[Review] Convoy S9

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Depot_Shredder
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[Review] Convoy S9

Introduction


The Convoy S9 is Convoy’s first and only USB-rechargeable flashlight, and it’s a very good entry into that market.

When GearBest offered to send me an S9 for review, I was more than ready to say “yes.” Convoy is already one of my favorite flashlight manufacturers, and the S9 is yet another addition to their excellent line of products. It is the first Convoy light with USB recharging, which makes it an excellent light to give to those less familiar with 18650 care, as I will discuss later in the review. As most of his lights are, the S9 is quite affordable, but does not feel cheap in any way.

What’s in the box?

  • Convoy S9
  • Clip
  • Lanyard
  • The 18350 tube is sold separately, and mine arrived in the same bag as the S9.

Handling of the light

The handling of the S9 is quite nice. Especially with the 18350 tube, it feels very natural in my hand. The rear threads are anodized, which allows for a mechanical lockout. The ¼” screw hole is a nice touch, giving the user even more uses for the S9.

The knurling is quite nice, providing grip without being uncomfortable on a bare hand. The long grooves in the 18650 tube where there is no knurling do as much to provide grip as the knurling does, and the only spots on the light that don’t grip very well are those with smooth anodized metal. That really only includes the very top of the light and the area where the logo sits, and I doubt that anyone will be holding it only from those points. The S9 is quite small and, in its 18350 configuration, is noticeably smaller than my Emisar D4.

Build Quality and Anodization

The S9’s build quality is excellent, as I would expect from a Convoy product, although I have no strong feelings about the anodization. The light is solidly built, with the only micro USB port I’ve ever used that does not feel flimsy. I did not like the anodizing at first, but I have come to like it, and it does not scratch very easily. It also has an IP65 waterproofing grade, which is good for everyday carry where it might get wet/dusty.

Threads
The silver fronts of the 18650 and 18350 tubes both have triangular-cut threads, which do not feel as sturdy as the square-cut threads on the back of both tubes. Also, it is possible to screw the battery tube in the wrong way (this can be seen in the photo with the 18650 tube), although due to the difference in length the light will not function if the battery tube is screwed in improperly.

LED

I’m not a huge fan of the XM-L2 (4500K) used in the S9. It is well centered, which I would expect from a Convoy (and frankly, any) flashlight.

Bezel
The S9’s bezel is not crenulated, so make sure not to leave it upside down and turned on, as you might not notice.

Reflector
It has an orange peel (OP) reflector, which helps get rid of any artifacts in the beam.

Dimensions and weight
Length: 114mm (~4.49 in)
Diameter: 24.1mm (~0.95 in)
Weight (without battery, 18650 configuration): 62g (~2.19 oz)

User interface
Modes
The 1400mA version of the S9 has Low (5%), Mid (30%), and High (100%) modes, and Strobe is a double-click away. Clicking bumps the light up one level, and once on High, clicking brings it back down to Low.

Momentary on?
The Convoy S9 does not have a momentary on, and the button must be held to turn off. I have to hold the button for a good second or so for it to turn off, and although I have no problem with hold-for-off, this UI requires the button to be held for too long.

Mode memory?
The S9 has mode memory, and sadly I do not know of a way to turn it off. I personally am a big fan of a simple low->medium->high UI without mode memory since I can always turn the light on without hurting my night vision more than necessary, and since the S9 has mode memory and no shortcut to low, there is no way to guarantee that I won’t blind myself with the light. I find it interesting that the mode memory includes strobe, but I would definitely prefer if the other modes were memory-free.

Lock out?
The S9 can be locked out mechanically with a twist of the tailcap, and I do not believe that there is any electronic lockout.

PWM?
The S9 uses PWM, but it was never visible while I was taking photos of it in my lightbox (w/a Canon T3i + Tamron 17-50mm XR Di-II VC LD). If I use my iPhone and choose just about the lowest exposure possible I can just barely see the PWM, but in normal use it is not visible. Of course, there does not appear to be PWM on High.

Lumens
The GearBest description says 580lm – this number seems accurate to my eyes, although I do not yet have equipment which I can use to test it.

Beamshots


This is where my opinion of the S9 starts to diverge from perfection. Although the XM-L2 has adequate output for most uses and a nice profile with this reflector, there is a very prominent tint shift between the yellow-green hotspot and the pinkish spill. I used my lightbox to take a photo that compares the S9 to my Emisar D4 (as well as one with just the S9), and the tint is certainly not a nearly perfect white like that of my D4.

