[Review] Imalent MS03 flashlight review. pocketable, 13,000lm, single 21700, USB-C

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dave1010
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[Review] Imalent MS03 flashlight review. pocketable, 13,000lm, single 21700, USB-C

This is quite exciting. I got my hands on Imalent’s new MS03 flashlight: this light pumps out 13,000 lumens from a single cell, making it the brightest pocket-sized flashlight in existence. 

Note: I've tried to cut this review down for BLF but it's still quite long. Sorry. You can read my full (even longer, with more text and images) Imalent MS03 review from my blog.  https://davestechreviews.wordpress.com/2020/07/15/imalent-ms03-flashlight-review-the-brightest-pocket-flashlight-in-the-world/

Purchasing

You can buy the light from ImalentStore.com. It’s currently $129.95.

Quick review

This really is 13,000 lumens. It’s brighter than any other light I own (including multi-cell lights) and just fits in my jeans coin pocket. It definitely delivers on the wow factor. It heats up quickly though and steps down to 2000 lumens, though that’s still brighter than most pocket-sized lights.

Versions

I have the standard MS03 (cold white) version for review but Imalent have also started to sell an MS03W neutral white version, which they list at 5000K. I’d normally pick a neutral or warm white light.

Imalent MS03 specs

Imalent’s official specs, unless stated otherwise

Output 13,000 lumens
Throw 324m (26kcd)
Size 36mm head, 27mm body, 110mm length.
I measured the top of the head at 36.9mm and the fins at the base of the head 42.3mm, both at their widest. The head was 35.5mm at its narrowest.
Weight 117g without battery. I measured the cell at 74g, putting the total at 191g
Waterproof IPX8 (2 meters)
Impact resistance 1.5m
Battery 4000mAh 21700 cell
LEDs 3 CREE XHP70.2 LEDs

The physical light

What’s in the box

Unboxing

Appearance and quality

The MS03 is tiny for a triple XHP70.2 light.

Imalent have gone with fairly smooth knurling on the body and tail – not an aggressive “tactical” feel. It’s enough to grip the tail to loosen it but you might struggle with some gloves.

The anodising appears to be good quality and as with most lights the threads are anodised so you can unscrew the light a just little to break contact.

The MS03 has a thick spring in the tail cap but no spring in the head. The cell is well supported though and shakes and taps don’t make the light lose connection, like some single-spring lights to. There’s no magnet in the tail cap but it looks like there may be enough room to fit a small one in.

Physical comparison

Here’s the MS03 along side some other high power lights.

 

The D4 above is a more standard EDC size for a flashlight. It takes a smaller 18650 cell and is “only” 4300lm. Both the MS03 and NSX3 are multi emitter 21700 lights. For comparison, I’d still consider the BLF Q8 on the right a very bright flashlight at 5000lm.

Comparing the MS03 to other popular pocket rocket lights, the MS03 generally has smaller dimensions and weight than the others.

Light Weight (no cell) Head x body x length (mm)
Imalent MS03 117g 36 x 27 x 110
Emisar D4 (18650) 70g 30 x 24 x 94
Luminctop FW21 Pro 120g 40 x 28 x 102
Astrolux EC03 175g 49 x 26 x 126
Nightwatch NSX3 167g 41 x 28 x 133
Some other pocket rockets

Carrying and everyday use

The MS03 is the only pocketable light I have that doesn’t come with a pocket clip. Due to the fat head of the MS03 I can see why Imalent didn’t include one.

Without a pocket clip, I’ve had to resort to carrying the MS03 in a pocket. It just fits in my jeans coin pocket but it’s a challenge to get in and out. It easily fits in a normal pocket but without a clip to keep it up it would get scratched by my keys. I’m tempted to order a pocket clip for the Olight M2R Pro to see if it fits well enough.

The MS03 comes with a standard lanyard and 2 holes in the head to attach it to.

pouch is included in the box, with velcro to keep the light in and to attach the pouch to a belt.

