In the vape world, Shenzhen is almost as important as ejuice, atomizers, and batteries! Take away any of those things and we wouldn’t have vaping as we know it. Shenzhen is the vape manufacturing capital of the world… and a few of us from Vaping360 attended their 5th IECIE E-Cig Expo. The event was held from April 14 – 16, where virtually every manufacturer in China was all under one roof. Technically, there were four separate halls in an arena. But the total size of it all was huge!
There was an almost never-ending array of vape products on display. It was an amazing and overwhelming experience to attend one of these expos, especially one on this scale. But the IECIE Expo isn’t the expo to go to if your interest is in designer rebuildables, high-end box mods, and the latest hot e-juice line. I was even surprised to learn that the IECIE isn’t that much of a draw for vape celebrities, although Phil and the Vaping Greek seem to get around no matter the country. That kind of expo is happening right now in Birmingham, UK (The VaperExpo UK). IECIE is different than that, and it’s virtually all Chinese, but nonetheless an amazing experience just on a consumer level. That said, the crux of IECIE is business!
The Expo was held at the Shenzhen Convention & Exhibition Center Hall in the Futian District of Shenzhen City. The first IECIE was held in 2015 and the show has expanded a lot within just five years. The whole arena was buzzing from activity and nicotine! Here’s a closer look at the numbers to give you an idea of the scale:
I’ve been to a few expos in my day, but this was by far the biggest. It was a dizzying experience between the people and the hubbub of mandarin, loud techno music, clouds, vape models, strange props and characters, and what seemed to be a maze of popular and emerging Chinese brands. It was also interesting to see the size, space, and organization of some of the booths. For instance, brands like Vaporesso, Ijoy, Aspire, Innokin, Geekvape, SMOK, Voopoo, Suorin, and UWELL had really impressive displays. Many of their “booths” were larger than vape shops I go to!
Of course, there were obligatory competitions and giveaways, tricksters, cloud blowers, and live product releases. Although there were tens of thousands of consumers in attendance, it was clear that the IECIE 2019 expo was more about B2B than anything – whether OEM, distribution, manufacturing, bulk buys, and/or collaborations. If you’re in the vape business, you may want to attend the next IECIE expo. I don’t think any retail was taking place… although lots of products were being handed out.
If there was one thing that was consistent throughout the expo, it was… wait for it… pods, pods, pods and nic salt! I know many of you out there might be yawning now, but that’s the name of the game. Speaking with CEOs, owners, VPs and marketing execs of familiar Chinese brands, I learned that pod vapes sell far better than I could’ve imagined. Many popular brands suggested that pod vapes are their best sellers! Of course, that’s not the case for every brand, but that was what I heard more often than not.
Another takeaway from the expo was HNB products. Since the IQOS just had its PMTA approved by the FDA, it looks like HNB is here to stay. Plus, heat-not-burn devices are taking off in Asia since smoking is so prevalent out there. I’m not exactly keen on mixing that in with vaping, but it makes sense from a business perspective — and it is still harm reduction, so I give it a pass. I just wish I didn’t have to smell it at a vape event!
This is not an exhaustive list of who was at the expo. It’s just a small sample, obviously! There was a lot on display, but not every brand had new products released at the expo — much to my dismay. In several cases, we were asked to not take pics (for publishing) or release the names of certain products until they are officially released. Even still, here’s a small sample of some of the brands in attendance and some pics and info about new products coming soon.
A new startup called Airscream created a buzz! UK-based Airscream is a self-proclaimed lifestyle brand that markets itself as “more than a single device or a type of community…”. Setting that aside, their kit is called Airspops. It’s an ultraportable prefilled pod vape, similar but slightly larger than the JUUL. It has high strength nic salt (3.6% and 5.0%), plus unique and tasty flavors like Dornish Red, Mangolicious (amazing), Grape Cognac, Melon Gum, Ice Wine, and several others.
The feel of the device, the pull of the draw, the throat hit and flavor performance are very good. Of all that I tried and got from the expo, this little joker was (is) my favorite. Soon as I got home from China, I searched for and found a single site selling their pods. I loaded up a cart of over $75 worth; then in the checkout, I saw they only ship to New Zealand and Australia. Ugh! Keep an eye out for these guys. Airspops is a great little vape!
