A unique take on heat-not-burn
As research has highlighted, smokers tend to smoke because they enjoy it. I certainly did and probably still would if not for the eye-watering cost of smokes in the UK (not quite as eye-watering as Australia mind). While vaping and, of course, heat-not-burn have both come a long way in providing that enjoyment – aka the Pleasure Principle – to many smokers, there’s just too much faff involved with both product types. Can’t say I blame them to be fair, there is a level of faff with both but, and it is a big but, the level of faff coincides with the experience you are trying to get.
Which is why, when Uwootech told us about the Uwoo Yowo (no idea) and the idea behind it we were, understandably, intrigued and had to get one to review. The premise is ridiculously simple. Instead of using specially designed sticks, such as HEETS or Cigoo, you use bog-standard cigarettes.
I’ll freely admit that I was non-plussed by the idea. Cigarettes are made to be smoked, not heated. Right? Wrong, as it turns out. Cigarettes can be heated.
In the Box
Lifting the snug lid off the box reveals the usual array of bits and pieces you
would expect to find in a heat-not-burn device. Obviously, the device itself has pride of place on the top tray and underneath is a USB-C cable and a brush. Unlike other heat-not-burn devices, the brush is thicker and longer with a sturdier handle. This is simply because the brush has much more to clean than normal heat-not-burn devices.
The device itself only has one button, on the front, surrounded by four LEDs (clockwise from upper right) which serve a few purposes:
- Battery level, the usual quartering rules apply here: 4=75-100%, 3=50-75%, 2=25-50%, 1=5-25% charge remaining.
- Charging – as with the battery level only with the addition of one LED flashing to indicate where the charge is at – i.e. 2 LEDs plus one flashing equates to 50-75% charge.
- Heating indication – a countdown from 45 seconds (1 LED) to completed (all on.)
The Uwoo Yowo isn’t a small device. Weighing in at 110 grams and roughly the size of a cigarette packet (normal cigarettes, not the superking size) you are going to know you have this device in your pocket.
It does sport a whopping 3000mAh battery, which accounts for most of the
110 grams, the rest is the body and heating chamber. Unlike other heat-not-
burn devices, the Yowo has taken its lead from the dry herb vaporizers in that the chamber itself is the oven. There is no blade or spike to pierce the tobacco – let’s face it, do that to a cigarette and you’ll get tobacco all over the place. The Yowo works by toasting the outside of the cigarette, paper, and all.
The top cap, or filter chamber as it is described in the guide, is removable. A small twist clockwise and it can be pulled up for further cleaning. There are two lugs that fit into the relevant slots on the body so that it can be locked into place for use. However, I did notice that once it has been removed once it does tend to become “unlocked” fairly easily. An improvement here would probably involve magnets.
At the base of the device is the stick chamber covered by a flip-cap along with the USB-C port for charging. On first use, the flip-cap was a bit tight. But once, it has been opened once it is easy to open. It is magnetised so it does stay shut when in use.
Using the Uwoo Yowo
The Uwoo Yowo is, all said and done, a simple device to use. That is, as long as you have smokes that don’t need trimming first – which excludes the Superking variant of most brands, which was always my preferred option back in my smoking days – and is of 7.8mm diameter (which most over the counter brands are). Just for reference, the length of the stick should be around 5.4cm, at most, so that it is completely enclosed in the chamber.
Once you’ve got the component parts in the various holes of the Yowo, close the stick cap and press the one (and only) button for two seconds to kick start the 45 second heating process. Once heating is complete, as with other heat-not-burn products, the device will vibrate twice to indicate it is ready for use.
Unlike the heat-not-burn devices we are familiar with, the Yowo heats the cigarette for around 3 minutes and 30 seconds after the pre-heat cycle has finished which, based upon my experience with the device, is plenty long enough – at least on “grade 1” heating. By the way, this is what a cigarette looks like after a session on grade 1:
Which, for me, is a bit too close to the mark in terms of producing the nastiness from combustion. This is “grade 1” heating. The higher the grade number – i.e. grade 5 – the warmer and richer the smoke and taste. As the above image shows, grade 1 runs pretty close to the boundary for toxin production. But, the adjustment is there for folks that want some variety or a specific taste and flavour. I did, out of curiosity, try the higher “grades” and couldn’t really identify much difference between them in terms of flavour or taste.
Just so you are aware, running at maximum – i.e. “grade 5” – don’t expect the battery to last a pack of twenty smokes. Overall, I found (after much trial and error) that “grade 5” is similar to an out of the box IQOS in terms of the overall experience, just that it won’t last for an equivalent amount of time.
Unlike IQOS or other heat-not-burn devices, there isn’t much in the way of vapour generation as the Uwoo Yowo is only “roasting” the tobacco contained in the cigarette – very much akin to the Wolkenkraft Buddy – instead of poking a spike or blade through the middle and heating from the inside out.
If you had told me that one day I’d be reviewing a heat-not-burn device that uses real, pre-made cigarettes, I would have laughed at you. At length. Followed by telling you that, for the most part, it’d be completely useless. Needless to say, I am thoroughly surprised by this device. I will say, quite clearly, that in markets where the price of cigarettes is eye-wateringly high – such as Australia and the UK as two examples – this device defeats the underlying purpose of heat-not-burn in that it can offer a more cost effective route away from cigarettes. I can see this device at home in a market where “traditional” cigarettes are cheap.
Battery life, for an average user (i.e. 20 or less than a day) will see you through a day relatively easily, though its charging time is a bit of a drag, clocking in a 2 ½ hours from flat to full. Cleaning is a snap with the provided brush, so there’s a positive point there. The Uwoo Yowo does feel a little chunky in my hand however and it does get very warm to the touch during heating.
Overall, the device does what it sets out to do and it does it reasonably well. Heat traditional cigarettes so you can enjoy the taste and sensation from your preferred brand without setting things on fire. I did, for science, light a normal smoke and compared the taste between that and the Yowo and I have to say, it’s pretty damn close with the Yowo being slightly muted in comparison. But then, the idea is to not set things on fire, right?
For comprehensive reviews of other Uwootech products please see our Uwoo Y1 and Uwoo Ym reviews. If you are interested in purchasing the Uwoo Yowo it can be purchased directly through their own website along with other Uwootech products.
Also as a respectable website Heat Not Burn UK wishes to state that no scientific analysis has been done on the harms of heating regular cigarettes, compared to the wealth of analysis done on PMI HEETS.
They may be as harmful to ones health as regular cigarettes are, although this is very unlikely.