If you’re a cigarette smoker who wants to quit but is not too fond of e-cigarettes, IQOS is a great alternative for you to look into. This is a heat-not-burn device that uses tobacco and not e-juice. Let’s take a closer look at this new product from Philip Morris.

What is the Philip Morris IQOS?

The Philip Morris IQOS is a device that heats tobacco instead of burning it. This means that there is no smoke produced yet a user can still benefit from the flavorful nicotine vapor. It works by heating tobacco to a precise temperature without burning it. When a person smokes a conventional cigarette, it gets burned in excess of 600 degrees Celsius. The smoke generated contains high levels of harmful chemicals. With IQOS tobacco gets heated to much lower temperatures. IQOS heats tobacco up to 350 degrees Celsius. This lower temperature releases the taste of tobacco without the undesirable by-products like ash, fire or smoke.

There are also claims that IQOS is safer to use compared to conventional cigarettes. Since tobacco gets heated, there are fewer harmful chemicals produced. The nicotine still gets released but in a vapor form and not in the form of smoke. The FDA found that the levels of cancer-causing chemicals in IQOS are lower compared to those found in cigarette smoke. This makes this product more appealing to smokers.

The Philip Morris IQOS has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for sale in the US. This should be reassuring to those who are doubtful about the safety of these devices. It will be first available in Atlanta in around 90 to 120 days.

IQOS devices on display in colorful cases

Philip Morris IQOS 3

What’s in the box?

If it’s the first time that you will be using an IQOS 3, it comes in a magnetic box that snaps closed. That gives the device a premium look to it since we usually see that on electronic devices like mid to high-end mobile phones. It comes with the IQOS itself, which looks like a vape pen, and the charging device. The one that we received is the gold colored one and it has a nice finish to it. Looks classy. There is a little user manual included so you don’t have to worry if you’re not familiar with the device. Just read through the manual or look it up if there’s something that you don’t understand.

The package comes with several boxes of HEETS. HEETS is the tobacco stick that you pop right into the IQOS if you want to use it. We received 3 boxes of HEETS, a yellow label, an amber label, and a turquoise label. Each box of HEETS contains 20 sticks.

Included in the box is a smaller box of cleaning sticks as well as a cleaning tool. There is also a power brick and a USB Type C cable. The charging device is like a box that you can open and you just have to insert your IQOS on it if you want to charge it. When you pop in your IQOS to the charging box, there is an indicator that will light up to let you know that your IQOS is indeed getting charged. There is also an indicator to let you know how much charge you have left on your charging device.

How does it perform?

When you use the IQOS, you use a HEETS stick that you pop into the device. Think of it as your e-juice. A HEETS stick is like a mini cigarette. It’s about half the length of a regular cigarette stick. One thing that you should know is that you can only use one stick for up to 14 puffs or 6 minutes, whichever comes first.

Once you have the stick in place you push the power button on the IQOS and it starts heating the stick. There’s a LED light indicator that blinks and once it turns into a solid color then you’re ready to use the IQOS. We noticed that there’s a bit of vapor coming out of the IQOS before the stick is ready for use.

The IQOS gets activated by taking a puff on the filter end that sticks out of the IQOS. It’s like using a vape pen. One thing that we immediately noticed is that there is less vapor coming out compared to when you’re using a vaping device.

This is a device that is great for those who are still smoking conventional cigarettes and want to switch to a less-harmful method. You’ll still get the same feeling that you get when you smoke but there is no actual smoke. It’s not something that we’d recommend for those who are already used to vaping because it can be an overwhelming experience. You can feel the same head rush that you get whenever you take a drag on a cigarette.

How close is it to a conventional cigarette?

Another thing that might turn off vapers is the taste. It tasted kind of like a stale cigarette, like a cigarette left out in the open for a couple of days. If you’re used to vaping and you are fond of different flavors, the flavor from the HEETS stick might be too much for you. You will get that unpleasant taste that you felt when you puffed on your first cigarette. This is why we said that it might not be good for those who are used to vaping, it’s like taking a step backward after getting used to the numerous flavorful e-juices available in the market.

As for the smell; it doesn’t smell like a cigarette. There’s no foul smell coming off of it. Strangely enough, the smell of the vapor reminded us of slightly-burnt popcorn. It’s not unpleasant but it’s definitely not as good as a strawberry-flavored e-juice.

What are its downsides?

There are a few things that need improving on the IQOS. These are things that we attributed to the fact that this product is relatively new. We fully expect Philip Morris to improve on these on newer versions.

The first thing that we didn’t like about it is the rushed experience. As mentioned earlier; each stick is only good for 14 puffs or 6 minutes, whichever comes first. This means that even if you took just 5 puffs off of it, once you reach the 6-minute mark, you cannot use it anymore. The LED indicator will start blinking to tell you if you have just 30 seconds remaining or 2 puffs left. We feel that it takes away from the relaxing experience of smoking. You usually just take a puff every now and then until you’re down almost to the filter. With the IQOS, you are on a timer and it feels rushed.

Another thing that we didn’t like is the fact that you need to recharge the IQOS stick after each use. Once you’re done consuming one HEETS stick, you need to insert your IQOS to the charging box before you can use it again. It might be good for those who are trying to limit their nicotine consumption since you’ll need to wait until the IQOS gets fully charged before you can have another stick. This means though that you need to bring the charging box with you wherever you go. You can just keep it on your bag but you need to keep it close to you if you intend to smoke. On top of that, you’ll need to recharge the box at home if you’re bringing it with you the following day.

Phillip Morris IQOS on table in front of a person

Maintenance

You need to clean the IQOS once a day. This is something that some users won’t be happy about. As mentioned earlier, you get a cleaning kit and several cleaning sticks with each purchase. The cleaning kit has a brush attachment that you can use to clean the IQOS. If you can already see gunk collecting inside the IQOS, you can use the cleaning stick. Cleaning should be done carefully since the heating elements inside the IQOS look fragile and might get damaged if you clean it vigorously.

It might not be that bad since it just takes a few seconds to clean it. But we imagine that the idea of cleaning this device on a daily basis is not that appealing to some prospective buyers.

Pricing

Another thing that made us think twice about this device is the fact that you can only purchase the HEETS sticks from Philip Morris. Although the HEETS sticks look like regular cigarettes, they are not regular cigarettes. You cannot just cut a regular cigarette and use it on the IQOS. It’s not going to work. We’re sure that other companies will come up with an equivalent to the HEETS sticks but right now, the options are limited to those offered by Philip Morris. This means that you cannot use your favorite flavor in the IQOS.

If you are a smoker and wants to quit, the IQOS might be what you need. It can give you the same experience that you have when you smoke conventional cigarettes. It has nicotine content and can help you gradually reduce your cigarette consumption. However, there are some kinks that might not be too appealing for some. An example is the limited time of use for each stick.

This is a new product and there will be improvements and changes to it in the future. For now, the Philip Morris IQOS will work well as an alternative for those who want to quit smoking but are not ready to go straight to vaping.

What we like about the IQOS

  • A good alternative to those who want to quit smoking
  • Doesn’t have the unpleasant smell of cigarettes
  • Gives the same feeling as smoking conventional cigarettes
  • Looks and feels the premium quality

What we didn’t like about the IQOS

  • The limited time of use
  • Need to always carry the charging case
  • Limited flavors

Learn more about the IQOS from the Phillip Morris website or at myIQOS.com.