Aspire released a couple of new devices. The one pictured is the Slym. It’s a compact tube-style AIO with drop-in refillable/disposable pods (plastic tanks) and 1.2-ohm nichrome coils. Although it only has a by-pass battery output, the device is super light and it has a 1000 mAh capacity. If you want to carry an AIO that won’t weigh down your purse or pocket, check around for this one soon.
Augvape is forging ahead with some products for all types of vapers. AIOs, pod vapes, box mods (and some new panels for the Foxy), and their new Occula RDA that looks like it could take coils as thick as power lines! It’s nice to see not all the Chinese brands are forgetting their rebuildable roots. More power to you, Augvape!
Desire Design had an impressive spread and some interesting new products. One is a sleek and futuristic looking pod vape that I didn’t get a chance to try, but it stood out above the typical designs. On the other hand, they had a cross-shaped pod vape hung around a necklace that may be a bit too irreverent for my tastes. At least they’re trying something new, and it surely works for stealth and covert vaping. But maybe religious symbols and vapes don’t mix too well. Just a thought.
Feelm is a branch of the Smoore family. I knew their ceramic wicks were getting more popular in pod vapes, but I didn’t know just how many brands were using them. Don’t be surprised if you start seeing the words “Feelm Inside” written on new pod vapes coming out. They are the top brand for pod vape OEM and ceramic wicking technology, with some, ahem, Big Time clients (see what I did there?), and they were flexing their muscles at the expo.
Geekvape was our first stop. They had a large and prominent display, decorated with Aegis mods submerged in water-filled fishbowls hanging around their booth. A couple of new releases for them are a dual-coil RDA called the Tengu, and an AIO that looks like the LV Orion called the Frenzy Kit. As an aside, of all the Chinese brands we met, Geekvape was one of the most down-to-earth and fun to be with. Shout out to Diana and Choi! Next time, hot pot is on me!
IJOY had a massive booth. They were impossible to miss! They had some sexy new resin designs for the Captain mods and some high-quality pod vapes and AIOs that are coming out soon. I tried several and I really enjoyed the Mercury Kit (the resin box-style AIO three pictures above). Just when I thought IJOY had fallen off, they showed up big!
Innokin was hard at work pushing their new EQ S, Z-Biip, Zlide, and Gala pod. I have the EQ S and the Z-Biip already. They’re both really good devices but, in terms of performance, the Z-Biip takes the cake. Loads of flavor, and an MTL draw up to a very restricted lung hit. I’m using mine with low-strength nic juice and the 0.48-ohm coils and loving it!
On a personal note, I finally got a chance to meet P.Busardo! It’s been a long time since our first email exchanges back in 2012 where he helped me decide between the Provari and the Lavatube. It’s funny now to think about it, but the industry has come a long way since then. As for Phil, he’s exactly like he is on YouTube. Approachable, decent, and willing to give you a moment of his time — as was the Vaping Greek. Good guys!
One company called JOUZ made their presence felt! I’d seen their name many times before and didn’t know exactly what they were about. They’re a Japanese HNB brand that is now making a line of pod vapes. Their line of pod vapes are quite good actually, but the flavors they had out for sample were more geared to Eastern vapers. I’m not so keen on monk fruit in a vape! But still, the devices are very well designed and they do have a line of flavors for the Western market. I doubt JUUL is worried, but it’s clear who has a big target on their back.
JOUZ is not some new company rebranding OEM products. They’re working with designers from Harman Kardan and engineers from Huawei which illuminates the build quality and design of their devices. I don’t know if they’re going to be in stores any time soon, but JOUZ might be a name to keep an eye out for… especially when they open up to the Western world.
Joyetech is dropping a new and cool little AIO with interchangeable panels called the Exceed Grip. Joyetech has been a little quiet over the past couple years, but they look like they’re trying to get back on track. For one of the oldest brands in the game, I look forward to seeing more of what they are going to do. The Exceed Grip I got a chance to use was pretty good.
A personal favorite of mine, the Korean brand Justfog has some new beginner kits hitting the market (Qpod, Compact 14, and another that can’t be named yet). The Compact 14 is one that I can’t get over! It’s a pocketable AIO based on one of their old designs (the Q14 Compact from 2017). It’s got a 1500 mAh battery that can honestly make it over two days with consistent usage (I’ve made it to three days a couple of times). That’s not marketing fluff. It’s a helluva battery for that type of kit.
