Manker MK38 Satellite Flashlight Review
Manker has released a couple of versions of the MK38 Satellite flashlight. The one seen here has a built-in battery and a fandle! Read on!
Official Specs and Features
There are actually quite a number of versions worth mentioning here. First, there is the battery difference. You can get a built-in battery (and a host of other features), as I have here. Or you can opt for the replaceable-cell version, which uses three 21700 cells. There are emitter options too. Two Cree options: XHP70.2 6500K or 5000K, and one Luminus option: SFT40 6500K (seen here).
And finally, there are body color options. There’s black (seen here), white, and grey.
Price varies, but this built-in battery version goes for $374. If you go for the MK38 without the battery, you’ll pay $314, but then need to source your own cells. Black is the “default price” but the other two colors add $25 to the price (no matter what battery setup you pick. Also, either Cree emitter options adds $40 to the price, too. Basically, the max price with all the highest options looks to be $439.
This flashlight is exactly as fun as you think it will be and has great performance. These Luminus SFT40 emitters, while maybe not what I’d have picked if I was picking, are really quite great. They’re cool at 6500K but they throw very nicely. The handle is great. The switches on the handle: great. That the handle has a fan: great. Many mode options: great. Powerbank performance: great. Really, this is a very high-level-of-greatness flashlight!
The Big Table
|Manker MK38 Satellite Flashlight|
|Emitter:||Luminus SFT40 (6500K)|
|Price in USD at publication time:||$314.00|
|Turbo Runtime Graph||High Runtime Graph|
|Quiescent Current (mA):||?|
|Charge Port Type:||USB-C|
|Charge Graph (at 20V)|
|Power off Charge Port||All modes|
|Claimed Lumens (lm)||20000|
|Measured Lumens (at 30s)||12029 (60.1% of claim)^|
|Candela per Lumen||27.5|
|Claimed Throw (m)||1200|
|Candela (Calculated) in cd (at 30s)||8040lux @ 6.105m = 299659cd|
|Throw (Calculated) (m)||1094.8 (91.2% of claim)^|
|Measured CCT Range (K)||7100-7700 Kelvin|
|Item provided for review by:||Manker|
|All my Manker reviews!|
^ Measurement disclaimer: I am an amateur flashlight reviewer. I don’t have $10,000 or even $1,000 worth of testing equipment. I test output and such in PVC tubes!! Please consider claims within 10% of what I measure to be perfectly reasonable (accurate, even).
- Manker MK38 Satellite flashlight
- Wall Wart (USB-C output)
- Charging cable (USB-C to USB-C)
- Handle (already attached)
- Batteries (built-in)
- Spare o-rings (2)
- Tool for handle removal
Package and Manual
Build Quality and Disassembly
This is safely considered a “soda can” light but there are “just” three 21700 cells inside. That means it’s probably a bit slimmer than you’d normally consider a can light, which is fine.
In case you’re wondering from the photos above, yes, that handle is just a little bit misaligned. That’s my fault, and easily correctable. I didn’t even notice it during photos, and just confirmed that it’s easy to straighten.
This is considered a “strike bezel” and not only does it look awesome, it has some nice teeth. They aren’t sharp, but they could strike well. This bezel is stainless steel, too! There are stainless accents all over the light, in fact, including the actual e-switch itself.
I did not disassemble the tail end of the light (the cell housing). These look to be Torx screws, and there are three.
One thing that can be “disassembled” is this handle – it comes off fairly easily.
In fact, Manker includes a tool for fandle (fan + handle) removal. You’ll want to keep this around, but a flathead screwdriver will work fine too. This tool just has “softer” edges.
You’ll have to do this fairly precisely – the tool can go in too far and strike the light, preventing rotation. So you’ll have to back the tool out just a bit in order to get good rotation. It’s somewhat fiddly.
I’ve removed the fandle so that you don’t have to. But here we see how the power gets to these two switches and the fan, too. There’s an electrical connection here! This is how I always thought Imalent should have done those “heat shield” lights.
What’s neat about this little screw-in handle-holder is that the electrical plug where the fandle connects can also be plugged by this threaded part. So you can run the light safely without the fandle as long as you cover that port with this part. It’s a clever design.
