Nitecore TIP Keychain Flashlight Review
The Nitecore TIP “Winter Edition” is a dual e-switch keychain flashlight with a built-in battery and a Cree XP-G2 emitter. Read on!
And of course, these are available after Christmas too, maybe as a present to yourself with all those Christmas monies.
Thanks to Gearbest for supplying this Nitecore Tip for review!
Here’s a link to the Nitecore TIP “Winter Edition” Flashlight product page.
There are two versions of this light, and many colorways. First, this version is the Cree XP-G2 S3. Also available is a “TIP CRI”, which has a Nichia 219b emitter. The rest of the differences are just colorways, and there are a bunch. And there are even these Christmas versions, which are color mixes! The TIP and the TIP CRI share a manual (ie, have the same operation).
This is a nice little light for pocket carry or to tuck away in a bag. I love that its metal, and I love the indicating switches.
- Nitecore Tip Winter Edition
- Charger “cable” (really a cable-less USB to micro-USB)
- Card for gift-giving
- Split rings (2 sizes)
- Manual/warranty card
Package and Manual
Clearly designed as a Christmas gift, the Winter Edition
tip comes in a fairly fancy tin.
has some printing and light info. Inside is a foam insert with cutouts holding the light and charge adapter – under all that it the rest of the goods. The tin is a very nice tin. Bigger than an Altoids tin of course, but along that same line. I’ll never use it again for the TIP, but it will be used in my flashlight room.
has two languages, with English occupying a full side of the letter size (ok. It’s actually A4, but whatever) glossy paper. Typical information is covered: Features, runtimes, UI, warranty, etc. It’s a ‘does-it’s-job’ manual.
Build Quality, Disassembly, and Durability
The TIP has a very nice feel – I’ll say again how glad I am that these are metal bodies, not plastic (like the Tube). The micro-USB port is on the ‘thin edge’ of the light and is not sealed in any way whatsoever. Initially, I was a bit put off by this but then I realized it’s practically the same as the open port on my phone. The rating is IP54, which is “dust resistant” and “splash resistant”. For what it is, that’s good enough (but barely). Of course, I’d love to see a fully waterproof version of this light. I don’t think that’s too much to ask, nor would it be too hard to do.
The body is sandwiched together by 4 Phillips screws on each side of the body. Removing those screws isn’t quite as rewarding as you might expect. The bezel seems to hold on to the body parts in some way. I hope to eventually find out how, because I’ll probably swap in a 3500K Nichia 219C to this light. The bezel is either press-fit, or more likely screwed in. I’m still working on that detail.
The light as a whole feels fairly durable, unsealed port notwithstanding. But the anodizing is thin, and after a fair bit of deep pocket carry, the anodizing is wearing off.
Length is 60.8 mm, and it weighs 23.5g. It’s a fair bit bigger than the Nitecore Tube, a light I never really loved. The size makes it great for dropping into a pocket. I will always carry a pocket-clipped light, so this would at most be a backup. It’s a great size for that. It will fit easily in a coin pocket and is long enough that it should be easy to grasp for retrieval.
Compared to Tube:
And the Olight S Mini
There’s a very nice loop on the tail end of the light. And it’s not just any loop, it’s a well-built loop that is attached to both sides of the body
(remember I said the body splits down the middle after removing the screws). So the split ring attachment point securely holds on to both parts of the body. That’s
There’s no magnet, though, I bet inside the body there’s room for a magnet that’ll hold this light securely.
The TIP will tailstand easily, and it’ll headstand too (though I’m not sure why you’d want to).
The runtime test has the thermocouple on the THIN SIDE of the body (best place I could get it tight)….
Worth noting is that the TIP claims to have “ATR” – Advanced Temperature Management. The light does look somewhat regulated, … on the other hand I’m not sure how advanced the output changes look based on the temperature vs output graph. Output remains nearly stable with a steady but minimal decline after the initial drop. This doesn’t seem temperature-based at all.
Charging graph was done from when the light shut off on its own, to when the light was fully charged (green indicator switch was lit) and the trickle charge had begun.
The charge port is on the side of the light and has no port or protection whatsoever.
When the light is charging, the indicating switch(es?) light. Red if it’s charging, green if charging is complete.
The cell in the TIP is not user-replaceable.
Parasitic drain is worth mentioning regarding this light. In lockout mode, the parasitic drain is apparently appalling. But if the light is stored not locked out, then battery life is typical. I have not tested the parasitic drain. I don’t really like locking lights out anyway, but I can report one accidental activation with the TIP, so it might be good to take care regarding accidental activation.
User Interface and Operation
There are two black square buttons, both with indicating LEDs (or one led between the two, more likely).
One is labeled with power symbol, and the other has 4 dashes – this is the “mode” button. It’s not really possible to feel the difference (in the pocket, for example) based on these symbols. Both of these buttons are very clicky, though they interestingly have a slightly different click. It isn’t a bad click strictly speaking, but it’s in no way quiet.
|Off||Power Switch Click||On (Memory)|
|On||Power Switch Click||Off|
|On||Mode Switch Click (or hold)||Mode cycle|
|Any||Mode Switch Hold||Turbo|
|Off||Power Switch Hold||Ultralow|
|Off||Mode Switch Click||Battery Indicator^^|
^ The manual now states that the TIP does “consume power while in lockout.”
^^ Battery indicator: 3 flashes means >50% capacity. 2 flashes indicates <50% capacity. 1 flash indicates <10% capacity.
LED and Beam
The Cree XP-G2 S3 is behind a short, slightly orange peel reflector.
It’s surprisingly deep and very narrow. The beam is much like the beam of a TIR but has more spill. Also, it’s surprisingly bright.
In all honesty, for a keychain style light, it’s a quite useful beam.
These beamshots are always with the following settings: f8, ISO100, 0.3s shutter, and manual 5000K exposure.
Random Comparisons and Competitive Options….
Nitecore makes some of their own competition in this category. The Tube, the Thumb, and the variations on those two lights make this a big category. Then there is the Mecarmy SGN3, a very similar light with more LEDs, and a shallower reflector. It’s rated for half the lumens of the TIP, and for a much higher cost. There is a Surefire variant.
(And in case you’re interested in my opinion, I like the three emitter options on the SGN3, but not at the added cost. I’d probably pick this TIP for price considerations, and the dual switch).
The Manker Lad is a new entry in this category and it looks quite compelling. It costs about 50% more than this TIP, however. It has a more featured UI, more emitters (including red) and a sealed port for the micro-USB charging. It’s a worthy contender. I’d love to compare these two lights some time in the near future!
I think the TIP is a fun light, and as a backup, I think it’s great for carry. The lack of weatherproofing, and the cool tint on this one, make it one I might not carry that often, but it’s a well-built useful little light.
What I like
- Metal body
- Quite bright for size
- Indicating switches
- Dual switches
- Nichia option
What I don’t like
- Lack of weatherproofing
- Connection loop (rather have smaller loop and more battery!)
Pick this one up just a fun toy. The beam has enough oomph to be useful for more than just a fun toy, though!
- This light was provided by GearBest for review. I was not paid to write this review.
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