The Apollo Vtube 3.0 is the latest incarnation of the ever popular Vtube (also known as the Lavatube or Lambo to you and me). As the version number indicates this is the third revision of the Apollo Vtube. The original Lavatube design was pretty much an overnight success – the first low cost variable voltage device meant vapers on a budget could experience the delights of Variable Voltage (VV) without spending a small fortune. I had one, still do. The product was let down by the plastic end caps, but overall a decent introduction to advanced PV’s and ground breaking to a certain extent.
With numerous complaints about the cheap feel, the v1.0 tube quickly got a face lift. A couple of years back Apollo commissioned a unique limited edition stainless steel Vtube. This would be known as the v2.0 and while the previous example (v1.0) and the v2.0 had identical performance (they both utilised the same on-board electronics) significant external modifications such as a floating (spring loaded) centre pin, built-in ego cone threading, all metal end caps and a choice of chrome or stainless steel bodies added to a growing pedigree.
Unfortunately, v2.0 suffered from a few issues – the most obvious being the airy draw as the grooves cut into the 510 connection were way too wide and a number of popular clearomizers wouldn’t fit inside the tight juice well.
The decision not to change the electronics was also an oversight in my opinion and the v2.0 remained a high resistance atomizer device that wouldn’t work with low resistance atomizers due to the 2.5A limit.
The draw and clearomizer issues were readily fixed with adapters, but it was a shame that a now solid, well built product was plagued with technical issues and lacked electronic enhancements.
So that brings us nicely to the v3.0!
Apollo ecigs currently offer to two versions – a full “starter” kit or body only.
I received the full kit which includes 1 Vtube 3.0 device, 1 Panasonic 18650 battery, 1 Trustfire TR-001 charger, 1 Apollo branded case and a KangerTech Mini Protank II “kit” which includes two atomizer heads (a review on that is to follow in due course).
As with all Apollo products the packaging is high quality and not only was the Vtube in a factory sealed box, the device itself was heat sealed in its own protective bag.
On the face of it, visually not much has changed – its all very subtle. Comparing the Vtube v2.0 with the v3.0 side by side there are a lot of similarities. Their almost identical in dimensions (the v3.0 is fractionally longer at 135mm).
The LCD window is in the same forward facing position but has been noticeably enlarged to accommodate the bigger negative LCD which has an attractive deep purple hue. Gone is the flat screen, enter a curved clear window which follows the curves of the device. Incidentally the contrast of the new LCD is a big improvement over the red back lit version – much easier to read indoors – outside in glaring sunshine is a different matter – the display is barely visble which is common with negative or reverse LCD’s – just ask any Casio or Suunto watch owner!
The plus and minus buttons are still very small (silver painted plastic) and situated below the display window. The fire button has moved from the side to the front and is now illuminated by a blue LED when activated. The v3.0 button is made from clear plastic and larger than a comparable eGo button. It rotates freely thus preventing any form of sticking and misfiring – it rattles when shaked though the plus/minus buttons don’t. The v2.0 fire button had a tendency to stick at times and I don’t see that happening now. The new fire button position is comfortable to use and I prefer it. As you’ll note the red power button on the v2.0 has gone on the v3.0 as powering the unit on and off is now a secondary function of the fire button.
The finish has been greatly refined. The highly polished v2.0 is a fingerprint magnet, so I’m pleased to say this has changed. The v3.0 now sports a sleek, finely brushed satin stainless steel look which has a more than a passing resemblance to titanium – it also appears to have been lacquered to further protect the finish.
Fluting in the form of 8 grooves have been incorporated along the lower tube for grip – these are smooth to the touch with no sharp edges. In addition to these, dimples along the top end and battery cap mimic the Provari mod that the Chinese seem to use as a benchmark when designing new devices. Its a pity they couldn’t be more adventurous and come up with something unique – maybe horizontal slots for example and a flat top for a more sleek look with wide body tanks?
The end cap has been redesigned and is now roughly double the depth of the previous flatter version and is now noticeably cup shaped. Gone is the aluminium coloured spring, enter gold plated spring! This looks better and is bigger than before and should last the lifetime of the device without tension/conductivity problems. As far as battery safety features goes there are now 5 air vents (1 larger hole in the centre with 4 smaller holes in a square pattern) drilled into the base for battery venting as opposed 1 on the v2.0. The unit also has reverse polarity protection should the user accidentally put the battery in the wrong way which would ordinarily fry a non protected circuit board.
