Kangertech SUBOX Mini Review
SUBOX MiniMSRP $82.90
Kangertech is generating all kinds of buzz with the announcement of its newest product, the SUBOX Mini Starter Kit. The Hong Kong based company has long been known for its innovation with coils and tanks, such as the EVOD, Protank, Aerotank and Subtank lines. Several months back they introduced their very first box mod, the variable wattage, 40 watt KBOX. The KBOX did not generate the excitement that other Kanger products had. The KBOX didn’t seem like a bad product, it’s just that there were other box mods already on the market that did the same thing while giving vapers more options and power and better looks for a comparable or even better price.
Kanger could have thrown in the towel on the box mod market and been satisfied to be among the leaders in the tank game. But it didn’t. I don’t know if the KBOX Mini was part of their product development plan all along or a reaction to the lukewarm reception to the original KBOX. Whatever prompted it, Kangertech seems to have incorporated a great deal of consumer feedback into this latest version of the KBOX.
The SUBOX Mini Starter Kit, as it is officially known, will be available on June 10, 2015, and Kangertech and a number of retailers are accepting pre-orders now. The kit includes the KBOX Mini box mod and a color coordinated version of the Subtank Mini tank. That combination generated the name for the kit, the SUBOX. And I suppose you could refer to the whole thing as the SUBOX if someone asked you, “What’s that new setup you’re vaping on?” It would certainly be quicker than responding, “It’s the KBOX Mini with a Subtank Mini.”
There’s a lot to cover here, since I’ll be reviewing the entire kit, both the mod and the tank. Let’s start with a look at each individually and then come back and rate the kit as a whole.
The KBOX Mini
The KBOX Mini is a variable wattage box mod powered by an external 18650 battery, which is not included. The variable wattage (VW) range on the KBOX Mini is 7 to 50 watts in 0.1 watt increments. It will fire atomizers down to 0.3 ohm and Kanger warns that the KBOX will not be able to reach that maximum output of 50 watts with an atomizer rated above 1.6 ohm.
You attach a tank to the KBOX Mini via the fixed 510 thread connector. A spring-loaded connector would have been nice, but my guess is that since Kanger packages the mod with a tank, they’ve sized the two to connect well and felt that justified foregoing the spring-loaded option, but that’s simply my speculation.
The OLED display is bright, sharp and easy to read. When you first turn on the KBOX Mini, via five clicks of the fire button, it will display “Kanger Tech”. After a few seconds the unit will display the battery indicator, “0.0V”, resistance of the attached atomizer and wattage. When you fire the mod it will also display the voltage. You can change the orientation of the display by holding in the “+” and “-” buttons simultaneously. Turn off the unit with another five clicks of the fire button and the display will read “Off”. When the battery is drained the indicator will flash. Other safety warnings will appear in the display as needed.
There are three round buttons on the side of the KBOX Mini. At the top is the largest of the three, the fire button, which fires the unit and turns it on and off. Below the OLED display are the “+” and “-” buttons. Use these buttons to increase or decrease the wattage. By pressing either button a single time the power change will occur in 0.1 increments. Hold either button in for about three seconds and the wattage will adjust in full watt increments.
Below the buttons is the micro USB port. The unit comes with a micro USB cable (but no wall outlet adapter) so that you can charge the external 18650 battery while it’s the unit, and you can continue to vape while the battery is charging.
The KBOX Mini includes multiple safety features, such as short circuit and open circuit protection, cell reversal protection, temperature and cell capacity protection. If you hold down the fire button for over 10 seconds the unit will stop firing and display “10S Over”.
The Subtank Mini
I reviewed the Subtank Mini back in January, before it went on the market. That review is here. Kanger did make some changes to the Subtank Mini included in the SUBOX Mini kit.
The Subtank Mini is 510 threaded and includes a Pyrex tank and a removable 510 Delrin drip tip. The rest of the tank has an aqueous ceramic coating in black or white. It will hold 4.5 ml of ejuice and has a diameter of 22 mm.
Earlier versions of the Mini had one of the older adjustable airflow systems (Kanger seems to revise their airflow systems on a pretty regular version). Later version of the Subtank Mini have the newest airflow design, first introduced on the Subtank Plus. This new system boasts airflow openings on two sides of the base. You can select a very tight draw by twisting the collar to expose the smallest airflow hole. A medium draw comes via a slightly larger hole and the airiest, coolest draw is achieved by selecting the opening that’s a large slot. There’s a stopper at each level to keep your selected adjustment in place.
