Review: Romisen RC-I3 1xAA / 2xAA 3-mode

Romisen RC-I3

Reviewer's Overall Rating: ★★★★


Battery: 1x or 2x AA or 14500 or 1x CR123A
Switch: Reverse Clicky
Modes: Hi - Low - Strobe
LED Type: Cree XP-E (?)
Lens: Glass (?)
Tailstands: No
Price Payed: $15.62


  • Very high build quality from a known brand
  • Excellent runtime on 1.2V NiMH battery
  • Very sturdy pocket clip


  • Poor performance on 1.2V NiMH battery
  • Can't tailstand
  • Annoying mode memory
  • Flashing low-battery feature artificially limits runtime
  • A tad bit pricey
  • No official product specifications

Features / Value: ★★★☆☆

The Romisen RC-I3 is a unique offering from a well respected budget light manufacturer. Romisen is known for producing attractive, reliable, high-quality flashlights at a budget price. The Romisen RC-I3 is no exception. As is typical of a Romisen product, the RC-I3 sports a simple, unassuming design, without extravagant gimmicks or features. In fact, at DealExtreme the RC-I3 technically does not have any features, since the product description has been blank for many months. I wanted a multi-mode light from Romisen, so I took my chances with the RC-I3 since several DealExtreme buyers commented that they had received a 3-mode light. Happily, I did too. It has three modes ordered as: high, low, strobe. My light also has an extremely poor implementation of mode memory, perhaps more accurately described as "mode reset". The light starts in high mode. If turned off and on again within 15 seconds it goes to the next mode. But after a lapse of about 15 seconds in off, it will always turn on the next time in high mode. This implementation seems extremely backwards to me, and is more of a nuisance than a feature. Fortunately it only has three modes to cycle through. Apart from this oddity, the only other unique feature of the RC-I3 is the second battery extension tube. However, I have absolutely no interest in a long, awkward, 2xAA light, so I have never even removed the extension tube from its wrapper. However, I do like the knurling on the extension tube, and I wish they applied the same to the main body. Otherwise, the RC-I3 has few unique features. The lens appears to be glass. The LED appears to be an XP-E model of some sort, judging from close-up pictures of the XP-E. The reflector is a lightly textured "orange peel" type, which mitigates the effect of the Cree rings in the beam pattern. I very much like the sturdy pocket clip, and additionally it features a nice lanyard with a lanyard hole in the side of the tailcap. Normally this would prevent the light from tailstanding, but unfortunately the switch protrudes considerably, apparently by design, so it wouldn't tailstand anyway. This light has no glow-in-the-dark O-rings, which I personally miss. The Romisen RC-I3 is a simple, sensible light with few distinguishing features apart from the 2xAA extension tube. It is slightly expensive at $15.62, so I'll give it 3-stars for Features / Value.

Build Quality: ★★★★★

People usually buy Romisen for its reputation of quality, and the RC-I3 doesn't disappoint in this criterion. I was very pleased with this light's quality from the moment I started to unscrew the head by its fine, silky-smooth threads. Additionally, the head section's threads are very long winded, requiring almost six full turns. It also has an O-ring between the head and body sections. All this makes for a very distinct feel of quality. Inside the battery chamber, the negative contact spring is extremely long at apparently more than 3 cm in length. This makes for a very nice compressive strength against the battery, resulting in good contact. The strangest feature inside the light is a protruding nub at the positive contact end on the head section. It is somewhat counterintuitive to mate the positive nub of a battery against another positive nub on the head, and I don't know why they designed it this way. However, it doesn't seem to negatively affect the performance or the contact. On the outside, the Romisen RC-I3 is available in two colors:

However, the silver picture on DealExtreme does not show the color very accurately. Mine has a distinctly bluish-grey overtone, as can be seen in the poor introductory photo I tried to take. The body finish is very nice, with only a single scratch of just a few millimeters, and no lint or smut inside the lens. Fortunately I did not have to clean or tighten the internals out of the box. As noted previously, the pocket clip is exceptionally sturdy, much more so than that of the Akoray K-106 and its clones. I wish that the RC-I3 had knurling, but the body design is otherwise spartan and fairly attractive. It has some flats milled radially around the body, alternating with circumferential rings. The only way to access the battery chamber is by unscrewing the head. The tailcap also unscrews, but strangely it only reveals the backplate of the switch module. All the fits and tolerances seem quite precise, and it exudes a very expensive feel, earning the Romisen RC-I3 5-stars for Build Quality.

