Please don’t be fooled by the title of this review. We are not talking about a mod lacking any features or performance in exchange for a smaller size or sleeker looks. Smoant didn’t compromise any of that when they engineered this device.
It is just that, sometimes, there is much more than meets the eye, and you know that you are in for something special when a small mod box like the Charon Mini encloses such a great power and vast possibilities.
Buckle up and get ready for the ride. We are starting in 3, 2, 1…
As incredible as it may seem, We learned the existence of this wonderful manufacturer called Smoant just a couple of months ago, when we received a bunch of their products for test and review, and they became very quickly one of our favorite brands.
We really love how bold and original some of their designs are, specially their Karat pod system，and we appreciate that they are not willing to give up on performance and usability either.
Right out the box, this Charon Mini mod may not blow you head straight away, though. In fact, it has a rather conservative outer design, with a very square-ish shape and no more thrills than the metallic paint finish which, by the way, can be found in 4 different colours: Black, red, gold and rainbow. Shibby!
The main structure, mostly visible around the edge of the mod, is made out of black zinc alloy (at least that’s what we think it is, as we don’t have official word about it), and houses a centered 510 port with floating pin and a 25” stainless steel ring around on the top side (the actual metal ring is only 21” wide, but there is some plastic rim around it that makes a total of 25”), battery cooling vents at the bottom and the fire button at the left hand side.
Let us now stop here for a minute and make a reflexion on that fire button:
As much as we like the materials used to build this device, we must say that it this probably the worst looking fire button in the entire world! We don’t quite understand why they decided to put the blandest, ugliest and cheapest looking plastic button in this, otherwise, full metal body. If only it felt good when we press it… Unfortunately, it feels as bad as it looks. Yes, it does its job, but they could have and SHOULD HAVE done better than this. A real shame.
The entire back side of the charon mini 225w mod is actually the battery door. This time, it seems to be made of aluminum alloy, coated with a durable metallic paint making a beautiful design, and it is held in place by three magnets (two over the top corners and a larger one at the bottom). The lid is really chunky and feels very secured thanks to the powerful pull from the magnets. However, as it is not encased in any frame, it moves a bit when pressed from one or the other side, which drives us freaking crazy! Please Smoant: fix this thing :
To access the battery compartment, you only need to give it a nice pull from the bottom edge of the lid. It feels quite hard, but there is a small gap where you can put your nail in easily, and will help with the maneuver. Inside, you will find the slots for the batteries with the polarities indicated clearly with white paint, and it is fairly straightforward to put the energy cells in and out.
As soon as the batteries are in, the device will switch on. If we turn it around fast enough, we will see on the opposite side the 2” TFT full-colour display showing the Smoant logo. Once the system has booted, the main screen will show all the usual information in a rather unusual but effective and cool way: Think about a sports car’s dashboard and you’ll be close.
A big tachometer-like ring takes the most of the screen area, and shows the power that the mod is pulling in real time, similar to the RPM gauge of an automobile but showing watts instead. Inside the ring, the power or temperature selected will be displayed, this time in digital format, with pretty big numbers, as well as the duration of the last puff, the preset power curve selected (min/norm/max), the resistance value (in Ohms) of the coils installed, the voltage and the set time (HH:mm). Down below, there is a couple of moving sprockets, with no other use than looking cool, and the battery life information. Ok, let’s make a reflective stop again:
In an interface where all the info is displayed in relative detail , this graphic battery life bar is a bit of a miss here, as it only shows the overall charge. So, we can “short of” know how much juice is left in our energy cells, but we won’t be able to tell how much is in each one of them. If that was not bad enough, the bar is divided in 5 parts only, which is not a huge deal precision-wise. What the hell, Smoant. What the hell…
The Charon Mini 225w mod, however, sports balanced charging capabilities which will make it much safer and will be less harsh on the batteries when charging them using the microUSB port directly. We still rather use a external charger to top up our batteries, though, but it is a nice feature if you don’t have a better option.
All in all, we really fancy this home screen. It is good looking, pretty well organized and tidy. But fear not: if you don’t like it, you can always switch to the other option where the info is displayed in a more conventional way. If you go for that option, you will be able to customize the background picture with some preset pictures in the memory, or with your own, once you update the firmware. Dope!
The only things left on the front side of the mod are the Smoant logo printed above the display frame, and the 2 selection buttons below it. These buttons, although being very plasticy and not great either, don’t reach the cheap looking and feeling levels of the fire button. Really, we don’t think we will be over it any time soon, or ever.
We are not going to go in detail with all the menus and options available, telling you exactly how to do this thing or where to adjust that other parameter, because, well… the mod comes with a user manual, plus the menu interface design is so simple, clear and intuitive that you won’t even need to read it!
What we are going to do instead is telling you how wonderfully amazing and extensive the options are in this Charon Mini. Yes, yes. You can let the Ant225 chipset do all the hard work for you and enjoy a hassle free vape experience in Variable Wattage mode.