Kangertech includes two OCC (organic cotton coil) heads and an improved RBA base that Kanger calls the RBA Mini Plus. This version of the RBA has improved juice flow ports. One OCC head is rated at 0.5 ohm and the other at 1.5 ohm (the second OCC included with stand alone versions of the Subtank Mini was rated at 1.2 ohm).
These new OCC heads also have improved juice flow ports, they’re visibly larger than those on previous versions of the coils. And they’re vertical coils as opposed the previous versions which were horizontal. The newer versions of the coils will fit previous models of the Subtank line.
Kanger has really pushed the limit on how much text you can etch into the side of a coil. Each one reads “OCC” and the resistance. Below that Kanger has inscribed suggested wattage ranges based on the VG content of the ejuice to achieve the best flavor.
On the 0.5 ohm OCC they recommend 15 – 40 watts for 80 – 100% VG, 15 – 50 watts for 50 – 70% VG, and 15 -60 watts (though the KBOX Mini only goes up to 50 watts) for 20 – 40% VG. On the 1.5 ohm OCC the recommendations are 10 – 18 watts for 80 – 100% VG, 10 – 22 watts for 50 – 70% VG and 10 – 26 watts for 20 – 40% VG.
What’s In The Box
- 1 X KBOX Mini unit
- 1 X Subtank Mini unit
- 1 X 0.5 ohm OCC
- 1 X 1.5 ohm OCC
- 1 X RBA Mini Plus base
- 2 X RBA pre-wrapped coils
- 1 X Package of organic Japanese cotton
- 1 X Screwdriver
- 2 X RBA desk screw
- 2 X RBA cover screw
- 1 X micro USB cable
- 1 X User manual
Performance: When I reviewed the original Subtank Mini, it scored very high on performance. This version is even better. With the improved airflow system (two adjustable airflow openings, one on each side of the tank’s base) and the improvements to the OCC coils that Kanger includes with the kit (they’re now vertical coils as opposed to the previous edition’s horizontal coils and the juice flow ports have been enlarged) the vapor and flavor production of the Subtank Mini are truly amazing, especially with the 0.5 ohm coil. On the original Subtank Mini Kangertech suggested wattage ranges for the 0.5 ohm coil of 15 – 30 watts and for the 1.2 ohm coil of 12 – 25 watts. These improved coils have suggested ranges of 15 – 60 watts for the 0.5 ohm OCC and 10 – 26 watts for the 1.5 ohm OCC, depending on the VG mix of your ejuice. And the included RBA Mini Plus deck also has improved juice flow ports. Its inclusion makes the Subtank Mini something even the most seasoned rebuilders will find use for. And if you’ve never tried building your own coils it can serve as an easy gateway to that part of vaping.
The KBOX Mini performs well too. It fires when you press the fire button, and that’s the most important thing a mod can do. The variable wattage function is easy to operate, and paired with the KBOX Mini’s ability to fire coils down to 0.3 ohm you can build your own custom coil for the included RBA Mini Plus deck to really personalize your vaping experience. Battery life is going to be dependent on the external 18650 battery you choose and the wattage at which you vape. The battery I have in my KBOX Mini is an Efest 3100 mAh, 20 amp. I normally vape at around 40 watts, which means I’m getting 8 to 12 hours of vaping between charges.
Features: The KBOX Mini has more features than the original KBOX. It’s variable wattage is a true variable (the original had seven preset wattage levels for you to choose from), going from 7 to 50 watts. You can increase or decrease wattage in 0.1 increments, and if that’s a little too time consuming for you, simply hold in the “+” or “-” button for a few seconds and the increments of change will increase to full watts. The OLED display gives you plenty of information, battery level, resistance of the attached atomizer, and watts. To actually see the voltage the unit is pushing you have to press the fire button, other units I’ve used display that voltage full time. Kanger also gives you the ability to flip the orientation of the display by holding down the “+” and “-” buttons simultaneously, so no matter how you hold the KBOX Mini you’ll be able to see that display right side up. I like that you can charge the external battery while it’s still in the KBOX Mini and that you can continue vaping while it’s charging. The placement of the micro USB port on the side of the KBOX Mini allows you stand the unit vertically while it’s charging. It would have been a nice addition if Kanger had included a wall outlet adapter for the micro USB cable.
