Imalent MS03 review | powerful flashlight
Imalent is a brand well known for its innovative products and for pushing the flashlight boundaries. The newest Imalent MS03 is a palm-sized EDC flashlight with astonishing performance. It contains three Cree XHP70.2 emitters and is powered by one 21700 Li-ion battery. This small light can reach a maximum output of 13,000 lumens and a beam distance of 324 meters!For reference, a regular 55W halogen car headlight bulb emits 1200 Lumen. In contrast, a 35 W Xenon headlight emits approximately 3200 Lumens, so you will have a lot of light available when you need it, and you can blind someone with this light.
What you’ll get:
The package is beautifully designed and comes with a full printed layout. On the outside, it makes it very clear that you are dealing with a top product with a whopping 13000 Lumens! Since this shows with large letters on the box.
Inside, you will find a luxurious inner box that you have to slide out, and it also comes fully printed with the picture of the MS03.
Opening the box let’s you enjoy the small flashlight, inside you’ll first find an Imalent card, some silica gel, and at the bottom, the light itself. Everything is held in place with sturdy foam, and next to it is another cardboard box for all the accessories.
The package is complete, including a high-quality cell.
- Imalent MS03
- 2 Spare o-rings
- flashlight clip
- USB C charging cable
- Imalent 21700 4000mAh proprietary cell
Handling of the light
The hold and feel of this flashlight are very good. The light is tiny, it is smaller than expected. You can see this in the size comparison pictures later in this review. It is even shorter than a Convoy S2+, which is a standard 18650 style flashlight!Come to think of it, that the MS03 is actually a single 21700 size light!
The MS03 is equipped with an electronic side switch in the head which is very easily accessible, due to its compact size you can easily reach it and operate it. The UI is very intuitive, with no fancy special operating instructions, so everyone can use it without problems. Due to its small physical dimensions, it is very easy to carry, but slightly on the larger side of things, probably too big for most people to EDC it.Another positive thing is that the small size contributes to the lightweight of the MS03. It is just 117 grams, which makes it very easy to carry.
Carrying it with the pocket clip is possible. But I found that it comes off too easily. I experienced the clip coming off (luckily with the light inside the pocket) while carrying it in my chest pocket. The spring resistance should be a bit stiffer, as it’s a little too weak right now.
The tail is entirely flat, which makes it possible for the light to tail stand. It is possible to do a mechanical lockout with the tailcap, by unscrewing it, to interrupt the electrical connection.
Build quality, knurling, threads, and anodization
The Imalent MS03 is equipped with small diamond-shaped knurling. The knurling looks rather traditional, unlike the rest of the design of this light. I expected something different, something new since this light is one of a kind, but it fulfills its intended function.
The build quality is very well, the machining is precise, all tolerances are excellent, and the O-rings are an exact fit. I could not find any flaws, except the printing of the serial number being a bit off;-)
Anodization is good as well, the light does not show any flaws, and it shows to be durable since the clip was pulled off several times. This did not affect the anodization and left no marks or scratches. So the conclusion is that the finish is well made.
The pitch of the threads is excellent and square-shaped. Compared to other lights, the threads are on the small side but adequate. The threads came well lubed so that they will last a long time.
The overall quality is just good, with no flaws or whatsoever.
LEDs, Lens, Bezel, and Reflector
The Imalent MS03 comes with (you might have guessed it already because of its name) a triple LED. It contains three CREE XHP70.2 LEDs that are positioned below a triple smooth reflector.On top of the reflector is a combination of toughened ultra-clear mineral and anti-reflective coating glass.
There is an adhesive label on the lens to protect it against dust and damage, with the statement ‘remove dustproof film lens ‘.
Due to the physical dimensions of this light and relatively small reflectors, this will give a floody beam. The flashlight beam is very useful and does not show any strange discoloration or artifacts. Usually, I open up the head of a flashlight to show how it is mounted and to show details of the inner parts. But this seems to be very difficult to do with the MS03. The MS03 is put together very cleverly. It looks like the bezel is screwed inside the head and protruding slightly so it looks possible to open it, but however I tried, I did not succeed.The bezel is probably being held in place by glue or thread locker. I don’t recommend opening the flashlight since this voids warranty. Unlike other flashlights, it seems to be designed to block you from taking it apart.
