Philip Morris IQOS e-cig Review: May 2019 Update

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IQOS Review

The Good: A great choice for current or former smokers | IQOS 3 Multi is very convenient | Very easy to use

The Bad: Lack of flavor variety in the tobacco sticks | Lack of availability in America | Using the IQOS 3 is as cumbersome as using a pack of regular cigarettes | Very high maintenance device

The Bottom Line: The IQOS 3 is a nice upgrade to the IQOS line but the Multi is the real game-changer. That’s because it matches the convenience and freedom of e-liquid e-cigs. The lack of availability in America is the main issue of course, but the lack of flavor variety isn’t great either. It’s kind of a niche product, but it’s a pretty big niche.

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Background

Philip Morris IQOS 3 and IQOS Multi
The IQOS Multi (left) and the IQOS 3 (right) are big upgrades to the original Philip Morris IQOS.

The IQOS is a unique e-cigarette device that uses actual tobacco sticks instead of e-liquid. Despite the use of real tobacco, Philip Morris claims that the IQOS is still safer than real cigarettes because the tobacco sticks—aka heat sticks, aka HEET sticks—never get heated to the point of combustion. That means they don’t release the same amount of toxins and carcinogens as a regular cigarette does when it combusts.

Despite those claims, Philip Morris has yet to find success when presenting the IQOS to the FDA for sale in America. It is available in other parts of the world, such as Europe, Japan, the Americas, and even Canada. It’s still unknown whether it will ever be sold in the US, but Philip Morris has kept on updating it for their international customers since its release. The most recent versions are the IQOS 3 and IQOS 3 Multi, both of which feature significant changes from the original.

IQOS Update – May 1st 2019

Well, it’s finally happened, the FDA has approved the IQOS for sale in the US. Both the IQOS and the heatsticks it uses will go on sale sometime in the summer, first in the Atlanta area, and then the rest of the country. The device itself will be sold in dedicated IQOS stores, while the heatsticks will be available in most convenience stores. This means that the IQOS will have the heat-not-burn market to itself because those types of devices have never been sold in the US before.

There are a lot of questions that come with this decision, the biggest one being just how successful will the IQOS be? It’s a unique device, but the market is already dominated by more traditional e-cigarettes like the JUUL and the Rubi. Is there space for the IQOS? And if there is, will it usher in the introduction of more devices similar to the IQOS? We’ll find out eventually, but at least former and current smokers now have a different option to get their nicotine fix.

Kit and Accessories

Philip Morris IQOS Kit
The IQOS 3 kit includes L-R: Cleaning device, wall adapter, charging case, IQOS device.

IQOS 3 Kit

  • IQOS 3
  • IQOS 3 charging case
  • Cleaning device
  • Cleaning sticks
  • USB cable + AC adapter

IQOS 3 Multi Kit

  • IQOS 3 Multi
  • Cleaning device
  • Cleaning sticks
  • USB type-c cable + AC adapter

Design and Features

IQOS 3 Multi Colors
The IQOS Multi is a little bigger than the IQOS 3, but it is still highly portable, plus it doesn’t need a charging case.

IQOS 3

If you don’t know how the IQOS works, it is a cigarette like device into which tobacco heat sticks are inserted. One of the big things about the IQOS is that it needs a charging dock that doubles as a carrying case because it needs to be recharged after each use. The dock is small enough to fit in your pocket so it’s not too inconvenient.

The IQOS 3 changes some of these components, mostly for the better. The new charging dock now opens from the side instead of from the top and is a little slimmer than the previous charging case. It’s also a more attractive device since it’s available in some stylish color choices. Also the power button and the lights that indicate that the device is charging are now located on the top of the case.

IQOS 3 Multi

The IQOS 3 is essentially just an upgrade, but the Multi is something different. It doesn’t need a case to be charged, so you just carry around the device and insert a new heat stick whenever you want to use it. Unlike the standard IQOS device, it can be used multiple times—hence the name—before it needs to be recharged.

The Multi is a little larger than the standard IQOS, but not by much since it can easily fit into any of your pockets. It has a rounded rectangular design and all of the various openings are covered, which helps in portability. Loading the heat sticks is easy since there is a hole for them on top of the device that easily slides open.

Cleaning and Maintenance

The IQOS is a surprisingly high maintenance device because it needs to be cleaned out daily. The reason is that tobacco residue from the heat sticks gunks up the heating blade and affects the flavor of subsequent heat sticks. The cleaning utensils provided with the kit do a good job of maintaining the device. However, you have to clean the IQOS daily if you want it to retain its full functionality.

How to Use

IQOS 3 and IQOS Multi

  1. Remove the cover to reveal the heat stick chamber.
  2. Insert a tobacco stick into the chamber and press the power button.
  3. Once the indicator light has stopped blinking, inhale from the tobacco stick.

Performance and Flavor

Philip Morris IQOS 3 Multi
The heat sticks of the IQOS use real tobacco and is a good alternative for current or former smokers.

Device Performance: In terms of performance, the main difference between the two new models is that the IQOS 3 needs to be recharged after each use. Whereas the IQOS 3 Multi can be used ten times before it needs to be recharged. Otherwise, they function just the same, with a heat up time that is pretty slow compared to other e-cigarettes, not to mention regular cigarettes.
Flavor Quality: You would expect that the IQOS comes the closest out of any e-cigarette to replicating the feeling of smoking a cigarette, and you would be right. However, that can be a positive or a negative for some people. In general, the IQOS has a strong throat hit and enables mouth to lung inhalation. It has a somewhat sour taste that might be off-putting to vapers used to the colorful flavors of various e-liquids. However, there is a very high likelihood that former or current smokers will enjoy that flavor. There isn’t much of an aroma, so it can be used in public around other people and they probably won’t complain.

