Smok X-Cube II
Smoktech is a company that has been working diligently to come out from behind. Product quality improves with each subsequent product release. Engineering and innovation is improving. They seem to lack in leadership and planning, though. You can see that in their product roll outs and product life spans.
To illustrate, I'll point to recent product launches that question the direction this company is taking. Look at the VCT product line. VCT is Vaper Cloud Tank. They launched this within the last year to good reviews. The company made several coils for this device that included Kanthal and Ni200 coils. As a value tank, it was a good buy. They then launched the GCT (Gimlet Cloud Tank). The GCT had its own coils, plus also used the VCT coils. Only a few dollars more than the VCT, the GCT tank was a better design and more attractive – even featuring a gold colored contrast to the brushed stainless steel tank. Flavor and cloud generation were quite good.
Then they released the VCT Pro with promises of a range of coils ... and no compatibility to previous tanks. And the range of coils never materialized.
Now they release the TFV4 with similar promises of a range of coils. No compatibility to previous tanks. The VCT, GCT, and VCT Pro are off in left field while Smoktech focuses on a niche product that is expensive, with coils that are astronomically priced.
It's similar with mods. The X Pro (M80) has great success, but is rife with problems that appear unaddressed by Smok. I passed on testing the original X Cube that seemed to be a problem box from the onset. The bluetooth app and functionality of both the X Cube and X Cube II are reported to be dysfunctional software.
Smotech needs to follow a planned product life with some form of backward and forward compatibility. They just can't be releasing products, price at a premium, and let the market just hang. Smarten up Smoktech. You recent designs and improved engineering are strengths you need to capitalize on, think of your customer and the investments they make in your products.
That being out of the way, I was ambivalent about testing and reviewing the X-Cube II. Even after deciding to go ahead, I was warned not to bother with the bluetooth app ... not many good reviews on it with the vast majority of people trying it that get nothing but crashes on their phones when they tried to launch.
The Smok X-Cube II is a good device. It is well engineered and has a much more solid feel than the X Pro M80 Plus we have had for long term testing. There is no button rattle whatsoever. The battery cover is about the only weak point ... when holding it in certain positions, it does slip a little bit. But, that is only in certain unusual positions.
It is available in three colors as shown at the right. Black, Shiny chrome style, and a whitish color.
The 510 connector is floating with a generous slot for those tanks with air flow through the 510 connector.
As you can also see in the picture at the right, there is no firing "button" ... the entire bar is the firing mechanism. This works quite well, and will fire even when the bar is not evenly pressed. The space between the inner edge of the bar, and the inner edge of the body is a translucent plastic with the full range of RGB colors that can display when activating the fire button and when powering on the unit. The colors can also be disabled for stealth mode vaping.
The adjustment buttons are at the top of the device and identified with a + and - text by the button. I received a Chrome colored device to test, and the + and - buttons are white ... not very high contrast. While discussing these adjustment buttons, I will also point out that the OLED display is a very nice high contrast screen that is square (with rounded corners). The reason I need to mention it here is that there is a menu option to rotate the display so that it faces either the tank or the firing button (two orientations only, not four). When you rotate the display so that the text is readable when the tank is closest to you, the adjustment buttons are also rotated ... that means even though the body has a printed + sign below it, the button is actually the - adjustment when the screen is rotated. Same with the printed - sign below it, when the display is rotated the adjustment is actually the plus.
The menu system is fairly simple to navigate and figure out, even without the manual. It is well implemented and much of the control is in the user's hands. One of the settings I have come to really like is the choice between Soft, Memory (watts), and Temp Control. In Temp Control you have choices between Max/Min/Soft/Normal/Hard. I set mine to Hard. There is no explanation to what these represent. I set mine to Hard and enjoyed the vape experience. There is also another setting I found somewhat unusual. There is a setting where you can change the initial resistance of the coil while in Temp mode. If you increase the resistance, the heat generated is quite a bit higher. Set low, the hit is moderate at best.
Despite the warnings, I decided to download and test the bluetooth app for Android. Contrary to others, I had absolutely no problems whatsoever. The download was smooth, the installation was smooth, and the app loaded perfectly. I scanned and found the X-Cube II with no problems and had immediate feedback from the device. The bluetooth option on the X-Cube II is set to Off by default, I just changed that to On, put in the default password (000000) and connected in just a matter of seconds.
The feedback is immediate. You can monitor your coil temperature, voltage, power (wattage) and atomizer resistance in real time. You also have access to all of the settings and can change them in real time too. The only issue is that the settings don't seem to be real-time, rather they appear to be defaults in the software. If you change them, the device gets the new settings, but the software will not retain the information in real time. The bluetooth app seems to be more of a value-add (with more novelty value). But it works, and if you want to monitor the main screen, it's worth it.
Battery life is moderate. I used three types of batteries in the device (all paired). The Samsung 2500 mAh lasted about 13.5 hours, the Efest 2800 mAh lasted about 14 hours, and the Efest 3100 mAh lasted about 14.25 hours. Not much difference between the three. You should note that the micro USB port on the bottom of the device is for software upgrades only. To charge the batteries, you will have to use an external charger. (The bottom also has 18 battery vent holes).
Ah, and by the way, that was with the GCT and 0.25 ohm coil.
When I switched that to the TFV4 tank with an 0.12 ohm Ni200 coil, that dropped by about 40%.
The Smok X-Cube II seems to be designed around the Smok TFV4 tank system. Both have a depth of 24.5 mm and are a good fit together.
The rectangular design of the X-Cube II is nearly identical to the original X-Cube and quite similar to the X Pro M80 and M80 Plus. I find it comfortable in my hand, others with smaller hands find it a bit too wide. Weight wise, the X-Cube (original and II) are heavier than the M80 with LiPo batteries.
And, one final note. The Chrome version I received shows just about every finger print from holding it. It's no big deal to me, I expect Smok will release silicone skins for it shortly and that will be my next upgrade.
So, what’s the verdict? Is it worth it?
I tread carefully with Smok products. The Smok X Pro M80 Plus that I have had for long term testing stopped working after about four months of regular use. It just stopped, no warning, no errors on the display, just dead. The VCT tank I tested had the top on a slight angle and could not be righted. The VCT Pro is a bit of a pig-in-a-poke with the promised coil range never arriving. The X-Cube II appears to be a good device, and I do plan on using it regularly. The pricing is premium, the quality average to moderate. It does have features that make it desirable, particularly the ability to better dial in the vape experience you want than other devices. I wish the company making it were more consistent with a better life cycle to their products. Despite some of the company's downfalls, I'll recommend this with some caveats for the buyers to consider.