Kanger Subox Mini Kit Review
Kangertech doesn't sit on its laurels long, and it's foray into box mods is no exception.
Not even four months after it launched the original KBOX, the Chinese manufacturer is back at it with the Kanger Subox Mini, a completely redesigned mod which it now sells in starter kit form.
The Subox Mini Starter Kit includes the already popular Subtank Mini, the Subox Mini mod, and all the necessary accessories.
But can Kangertech win me over, someone who's gone completely mechanical and prefers to drip versus deal with tanks and pre-built coils?
It's going to be a tough sell, but I'm certainly willing to give it a shot. You'll find my real life experiences in this Kanger Subox Mini Kit review.
Construction & Design
The Subox Mini Kit is made of two parts: the Subox Mini, a 50W box mod that is an updated version of the company's KBOX mod that debuted earlier this year, and the Subtank Mini, Kangertech's mid-size sub-ohm tank. The Subox Mini features a zinc alloy casing painted in either matte black or white with a quick-release magnetic battery door. Overall, the new box mod is slightly smaller than its predecessor.
The Subox Mini adds a vertical OLED display on the side, which displays battery level, wattage, and voltage. Operation is straightforward: five clicks of the fire button turns the device on, and five off; the small buttons below the OLED display allow for the adjustment of wattage up or down in either .1 watt or 1 watt increments. The included Subtank Mini remains the same, and is only a painted version of its stainless steel cousin. I chose the black Subox starter kit.
The streamlined oval box is much nicer to hold in the hand than the original KBOX, and the design overcomes my biggest peeve with most box mods which is bulkiness. One negative is the magnetic battery compartment. Quality control is deficient here: the top magnets seem to work fine, but the cover does not sit flush on the device correctly and the bottom magnets don't make proper contact unless you mess with it. When you do, the cover doesn't sit flush with the body. Our review unit's battery door actually hangs off the device if you tilt it on its side, and because it won't sit on the grooves right, some black paint actually chipped off in just 24 hours of use.
New to the Subox Mini is the ability to charge an 18650 battery (sold separately) through micro USB port with an included USB cable. It also comes with 0.5 and 1.5 ohm OCC coils and an RBA attachment with cotton, extra coil and other parts.
That issue is relatively minor in what is an otherwise impressive design, though. I know someone else with this device who doesn't have any problems, so it could be isolated. Others, though, seem to have similar paint chipping issues with the Kanger Subox Mini. That's disappointing, since this should have been caught during QC in a genuine device from a reputable company.
Device Operation & Performance
The Subox Mini couldn't be simpler to use and it's perfect for sub-ohm newbies. As mentioned earlier, the wattage is adjustable in 0.1 watt increments anywhere between 7 and 50 watts. If you hold down the button wattage will change in one watt increments, though. There's a host of safety features too: short circuit protection, low voltage and reverse battery protection to protect from improper battery installation. The device will also shut off if it overheats or is used longer than ten seconds.
On the performance side, it's obvious that the Subtank Mini is what makes this mod shine. The Subtank Mini comes with the 0.5 ohm organic cotton coil (OCC) installed, and includes a 1.5 ohm OCC coil and RBA coil that can be built to your own specs. Kanger includes a screwdriver, extra cotton, a spare coil and screws with its package for those that want to build their own coils.
Having seen and tested out the original KBOX, the OLED screen makes this much easier to use. I especially appreciate the battery level meter: one thing that I do miss after switching to mechanical mods. You also have an idea of when the coils are about to fail or other issues are occurring: the display flashes and show “0.0Ω” when there's a short, or “9.9Ω” when there's an open circuit.
My Thoughts on the Subox Mini
I've given you a good idea about the basics of Kangertech's Subox Mini Kit, so here are my personal thoughts and impressions. Kanger has definitely improved upon its initial attempt at a box mod. While the KBOX was a solid device, it was criticized for its method of wattage delivery. Users were limited to a set of seven preset wattage settings from 8 to 40 watts. With the Subox Mini, users can select a setting in .1 watt increments across the entire 50W range.
I wouldn't have purchased the original Kanger KBOX because of this limitation, or the fact that you had no idea about the voltage or resistance from it's overly simplistic display method. The added weight from the additional electronic components makes almost no difference with the Subox, and honestly, based on what else is out there, Kangertech was way behind the curve when it came to other top vape box mods.
Construction of the Subox Mini is disappointing, though. There is no reason why a device should start to show paint chips within 24 hours of use – even if it's relatively affordable. Whatever painting method they used for the zinc alloy casing (a change from the aluminum casing of the original) is sub-par. The magnets that hold the battery cover didn't work well either. I'm not sure if every Kanger Subox owner experiences these issues, but hopefully they'll be addressed in future releases.
Otherwise the device is pretty sold and the Subtank does make it much better. Normally I'm a dripper, but the Subtank has definitely won me over. Construction of the tank is what I'd expect from Kanger and I'm very happy with the performance of their new OCC coils. The fact that the kit includes materials to switch to RBA operation makes it even more appealing to me personally.
On the RBA though, I wasn't altogether impressed with the operation, or the taste it produced. Anything over 15 watts seemed to produce a burnt flavor, and from reading other Kanger Subox reviews online quite a few people are having this problem as well. Some have experienced better performance boring out the juice channels, however that hasn't worked for everybody.
Bottom line? The Subox is a nice kit, but the manufacturing issues must be straightened out moving forward. If it wasn't for the reasonable price, I may have had trouble recommending it, but it's solid performance across other aspects carries it through, and what you get in the starter kit itself makes it a fairly solid device for its price range and ideal for those new to VW, sub-ohm devices.