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Fenix E09R Review: EDC Flashlight
Fenix E09R specifications
|Beam intensity||3970 cd|
|Battery config.||Built-in 800 mAh Lithium polymer|
|Review date||July 2021|
There are a few companies in the flashlight nexus that really have some serious street cred amongst professionals. Now when I say professionals, I mean folks who use flashlights extensively in their profession. They have different ideas of what makes a ‘good’ flashlight because their lives might depend on their flashlight working properly. Fenix fits into that category. They make some of the best professional lights around and have an impressive portfolio of lights for just about every job. One of those is EDC. Although maintaining an impressive lineup of EDC lights, Fenix recently added a new E-series EDC light, and was nice enough to send it for review. Today, I’ll be taking a look at the new E09R. This is the 11th installment to the E-series lineup and features type C USB onboard charging, a unique design, SST20, TIR, and a simple UI. I really liked the ultra-versatile E-Lite, so let’s see if the E09R can take its place as my favorite ultra-compact EDC light.
Packaging for the E09R follows the same Fenix format for small lights: Cardstock packaging enclosing a blister pack holding all the goodies. This is a retail package meant to be hung on a display rack, so the light is clearly visible from inside the package and the presentation is conducive to window shoppers. It’s exactly the same as the E-Lite I reviewed, and I like that package. It’s attractive, functional and simple with some specs and graphics and not much else. You will still probably toss the package in the bin after opening it. Here’s what crammed inside:
- Fenix E09R flashlight
- 1 spare o-ring
- Short USB A to C charging cable
- Split ring
- User manual
- Warranty card
- Marketing insert
This kit includes everything you need to get going. Even though there was a split ring for your keyring included, I was surprised they didn’t include a lanyard for those who want to use one, and there’s no pocket clip (or place for one) on the E09R.
Flashlight in use
The Fenix E09R is a small flashlight, about the same size as the Skilhunt E2A, but it’s bigger than the Lumintop FWAA, and next to the Fenix E-Lite it seems huge. This wouldn’t necessarily be something I’d hang from my keyring because although it’s light, it’s a little too heavy to be a keyring light. It’s as bulky as my Streamlight Keymate that I carried on my keyring for years, but quit because it’s so heavy.
That said, it’s easy to handle. The body is nicely weighted and it has decent heft. Fenix doesn’t use traditional knurling, but instead uses reeding (fine pitch grooves) and I will say the design of the reeding makes it feel a little slippery. If you have meat mitts like I do, the light gets kind of lost and handling is a bit clumsy at first until I got used to holding it.
The charging port cover is retractable and unscrews counterclockwise to reveal the USB type-C charging port and a single indicator LED. You mainly want to grab it behind the head because it’s a bit wider due to the retractable shroud covering the charging port. There’s more texturing on this part also, so that helps with gripping. There’s a front metal button e-switch that’s a really nice bronze color with a circular pattern engraved into it. It looks elegant. The switch works fine with nice clicks and good feedback, but the travel is very short. The button is adequately large also so I don’t need to use my fingernail to easily press it. The tailcap isn’t flat because it houses the lanyard or keyring hole, so no tail standing. Overall, the handling is good and it’s only missing a place for a pocket clip to make it extra versatile. I would be leery of using this on my keyring because it’s not good to have a heavy weight on your keyring, especially if it’s for your car since it can potentially wear out the lock cylinder on your car’s ignition switch over time.
Build Quality, and Warranty
In simplistic terms, Fenix=quality. Seriously, Fenix makes really nice, well designed and thought-out lights, and the E09R is no exception. The body is made from tough A6061-T6 aircraft aluminum, the fit and finish are exemplary. The retractable charging port cover integrates seamlessly into the body and all the parts fit together perfectly. I couldn’t see any issues with the machining, and all the edges are nicely beveled and chamfered to perfection.
