Review: Cortex by Innokin

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Supporting up to 80 watts or 600 degrees Fahrenheit, a quick charge 3300 mAh battery, as well as a wide array of features, on paper, this thing is a rock star. Unfortunately, the real world usage comes up a bit short.

Design

IMG_4016-EditWhen my wife seen the Cortex her first reaction was “wow”. It’s sleek, feels nice in the hand, and has a slightly textured exterior that makes keeping it clean easy. Any scuffs, scratches, or stains easily rub off, and you don’t have to worry about finger prints. On top of that, it’s light. Weighing in at about 173 grams, it’s probably the lightest mod I own.

It sports a very simple and clean design. Each side is adorned with 3 racing stripes and simply “Cortex” in small lettering on one side. The edges are just as bare. One side having simply the micro-usb port, while the other has the fire button with built in LED.

Unfortunately, this is where things begin to break down for me.

The fire button sits almost perfectly flush with the mod. This means I find myself constantly searching for the button while trying to use it. While not a huge concern, it’s one of two design decisions that puzzle me.

Screen placement is the second. The screen as well as the + and – buttons are located on the bottom of the device. While not critical to it’s usage, it’s a pain. Especially if you were planning on pairing this with a RDA or a tank that has the tendency to leak. You’ll either have to hold the device over your head to operate it, or tip it sideways and chance juice spilling out. It also makes one handed setting changes completely out of the question.

Features

IMG_4007Just like prior Innokin devices, the screen will display a hit timer, and if you hold the + and – button for a couple second, it will display the amount of hits since the last time the device was turned off. Though, don’t plan on using it, since flipping the device after every hit is a pain, and checking how many hits you’ve done requires two hands, or holding the device really awkwardly.

The temperature controlled side supports Ni200 and TI coils only. No stainless steel support, nor TCR functionality. It does add one feature I haven’t seen before, the supposed ability to detect when you are log/out of juice, and keep the mod from firing. In my testing, that feature never worked. While using the included Ni200 coil, the device happily allowed me to fire it while the tank was empty and the cotton was more or less dry. Actually, the only time I was able to consistently get the “No Liquid” warning to trigger was when I had the device connected to a quick charger and tried to use it in pass through. I suspect the heat generated by the quick charge was confusing the device, and making it think the tank was empty. Unplugging the device from the quick charger resolved the issue. I suspected before testing the device that the dry hit protection was going to be more of a nuisance than anything, and I was right. While I admire Innokin for trying something new, I see a lot of frustrated users going to use the Cortex and seeing a “No Liquid” warning on their screen.

On the power side of things, the Cortex is missing a feature that I’ve absolutely loved about their past mods. You can’t switch from wattage to voltage mode. That means it also doesn’t have the memory feature past devices had. While definitely not a deal breaker, I’ve mentioned in the past how much I loved and used that feature. If you are like me, and switch between tanks with different resistance coils often, you know just how handy that feature was. Being able to switch tanks and only having to hit a single combo of buttons to switch the power settings was very convenient. It makes me wonder why more mods don’t come with a couple different memory settings.

Major Issue

Besides the con’s I’ve mentioned so far, there’s a larger issue I had with the device. Charging this thing has been a hassle.

IMG_4004To begin with, I’ve had a lot of issues with the micro-USB port. It seems to be a gamble whether or not a micro-USB cable will be able to charge the device. The port seems to be recessed too much, making it not work with most cables. The the ones it does work with, you really have to force in there. On top of that, because you are constantly having to jam the USB cable in, the connector inside gets loose causing you to have to “jiggle” the cable a bit before it starts charging.

If that wasn’t bad enough, it also seems to fail at detecting and displaying the battery charge. There has been many instances where I’d put the device on the charger at less than 50%, and within 20 minutes or so it’s reading a full battery. If I take the device off the charger and use it for a bit it drops back down to about where it was when I first started charging. There were more than a few times I grabbed the device off the charger before leaving my house, only to find it about half way charged a few minutes later.

Summary

In the end, this might be the first Innokin mod that I’m unhappy with. There’s no way I’d be able to recommend this device to anyone. Even if you are an Innokin lover like me, and *need* TC for some reason, I’d suggest just skipping it and going with a different device.

Once the device is charged, actually using it works just as well as any other device, the caveats you have to deal with just isn’t worth it.

While the cosmetic issues are just that, cosmetic. The charging issue alone is enough to frustrate anyone. There’s too many better devices available to have to deal with the frustration of this device. Even if the charging issue is unique to my device, its other issues way out any potential positives. The one surprisingly nice part is the included iSub S (which I’ll have a separate review for) within the kit. But that alone isn’t reason enough to get the Cortex.

Specifications:

Battery 3300 mAh
Variable Wattage Yes
Variable Voltage No
Temperature Control Yes (Titanium and Nickel 200 supported)
Max Output Wattage 80w
Max Output Voltage 7v
Thread Size/Style 510 (spring loaded pin)
Built in Display Yes
Quick charge Yes
Dimensions 3-3/4″L x 1-3/4″W x 3/4″D
Weight 173g
Colors Available Red, Silver, Blue, Black
Charging Input Micro USB
Please Note: This product was provided by Innokin to the reviewer at no cost in order to evaluate the product.

Author: Gerald

I've always been a huge tech junky. If there's a battery and some kind of silicon, I love tinkering with it. When it comes to my vapes, I prefer the hands off approach for my every day device. A nice tank, pre-made coil, and mod with battery built in is just too convenient. One day I'll build a coil. One day.

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