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RovyVon S3 Review: EDC Flashlight
RovyVon S3 specifications
|LED||Nichia 219C (or Cree XP-G3)|
|Lumens||1,800 Lumens (XP-G3) 1,200 (Nichia)|
|Beam intensity||4,000 cd|
|Battery config.||1*16340 / 1*CR123|
|Review date||September 2021|
I’ve always been intrigued by RovyVon, albeit from a distance. They specialize in compact lights and a bit of EDC gear. That puts them right in my wheelhouse. To be honest, I’ve lost track of the number of times that I’ve added a RovyVon light to my shopping cart but each time I’ve found a reason to delay my purchase. Sometimes it’s been questions about the UI, or murmurs about slow PWM, or the use of Micro-USB instead of USB-C. When given the chance to review a RovyVon, I couldn’t say “yes!” fast enough. Finally, a chance to try and squash my concerns without first plunking down my hard-earned money. Not that I’m afraid of spending the money if I know it’s going to be worth it. So is the RovyVon S3 worth the price of admission? Let’s see!
The RovyVon S3 arrived in a very nice, presentable paperboard box with a clear window in it so you could see that nice new light. It was decorated nicely and listed out just the right amount of features and specs to pique a consumer’s interest. This box would look right at home on a store shelf, unlike so many other lights that I’ve run across. Inside that box was:
- RovyVon S3
- RovyVon-branded 16340 battery (pre-installed with a protection disc)
- Pocket clip (pre-installed)
- Spare o-rings
- Spare USB cover
- USB-A to USB-C charging cable
- Warranty card
Flashlight in use
When I hold the RovyVon S3, a whole bunch of adjectives come to mind: short, chunky, utilitarian, elegant, and compact. Some of those seem to oppose each other. Before the S3 arrived, I looked at the spec-sheet dimensions and realized it was almost the same size as a 26650 (check out the comparison pic later). And it really is. But at the same time, it’s shorter than my typical compact AA/14500 lights. All of the stainless accents against the black body look great. And the body has these sleek swirl grooves. That elegance stands in contrast to the utilitarian tail where you have a lanyard hole, USB-C port, charging indicator light, glass breaker, and tritium slot all crammed into one tight area. The RovyVon S3 is an interesting package for sure.
The lanyard hole is generous and the included lanyard is a small step up from the usual cheap lanyard: it’s a bit thicker than many of them and it includes an adjustment clip. The clip is very stout and hangs on tightly. Deep carry? Yup. Oh, and it has an embedded ¼” tripod screw hole right in the clip. You could remove the clip if you wanted to, but then you’d lose the anti-roll mechanism. Tail-standing, while possible, is made quite difficult because of the glass-breaker ceramic bead that protrudes from the tail.
Finding the stainless steel button is pretty easy because (A) it has a raised stainless ring around it to help prevent accidental activation, and (B) because it’s always directly opposite of the clip, due to how the clip attaches.
Overall, the RovyVon S3 is an interesting blend of utility and elegance. Did I mention that the stainless-on-black looks great?
Build Quality, and Warranty
Sometimes RovyVon really talks up the materials and finishes that they use. Some lights feature HA III anodizing, while others tote 7075 aluminum, or titanium, or PVD coatings. Unfortunately, I don’t see any mention of the materials and processes used on the S3. Regardless, the one I have in my hands is nice black-anodized aluminum. It is also available in red-anodized and titanium (oh yeah!).
There isn’t any knurling to speak of. In its place, the tailcap has six barely-noticeable indentations that aid in removing the tailcap in case you want to do so. The body has five grooves cut into the sides that remind me of the inside of a rifled gun barrel.
There is only one set of easily-accessible threads: the non-anodized tail threads. Those are smooth, square-cut, and lightly pre-lubed. When you’re checking out the threads, you’ll notice that the body tube and tailcap are no ordinary setup. The battery cavity is offset to one side of the tube, which is thicker on one side. This thick area houses a large pogo-pin which makes contact with a ring in the tailcap. This extra current path is probably for the built-in charging which hooks up to the tail instead of the head. Overall, this adds a bit of thickness but looks like a reliable solution to the quandary of multiple electrical connections through the battery tube.
RovyVon has a 15-day refund policy and a 2-year warranty for repairs/replacement due to factory defects. After 2 years, if your product experiences factory defects, RovyVon offers a discount for purchasing a new product at the same or similar value.