The finish is equally impressive. It’s a semi-gloss type III HA anodizing and seems very tough. It is a little slick for my tastes but doesn’t detract from the handling. I couldn’t find any defects in the anodizing either. From top to bottom it’s perfect. Since the light is completely sealed (no user-serviceable parts here folks) aside from the charging port, which has a single (replaceable) o-ring seal on the mating surface, the IP rating is a very generous IP68, so excellent protection from dust and immersion up to 2 meters for 30 minutes.
Fenix offers a great warranty:15-day no hassle-free return, followed by a 5-year warranty for factory defects and a limited lifetime warranty (you are charged for parts needed for repairs). The warranty is extended 6 months for registering the light, so that’s a nice bonus.
LED, Lens, Bezel, and Reflector
Fenix opted for the bog-standard Luminus SST20 for the E09R, which is a good choice. It gets really bright, has good throw, and fits under small optics. The CCT is 6200-6500K, and although CW isn’t my preference, under the TIR, I really like how the beam looks. Speaking of the optic, it’s a unique one that’s sort of like a hybrid reflector/optic since the LED die is visible in the center of the optic. It’s a bit like Olight’s optics. There’s no lens that I could see covering the optic and the bezel wasn’t removable. Fenix says the optic gives a spot angle of 13 degrees and a flood angle of 81 degrees. I think the beam is a lot like a traditional TIR, with a tiny amount of side illumination and mostly a nice circle of even light, like a huge diffused hotspot. It reminds me of the Acebeam L17 and OIight Odin Mini. The throw is decent, and overall the beam is artifact-free and seems to be good for general purpose: not a thrower, not a flooder. However, it’s cool white, so don’t expect good color replication.
Dimensions and size comparison
- Length: 7.9 cm / 3.11 inches
- Head diameter: 1.93 cm / 0.76 inches
- Body diameter: 1.84 cm / 0.72 inches
- 45.07 grams / 1.59 oz.
EDC Flashlight size comparison
Group 2 left to right: Fenix E09R, Thrunite Archer 2A V3.
Group 3 left to right: Front shot of Fenix E09R, Skilhunt E2A.
Group 4 left to right: Fenix E09R, Cyansky M2
Driver & User Interface:
The driver is a mystery, but looks a lot like a regulated FET driver? There’s no PWM. Fenix actually publishes runtime graphs on the product page, and those corroborate my speculation. The UI is pretty simple, but a bit unconventional perhaps for a keychain light. It follows the E-Lite UI somewhat with press and hold to turn on/off. There’s 5 modes to choose from: Moon, Low, Medium, High, and a sort of hidden “Burst” mode. There is no strobe mode or blinkies.
Modes: Moonlight, Low, Medium, High, and Burst.
- Press and hold: Turns on in last mode. Pressing and holding for an additional 1.2 seconds activates Burst mode
- Single click: N/A
- Double click: Double-clicking within 0.5 sec. activates the electronic lockout
- Press and hold: Pressing and holding for more than 1.2 seconds activates the Burst mode
- Single click: Changes to next mode (M-L-M-H-M)
- Double click: N/A
- Yes, last mode memory. Burst Mode is not memorized.
Low voltage warning:
- Yes. When the battery hits 3 volts, the brightness will step down very low until the light shuts off.
- Double clicking from off will activate the lockout mode. With the light switched off, double click the switch within 0.5 seconds to lock the light, the light will blink twice in Moonlight mode to indicate the lockout. To unlock, double click the switch and the light will unlock and switch on in Moonlight.
- I only noticed PWM in Medium mode with my camera. It’s very fast and not visible to the naked eye
Additional info: Honestly, the UI is just okay. I rarely complain about UI’s, but I will vent a little with this one. First, I am not a fan of press ‘n’ hold for on/off, and definitely not a fan of press ‘n’ hold for Turbo modes, and I don’t like how you have to hold the button down to keep Burst mode activated because that metal button gets mighty toasty after about 60 seconds of Burst mode. Another annoyance is that when entering Burst mode, the light shuts off for a second, then activates in Bust mode, almost like it’s saying, “Are you sure you really want to do that?” However, I DO like how Burst mode is available from anywhere in the UI including off, and when you are done with Burst mode, it goes right back to Moonlight mode so you aren’t completely in the dark. Nice. The mode spacing is pretty bang-on for this type of light also, and the mode changes are quick. The E09R includes Fenix’s version of ATR also, set to a 60 C ceiling for regulating the output, but it’s only really needed in High mode and maybe Medium (Yep, I’ll test that).