- Length: 110 mm / 4.33
- Head diameter: 36 mm /1.42 ”
- Body diameter: 27 mm / 1.06”
- Empty: 120 gr
- With battery: 193gr ( 0.035oz)
Size compared to other popular flashlights
From left to right: Noctigon KR4, Imalent MS03, Convoy S2+, Sofirn SP36 BLF and Convoy C8+
Driver & User Interface:
The Imalent MS03 has no special interface and is very basic compared to the Anduríl firmware.
It has built-in temperature regulation which will adjust the brightness output according to the selected mode and temperature.
You have to hold down the e-switch to cycle modes. Turbo is accessible with a double click. A single-click will switch the light ON and OFF.
- Single-click: ON
- Double click: Turbo
- Triple-click: Lockout feature
- 4-clicks: strobe
- Single-click: Off
- Double click: Turbo
- When the flashlight is on, press and hold the power switch, it will cycle from 150lm-800lm -1300lm-3000lm-8000lm. Releasing the power switch button will save the needed output level.
Turbo and Strobe
- Double click the power switch in any mode to activate turbo, (up to 13,000 lumens). Repeating the double click on the power switch will activate strobe. Slightly press the power switch to exit.
Low Voltage warning
- When switched on, the indicator light will flash when the remaining battery voltage of the battery is less than 3.0V.
- This light generates a lot of heat in High and Turbo mode. When the flashlight’s body temperature exceeds 65 degrees ℃, the flashlight will not activate Turbo mode. Except for Turbo, all modes have temperature regulation set at 55 ℃. The brightness will decrease to 2000lumens in order to ensure safe, comfortable use and prevent overheating.
Switch indicator lights
- When Switched off, press and hold the power switch button for 2 seconds to activate or deactivate the switch indicator light.
- The MS03 flashlight uses mode memory. When you turn the flashlight on, it will use the last used mode (Except strobe)
Lock and unlock function
- With the flashlight turned off, quickly press the power switch button three times to enter Lock-out mode. Repeat to deactivate lock-out mode. The indicator light will flash three times to show that the light is locked or unlocked. When it is locked out, it will only show the indicator light when pressing the power switch button.
- From OFF: 3 clicks. To deactivate click another 3 times.A mechanical lockout is still possible by twisting the head or the tail to disconnect the electrical connection.
- I could not find any PWM on this light, this is due to the fact that it uses a high-efficiency constant power circuit that maintains constant brightness.
Firmware / UI Conclusion:
The UI is quite basic, and although it’s not bad, it has some downsides. I don’t like holding the switch to cycle through modes and the fact that they are memorized. Mode memory will always surprise you when you don’t remember the last used mode. Also, you will have to cycle through all modes (luckily without Strobe) to reach low mode. This will blind your night vision (definitely with this light). I am a big fan of the BLF/EE A6 firmware, and I still don’t know why so few flashlight companies implement this feature, reversing modes.The benefit of the BLF/EE A6 firmware is that you can change modes (forward) by a single click, and backward (lower output) with a long click. I love this firmware (and I know many flashlight enthusiasts do !)
Batteries and charging:
Imalent includes a 4000mAh USB-C type rechargeable 21700 Li-ion battery. Note that this is a proprietary cell. A regular 21700 cell will not work.
A big plus of this battery is the USB-C charge port. To charge the cell, simply take out the battery it in your USB charging adapter.
If you use an AC adapter rated at 5V / 2A, you will charge the cell in about 3.5 hours. When the battery is charging, the built-in indicator light on top of the battery will glow red. When the battery is fully charged, this indicator light will turn green.
My Lux readings are done with a UNI-T UT 383 S lux meter, temperature readings are recorded with an infrared non-contact thermometer, type Benetech GM-320. Current readings are done with a UNI-T 210E Digital Clamp Meter.