L-Rider manufacture the Apollo Vtube and the v3.0 is sold under a few different guises, the most well known is the companies own version the Lambo 6.0. The original Lambo had a fixed head ring, however the Apollo v3.0 has a removable ring which enables any atomizer/tank combo to be screwed onto the 510 connection. That said the device looks better with the ring attached as the ego cone threading is hidden from view. Its still a good option to have. The diameter of the unit is smaller than a Provari and as a result the screw threads are not interchangeable mores the pity.
There are 2 holes drilled through 2 of the dimples for increased air flow which is a great idea but as a juice well goes I’d guess it may result in ejuice running down the sides of the tube – something to keep an eye on if you use attys/tanks that are a bit on the leaky side.
The atomizer end is all stainless steel with no brass parts barring the fixed centre connector. Gone is the spring loaded centre pin which in my experience is an improvement as my v2.0 had a tendency to stick down at times. I know some users swear by self adjusting pins, but I’m not one of them – its just another thing to go wrong in my book. The atomizer connection protrudes above the removable ring (about 2mm) so that airflow is not inhibited when flush(ish) tanks are fitted.
Each unit is laser etched with the Apollo logo at the base, a unique serial number on the left side (looking at the device from the front) and “VTUBE3.0” on the right. In all honesty, I’m not too keen on the type font used for “VTUBE3.0” though I suppose it is an improvement over the Lambo 6.0 Comic Sans look!
Overall, in the hand, the device is solid (read heavy, nigh on 200g with battery and tank) and well built. I don’t have any issues at all with the fit and finish. The joints are all tight with no massive gaps, the threading is good though a little sharp around the edges (but this will wear off with use), the 18650 battey fits snugly into the tube and doesn’t rattle when shaked. My example (#00438) was flawless – no scratches, dings or dents.
The biggest and most significant changes have happened inside the Vtube. Say goodbye to the dated VV only system and a big hello to Variable Wattage (VW) and VV! Not only that, but the welcome inclusion of an Ohms meter too. Group hug everyone!
Variable voltage alows the user to select a voltage regardless of the Ohms resistance of the atomizer, and I think most users understand that concept. You can fine tune according to taste. The device doesn’t care if you set it too high for the resistance value. In practice this means you really need to know what the atomizer resistance is to hit your sweet spot time after time. This is most applicable to RBA’s. The resistance of self-build coils varies a lot so one day 4.2v will work fine on one coil, change the coil and 4.2v maybe too high or too low.
Variable wattage (power) works differently in as much as the user sets the Watts and the device will automatically adjust the voltage based on the resistance of the atomizer. In reality this means the user gets a consistent performance without the need to know the resistance or voltage required to get the desired vape. Of course fine tuning may still be required, but there is no thought process involved.
All of the Vtubes (Lavatubes, Lambos etc) have a really simple and easy to use menu system and everything useful can be gleaned from a few button presses. This is one of the thing I love about them. No need to remember a multitude of button sequences to change the voltage or read the battery charge status.
- To turn the device on/off: press the fire button 5 times
- To read the atomizer Ohms: press and hold the minus (-) button (displays F1 if no atomizer is connected)
- To read the current battery voltage: press and hold the plus (+) button
- To switch between VV and VW: press the fire button 3 times
- To adjust voltage/wattage: use the plus/minus buttons up/down (no hold for scrolling as this activates the secondary commands, Ohms meter/battery voltage)
- To lock the current voltage/wattage: press both the plus (+) and minus (-) buttons at the same time holding for 3 seconds. Reverse to cancel
The VV vs.VW capability differs slightly in as much as voltage can be adjust in 0.1v increments from 3.0-6.0v (min/max operating ranges) whereas Wattage can only be adjusted in 1.0W increments from 1-20W (note the minimum 1W setting most devices such as the DNA20 start at 7W and go up to 15W). There is no ultra fine tuning of 0.1W or 0.5W I’m afraid. This maybe down to the LCD size – limited to 2 numbers plus decimal point – 3 would be required to fulfil this or a form of horizontal display scrolling. I’m pretty sure its within the scope of the device to include smaller wattage increments (but what do I know?!). The device is limited to a maximum of 5A which is perfect for most users enabling all sorts of Ohms rated atomizers to be used safely. I’ve heard of some sub 1.0Ohms atomizers firing without a hitch, though I tend to stick to higher resistance out of choice so no experience with pushing the vaping envelope.