Batteries & Charging
The Fenix E09R uses a built-in 800 mAh lithium polymer battery. Built-in means when the battery goes flat, the light goes in the bin, or you could use it as a paperweight or something. Either way, the light is sealed tighter than Fort Knox, so no swapping the internal battery. I’m glad to see USB type C onboard charging on the E09R. The connector is much more robust and less prone to wearing out and failing than the Micro USB connector, and it’s reversible, so connector orientation is not an issue. The charging current is not specified by Fenix, but I got between 340 and 350 mA on my USB tester. This should charge the battery in an hour or so. The charging cover unscrews and retracts to reveal the USB port. There’s a single LED indicator adjacent to the USB port for charging status: Red is charging, green is charged.
I didn’t know what to expect with the Fenix E09R, but the SST20 gets pretty bright, and Fenix has typically tuned their drivers pretty well to whatever LED it’s powering, so it should be good.
Since the light is sealed, I couldn’t do any current measurements.
Nope. Sealed light. However, Fenix does recommend recharging the light every 4 months to keep the battery in optimum condition.
I conducted the runtime test using the 30 centimeter integrating sphere with the Digi-Sense 20250-00 data logging lux meter. I tested Medium, High, and Burst modes since Low and Moonlight run for days and days. I ran Burst mode a little differently than usual, since you have to keep the button pressed to keep it activated. I held the switch until the light stepped way down to Moonlight, then reactivated Burst for a few seconds until my finger started burning!
Burst is advertised at 600 lumens, and I got 504 a start. It held that for about 4 seconds before it started stepping down very gradually. I didn’t even notice it until about the 2 minute mark when the output was down to 476 Lumens and holding steady. I could really start feeling the heat in the button at the 2 minute 30 sec. mark, and about 10 seconds later, the light stepped down to Moonlight (and off the lux meter scale). I reactivated Burst, and the output was right at 476 Lumens again, so I let it run for a few more seconds until my finger was getting really hot and I aborted the test. The temperature at the head was about 50 C, so the internals must have heated up faster to initiate the step down. The tube was still comfortable to hold, but getting a bit warm. Fenix doesn’t list a runtime for the Burst mode, since it’s meant to be used in, well, bursts.
For High, the output started at 259 Lumens, and no surprises, held that for about 2 minutes with only a slight step down to 252 Lumens, where it held that for the next 8 min. 20 sec. until there was another nearly imperceptible step down. It held 245 Lumens for the next hour and 7 minutes until the output dropped hard to 91 Lumens, and 6 minutes later, the light shut off at 1 hour 21 minutes. Fenix specifies 1 hr. 30 minutes for this mode so we’re coming in pretty close. There was some heating on High. I saw a max of 46 C, so still comfortable for hand held use.
Medium mode started at 109.2 Lumens and held that for just about the duration of the test. The output was rock-steady up until the 3 hr. 34 minute mark when the output dropped to under 100 Lumens, dropping again several seconds later to 68 Lumens. The light shut down a few minutes later at 3 hrs. 41 minutes. There was no appreciable heating felt in the light, and my thermometer shows only a few degrees above ambient. Fenix specifies 4 hours for this runtime, so pretty close again.
I didn’t notice any LVP with these tests, e.g. no blinks, blips, nothing, and since I wasn’t able to measure the battery after each run, I can only assume Fenix implemented some kind of LVP to protect the battery from over discharging. The temperature regulation works just fine, which I expected since this light really isn’t driven too hard in the “normal” modes. Burst mode, however, did get pretty warm, but it took a couple minutes. I trust Fenix’s claim of 16 hours for Low mode entirely. Overall, I think this is good performance from the E09R. The driver is well matched to the SST20, and I’m not too surprised about the runtimes since this is a built-in battery that guarantees consistent output and runtimes.
