Our Eleaf iStick Pico review takes a look at the TC-equipped, portable powerhouse of a mod: has Eleaf put together the ultimate device for new vapers looking for top-notch performance?
Is it worth buying?
The Eleaf iStick Pico 75W TC mod does exactly what it sets out to. If you’re looking for a capable, portable and dependable mod to take with you out of the house, or a device that’s simple enough for a new user that doesn’t compromise when it comes to performance, the Pico is a stand-out option.
The kit is competitively-priced, and you get a solid sub-ohm tank thrown in for good measure too. While the option to adjust the ramp up voltage for TC mode would have been handy, and the device includes some features most vapers probably won’t use, there are no serious complaints about the device at all. Many vapers have given up on Eleaf recently, but the iStick Pico is the sort of device that could bring them back in droves.
The Eleaf iStick series is beloved by new vapers and many long-term vapers alike, offering excellent performance in compact and generally beginner-friendly packages. The Eleaf iStick Pico 75W is the latest addition to the family, offering up to 75W of power and temperature control in a compact, user-friendly package, and coming in a kit with the Melo 3 Mini for just $36.95.
So how does the device stand up to the day-to-day needs of vapers? Is it a great device for a just-switching smoker looking for better performance? Is it the perfect mod for travelling? Our Eleaf iStick Pico review takes a look at what the device has to offer to find out.
What You Get
The Eleaf iStick Pico 75w kit comes in a white cardboard box with an image of the device on the front and a scratch-off authentication sticker on the back, along with all of the key information about the device and what’s included in the kit. The foam insert on the upper level contains your mod and the Melo 3 Mini tank, each in individual slots. Underneath the foam layer, there’s a cardboard cover hiding four spare O-rings (for various spots on the tank), a USB charging cable, a spare 0.5 ohm coil (along with the 0.3 ohm one pre-installed in the tank) and manuals for both the mod and the tank. There are no complaints here – this is all you need apart from an 18650 battery and some juice to start vaping.
iStick Pico Design
The iStick Pico’s main design feature is the fact that it’s impressively small. The curved edges and the small stature of the device – which measures just 70.5 mm (about 2 and 3/4 inches) tall and 45 mm (1 and 3/4 inches) wide – means it fits comfortably into your hand, in a pocket or in a bag. Even with the Melo 3 Mini attached the whole thing is less than 5 inches tall. You can pick up the mod in black, white, silver, grey and hot pink, with my version being the latter.
The mod itself has a traditional boxy shape (albeit with curved edges), with a section for the battery at the back and an OLED screen, fire button and micro-USB port on the front edge. The cap for the battery section protrudes from the top of the mod at the back end, which ruins the uniform appearance of the device when the tank isn’t attached but fits in much better when you have the Melo or another atomizer screwed in place.
The adjustment buttons are actually located on the bottom end of the device, with a little two-section rocker button marked “+” and “−” on the opposite side to a circle of vent-holes under the battery section. The metallic fire button is above the OLED display, and it follows the curve of the device, making for comfortable operation.
Thread Type: The 510 connection is in the center of a ring-shaped trench, and has a spring-loaded contact pin to minimize any connection issues. The threading is high-quality, and you’re unlikely to run into any problems with it at all. The top of the device is a little crowded because of the small distance between the 510 connection and the battery cap, but you can still unscrew everything easily, and it helps to keep the device as compact as possible.
Melo 3 Tank: The Melo 3 Mini has a fairly standard sub-ohm tank design, with a wide-bore chimney section, bottom-coil design, wide-bore drip tip and an airflow control ring at the bottom. The tank is top-filling, with grooves cut out of the edges of the top cap so you can easily grip it and unscrew to reveal two sizeable slots for refilling. The airflow control is a little unique in that the slots are covered by an outer ring, so it adjusts in the same way as most other tanks (just turn it to your desired setting), but you can only see how far open it is if you look down at an angle. This isn’t as annoying as it may sound, though, and it contributes to the professional appearance of the tank.
Coils: The coils have a vertical alignment and are surrounded by cotton, with a ring of gauze visible from the top (like on the Aspire Atlantis coils, for example). They simply screw into the bottom base, and the open-top design makes it easy to drop a bit of juice in there directly to prime your coil before you fill up.
Overall, both the Eleaf iStick Pico and the Melo tank are excellently-designed, and they pair together beautifully, especially with the O-ring color on the tank matching the mod – it looks like they’re meant to be together.
Variable Wattage: The iStick Pico 75W mod has a solid feature-set, despite being a very beginner-friendly device. The most basic feature is the variable wattage you expect on any device, with the power being directly adjustable from 1 W to 75 W. Why modern devices include 1 W still baffles me, but the range of powers covered is more than enough for most vapers’ purposes.
Bypass Mode: You can also set the Pico in Bypass mode, which gives you the raw battery voltage without any adjustments so you’re operating at a specific wattage. I personally don’t find this feature especially useful, but if you’re looking for mechanical mod-like operation, then the option is there.
TC-SS and TCR Mode: The temperature control on the iStick Pico covers nickel, titanium, stainless steel and offers temperature coefficient of resistance (TCR) mode. The latter mode means you can adjust how the device interprets the changes in resistance that accompany increasing or decreasing temperature, and effectively allows you to set the device up to suit even more wire types or adjust the responsiveness to suit your preferences. The TCR mode is accessed through the M1, M2 and M3 options that appear when you hit the fire button three times to enter the mode menu. You can lock the room temperature resistance of the atomizer by pressing and holding both the fire and “+” buttons for two seconds. Your temperature can be set in the standard range of between 100 and 315 °C or 200 and 600 °F.