Bottom Line

IQOS 3 and IQOS Multi
8.9 Total Score
IQOS Review Bottom Line

If you’re just looking for a device that provides the closest semblance to smoking, then the IQOS is the best choice. But if you like the variety of flavors and nicotine levels e-liquid vaping provides, then the IQOS is not for you. Even if you could get one.

Who is it for: Current or former smokers who want an experience that closely replicates the sensation of smoking an actual cigarette. 

Who is it NOT for: Vapers who like the flavor and nicotine variety of e-liquids. Anyone who lives in the United States. 

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A huge proponent of the vaping lifestyle who would love it if everyone who smokes makes the switch to vaping instead. Loves CBD and would like to see it infused into everything. Aside from the world of vaping, he also loves reading, health & fitness, gadgets & technology, and culture, both the pop and regular kind.

15 Comments
  1. Excellent product and very usefull review.
    I use IQOS about one month and I am really happy with its performance.

  2. I have an iQos for a month. Nice idea aside, the single use never lasts the promised 6 minutes neither 14 puffs. The holder stays for 5 minutes if you don’t make air intake at all! With about 9 puffs, pacing myself between them – the holder stays on no more than 3 minutes. That is less than promised and not satisfying for me, as i use to enjoy my cigarette (Vogue) for 5 – 6 minutes (and i am not a too heavy smoker)

  3. Had an iqos for a few days and I’m not sure if I’m getting anything from it. I knew it wouldn’t deliver a lot of vapour (and it doesn’t) but I’m probably only getting a decent draw from about 1 in 10. I can’t decide if there’s an issue with the heater, the heets or the thing is operating fine and this is as good as it gets. I’ll persevere but if this is it I wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend.

  4. This product is very costly for its effectiveness. Fancy design and delivery system, but it will never come close to the satisfaction you get from a closed tank liquid device. Nice try Phillip Morris, but it looks like you wasted millions on a product that is destined to fail.

  5. Do you know where to get the IQOS or the Glo Ifuse (from Philip Morris rival – BAT) in Australia?

  6. I use it now for two months and i like it, I Quit Original Smoking 🙂 I like the yellow HEETS most.
    Can’t wait for PM to bring out the TEEPS into the tabacco shops.

  7. Hello I have start smoking the IQOS cig for 20 days and after that I felt of shortness of breath because of it . And when I stopped smoking it and went back to the normal cig things was fine . So is there any explanation for this problem . And how can I start smoke the IQOS cig without having this problem again . Thank you

  8. I love the Heets! I’m a heavy smoker having 2 pcs/day, Red Marlboro. I’ve been smoking the same cigarettes for over 20 years and only stopped for around one year while being pregnant. I couldn’t wait to smoke again. I never liked any other cigarettes and couldn’t smoke/enjoy them. I’m on the IQOS for only 4 days but I never felt better. I don’t miss my Red Marlboro and I haven’t felt the panic that was settling in every time I tryed quitting. I cannot smoke the yellow (no taste at all) neither the orange (which was introduced to me as the alternative to Red) but I’m very pleased with the green ones (menthol). I introduced my friends to it-already gave 6 different IQOS’s as presents to family and friends and so far, only one liked the orange and all others liked the green ones (2 of which are man and heavy smokers of strong cigarettes). Just wanted to share my happiness. Good luck everyone:-)

  9. I’ve been on the IQOS now for 6 months, will never go back to normal smoking again. No more worries of stinking, burning any one or my clothes, No ash anywhere, this is really awesome.

    The only problem i have is stock availability of the Heets – not very happy (menthol) PTA East / Centurion area.
    The garages also don’t stock the Heets anymore – sad news.

    And recently i get more than 8 Heets in my packet that does not work, turning blue in the face and nothing comes out. I have complained about this a while ago and the agents this say “o we get the same in our packets” really don’t you compromise on problems like this or at least give us feedback……..

  10. I would love to try them. After decades of smoking Marlboro menthol, I quit 4 years ago and started vaping. I miss my Marlboro menthol taste. The questions I have are taste, smell and the cost.

  11. […] Philip Morris IQOS Review: eCig for Smokers that are done … […]

    • I bought the original one on launch day here in Canada stopped smoking regular cigarettes the next day and haven’t had one since. The device performed flawlessly for over two years and finally the battery started to get weaker in the charge case I just bought an IQOS 3 to replace it and it is a big upgrade, it’s much smaller, the case seems to charge the stick much faster and they told me it’s good for 14000 cycles i’m very happy with my IQOS system

  12. Great device after using IQOS for one month, but if you want a quality experience every time like the first time you took it out of the box two things to consider, in my experience:
    1) Clean your device thoroughly with the qtip swab after every 2-3 Heets! –not after every pack like the instructions suggest
    2) Align the grain of the tobacco parallel with the heating element inside your IQOS. Failure to do this will require more pressure to insert the Heet stick and cause under performance.

    Do these two things and your IQOS will more than likely perform as intended and minimize any wasted Heets

  13. Replacing the nicotine with real tobacco turns me off. I have been vaping for 2 years to quit my tobacco smoking habit. I guess this ecig is not for me but I love the design though.

  14. Didn’t see much in the review with regards to any health implications? I have read a few bits of research which show that heat-not-burn tech is a little better for you than traditional smoking but still incredibly worse off over regular vaping.

    Would love to hear your thoughts! 🙂

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