Interface, switch

  • Click on, click off
  • Hold when on to change brightness
  • Double click for turbo
  • 3 clicks for lock out
  • Hold when off for green light

Watch the video to see this in action

Imalent MS03 user interface

The MS03 is an e-switch light that gets the basics right. You could give it to someone who hadn’t used it before and they’d probably turn it off and on fine with a single click each time. Turning on and off happens about a tenth of a second after you let go. This is so the light can register double/triple clicks without triggering a single click first.

Whenever it’s on then the green indicating LED lights up. This is right next to the switch, so you can find it more easily.

Metal e-switch and green indicator LED

 

Holding the switch while it’s on goes through the 5 main modes, from 130lm to 8000lm. It takes about 1 second to start changing modes and it’s about 1 second between each mode. This feels a little slower than other lights but isn’t sluggish.

The MS03 has mode memory, so when you turn it on then it’ll be in the mode you left it – anywhere from 130lm to 8000lm. Personally I’m not keen on mode memory and much prefer a light always started in the same mode (medium), with shortcuts to other modes. The only way to guarantee you’ll get low mode is to loosen the tail cap for a moment to reset it.

13,000 lumens turbo is just a double click away. This can be activated while it’s off or on. Going from normal modes to turbo doesn’t cycle through off, which some lights do. When the MS03 is in the turbo mode then you can’t get back to normal modes without turning it off first – either with a quick click or holding and letting go. Some lights let you easily toggle between normal and turbo, without turning off, so the MS03 is missing a trick here.

Strobe is fairly well hidden, thankfully. Double click for turbo then double click again to activate strobe. Another double click gets you back to turbo or you can single click for off. I haven’t measured it but strobe looks to be around 10Hz.

Three clicks when off makes the green indicating LED blink 3 times then locks the light out. That means it won’t turn on again until you unlock it, with 3 more clicks. When locked, pressing or holding the switch turns the green indicating LED on. You can also physically lock the light out by turning the tailcap 1/4 turn.

Holding for 3 seconds turns on the green indicating LED, then it stays on. This is useful as an auxiliary light to find the MS03 in the dark. The green indicating LED won’t stay on while the MS03 is locked out though.

The UI is OK in general for an e-switch but is lacking slightly compared to more advanced UIs like Anduril or Narsil. The main issue is that you have to go via the high modes if you want to get back to the lower ones.

The physical button is solid and feels like it will last a long time.

21700 cell with USB-C charging

You’ll need to charge the MS03 lots. Fortunately, the MS03 comes with a 21700 cell with built in USB-C charging.

Most 21700 cells are 21mm diameter and 70mm long (hence their name) but this one includes the USB-C charging circuit, meaning it’s 77.3mm. That’s too long to fit in some chargers, like my XTAR VC4 and XTAR PBS2. It would fit in some chargers but for now I’ll need to rely on the cell’s built in charging.

The cell should last a long time but to replace it (or have spares for more turbo time) costs $39.95. Most standard 21700 cells are under $10. The cell it comes with should last hundreds of charge cycles but I’d like to have a backup and have a spare to be able to use the MS03 whilst one is charging.

Imalent’s 21700 cell is proprietary and the MS03 doesn’t take other cells due to their length. I was planning on trying a flat top 21700 cell with 2 or 3 magnets but as the MS03’s body tube doesn’t unscrew I don’t want to risk them coming off and getting stuck.

Imalent’s cell has a capacity of 4000mAh. Underneath the wrap it could be a Samsung 40T or something similar. Some lower drain 21700 cells are now up to 5000mAh capacity, which would theoretically give an extra 25% run time on lower modes.

Charging the cell

I could only get the cell’s built in charging to pull 1.4A over USB, meaning it take about 3 hours to charge. That’s a reasonable amount but most 21700s will be happy to be charged at 2A, cutting that time in half. If you’re thinking of getting a 21700 charger, make sure it can take 77.3mm cells.