Battery Life: ★★

The Romisen RC-I3 is capable of giving very good runtime with a high-quality 1.2V NiMH battery such as an Eneloop. When I first did a runtime test with a decent Alkaline battery, the RC-I3 lasted around 8 hours on low, which is not very impressive. Additionally, runtime is artificially limited by a flashing low-battery feature that increases the flashing interval as the battery continues to drain. I was planning on giving the RC-I3 3-stars for runtime, but I changed my mind after trying it with a fresh Eneloop. Since the output on low is much lower with a 1.2V NiMH, the RC-I3 produced a very impressive runtime with an Eneloop of approximately three times the runtime on an Alkaline AA. The regulation circuit must be excellent too, as it produced steady, usable light approximately equal to the output of an Akoray K-106 on low for 18 hours, after which I left it. When I came back about 25 hours after starting the test, the light was slowly flashing. According to this DealExtreme reviewer, the RC-I3 only draws 65 ma on low with a 1.2V NiMH. He also claims that the output with 2 NiMHs is approximately double, thus achieving more brightness but the same runtime with the 2-battery configuration. So the Romisen RC-I3 might be a very good choice for those who mainly want good runtime on low with a rechargeable NiMH battery. 4 out of 5 stars here.

Light Output: ★★★☆☆

The light output of the Romisen RC-I3 might be a turnoff for some flashlight fans. I initially tried it with an Alkaline, where I found the beam on high to be smooth and reasonably bright. There is a small amount of Cree-typical shadowing noticeable around the hotspot, but much less so than some other lights I own that produce ugly rings throughout the beam. The RC-I3 floods more than it throws, probably owing to the slight "orange peel" textured reflector. For me, the output on high produces a pleasing beam with acceptable brightness. However, it is not as shockingly bright as several other lights that I own, most noticeably the TrustFire R5-A3 and the Tank007 TK-566-5. More significant still is the performance of the RC-I3 on a 1.2V Eneloop. With this configuration, the RC-I3 produces a very feeble high-mode output, leading me to double-check that my Eneloop wasn't discharged. Even for someone like myself that is not overly-concerned by brightness, the high output with an Eneloop is not sufficient. However, as mentioned above, the advantage to this low-amperage output is a nice, dim low mode that gives an impressive runtime. I should mention that the DealExtreme reviewers claim that this light works fine with a 14500 battery, for which this light appears to be designed. However, since I do not own any 3.7V 14500 batteries, I am giving the Romisen RC-I3 3/5 stars on this criterion due to its moderate brightness.

Summary: ★★★★

In summary, the Romisen RC-I3 is a reliable, high-quality, basic, multi-mode flashlight. The average rating of the above four categories is 3.75, so we'll round up the overall rating to 4-stars. Users who prefer quality and runtime on NiMH will probably most appreciate this flashlight. Those who want a 2x battery flashlight will definitely want to consider the RC-I3. Overall, I like the RC-I3, and I think that even the most exacting flashlight fans would find that the quality favorably compares with that of brands that cost many, many times as much. Congratulations to Romisen for a very fine product at a good price.

Do you own the Romisen RC-I3? If so, please give it your own star rating below!

There aren't actually all that many decent 2AA lights. The Ultrafire WF-606A (Which will also run on CR2 cells if you are rich) is probably the best of them. This romisen looks like it might be a contender. The Ultrafire C3 can be had with extension tubes and makes for a very slim 2AA config. It keeps much the same brightness, but for a lot longer. It can, in theory be run on 3AAs, but contact issues with this config tend to make this an exercise in troubleshooting rather than lighting.

I'm not a fan of the 2AA layout, it tends to make for long, thin lights that always feel awkward.

3AA - like the 3AA Luxeon Mini Mag is even worse. I used to own a few till I saw a police K9 unit looking for a malefactor in my back garden with horrible dim lights. Since the local cops only issue AA batteries, I went out and made them a present of something better and got rid of LED Minimags I never used anyway.

Agreed, I dislike long, unwieldy lights, and have no use for a 2xAA format. And 3xAAA is worse yet. That being said, if anyone wants a 2xAA light, this would probably be an excellent choice. Another nice 2xAA model (and probably MUCH brighter) would be the Tank007 TK-566-5 with extension. I own the single AA model and I really like it.

Great review, I like to have a couple of 2 AA lights around just to have, but mostly single celled lights are the way to go for me.

The emitter is aprox a P4. Doesn't get hot & runs long. IThe body does cut,drill/grind open enough to accomodate protected 17500 batteries. Rated mah of 17500 is 1300 vs 88 for 14500.

Does anyone know any other model that can open up for 17500?

Lights that can take a 14500 are a start. If they can handle a 16340 also then you are only 1mm away.