LED, Lens, Bezel, and Reflector
RovyVon offers two different LEDs for the S3: Cool White Cree XP-G3 and Neutral White Nichia 219C High CRI. Neither one of these are quite at the top of my list: I don’t really like cool white or the tint-shift that typically comes with the Cree XP-G3. I’m much more inclined towards neutral white, especially High CRI, but 219C aren’t known to be particularly efficient or have snob-approved tints. In the end, I went with the Nichia 219C and am quite pleased with my choice. Truthfully, I’m colorblind so I’m not really picky about tints. But I don’t feel like I see any green, which I know can be a concern with the 219C. And while the output of the 219C is expected to be lower than the XP-G3, it’s still plenty bright.
These LEDs are situated under a quality LEDiL triple optic. The optic is held in place with a very slim stainless steel bezel that doesn’t get in the way like some bezels do. There is no glass covering the optic; it’s bare. The bezel is completely smooth, so it should be easy on the pocket. Being a triple, this is pretty floody for close-range illumination.
Dimensions and size comparison
- Length: 69.6 mm / 2.74 inches
- Head diameter: 24.8 mm / 0.97 inches
- Body diameter: 24.8 mm / 0.97 inches
- Without cells: 61 grams / 2.15 oz.
- With cells: 78 grams / 2.75 oz.
Similar sizing, left to right: RovyVon S3, Shockli 26650 battery
Driver & User Interface:
The UI is one of the bigger discussion points I’ve heard regarding RovyVon. I think some of their earlier lights had UI’s that weren’t seen favorably, but RovyVon listened to their customers and made improvements – and to me, that’s a pretty big deal. If you listen to the community and make changes based on the feedback, I think that’s worth supporting.
When I first started playing with the RovyVon S3, I was a bit confused. Yes, like the he-man that I am, I completely skipped the instructions sheet. But after reading the instructions, things made a lot more sense. The UI is a bit different than what I’m used to seeing, but I think the gist is that RovyVon tried to create a UI that you could safely rely on with sticking the flashlight in your pocket without needing to worry about locking out the flashlight first. I’m not sure if I’m completely sold, but I think they did a pretty good job in attaining this goal.
Available modes: Low, Medium, High, Turbo (+ Strobe & SOS)
- Press and Hold: momentary Turbo
- Single click: turns on in Low mode
- Double click: turns on in the last used mode
- Triple click: turns on in Strobe
- Press and Hold: turns off
- Single click, after turning on in Low mode from a single click: turn off
- Single click, after a double click: changes mode
- Double click: goes to last used mode (useful from when turned on in Low via a single click)
- Triple click: Strobe
- Yes, when turned on from a double click
- To Low: single click from Off
- To Turbo: momentary, hold from Off
- To last used mode: double click from Off
- To Strobe: triple click from Off
Low voltage warning:
- The button has an LED in the center that will illuminate red when the battery is low
- Triple click from Off or On to activate Strobe
- Single click from move from Strobe to SOS and back
- Long press to turn off
- There’s no mention of electronic lock-out in the manual
- Physical lock-out does not seem possible without removing the tailcap
- PWM was not detected in any mode when using my photodiode and DMM
Additional info on the UI:
- Overall, I think this is a decent UI for pocket carry. If you press the button, it’ll come on in a very low mode. Another click just turns it off.
- In order to get into anything higher, you’ll need to accidentally hold the button down in your pocket. That’ll activate Turbo, but only for as long as you’ve got the button held down. So things could get a bit warm, but I’d doubt that you’ll melt anything unless you’re wearing nylon skinny pants. In that case, you’re on your own.
- If you manage to accidentally double click the S3 while it’s in your pocket, well… congratulations, well done.
Batteries & Charging
The RovyVon S3 comes with a RovyVon-branded 650 mAh 16340 protected battery. How can I tell it’s protected? Well, when doing my runtime tests, I tried checking the battery voltage afterwards and got ~5 mV. Whoops, apparently the LVP (low voltage protection) part of the battery protection trips fairly high. After resetting the protection, I measured around 2.95 volts, which is still plenty high.
Dimensionally speaking, the included battery is 34.8 mm long. That’s just a touch longer than my Vapcell T6 16340 which is 34.0 mm long. That cell fit and worked just fine in the RovyVon S3.
The S3 features built-in USB-C charging. While the included cable is USB-A to USB-C, I’m happy to report that it handles USB Power Delivery (PD, USB-C to USB-C) charging flawlessly. As marked on the end of the light, the S3 charges at a 1 amp rate (confirmed by my tester). One spec that doesn’t match up: RovyVon says that the S3 should charge in 90 minutes. In my testing, it consistently charged back up in 56 minutes. I will say that a 1 amp charge rate is on the higher end for a 650 mAh 16340 battery, but not unheard of. A 500 mA might extend the life of the battery a little bit.