Built in charging at 1.4A

 

 

Light output

Modes

The MS03 has 5 modes in the main cycle plus turbo. Imalent have given the 3 middle modes confusing names.

Mode Lumens (spec) Lumens (measured, approx) Runtime (spec)
Low 130 169 27 hours
Middle low 800 819 3 hours 40 min
Middle I 1300 1456 2 hours
Middle II 3000, then 2000 2964 1 hour 15 min
High 8000, then 2000 7579 1 minute, then 72 minutes
Turbo 13,000, then 2000 12766 45 seconds, then 70 minutes
Official specs

The modes are very nicely spaced. Cycling from low to high then turbo looks fairly linear to the eye. Note that my measurements above are with amateur equipment and real numbers could be 10% out.

 

Outdoor beam shots

Runtimes

13,000 lumens is bright but it doesn’t last long. Imalent openly admit that the MS03 doesn’t stay at 13,000 lumens for very long.

MS03 is an extreme bright flashlight with smallest body, so it is designed to get the turbo output for most two times with fully charged battery within short time, or the battery will become empty within 10 minutes.

If you wish to have more than 10,000 lumens output for long time, you will need a big flashlight like DX80, which can last for 7minutes at 13000lumens

Imalent

The MS03 is fairly unique in that as well as turbo, the Middle II mode and High mode step down too. The top 3 modes all step down to 2000lm, then last for a bit over an hour.

When the cell gets low (around 3.4V), the red light comes on. When this happens then only the 4 lowest modes (up to 3000lm) are available.

LEDs and Beam

Although the MS03 has a large head for a single cell light, it’s still a triple LED light and doesn’t throw much further than an Emisar D4. The MS03 is all about flood.

I have the cool white MS03 version, which has a very cool white beam, one of the coldest I have. The MS03W on the other hand has a more neutral 5000K beam. If you have the option then I’d recommend the MS03W version.

 

Here’s the MS03’s beam compared to other multi emitter lights. The MS03 is the floodiest of them all.

 

 

Similar lights

If you look for single cell lights over 6000lm then you won’t find many. Parametrek’s flashlight database only lists 2: the Lumintop FW21 Pro (10,000lm) and Acebeam X10 (7000lm). There’s also the Nightwatch NSX3 (9900lm) that I’ve reviewed, Fireflies E07 (6900lm) and Astrolux EC03 (6700lm).

Imalent’s MS03 is the only one over 10,000lm, albeit only for a few seconds.

There don’t seem to be any other triple XHP70.2 lights with a single cell. Imalent have a first here. There aren’t any quads either, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Imalent come up with a MS04 some day. There’s a few triple XHP70.2 lights, like the 25,000lm Haikelite MT09R but that takes 4 18650 cells and is 5 times the weight. There’s also a few single cell XHP70.2 lights like Zebralight’s SC700d but that’s a quarter as bright as the MS03.

CREE’s XHP50.2 is the closest emitter to their XHP70.2 and the NSX3, EC03 and FW21 Pro all have 3 of them and take a single 21700 cell.

Comparing the NSX3 vs MS03, Turbo is noticeable brighter for a few seconds. Due to its mass, the NSX3 holds turbo for a bit longer than the NSX3 but not by much. One thing that surprised me is how much smaller the MS03 is than the NSX3. The MS03 can easily fit in a jeans pocket and just about replace an 18650 EDC light. That’s not the case with the NSX3, that only comes on the occasional adventure. The MS03 has more useful modes than the NSX3 too, so it’s a more useful all round light.

MS03 and NSX3

 

13,000lm starting a fire

I tried starting a fire with the light just for fun. Lower power lights can do this too but the MS03 created flames very quickly. I guess I should warn you not to try this at home.

Starting a fire with the Imalent MS03

Other reviews

If you got this far and still want to know more then I’d recommend ZeroAir’s written review and Flashaholics video review.

Summary

Pros

  • 13,000 lumens turbo!
  • Sustains 2000lm for over an hour
  • Lightweight and small
  • USB-C charging

Cons

  • No shortcut to low and “low” is more like medium on most lights
  • No clip
  • Proprietary cell

Conclusion

13,000 lumens is a lot.