Lumen and Amp measurement
- 1: 173Lm / .27 A
- 2: 936Lm / 1.24 A
- 3: 1,600Lm / 2.97 A
- 4: 2,590Lm / 6.3 A
- 5: 5,889Lm / 12.3 A
- Turbo: 12,040 lumens / 30.6 A
The results should be taken with a grain of salt since I am using an integrating Lumen tube which is not officially calibrated, so take into account a deviation of +- 10% Initially, I was unable to measure the current in Turbo mode, since the current seems to be above 20Amp. My clamp meter can only measure up to 20 Amp! I have never ever measured such high currents in a flashlight before!After rotating the function button of the clamp meter to measure even higher currents, I measured 30.6 Amp on TURBO.This is amazing, that means the light consumes over 120W on Turbo (This perfectly explains why I burnt my fingers and damaged the table while measuring the flashlight).
This is an extremely bright flashlight!
The runtime test was done on Turbo and the High setting. Turbo produced over 12.000 measured in my (not officially calibrated) Lumen tube and 5880 Lumens on High.When you calculate a deviation of 10% for the setup, this means it might actually do 13,000 Lumen!Note that this is only a short burst since the mass of the light does not allow the LEDs to run Turbo for a long time because there is too little thermal mass. Therefore the light will throttle down quickly and becomes very hot! I measured it over 80 DegC in Turbo, which eventually steps down to about a regulated 54 DegC with 2000Lm. This is stated in the manual, so it achieves the claimed output numbers.
One thing I didn’t test is the 3000 Lm setting. The manual claims it shouldn’t step down in the 3000Lm setting. This might be one of the best settings when looking for a high-output for a prolonged period. Considering the light does achieve the claimed numbers, my hypothesis is that it will reach the 3000 Lm.
The output numbers show that the light is very efficiently regulated. The output regulation shows a constant output and shows a very efficient output for at least 2 hours.
Some people have complained about Turbo only working 2-3 times in a row. Only used for a couple of seconds, before the indicator LED turns red. This is not the case with this copy. It can be set to Turbo multiple times without getting the LED indicator to turn red.
- 1: 15 Lux @ m5 (approx 375 Cd)
- 2: 56 Lux @ 5m (approx 1400 Cd)
- 3: 104 Lux @ 5m (approx 2600 Cd)
- 4: 191 Lux @ 5m (approx 4775 Cd)
- 5: 522 Lux @ 5m (approx 13050 Cd)
- Turbo: 804 Lux @ 5m (approx 20,100 Cd)
Note that the relatively low Lux/Candela numbers indicate how floody this light is.
Below are beamshots of popular flashlights. A great comparison between the beams and brightness.
Disclaimer: This flashlight was sent to me for review at no cost, by Imalent. I have not been paid to review, nor have I been holding back on problems or defects.
Edit by Marco, July 2020: Several reviewers noticed problems with Turbo mode. I don’t think his particular use case is widely used, but I feel it’s important to note the possible problems. Read and watch the review here: http://budgetlightforum.com/node/73071 In the thread it can be read that Imalent said that lights sold after June 20, shouldn’t have this problem anymore.
- Small EDC light with an astonishing output
- Battery with USB-C charging is included
- Efficient driver
- Turbo won’t last long
- The pocket clip comes off too easily
- Some people showed problems in Turbo, but not mine.
Rating: 4 stars ★★★★
The packaging is very appealing since it shows that they paid attention to give it a premium look and feel. It is packed with all accessories you need, so you don’t need to buy any additional accessories. The light is very pocketable and the output is astonishing! The driver is good and very efficient and it reaches the claimed numbers. However, there are a few cons. As mentioned in the UI, cycling modes to reach low (e.g.) this WILL blind your night vision. It would be nice to have a forward and reverse mode option by holding the switch (as with the BLF/EE A6 firmware)It has a proprietary battery which makes it impossible to use standard 21700 cells. Last but not least, somehow, it doesn’t really feel like a $129 flashlight compared to other, but less powerful flashlights.If some upgrades are implemented, especially the UI, I would give it 5 stars but now it still deserves 4 stars. Overall, it is a very nice light with the main feature being pocketable and reaching a whopping 13,000 Lumens!