Lost Vape introduced a new pod vape called the Lyra, but this one is not a DNA device or made on the Orion platform. It’s more of a basic style, although it does perform well and has the quality look and feel of an LV design. One thing that I haven’t mentioned about the expo and all the pod vapes being released: I saw several new devices that are taking the Orion design. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Lost Vape should be blushing.
Suorin had a nice space, which seemed to be filled with more meetings than actual vapers. They are soon releasing the new Air device, called the Suorin Air Plus. It’s an upgrade to the Air V2. Somehow, Suorin has managed to (more than) double the battery capacity from 400 mAh to 930 mAh and increase the pod capacity from 2 mL to 3.2 mL. All this while keeping the size still perfectly pocketable; it’s honestly not that much larger than the original. It even has more power now and two different coil resistances. Personally, I wasn’t much of a fan of the original Air, but the Suorin Air Plus appears to have fixed the previous issues while being a strong device on its own.
UWELL was fun to meet. Although the show was a lot about business, the UWELL booth felt like a vape shop. There was a whole lot of vaping going on at the UWELL space! They’re killing it right now with their Caliburn pod vape that’s recently come out. And I got a chance to try the new Valyrian II, a box mod and tank combo. I’m not sure when it’s going to be released, but it’s a helluva kit.
Although Vandy Vape had just released the Jackaroo right before the expo, there was an incredible interest in that mod. It seemed to be a never-ending meeting happening there with distributors talking large numbers about it. They also debuted the Trident. It’s a rugged, shock and water-resistant tube-style kit with a waterproof chip! Yeah, just in case water does get through, it will still work (apparently).
Something unexpected from Vandy Vape is their new brand called Phiness (pronounced FIN-is, not like “finesse”). Although Vandy Vape has always gotten MTL right, this brand is for pods. The first release from Phiness is going to be the Vega. It’s an ultra-small little pod vape that vapes well and looks incredible. And in case you’re wondering, no, it’s not compatible with the JUUL. Who needs that headache?!
Vaporesso is an interesting and intriguing company. They’re a huge player, and bigger — much, much bigger — than I ever knew. They also present themselves as professional and organized. In terms of products though, the only thing I saw new there was their Aurora Play pod vape, which I already reviewed recently. But, they showed me a new mod in the works that’s sexy as all get out! Hopefully, it makes it to production.
If there was anyone that made a fuss about new product releases, it was Voopoo. They released 10 new products at the expo in a live release party. There are new products in three lines: FIND, Drag, and Alpha. Think what you want about Voopoo, they’re pushing ahead despite the self-inflicted wounds over the past year or so. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to try any of their new stuff, though it was hard not to be interested. And there’s simply not enough space here to summarize it all. Needless to say, there’s a lot coming down the pike from Voopoo.
Yihi showed me their SXMini X Class. It’s a dual-batt, 200-watt auto-squonker of sorts that sends juice up to the atomizer without squeezing a bottle. The whole thing is operated by a touchscreen and a refillable pod/tank at the bottom of the mod. It’s an intriguing concept but, unfortunately, the device wasn’t acting right. Twenty minutes or so of us trying to get it to wet the wicks, I gave up and moved on. No hate on Yihi, but I’m not so sure squonking needs to be an electronic feature — it’s perfectly easy already as a manual feature! No matter though, this is what I expect from an expo and a company trying new things. I wish I would’ve seen more companies pushing the envelope.
ZenSations is a new brand from Dovpo. It’s my other favorite that I got at the expo. It’s an auto-draw, pen-style device patterned after the IQOS — but it takes prefilled pods with a filter. The filter feels and looks just like a cigarette, but it also functions as a spit-back catcher. The filters are replaceable and extras come in the kit.
An interesting feature is that it can be set to shut down if it gets used too much in a short time span — aiding people concerned about losing control with their nicotine intake. For me, I don’t need that feature at all! But I am surprised how awesome it is to drag on a cigarette filter while vaping. It feels natural, even after all these years of being smoke-free. I know a lot of smokers who would enjoy using it.
The organizers of the IECIE Expo say that next year’s show will be twice as large. That’s mind-boggling considering how large this one was. But they say next year will have 60,000 sq/m (645,000+ sq/ft) of space. There will be more brands and an even stronger emphasis on vape business and product development: from industrial design, battery and power systems, heating systems, wicking technologies, e-juice flavors and related products, packing and shipping solutions, and supply chain services. I’ll say it again: if you’re in the business, you should try and get to the IECIE Expo 2020.