The IQOS – which stands for I Quit Original Smoking – is a tobacco heat-not-burn device made by Philip Morris. It works by creating smoke from inserts that have actual dried tobacco, meaning the IQOS stands somewhere between being an oven and a cigarette. In fact, we debated whether or not to classify the inhalable by-product of this device as smoke or vapor. But since Phillip Morris does not use the word vapor to describe their product, we will identify it as less intense smoke. If you are interested in an actual vape, be sure to check out our Vape Buyers Guide.
Review: IQOS Tobacco Vaporizer
How it Works
I decided to start this review off by explaining how the IQOS works, because this is not a vape.
When I first learned about it, I immediately wrote it off as a poor attempt to grab market share back from vapes. Now that it has (extremely) limited availability in Canada, I decided to get my hands on one and investigate the whole thing a little more.
First of all, I’d like to again reiterate that this is not a vape or an e-cigarette. Vapes and e-cigs create vapor from mixtures of propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerin (VG), nicotine, flavorings, and some other stuff depending on what you are vaping. Regardless, it’s all liquid.
The IQOS uses inserts that look remarkably like short cigarettes, that are filled with tobacco and other materials (including PG). The IQOS device is essentially a heater for that insert so that you don’t have to rely on combustion to create smoke.
I’ve seen some people refer to this as ‘the Pax for tobacco’, but that is also incorrect. Vaporizers are designed for other aromatic botanicals like lavender and lemon balm and are not calibrated for dried tobacco. With the IQOS, you have to buy special inserts that are formulated to deliver a by-product that is designed to feel like smoking.
For example, mixing the PG in with the dried tobacco ensures that every draw delivers more clouds and gives a noticeable throat hit. While we’re on the subject, let’s talk about the smoke quality.
The first thing I’ll say is that the IQOS does an excellent job replicating a hit from a cigarette. It’s not exactly the same, but it is very similar. The taste is on point, you get the throat hit, and the temperature it uses is hot enough to make sure the smoke is noticeably warm as well.
All of these things make it feel like you are smoking an actual cigarette. I personally don’t like that, but it could be a huge selling point for people who want a safer alternative to smoking.
That’s where things get interesting. Most people assume that vaping is much safer than smoking cigarettes. In theory it makes perfect sense that it would be, but legally no one is allowed to make that claim – at least not yet. Do your own independent research on the subject if you don’t already have opinions.
I dug around on the internet a bit, and it seems that Philip Morris is hoping to sell this in the US soon, and they want to be able to advertise it as having a reduced risk. I found a few examples of studies being done, and the results seem to suggest that vapor from the IQOS does have decreased concentrations of bad chemicals in it when compared to smoking, but that the chemicals are still there.
A lot of people in the vaping community seem to think it is a poor substitute to using a vape. Again, I encourage you to research this further and come up with your own conclusions.
The IQOS system is built well. The whole system involves the charging box, the unit itself, and the inserts that go inside.
The inserts come in a pack just like cigarettes, and slide right in the top. The tip of the cigarette-like insert is actually the mouthpiece when you are using the IQOS, and it feels like the filter does when smoking.
Like I said above, the IQOS device itself is essentially just a battery and a heater. There’s nothing sophisticated about it. You just turn it on, it heats up, and you draw until it’s not producing good vapor anymore. It maintains a constant temperature of about 350°C and automatically shuts off after 6 minutes or 14 draws.
The battery in the actual unit is very small. It will only last for one session, then you need to plug it back into the bigger battery box to charge. The box can charge the IQOS about 20 times before it will also need recharged.
The portability of this is decent. You have to carry the whole system around with you and you may want to consider getting a zeus armor hard case, but the actual IQOS fits inside the battery charger so they essentially become one unit.
The battery charger is a little bigger than a pack of cigarettes. You’ll also have to carry around a pack of the heat stick inserts though.
Ease of Use
Using the IQOS is very easy, but I don’t like the charging system. Like I was just mentioning, the actual unit only lasts for a single use! Every time you use this, you have to plug it back into the charging box.
I find this a little inconvenient and would rather have a device that can just hold a charge and work for a whole day without being plugged in, whether or not the device you plug into is a portable battery box or not.
I’ll be honest, I prefer vaping to this.
But I also think that this could be very popular with smokers who want an alternative. It delivers a very similar experience, and the inserts even carry the familiar brand of Marlboro. The only difference is the heating method.
With that being said, I would pay close attention to future studies that examine the safety of this style of vaping.
What do you think? Is this a game changer or a poor attempt by a big cigarette corporation to hold on to customers they may lose to vaping?
Also be sure to check out our current list of top vapes on the market.
If you have questions about our IQO review or just want to let us know what you think, feel free to drop us a comment below! Also, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to keep up to date with all our contests, sales alerts and other fun stuff! Thanks for reading and as always, keep vapin’!