lasts for around 10 HEETS anyway – just as the Multi does. If charging could be significantly improved, the CP could find itself ranking alongside the IQOS3 Multi.
I like the style of the CP more than the Multi though. It just feels better in my hand. More akin to the original IQOS up to, and including the IQOS3 (not the Multi). Perhaps PMI could learn something here? Styling is, of course, completely subjective to the individual.
Once I got used to the various button clicks, the CP is really easy to use. In fact, for most people, once the CP is turned on and unlocked, it’ll be just as easy to use as the IQOS3 Multi.
Self-cleaning is a neat addition. As mentioned, I’m not aware of any other heat-not-burn product offering that. It certainly helps to keep the blade clean and ensures the taste of the HEETS can be thoroughly enjoyed. After all, that’s why we buy them. Right?
Speaking of taste, the CP was good. Very good in fact. Probably one of the better, if not the best, independent devices taste-wise. Taste also didn’t seem to diminish over the course of the 4-minute heating time (or 13 puffs, whichever comes first).
A note on cleaning. I’ve previously mentioned the self-clean feature and while it does work well, it isn’t a replacement for a manual cleaning. I’ve had this device just over a week now, and it’s seen three packs of HEETS. With self-cleaning every couple of days – usually just after the device has finished charging – I haven’t really felt the need to manually clean it. General performance of the device and, most importantly, the taste hasn’t really degraded. Even after a week of use and regular self-cleans. However, just like the Lambda T3, the SLS CP makes manual cleaning a snap with the removable top cap granting greater access to the heating chamber.
I am mightily impressed with the SLS CP. Especially considering that it is the very first heat-not-burn product from the Shenzhen Changneng Huike Technology Co, via the brand SLS. The CP feels very well made. Certainly, feels as well made as the IQOS3 Multi. As with the Multi, however, the CP suffers from battery life, or lack of it. Officially, the CP should be able to get through 10 HEETS on a single charge. The most I ever got through was 8. Though, do bear in mind that I am a casual user of heat-not-burn so I’m not picking the device up every time I want to consume some nicotine and as such, it is possible that by leaving the device in sleep mode for prolonged periods between use reduced the number of HEETS I could consume.
The SLS CP is ideal for a backup device, or for a new user looking for a simple, easy-to-use device, but does it steal the IQOS crown? It’s close. Very close. If I had to choose between the IQOS3 Multi and the CP, I’d take both.