Safety Features: The Eleaf Pico also comes with the expected set of safety features, including 10 second cutoff, short circuit, low voltage and high temperature protection, and it also limits the minimum resistance of your atomizer to 0.1 ohms in standard or bypass mode and 0.05 ohms in TC mode. This is plenty of protection to ensure you stay safe when you’re vaping, although you’ll need to ensure you use a high-amp drain 18650 battery with the device.
Stealth Mode: The device also has a few more useful features. Pressing the fire and “–” buttons together for two seconds toggles stealth mode on and off, which means you can vape without the device lighting up, but still see your settings by pressing the fire button once. The device can also be turned off with five quick presses of the fire button, and you can lock the adjustment buttons by holding them both down together for two seconds, which is handy given their location. If you press both the adjustment buttons for two seconds while the device is powered off, the display will be flipped when you power back up.
Firmware: The device also has upgradable firmware, which is a great feature that allows you to take advantage of any updates to its offerings in the future. The micro-USB port can also be used for charging your battery, and you can vape as you charge too – both of which are very useful features for vapers who don’t have multiple batteries or a dedicated 18650 charger.
Overall, the Eleaf iStick Pico TC mod is pretty rich in features, with all the safety features you need, a very capable temperature control system and several handy extras.
iStick Pico Vaping Experience
The Eleaf iStick Pico 75W has a solid design and an impressive feature-set, but does it all translate to an enjoyable vaping experience?
On the whole, the Pico does a great job in use. Once you’ve primed your coil and filled up the tank, the device works just as you want it to, powering the Melo 3 Mini tank efficiently and providing excellent vapor production and flavor. Making adjustments is a little unusual due to the position of the buttons, but once you get used to it there’s no problem at all. The recommended settings are also printed on the coils, so if you’re unsure of what the best wattage is for your coil there’s a handy guide for you.
Compact Size: Probably the biggest benefit of the Pico in use is its size. It packs as much power as much larger devices, but thanks to the compact size it makes an excellent device for carrying around with you out of the house. It easily slips into a pocket or bag, and it also fits nicely in your hand. When you grip the device, your index finger falls naturally on the fire button too, so using it is about as comfortable as possible.
Display Screen: The display screen offers all of the key information you need in a simple format, with a two-decimal-point reading for the resistance and applied voltage, and the wattage shown on the right of the screen. In TC mode, your temperature setting takes the spot of the wattage, the wattage is shown instead of the voltage on the left and your wire material is also displayed on the top right of the screen. It has a battery icon on the far left to show your remaining charge level – I generally don’t like this approach because it lacks precision, but it gives you enough of an idea to determine when you should recharge.
TC Mode: The temperature control is also well-executed. Although the ramp-up voltage is fixed at 75 W, the device performs solidly in TC mode. We only tested it with nickel coils, but the result was great – it still offers a consistent vape even with the almost uncomfortably quick ramp-up, providing a continuous trickle of power as you hold down the fire button and periodically flashing up “temp protection” as you reach your designated limit. You can toggle between Celsius and Fahrenheit by going to the top or bottom of the allowed range.
The lack of the option to adjust the ramp-up wattage was a little disappointing, but this will hopefully be addressed with a firmware update in future. As it stands, there doesn’t appear to be an upgrade available, so unfortunately I can’t evaluate the process as of yet.
As with many mods, for the most part you won’t use many of the additional features. Although stealth mode is a nice feature to include, for instance, the times when the tiny amount of light from the screen will cause a problem for you are very limited, so most vapers probably won’t use it.
Similarly, it’s handy to be able to adjust the TCR setting, but most vapers using TC will have nickel, titanium or stainless steel coils anyway, so most users won’t need it. To change the setting, you press and hold the fire button and the “+” button with the power turned off. This brings you into a simple menu where you can select the option you want (from M1, M2 and M3) and then adjust the coefficient to whatever you like. There are suggested values in the manual if you want to play around.
Built-In Battery: Newer vapers may be concerned about using a device without an in-built battery, but it’s really very straightforward. The inside of the cap has a minus sign to show the orientation of the battery, and there’s a “+” at the bottom in red tape too. All you have to do is drop your battery in – negative (flat) side up – screw on the cap and you’re good to go. If you’re really concerned about doing this, you can charge up using the device’s USB port (and vape while you’re doing it!) so you won’t need to deal with it after your first installation.
Melo Tank: Finally, the Melo III Mini sub-ohm tank is part of the package, so it’s worth dedicating a bit of time to it here. The tank is a solid performer, working well with anything from the standard 50/50 PG/VG mixes to higher-VG blends, and the flavor and vapor production is brilliant. The top-filling design makes filling up a breeze, and the wide range of airflow settings means it can be easily adjusted to suit mouth-to-lung or direct lung inhalation styles. I’m undecided as to whether the benefits to its appearance from the hidden slot are worth the awkwardness of working out how open it is by looking down into the tiny visible slither, but as mentioned earlier, you do get used to it.
Everything the iStick Pico and Melo offer combine to provide a very enjoyable vaping experience. It’s easy enough to get to grips with for newer vapers, but the rich selection of features makes it a rewarding option for longer-term vapers too. The device isn’t perfect, but the limitations are very minor and pale in comparison to the benefits of the combination.
Eleaf doesn’t have the greatest reputation when it comes to quality control, but this largely comes down to the in-built batteries on devices like the 50 W iStick, so the external battery approach of the iStick Pico sidesteps these potential issues nicely. The device itself seems very well-made, with no problems whatsoever emerging through my testing.