I decided fire up the unit with the supplied KangerTech mini Protank II filled with my poison of choice, BestEcig Flue Cured Tobacco (24mg VG). I inserted a fresh 18650 Panasonic 10A battery and the display lit up. Its worth noting that when the battery is changed the unit reverts to 3.0 v/1.0W as there is no internal memory. I duly pressed and held the minus button for a few seconds to check the resistance of the Protank. It read 2.2Ohms (a day or so later it reads 2.3Ohms as gunk builds up around the coil) so I adjusted the voltage to 4v and pressed the fire button. The button gave a reassuring solid click and illuminated bright blue (not very stealthy in dark environments). The draw was perfect for me – not at all airy – and the vapour warm and thick. It was also the first time I’d tried a Protank as I’ve been using a Rebuildable Atomizers (RBA) for ages now, so it was pleasing to use something that worked without a problem straight out of their respective boxes.
I flicked around the menu changing voltage and wattage and found my sweet spot. There is a 10 second cut-out when firing the device, but no built-in delay – you can vape straight away after the cut-out. Of course this is to safeguard atomizers from premature burnouts.
Compared directly with my previous PV (Apollo Vtube stainless steel v2.0) I was suitably impressed with the improvements made and additional features. The standout being the Ohms meter – much easier than using a multimeter.
I’d suggest I’m an average to low power VV user in as much as I tend to use high resistance 2.5-3.5Ohms atomizers and mid-low power under 5-7 watts or a max 5v (sometimes as low as 3.7v) depending upon how I like my vape hit. Of course the atomizer type and rating plays a huge part in all this – ultimately though the PV supplies the power! Its difficult to determine and describe sometimes what the best combo is for a chosen set-up be that tank or RBA and the related power required to get the desired hit. But as a rule I’ve not found it particularly difficult using either the VV or VW settings to get a desirable and enjoyable vape. So for me the unit works like a charm and the battery lasts all day long for me – which I’d expect it to.
I’ve read all sorts about the performance levels of this unit when using the VW mode. Reports suggest the Lambo 6.0 (Apollo Vtube v3.0’s brother so to speak) does not consistently hit the correct voltage for wattage which has been attributed to using low rated batteries (<20A). Unfortunately, I don’t have any test equipment to verify any of this, but two links worthy of further reading are provided below. Apparently, and I say this without direct evidence myself that the manufacturer (not Apollo) recommends batteries with a 30A load for consistent performance in VW mode. Like I say, this is third hand info. Personally, I’ve not noticed a drop-off while using VW, but that maybe because I don’t really push my PV’s to the max or require huge power for vaping and thus am blissfully unaware!
Funnily enough the battery supplied by Apollo ecigs is a flat top Panasonic, Li-ion, CGR18650CH, MH12210, 2250mAh, High Drain 10A and it seems to do the job. If in any doubt I’d recommend looking at some higher drain batteries in the 20-30A range for improved performance if that is indeed an issue with the Apollo v3.0. I honestly don’t know. This unit only takes flat top batteries no nipples please!
Further reading and testing
- Mountain Prophet (German website with multi-language translation support)
- A PBusardo Review – A Heads Up on the Lambo 6.0
Summing up as is. The Apollo Vtube 3.0 is a big improvement over previous versions. The addition of VW, an Ohms meter, enhanced finish refinements and overall build quality makes it a winner in my book. I appreciate some may not like the Provari clone-a-like appearance, but its super easy to use and costs roughly 3 times less! Honestly, I’m impressed with it and will vape it exclusively as a long term test example. Time will tell. I’ll certainly update this post over the next 3, 6, 9 and 12 months to let you know how things pan out.
Probably the best endorsement is that fact that I got through 2 full tanks (3ml) while writing this review today! It works for me.