From what I can tell, the MS03 is the brightest pocket flashlight in the world (aside from custom built ones). If you want a light to impress people then you can’t go wrong with the Imalent MS03.

It may not be the best all round EDC but it’s still very usable and smaller than I expected.

This light was sent to me by Imalent for review, without any requirement to give a positive rating. Thanks to Imalent for providing the MS03. You can buy the MS03 direct from Imalent at imalentstore.com.

 

See the full review with even more images and text on my blog https://davestechreviews.wordpress.com/2020/07/15/imalent-ms03-flashlight-review-the-brightest-pocket-flashlight-in-the-world/

richbuff
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Thank you for your detailed review. I got two of these little red hot screamers, because they do what no other light in its size classification can do. I don’t like any hint of yellow, so cool white is all ok fine with me. 

I like to light up a close in area as widely and brightly as possible just for a very brief burst, and then throttle down to lower modes for further examination. I have more than a few lights that do more than what this light does, but they are all significantly larger. Thanks again for your detailed review!

Rev 22:15

dave1010
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richbuff wrote:

I like to light up a close in area as widely and brightly as possible just for a very brief burst, and then throttle down to lower modes for further examination.

This is exactly what the MS03 is good at. You can’t expect to have thousands of lumens sustained at this size but short bursts work very well.

Although it’s best at bursts of turbo, as far as I know, it’s also the smallest light that can sustain 2000lm for an hour.

richbuff wrote:

Thanks again for your detailed review!

You’re welcome!

Lux-Perpetua
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Thanks for the detailed review dave1010! It was very good to follow and understand. I will check out the full review for sure. Smile What equipment did you use to assess lumens as well as runtimes/stepdown behaviour?

Just one minor suggestion: Can you try to slow down some of the animated gifs a bit? I think the unboxing goes a little bit too fast for my eyes. Big Smile

By the way, Dorset region is probably a great place for doing beamshots at night as you may not have so much light pollution in southwest UK.

dave1010
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Thanks for the feedback Lux-Perpetua. You’re right about the GIFs.

Lumens and run times were measured with a shoebox and Zak’s ceiling bounce app. I got within 10% of Imalent’s claims. Normally I add a disclaimer about accuracy but it looks like I missed it on this one.

I live near Bournemouth, so there’s a bit of light pollution close by. A few minutes drive and the sky is clear though. A couple of hours further and you can get photos like this (Dartmoor, last week).

Yokiamy
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May i suggest THIS review as well ?

Lux-Perpetua
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dave1010 wrote:
(...) Lumens and run times were measured with a shoebox and Zak's ceiling bounce app. (...)

It seems I also need to get this great app for my upcoming reviews, too.  Smile Never had a chance to do runtime and lux/lumen measurements precisely so far. However, I wish there was something comparable for iOS, too.

dave1010 wrote:
I live near Bournemouth, so there's a bit of light pollution close by. A few minutes drive and the sky is clear though. A couple of hours further and you can get "photos like this":https://i.imgur.com/lwi35yK.jpg (Dartmoor, last week).

Sorry for being a bit off-topic now but Bournemouth is really nice. I love the ice cream they sell by the pier. The path along the beach eastwards to Hengistbury Head / Christchurch or the cliffs at Old Harry Rocks are fantastic places to unwind and relax. Love I guess the beaches have never been this empty this summer so far. Big Smile Unfortunately, last time I only had my keychain light with me.  Facepalm

   

   

dave1010
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If you’re in the area again, 6 miles SW from Old Harry Rocks is Winspit Quarry caves, which benefits from more than a C01S. I think this was a Sofirn C8T.

Could do with more dark places like caves around here, especially in the Summer!

Lux-Perpetua
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Thanks a lot Dave!  Thumbs Up  Beer
Will definitely visit this place with something more powerful next time I get a chance to be in Dorset/UK again.