Or, to spice things up a little bit, you can go on Temperature Control mode, where you can choose whether your coils are nickel, titanium or stainless steel, or adjust the Temperature Coefficient of Resistance manually.
If you really like to be in total control with your stuff, the VW/TC Curve mode is what you are looking for. Given an interval of 10 seconds, this mode allows to customize the wattage/temperature output in every single second of the draw.This, along with the By-Pass mode, are two neat features for the most experienced users.
With 0.015 seconds quick fire and all the safety features one would expect nowadays, this Ant225 chipset is more than capable to handle any needs with ease.
But the customisation options don’t stop here. Besides the possibility of switching the UI as we mentioned earlier, we can also change the wallpaper shown inside the menu system, set up date and time, select different brightness levels and time off settings for the screen, and whether or not we want a screen saver.
The one we have is a very steampunk looking analog clock, with moving parts and all. Although it doesn’t really match the theme on the main screen (besides for the two spinning sprockets), it looks quite stylish and eye catching.
As far as we know, there is no shortcuts from the main screen to switch from VW to TC or anything like that. The only thing you can do from there is lock the buttons by pressing and holding the select keys together for 1 second or so. To unlock them, repeat this procedure.
Although it would have been a nice thing to have, being as accessible as this options are, we haven’t missed the shortcuts too much.
The main features of the Smoant Charon Mini are:
- Compact size: 45mm(L) X 29mm(W) X89mm(H)
- Light Weight: 160g
- Display: 2.0 inch TFT full color screen
- Output range: 1W – 225W
- Output modes: VW (Min, Normal, Max)/ VW Curves / Temp (Ni, Ti, SS) / TCR / TC Curves
- Resistance range: 0.1 Ohm – 3.0 Ohm
- Voltage range: 6.0V – 8.4V
- Temperature range: 100 – 300C / 200 – 600F
- Instantly fire in 0.015 second
- Balance charging / 1.5A
- Firmware upgradeable
- Protections: Reverse protection/ Over-heating / Low voltage / Overload and Short-circuit/ Over-time
We need to talk about the user experience in the real world, because we have mix feelings, both of amazement and disappointment.
In one side (literally) we have that ignominious fire button. But then, turns out that the fire itself is super quick and effective. However the feel is in your finger, it is compensated in the actual draw.
It is also highly improvable that the smoant Charon Mini 225w mod wins a beauty pageant based only in its looks,very boxy and unadventurous, but it is also so small that it feets very comfortably in the hand, making it easy to reach every button. It is actually so small that it’s amazing that it can fit two 18650 batteries inside.
If were to be really picky, we would point out that some kind of “go back” option is missing in the main menu, so we don’t need to select any option if we don’t want to in order to return to the main screen.
Also, we have to press 3 times the fire button in order to access that main menu and, because of the quick fire, it makes it impossible to do it without actually firing the coil and vapourize a bit of juice, which is a bit annoying. That’s a mistake that most of the manufacturers make nowadays, and we’d love to see other ways to gain access to the menus without wasting any precious e-liquid.
Other than that, the performance of this mod is pretty much spotless.
Let’s make a small recap on the good and bad parts of this mod box:
PROS Smoant Charon Mini :
- Big, colorful 2” screen, with the best resolution we have ever seen (300dpi/262k pixels)
- Incredible performance.
- Easy and intuitive GUI with personalization possibilities.
- Small and compact. Very easy to transport and hold.
- Solid all-metal construction.
- Balanced battery charge.
- + and — indicator marked in white
CONS of Charon Mini 225w :
- The most infamous fire button ever.
- Battery lid is a bit wobbly.
- Difficult to take batteries out.
- Remaining battery not displayed individually.
- Not the best looking device.
The Smoant Charon Mini sell at around 50.00USD, being 48 bucks the cheapest price we could find so far, and it includes the Charon Mini mod box, a micro-USB cable, user manual, warranty card, battery safety card and authenticity card. And that’s it.
Taking that in consideration, we are not quite sure what’s the deal with the Charon Mini. I mean… 50 dollars for a mod box is road that many people won’t be willing to walk, specially because we would throw 10 bucks on top and get a Smoant Naboo kit.
The Naboo is pretty much the same mod as the Charon Mini, but with a larger 2.4” screen, tactile touch buttons, independent lock button, a much nice look and, probably, a less rattly battery door. Plus the amazing Smoant Naboo sub-ohm tank with two OCC Mesh coils. In the inside everything is the same, including the Ant225 chipset.
Despite of it being also a little bit bigger too (2 x 3 x 2 inches bigger, to be precise) we would go for the Naboo any day, for sure.
Not that the Charon Mini is a bad mod. Au contraire! It is hard to believe that this small, simple looking mod performs so perfectly, and teaches us that we should “Never judge a book for its covers”. An invaluable lesson to be learnt.
Like we said at the beginning of this review, we truly love Smoant products and, above all, their vision. We appreciate manufacturers that are making vape gear where performance is still the top priority, and bold designs transcend the pure gimmickry.