This also doubles as a lanyard attachment point, even when the handle (which also has a lanyard attachment point) is off! More cleverness.
But 80% of why you buy this light is the handle, right? Right.
Size and Comps
Diameter (at bezel): 80mm
Diameter (at tail): 57mm
Diameter (including fandle): 113mm
Weight (with built-in battery and handle): 887.5g
Weight (with built-in battery and without handle): 764g
If the flashlight will headstand, I’ll show it here (usually the third photo). If the flashlight will tailstand, I’ll show that here, too (usually the fourth photo).
Here’s the test light with the venerable Convoy S2+. Mine’s a custom “baked” edition Nichia 219b triple. A very nice 18650 light.
And here’s the light beside my custom engraved TorchLAB BOSS 35, an 18350 light. I reviewed the aluminum version of that light in both 35 and 70 formats.
Retention and Carry
I covered a whole bunch of aspects of the handle above, including removal. Removal of the handle is possible and the light functions safely (and waterproofly) without the handle.
But full operation is possible through the handle, so it’d be a rare case to want to remove it (I think? or it’s just me?)
If you DO decide to remove the handle, be prepared to fight to get it back on. Here’s a pro-tip. Hold the light as you see below. You can squeeze down the handle and squeeze down the handle holder separately, and you’ll really need to. Note that there is not a hole through the handle that allows access for a screwdriver or whatever to screw down this screw. That would be very convenient, though.
Aside from the handle, there’s a hole in the handle end that allows connection of the included lanyard.
Connecting the lanyard here is great for doubling-up retention while using the handle. Wrap this around your wrist and you’re very unlikely to drop this light to the ground.
Of course, as I mentioned above, with the handle off (or even with it on, I suppose) you can attach the lanyard to the screw-in handle holder. This would be a more balanced place for the lanyard, really, if you don’t intend to also use the handle.
Power and Runtime
My copy of the Manker MK38 Satellite flashlight is powered by a built-in battery. This battery is three 21700 cells that are not user-serviceable. Also available (as covered above) is an option that runs on three 21700 cell that you can supply. I don’t know the electronic details of that one, so I can’t give advice on what cells you’ll need, etc. What I can say is that on a big and high output light like this, with cells that are probably in series, I’m happy for the manufacturer to build these cells in. And in this case you get some accessory functions too, like on-board charging (obviously) but also a powerbank feature. The version where you supply your own cells does not offer either of those features.
So here are some runtime tests. Worth noting is that I didn’t use my fan for any of these tests. If cooling was used, it was only from the fandle fan. Below you can see that fan in action.
As stated, this Manker MK38 Satellite flashlight has built-in charging. That charging is by way of a USB-C port on the base of the light. This port is covered by a press-in, branded cover, and I’d call it “quite secure.”
There’s a charging indicator just beside the charge port. This indicator lights red while charging and turns off when charging is complete.
Manker includes a wall wart for charging this light. It’s a 65W USB-C wall wart and can do all the usual voltages: 5V, 9V, 12V, 15V, and 20V. When charging this light with this power supply, the voltage used is 20V.
Manker also includes a USB-C to USB-C charging cable.
Charging this light at 20V really blazes – it’s charging at “just” 1.5A (ish) but that’s really 30W charging! So C to C is the way to go!
But the light will also charge with USB-A to C charging. In that case, you’ll see much higher current, but a much slower overall charge time. At 5V, 3.5A is still just 17.5W, and good luck finding a USB-A port that will supply 3.5A! (I mean, I have one, you may too, but they’re less common.)
Not just will the Manker MK38 Satellite flashlight work with fast on-board charging, that USB-C port can also serve as a powerbank!
I tested one full discharge cycle. What we’d normally see is that the current would drop off as the cells deplete. But with the MK38 powerbank feature, they seem to dispense the full current possibility for the duration of output!
Modes and Currents
|Mode||Mode Claimed Output (lm)||Claimed Runtime||Measured Lumens|
12029 (at 30s)
Pulse Width Modulation
None of the 10 modes display PWM. This set of photos as well as the sets below all are in lowest to highest output levels order.