More beamshots coming soon

Pros

  • Good, simple UI
  • High build quality (with the best Micro-USB port I’ve ever used)
  • Dual springs make it more drop resistant
  • Good intermediate beam profile for daily use
  • ¼” screw hole means I can repurpose a tripod as a light stand
  • Inexpensive
  • Optional 18350 battery tube

Cons

  • Heavy tint shift is somewhat ugly
  • No UI customization
  • Turning off the light takes too long
  • Arrives barely lubed

Final verdict

4 stars: The S9 is a great light overall, with outstanding build quality, and great EDC capability aided by its USB recharging. The UI is good, although a bit more customization would be nice, and Low isn’t quite low enough for my tastes. I am also somewhat disappointed that a maker of high-quality lights such as Convoy is still using mediocre low-CRI LEDs with ugly tints when the Nichia 219C could be used with similar output. If an S9 ever comes out with no mode memory, and a high-CRI LED with nice tint, that will be a 5-star light.

The S9 can be purchased here (GearBest affiliate link): https://www.gearbest.com/led-flashlights/pp_1353862.html?lkid=19565024&f...

This light was provided for review by GearBest.

Edited by: Depot_Shredder on 02/17/2019 - 11:25
ChibiM
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Thanks for the review!

moderator007
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Nice review Depot_Shredder. Thanks for sharing.

USA
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Thanks for the great review – this is a flashlight I haven’t read a lot about so far. Assuming you didn’t tear it down, would you know anything about the electronics of this light? Convoys are typically mod-friendly, do you know if the charging circuit is somehow completely “connected” with the driver? Would this light be receptive to another BLF driver while keeping the charging capability?

I would appreciate any further input, either from you or someone else who has seen this light.
Thanks.

Depot_Shredder
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Thanks everyone! And USA, I’ll take a look and for now leave you with a photo (although I doubt it helps). Although I don’t have the light next to me right this moment, from the photo it looks like the retaining ring should be easy enough to take off, so I’ll get some pliers and take a look when I have time next.

B42
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I like the warm tinted beam actually, which option did you have for LED?

Depot_Shredder
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The affiliate link at the bottom is the exact light that GearBest sent me, with the 4500K emitter. I’m just a bit of a tint/CRI snob – for most people, I’m sure the XM-L2 is perfectly fine. I do have an extra Nichia 319 and MCPCB lying around, so perhaps I’ll swap that in if the light is indeed easy to mod…

Tom E
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Thanks for the review! This light has been around for a while. Here's the prior discussions: http://budgetlightforum.com/node/57675

I ordered one back in Dec 2017. Haven't done much - bought it to mod but it's tricky with the driver mounted switch.

Depot_Shredder
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Well, I suppose that answers USA’s question (and dashes my hopes of shoving a 319A in my S9).

djozz
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I like the S9 a lot, and have also given one away to a non-flashoholic.

And I modded one with a quad Optisolis on a XM-DTP board, with some reaming of the reflector opening the fit is good, and the driver provides the correct current, a bit over 2A, to the leds. The lens was frosted with sand paper to get a smooth floody beam.

Depot_Shredder
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Sounds like a great mod! I still need to work on my M2 quad Optisolis… How’d you get your new board to work with the e-switch?

B42
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Depot_Shredder wrote:
The affiliate link at the bottom is the exact light that GearBest sent me, with the 4500K emitter. I’m just a bit of a tint/CRI snob – for most people, I’m sure the XM-L2 is perfectly fine. I do have an extra Nichia 319 and MCPCB lying around, so perhaps I’ll swap that in if the light is indeed easy to mod…

Tks, yes I think we all have our preferences for emitters, I have a strong preference for warm lights myself. Its interesting to visually see so much of two very different colors in the beam in a picture.

djozz
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Depot_Shredder wrote:
Sounds like a great mod! I still need to work on my M2 quad Optisolis… How’d you get your new board to work with the e-switch?

No new board, it is using the stock S9 board which happens to deliver a suitable current to a quad Optisolis.
Depot_Shredder
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That makes a lot more sense! If I had the skill to reflow LEDs, that’d be a great mod for my S9.

Tom E
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I didn't take any pics, but the driver is 2 boards stacked in parallel. I just revisited the light - I have it in pieces. Looks like I can fit in a mounted 15 mm driver to run NarsilM or Anduril. I should be able to fit it in place of the top stacked driver PCB so I can use the stock switch that's mounted on the bottom one. It has a plastic insert in the pill so not sure if it can take the heat of high amps.

 

USA
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Thanks for the link to the older/other thread. Very useful information regarding driver change and how the light looks like. My question was answered / since I don’t own any 15mm drivers I shall let others mod this light first.