Utorch S1 Mini - Controversial Review? It's one of my favourite lights!

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mapache
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Utorch S1 Mini - Controversial Review? It's one of my favourite lights!

Gearbest sent the Utorch S1 Mini for me to review.
This wasn’t my first choice though, in fact my first choice wasn’t even a light, but a rangefinder. I thought it would be a useful tool for flashaholics however stock was low (and it was probably too expensive for a casual reviewer such as myself) so GB noped that idea. I was then given a choice of 2 lights – the Xiaomi power bank light or the S1. I chose the the Xiaomi as I thought it might be a light my wife would like and cotinue to carry in her purse for longer than 4 weeks, however that light was then noped because it turned out there were no shipping methods available at that time. Dang, not off to a good start with reviewing for GB! As a result I was left with the hard choice of the S1 Mini or the S1 Mini. Now I hope this isn’t a spoiler, but I chose the S1 Mini Smile

After reading a couple of reviews I wasn’t particularly excited about the S1 but despite the time consumed I enjoy “attempting” reviews and chose the “5000k”. I figured I’d write this review and then gift the S1 to someone. By golly was I wrong!

I really don’t know what it is about this light. As mentioned by others it is far from perfect, and however inexplicable it might seem, it really is a favourite and has become my bedside and go-to house ( make that apartment) light. But why you ask? Well, it is likely most people have read a number of the excellent S1 Mini reviews provided by other BLF members, so in lieu of a traditional review I will pose some questions to myself and try to figure out just why I like this little light so much.

Could the appeal be the novelty of this being my first fixed aspheric? Highly unlikely, aside from size it doesn’t vary much from a zoomie that is stuck in flood mode.

Maybe the appeal is the lovely tint? This is highly likely a contributing factor. I really like the tint that is listed as 5000k but it is somewhat warmer, I suspect due to the aspheric lens but couldn’t get the bezel loose to confirm. I am pretty average at guessing tints but based on the tints of other lights I would guess the S1 Mini is somewhere around 4000k?

Perhaps the appeal is because Mrs mapache doesn’t object to the beam profile when I navigate through the bedroom late at night? This is another highly likely contributing factor. The smooth(ish) beam profile with its barely visible hotspot and hard cut-off combined with sub lumen (0.5) moon mode makes this light perfect for those late night bedroom navigations. (And no, not a euphemism for anything other than keeping me from falling over in the dark) At a distance of 1m the beam spread is ~1.6m in diameter, and at 2.2m the beam spread is ~4.5m. There is a visible ring on the outer edge of the beam when wall hunting which I suspect is a reflection from the bezel. The beam also has a slightly squared off profile, but I haven’t noticed either of these artefacts during “normal” use.

The compact size? (of the light, once again not a euphemism) This is likely a contributing factor. When I first unboxed the S1 Mini I couldn’t believe how compact it is. It regularly gets clipped to the collar of my shirt if I need to get up around the devil’s hour for any medications. However, one downside is that since it is so compact I have forgotten to remove the light from my shirt after returning to bed. Facepalm

Could it be that I like the UI? Highly unlikely. I am not a fan of the hold for 2 seconds to switch off interface. I do like the direct access from off to moon – activated with a 2 second hold. I like the lockout/momentary function – activated with a 4 second hold.
On paper the mode spacing – Moon 0.5lm; Low 7lm; Medium 100lm; High 600lm doesn’t look so good, however in real life the jump from 100 to 600 works well and isn’t intense like I thought it would be, not that I really use anything other moon or low. It’s probably because I am so used to single click off lights, but did I mention that I don’t like the hold for 2 seconds to switch off? One nice feature is the slow increase in brightness between modes. If accidentally clicked from medium to high, a quick follow up click will put the light back into low before it reaches full brightness.
For those that like tailcap readings they are –
Moon, too low to measure
Low, 0.01 amp
Medium, 0.16 amp
High, 1.89 amp

Maybe it’s the clip? I like the colour of the clip, when I first opened the box I thought it might be blued. In the bezel up configuration the clip is too long and protrudes past the tailcap.

In both bezel up and bezel down the “wings” are either too tight or the wrong shape and move within the channel on the tube. Additionally, and despite how careful I was, the clip still scratched the tube whilst I was installing it Facepalm Strangely enough not in the channel but along the edges.

Did the included battery contribute to the appeal? I have a few 16340s so it’s not likely, but extra batteries are always nice. The included battery is an integrated rechargeable Lumintop 16340. I’ve used the charging function a couple of times and it seems to work well with cutoff being at exactly 4.2V, however I will be just as likely to charge it in a regular charger.

Could it be that Utorch has imbued the S1 Mini with a glamour? I think this is another of the highly likely factors for why I like this light so much despite its flaws. Big Smile It is also worth mentioning that there is also some kind of magic in the tailcap. As you can see in the following image, the spring is in the shape of The Eye of Providence, and thus it allows the light to stick to ferrous objects. Silly

Then again, it could just be that the S1 Mini makes for a brilliant indoors/close quarters light if one can live with the imperfections. It fits my indoor/medication/bedroom navigation needs better than any other light I have used.