Lumen measurements (for each mode)
For the lumen tests, I used my home made 30 cm integrating sphere calibrated with a light of known output using the Digi-Sense 20250-00 data logging lux meter. The internal battery was fully charged for the testing.
|Mode||Measured Lumens||Advertised Lumens|
|Burst||469 (504 at 0 seconds)||600|
My numbers are fairly consistent, even though I’m down a bit from the High and Burst modes. Still, pretty good performance for a small light and proof that you can trust Fenix’s advertised output.
Throw was measured at 5 meters indoors using the Uni-t UT383S lux meter. The internal battery was fully charged for the test. Readings were recorded at 30 seconds.
|Mode||Measured Throw||Advertised Throw|
|Moonlight||N/A||20 cd, 9 m|
|Low||250 cd, 31.62 m||192 cd, 28 m|
|Medium||1075 cd, 65.57 m||777 cd, 56 m|
|High||3250 cd, 114.01 m||2084 cd, 91 m|
|Turbo||5350 cd, 146.28 m||3970 cd, 124 m|
The Uni-t couldn’t measure Moonlight, but I’m getting consistently higher figures than Fenix for the rest of the modes, and that’s fine with me. 146 meters from a small light like this with a tiny TIR is pretty good! The SST20 again proves that it’s capable of good throw and good output. This is more than enough throw to be useful for just about any non-technical night time tasks.
I compared the E90R to some other small flashlights: Its tiny Cousin, the Fenix E-Lite, and the Skilhunt E2A (so far my 2nd favorite EDC). Note the Skilhunt has a 4000K 95 CRI SST20, while the E-Lite has a cool white emitter similar to the SST20 (Match CA18).
- The E09R has no trouble lighting up the entire office. The wall with the map is about 4 meters away. You can see that Moonlight really is pretty low, and the rest of the modes are spaced nicely.
- The hallways are 7 meters and 12 meters long.
Disclaimer: This flashlight was sent to me for review at no cost by Fenixlighting. I have not been paid to review, nor have I been holding back on problems or defects.
- Great build quality
- Nice fit and finish
- USB type C charging
- Consistent output
- Versatile beam
- Good mode spacing
- No visible LVP notification?
- Press and hold for on/off and Burst mode
- No pocket clip or lanyard included
- A little heavy for a keychain light
- Non-replaceable battery
Explanation on star ratings:
1: Avoid: my phone flashlight would be a better choice – 2: Poor: significant defect or issues, much better options available at the same price – 3: Average: some defects or issues – 4: Good: recommended (minor issues) – 5: Great: highly recommended
4 stars: ★★★★
To be honest, I really want to love the E09R, and I mostly do, but there are some things that I just can’t get over. First, let’s dispense with the pleasantries. This is a solid light. Like all Fenix lights I’ve reviewed, the E09R is well made, great quality, and definitely a premium compact EDC light. It works fine, and I like how it looks. The USB type C charging is a nice addition, and the retractable charging port cover is really nice (no rubber flap to break off and lose or wear out). The UI is mostly okay, but it’s not my favorite. First, I am not a fan of press and hold for on/off, and as I said before, I don’t like the implementation of the Burst mode. I also don’t like that you are limited to basically a keyring for retention, and there’s no pocket clip (or even a way to mount one). Also, I didn’t notice any visible LVP notifications to alert you that the battery is getting low. The fact that the battery is sealed inside is a bummer, but for most buyers I don’t think that would put them off. Overall, I think this is a great light, but I am not a fan of the UI and the fact there’s no pocket clip is a bit odd on a light this size. I keep asking myself is this a keychain light or an EDC light? How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop? The world may never know. 4 stars for the E09R.
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