The Subtank Mini is also loaded with features. The inclusion of three different heads, the 0.5 ohm and 1.5 ohm OCC and the RBA Mini Plus give you plenty of options. And with the addition of a package of organic Japanese cotton, two pre-wrapped coils, screws and a screwdriver for the RBA, you’re all ready to dive into rebuilding. The improved air flow system further allows you customize your vape and really adds to the flavor of whatever juice you’re vaping. I went back and vaped my Mini with an earlier air flow system and really noticed a difference. That organic Japanese cotton in the coils is another nice feature, it doesn’t interfere with the flavor of ejuice the way some other wicking material can. The only thing Kangertech didn’t include with the SUBOX Mini that came with earlier versions of the Subtank line is extra O-rings and an extra Pyrex tank. I would have liked to have seen at least an extra tank. That Pyrex is pretty sturdy, but I’ve know people who have broken a couple of those tanks with just a slight knock over.
Quality: I gave the original Subtank Mini pretty high marks for quality, and this edition is even better. The improved air flow system adjusts easily, with a noticeable click at each setting. And the improvements to the both the OCC coils and the RBA Mini Plus make this tank a very solid performer. If there’s one little complaint about Kanger tanks, is that they’re prone to some ejuice seepage. On this new Subtank Mini I’ve noticed very little of that, some,yes, but not as much as on the earlier editions.
The KBOX Mini is a solid box mod, with quality workmanship. Though it’s a little smaller than the Eleaf iStick 50 watt, it feels a little heavier in my hand, more solid. The buttons are easy to reach and operate and the OLED display is bright, sharp and easy to read. If there’s one little quality issue I have with the KBOX Mini it’s in the battery compartment. The back side of the KBOX Mini pops off to accommodate the battery and it’s held in place magnetically. It seals up well and has never just come off on me. But the bottom of the battery compartment seems to be just a hair off of flush with the bottom of the rest of the unit. It’s not even enough to make it sit funny, but it’s noticeable when I hold the unit with a finger on the bottom for support.
Looks: The SUBOX Mini, the whole to which each of these parts contribute, is a beautiful vape set up in either the black or white. The KBOX Mini is sleek with its curved sides. On the white edition the fire and “+” and “-” buttons are black and on the black edition they’re red. Both provide a striking contrast and add to the overall looks. In the middle of the owners manual you’ll find a sheet of color adhesive strips, red in the black edition and black in the white edition. These are to be used to wrap around your battery at the point where the battery is visible through the “K” shaped vent in the battery compartment. Someone at Kanger must have been concerned that a green or purple battery peaking through that vent would have spoiled the looks of the SUBOX Mini.
By itself, the Subtank Mini is a good looking tank. Slap it on the KBOX Mini and the overall effect is one of near pure beauty. The coloring of the tanks, white or black, is accomplished by aqueos ceramic coating, which gives the tank a rich, deep finish that looks like it was meant to sit atop the KBOX Mini, which, of course, it was. The word from Kanger is that when the white edition hits retail it will include a black and a white drip tip to enable you to personalize the looks of your SUBOX Mini.
Price/Value: Kangertech lists the pre-order price of the SUBOX Mini Starter Kit at $82.90. I’ve seen it on several websites in the $70 – $75 range. If sold separately I’m guessing the price for the KBOX Mini and the Subtank Mini would be in the $80 – $100 range, so that $82.90 seems about right, and you’ll probably be able to find it through a variety of retailers for less. For everything included in this package, the KBOX Mini with its variable wattage up to 50 watts, the Subtank Mini with its improved air flow and those improved OCC and RBA Mini Plus heads, the SUBOX Mini is real price/value champion.
If that $80 price range is a stretch for you, keep in mind that you’ll also need to purchase a battery, which is going to add another $5 to $10 to your total investment. And those OCC coils are a little pricier than coils for less robust tanks, about $3 per coil, so you’ll need to keep that in mind as well.
If you’re new to coils with organic cotton wicks you’ll want to be sure to follow the instructions in the manual carefully. Dry firing those OCC coils will burn up the cotton, ruining the coil.
I fully recommend the SUBOX Mini. It’s a complete package and will serve even new vapers well, especially those who have been wanting to try out sub ohm vaping without having to build their own coils. And that RBA Mini Plus deck will keep rebuilders happy too. You’re biggest challenge is going to be deciding between the black or white editions.
Order the SUBOX Mini from Kangertech in white.
Order the SUBOX Mini from Kangertech in black.
Order from DirectVapor.com for $68.95
(For details on Seven Report review methodology click here.)