I suspect this light will be somewhat divisive with it’s reasonably unique features and a number of people are going to love it whilst others are going to dislike it. I am definitely in the love it camp for now and will update this review if anything changes over the next few months.

GearBest asked me to include the above link as an affiliate, maybe for tracking to see if people like my review? They also asked me to check out their big Mid-year Promotion and include a link. If I find any bargains that haven’t already been shared I might post them in my rarely updated deals thread Big Smile

jon_slider
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great review
I love my Utorch S1 Mini
the Aspheric is Awesome for my indoor use

I love the sublumen, that measures 0.2 on mine, lower than my 0.5 lum Olight S1 Mini

I really like the NW option, I agree it is actually about 4000k

I also hate the hold for off

Love the free USB battery included

agree the hatclip position interferes w tailstanding, so I put the clip higher up on the light..

enjoyed your sense of humor too Smile

saypat
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also enjoyed the humor…..

mapache
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Thanks guys, I am glad the humour worked. I was on medication when I wrote it and wasn’t sure if it would come across as humorous or just cringey. Now that I have decreased the meds I think that the title is a bit click-bait sounding though.

The S1 mini is still my favourite indoor light and it turns out I have been using the 16340’s built in charger a lot.
It has also made me want to get a good quality, pocketable 18650 aspheric for night walks.

duramax
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good review, thanks! that looks like a great little light

LightUpTheDark
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Enjoyed the review with the touch of humor. Thanks.

Picked up a Wuben TO10R (wish it had a clip) so I may never get the S1 Mini.

I’ve got a thrower, a flooder, and an EDC too. Still looking for a bigger thrower, flooder, and a new EDC, give or take a few. I’m a flashaholic.

Agro
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I ordered S1 Mini several months ago. It got lost on the way. I had to pay GB 50% of the original price to make them send another. It finally arrived several days ago….It’s been on my neck since then.
I had Klarus Mi1C before (I broke it in a modding attempt). I knew this one was larger, but I was surprised to see how much.
I expected it to be too large to be used on the neck and I was a bit wrong and a bit right. When I’m driving a car it naturally lands right below a seatbelt and it surely feels like a threat. Other than that it makes a bump on my polo shirt, but surprisingly it’s not really something that catches eyes. I can see many cases where it would be just OK at my neck, the extra capabilities would be worth the inconvenience.

I love the beam shape, I’m a big fan of out-of-focus aspherics. Output is OK. Tint is OK, though on my neck I’d prefer it warmer.
I hate the UI. There are certain things that they did well (like direct access to moonlight), but the pointless ramping really puts me off.
What do I mean? Whenever you change level, the light ramps it up or down. Upon turn off, it ramps down to 0. Upon turn on it ramps up to the last level.
What’s wrong about it?

  • It’s not visually linear and extremely slow at the high end
    • Changing M->H takes like 3 seconds
    • Turning off needs a long press. Before the light gives any indication of “long enough” (when starting from H) 3 seconds pass.
  • It’s useless! The mere fact that it was meant to be fancy but turned out to be an obstacle really annoys me

So…. it’s a good candidate for a driver swap. FET+1 would make it as powerful as desired and fix the UI as well.
Has anyone done it to theirs already?

Agro
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Today I had a hike that ended up late.
Night has caught us during a descend. It’s autumn in Poland, there was a lot of loose rocks and fallen leaves.
To make matters more complicated, I hurt my leg in September and it has not fully cured yet; I needed to be extra-careful.
I’m used to such conditions and during the day I had no problems at all. But after sunset, with S1 Mini pointed towards my feet my speed halved. After some consideration I noticed that I have trouble to distinguish rocks from rotten leaves. Decided to make en experiment…pulled D4 with Nichia 219C CRI80. First impression: that light is too throwy. Second impression: the colours are much more vivid! Third impression: I have no problems with distinguishing stuff.

From now on I’ll take extra care to get CRI80+ emitters. And I need to re-consider whether CRI90+ shouldn’t be the target.

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Agro wrote:
I noticed that I have trouble to distinguish rocks from rotten leaves. … I need to re-consider whether CRI90+ shouldn’t be the target.

There is a new Klarus Mi1c w High CRI in Utorch S1 Mini size. I have not tried it, but am tempted. It has a small hotspot and a large bright spill.

I do not know if the Utorch Aspheric lens will fit the Klarus, I wonder if anyone here owns both and can educate me about that.

HONDARIDER
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I have 4 of them ( bought them when they were $12 each) and I have had to work on 2 of them. Everytime it was the white wire which wasn’t soldered very well or was loose all together. So if you have one that is not working properly check that wire first. Quick touch with a soldering iron fixed them both. Problems I had were- wouldn’t go on high and would short and turn off.

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HONDARIDER wrote:
it was the white wire which wasn’t soldered very well or was loose all together.

I agree, this is the Achilles heel of Utorch S1 Mini.

I have not heard of that problem with the Klarus version.

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I really like the light but quality control is lacking on this item. I have several Utorches and the S1 Mini is the only one I have had to fix 50% of them.