Ok, so I read the original post and skipped straight here. Hopefully the misunderstanding has been addressed but in case not...

PWM control does not require that your eyeball or brain be the filter. You can filter the PWM'ed voltage with electronics and have a fairly steady current. This still offers efficiency improvements over analog control circuits and is a much simpler circuit once you have a microcontroller involved. So, PWM in the right circuit is actually a current control mechanism.

Now to guessing. I would expect that even good 'non-PWM' flashlights are still PWM controlled, just using electronics as a filter rather than your eyeballs.