For reference, here’s a baseline shot, with all the room lights off and almost nothing hitting the sensor. Also, here’s the light with the worst PWM I could find. I’m adding multiple timescales, so it’ll be easier to compare to the test light. Unfortunately, the PWM on this light is so bad that it doesn’t even work with my normal scale, with is 50 microseconds (50us). 10ms. 5ms. 2ms. 1ms. 0.5ms. 0.2ms. In a display faster than 0.2ms or so, the on/off cycle is more than one screen, so it’d just (very incorrectly) look like a flat line. I wrote more about this Ultrafire WF-602C flashlight and explained a little about PWM too.
User Interface and Operation
Two switches are available for controlling the Manker MK38 Satellite flashlight. First is this stainless-steel switch which has an indicating feature in the center. This is the “main” switch. It’s a very good switch (you might know that I love metal-covered switches.)
The action is fairly low and positive.
This main switch has an indicating function. Only in blue, though.
There are two other switches on the MK38. These are handle switches. Below, you can see them – the top switch (which is the “bezel side” switch) is only for controlling the fan. The other switch, the one with a power symbol, has all the same functions at the main switch (without also being an indicating switch.)
Pleasantly, when operating the handle switch for power, the indicating main switch also indicates in the same way as if it was being used.
Here’s a UI table! I won’t differentiate between the handle power switch and the main power switch. Anything one can do, the other can also do.
|Any (except lockout)||Click Fan switch on handle||Iterate fan (on or off)|
|Off||Click||General modes mode memory|
|Off||Hold||ECO modes mode memory|
|Any (except lockout)||Double Click||Turbo|
|Lockout||Click 4x||Unlock (to “On”)|
Eco Modes: L1>L2>L3>L4^
General Modes (Or Turbo): L>M1>M2>M3>High^
Special modes: Strobe>Beacon>SOS
|Any (except lockout)||Click 3x||Special modes (Strobe first)|
|Off||Hold 3s||Eco mode memory then off then switch “breathing” mode|
|Breathing mode||Any action||Breathing mode off|
^ Modes will advance to the extreme level and stop. If you release then hold again, the modes will travel in the other direction to the extreme and stop. So it’s not a ramp up or down, really. Big ol asterisk here is that the direction is remembered!!! So if you were traveling up last time, and turn the light off and on again (anytime, right away, or much later) you’ll be traveling in the other direction.
LED and Beam
On my copy of the MK38 are eight (8) Luminus SFT40 emitters. These are rated to be 6500K, and because they have no dome, they should be quite throwy.
These eight emitters are coupled with surprisingly deep reflectors with a bit of texture.
The strike bezel allows a good bit of light to escape while headstanding.
I’m quite pleased with the throw beam profile on this light.
LED Color Report (CRI and CCT)
The tests I did seem to corroborate the 6500K claim. The lower modes see well below 6500K and by Turbo we’re seeing well over 7500K – so on average, around 6500K is right. The CRI is around 70, which is probably about what we should expect here, and the dUV is positive.
These beamshots are always with the following settings: f8, ISO100, 0.3s shutter, and manual 5000K exposure.
Tint vs BLF-348 (KillzoneFlashlights.com 219b version) (affiliate link)
I keep the test flashlight on the left, and the BLF-348 reference flashlight on the right.
I compare everything to the KillzoneFlashlights.com 219b BLF-348 because it’s inexpensive and has the best tint!
What I like
- Great build quality
- Many features
- Powerbank really works well
- USB-C to USB-C charging at 20V (30W!) gets charging done quickly
- Very throwy output
- Handle includes a fan!
- Handle has e-switches to control the light
- Handle doesn’t block the other e-switch
- Lower modes are actually lower
- No PWM
- Stainless steel parts are both functional and attractive
What I don’t like
- Maybe there are too many modes overall
- Wish a 5000K Luminus SFT40 was available (maybe it doesn’t even exist – that’s not Manker’s fault)
- Price – with cells and most expensive color and emitters is quite expensive
- Output was measured to be a bit below specification
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