While charging, the LED in the tail of the S3 glows red. Once charging is done, it switches over to blue. I tip my hat to RovyVon for not using the old red-green color scheme. Speaking of this, the S3 has an LED in the button that will illuminate red when the battery is low.
RovyVon also says that the S3 is compatible with CR123 batteries, but to expect lower output. That’s a nice feature in a pinch.
For current measurements, an ANENG AN8008 multimeter and UNI-T UT210E clamp meter were used. Lux was measured by a UNI-T UT383 BT at 5 meters. Lumens were measured in a homemade lumen tube using a TSL2591 sensor, calibrated with a Maukka calibration light. Testing was performed with the included RovyVon 16340 battery.
Lumen measurements (for each mode)
|Mode||Amps at start||Specs||Lumens @start||Lumens @30 sec||Lumens @ 10 min|
|Low||36 mA||4 lm||5|
|Med||161 mA||60 lm||88||88||88|
|High||923 mA||400 lm||455||448||214|
|Turbo||4.2 A||1200 lm||1443 lm||1161 lm||434 lm|
- 26 µA
When a light is offered with multiple emitter options, the company usually just lists the top-end specs of the emitter with the highest raw performance and calls it a day. Not RovyVon! They list lumens for each mode with both the Cree XP-G3 and the Nichia 219C. The XP-G3 version tops out at 1800 lumens according to specs, while the 219C version is listed as 1200 lumens.
When doing the Turbo test, I actually measured 1443 lumens for a moment before it sagged down to 1161 lumens at 30 seconds. At 1 ½ minutes it began ramping down, settling at 434 lumens at 3 minutes. The S3 stayed there until it dropped out at 39 minutes. It crossed the 10% threshold at 40 minutes, eventually shutting off at 48 minutes, having hit a maximum temperature of 56.1°C. A bit warm, but not necessarily dangerous.
The High test started out at 455 but quickly dropped a bit to 448 lumens. At 2 ½ minutes, it started ramping down, arriving at 213 lumens by the 3-minute mark. It stayed there until it dropped out at 1 hour and 38 minutes. The light shut off at 1 hour and 54 minutes, having hit a maximum temperature of 39.8°C.
The medium test started out at 88 lumens and held that steady for most of the test, finally dropping at 4 hours and 2 minutes. The light shut off at 4 hours 19 minutes, having hit a maximum temperature of 29.7°C.
|Turbo||4,000 cd||4,475 cd||134||147|
Considering that RovyVon listed the S3 as having 4000 max candela, I think it’s very respectable that I measured 4,475 cd with the Nichia version.
Beam shots of the building are taken at 15 m (16 yd) using a Pixel 3 set to ISO 200 with 1/10 second exposure time
Beam shots of the playset are taken at 30 m (33 yd) using a Pixel 3 set to ISO 200 with 1/2 second exposure time. The trees in the background are around 65 m away.
You can tell from the beamshots that the RovyVon S3 is very floody. And despite being the neutral white version, these images show the S3 as being on the cool end of the spectrum. I’m not entirely sure what to think about that, as my eyes feel that the CCT is warmer than what these images are portraying. But I’m using my usual camera settings, so perhaps it’s just my eyes. Just looking at the beam on some white walls around my house, it feels like 5000K.
- RovyVon S3
- Wurkkos FC11
- Xtar B20
- Sofirn SP35
Disclaimer: This flashlight was sent to me for review at no cost by RovyVon. I have not been paid to review, nor have I been holding back on problems or defects.
- Compact (if not a bit chunky)
- Elegant looking
- Stainless steel accents
- High CRI (option)
- USB-C charging
- UI shortcuts
- No PWM
- UI takes some getting used to
- Tail-end has a lot going on
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
We recommend reading the full review to make your own decision, and not fully rely your purchase on a certain star-rating
4.5 stars: ★★★★⋆
For my first impression with a RovyVon, the S3 certainly didn’t disappoint. This particular model is a bit chunkier than I would normally carry in my pocket, but it is quite short. And it’s certainly flexible and full of utility… tripod mount? Check. Deep carry clip? Check. Glass breaker? Sure, why not. Many of the detractors I’ve heard of before regarding RovyVon don’t apply here: this thing has great USB-C charging and no PWM at all. From what I can tell, they’ve come a long way in a short period of time and have taken user feedback into consideration. And unlike many RovyVon lights, the S3 uses an easily replaceable battery.
There’s a lot to like about the RovyVon S3. It’s elegant and employs tasteful use of stainless steel where it counts. If they manage to bring some of these same features (USB-C and no PWM) to some of their compact models, I’ll be the first in line to lay down my money.