[Review] Fenix E12 v2.0 (2020) - 1 x AA, 160 lumens, A Simple Clicky EDC Flashlight

Receive a unit of Fenix E12 v2.0 from Fenixlight a few weeks ago (together with Fenix TK11 Tac and Fenix E28R) for testing.

This is a simple 3 modes single AA EDC flashlight that does not support 3.7V 14500 LiIon battery.

Let's take a quick look at the specifications of E12 v2.0:

The Fenix E12 v2.0 (2020) flashlight...

It comes with bi-directional pocket clip. However...

due to the design of the clip holding mechanism, some may have problem with the hump/protrusion of the clip design when using it onto most thicker clothing/pants like denim jeans. On the other hand, the pocket clip does allow a somewhat deep pocket carry.

Fenix E12 v2.0 (2020) is really small and lightweight (also depending on what battery you use) and can easily disappear in your hand...

The user interface is very simple as it's using a reverse-clicky switch:

  • ON/OFF: Click the tail switch
  • Mode switching method 1: with E12 v2.0 turned-ON, tap the tail switch to cycle Low-Medium-High mode
  • Mode switching method 2: with E12 v2.0 turned-ON, twist the head (quickly loosen and tighten the head within 0.5 seconds) to switch/cycle Low-Medium-High mode
  • Mode Memory: Fenix E12 v2.0 does not have mode memory, if you leave Fenix E12 v2.0 Off for more than 0.5 second, the next time you turn it On it will default back to Low mode
  • Lockout: Loosen the head a quarter turn and you have effectively lockout Fenix E12 v2.0

The tailswitch boot button is covered by 2 protruding lanyard hole design and the boot is recessed enough for tail-standing. I wish Fenix E20 v2.0 has the same design though...

seen here on the left is the boot button of Fenix E12 v2.0 (2020), while on the right is the boot button of Fenix E20 v2.0. The Fenix E20 v2.0 boot button is not recessed enough to allow it to tail-stand. Both Fenix E12 v2.0 and Fenix E20 v2.0 has reverse-clicky tailswitch based on similar design, the failure of Fenix E20 v2.0 to tail-stand is simply unexpected.

The head positive contact.

The body negative contact spring.

The copper colored stainless steel bezel ring add a touch of aesthetic cool-ness to Fenix E12 v2.0

battery is inserted positive side (button) towards the head.

The thin optical lens used in some of recent Fenix E-series flashlight models. Sitting behind this optics is the MATCH CA18-3X2 LED from Genesis Photonics (couldn't find much information about this LED except who manufacture it).

comparing the optics of E12 v2.0 on the left to E20 v2.0 on the right.

and a full size comparisons between Fenix E12 v2.0 and Fenix E20 v2.0.

comparing the High mode of Fenix E12 v2.0, 160 lumens to the High mode of Fenix E20 v2.0 350 lumens (image captured at 1/1000s shutter speed @ ISO-50).

above is the quoted output and runtime from Fenix for E12 v2.0.

my measured output using Panasonic Evolta alkaline battery:

The usual disclaimer: I do not claim the above measured lumens as authoritative nor an indication of over/under-stating the number given by manufacturer. It's calibrated against some known light output (e.g. SureFire, Elzetta, etc.) so take it with a grain of salt and just as a relative reading.

and the runtime test of the High mode of 160 lumens using 3 different batteries:

Note that when using the 1.5V KeepPower P1450U LiIon battery, although it gives a flat battery regulated output of 160 lumens for ~70 minutes, the light will just turned-Off when the battery protection circuit kicks-in.

In conclusion, I really like this simple Fenix E12 v2.0. I highly recommend that when you get this flashlight, run it with a good NiMH rechargeable battery the likes of IKEA LADDA 2450mAh or the made-in-Japan Eneloop Pro. Although in my testing, the Fenix E20 v2.0 with Luminus SST20 LED seems to be more efficient than this Fenix E12 v2.0 with MATCH CA18 LED, the advantage of Fenix E12 v2.0 is the light weight, small size and near-deep-pocket carry option it offers. I would however love to see a High CRI or warm tinted LED version of this Fenix E12 v2.0 and with optional support for 3.7V 14500 LiIon battery.

Thanks for reading.

Thanks for the review!
From the image above (positive contact) it seems the driver is glued. Do you confirm that?

These 2 Fenix lights seem pretty nice, so thanks for showing them!!

Thanks for the review!

I’m glad to see your review on this. Thank you for your effort!

Just an FYI, I tried a 14500 in my E12 v2 and it didn’t go poof but it also didn’t get crazy bright.

The current draw on a 1.3V NiMH cell was 1.50A and on a 3.9V Lion cell was 0.48A. So, it would appear there is some constant current regulation circuitry involved. I don’t have a light meter but actually all three levels were relatively similar in power draw and output light levels. Further testimony of what appears from the Runtime Charts to be a well-regulated driver.

Since there isn’t any appreciable bump in lumen out-the-front, I will probably stick with NiMH to be safe. I can’t vouch for long-term viability (nor whether it would survive with a high-draw/low-resistance 14500 cell) but it’s good to know I don’t have to worry about accidentally sticking a 14500 in the light and frying the thing instantly.

(Also, sticking with AA is better for warranty purposes.)

Nice light but a severely limited that it wont take a 14500. Cant imagine why they did this.

On a positive note, I really like the anodizing on the new Fenix lights. They went from a dull black to a glossy black but its done in good taste.

A 14500 is 3.7v, usually, whereas a AA is only 1.5v.
Just a theory, but in order to run AA it would have to accept voltages lower than (as I understand it) the safe limit of a 14500, which may result in damage to the latter……?

Thanks for the review. I really like the design and knurling, but 160 is just a little too low for my needs. Pity, I like the look.

Many of the lights that take AA also take 14500, example below:


I can only guess at the reasons why Fenix made this light the way they did, but I would guess that there are two reasons: 1) cost, based on the fact that this is a mass-consumer-grade light not intended for the relatively-sophisticated users motived to use Li-ion cells; and 2) legal liability issues, given that very few of the people buying this light would know how to use Li-ion cells safely and be motivated to buy a good quality Li-ion cell charger.

This is not a product aimed at the typical BLF member, after all.

And many that do take both also lack LVP, so will end up draining the 14500 below safe levels…

Necroing the thread :stuck_out_tongue:

Can any of the owners of this flashlight measure the driver diameter, please, and report it back?

Thanks in advance :+1:

Urk Fenix!

I’ve tried modding a number of Fenix lights. They like to make sure the pill doesn’t fall out by squeezing an entire tube of red threadlocker into the threads. Usually so much that it splurts out the top and bottom of the threads.

Last Fenix light I tried to mod defeated me. Ended up trashing the driver but the pill never moved moved. Only options left are

  • a blowtorch (which might damage the anodizing or optic), or
  • a hacksaw/dremel to try to cut open the head to salvage the optic.