Welcome to my Olight S15R review. :wave:
Olight has recently updated their popular Baton series of lights (S10/S15/S20) with a new rechargeable version option (known by the "R" addition to the model name). These new "R" version lights are very similar to previous generation Baton lights, except they all come with an Olight-branded 3.7V Li-ion battery, and desktop USB-charging dock.
Given the large number of comparisons required, I've decided to process these into three individual reviews for the S10R (for 1xCR123A/RCR), S15R (for 1x14500/AA/NiMH) and S20R (for 1x18650) separately. Note that the user interface and charging design are common to all three models, and will be repeated in each review.
Let's get how things shape up for the S15R, especially in comparison to the S15 (2013) that I reviewed previously.
Manufacturer Reported Specifications:
(note: as always, these are simply what the manufacturer provides – scroll down to see my actual testing results).
- LED: CREE XM-L2 Cool White
- 1 x 750mAh 3.7v 14500 rechargeable lithium battery included
- Output (ANSI)/Runtime: High: 280 Lumens/0.75 Hours, Medium: 70 Lumens/4 Hours, Low: 7 Lumens/32 Hours, Moonlight: 0.5 Lumens/360 Hours
- Peak beam intensity: 2,700 cd (Reviewer's note: this is inconsistent with the beam distance measure below)
- Max beam distance: 84 m
- NEW Low-profile side switch featuring a battery power indicator, which glows red when battery runs low
- NEW Includes patent-pending Micro-USB charging dock and a 14500 750mAh rechargeable battery
- NEW Thermal management safety program provides overheating protection by dropping high output to medium output after 15 minutes of constant on.
- NEW Glow-in-the-dark o-ring in bezel to help locate flashlight from accidentally dropping it
- 99% light transmittance rate through tempered glass, with two-sided anti-reflective coating
- Multi-function side switch with four brightness levels, plus a strobe mode
- Automatically return to your last brightness level with the built in memory function
- Removable two-position pocket clip
- Flat tailcap with strong magnet, giving you the ability to use the light as a hands-free worklight
- Highly reliable 6061-T6 aluminum alloy structure with ant-scratch, Type-III hard anodizing with a stainless steel bezel to protect against drops
- Reverse polarity protection to prevent improper battery installation
- Low standby current below 1.5uA
- IPX-7 (waterproof up to 1m)
- Impact resistant to 5 ft / 1.5m
- Flashlight Body: 3.60 in/91.4cm x 0.91 in/23cm
- Charging Dock: 2.17 in/55.1mm x 1.97 in/50mm x 0.63 in/16mm
- Weight: 43g/ 1.52 oz (body excluding batteries), 24g/ 0.85 oz (charging dock)
- MSRP: ~$60
The packaging has been updated from the original 2013 edition S15, and no longer includes a 2xAA extender. Inside the clear plastic container is the S15R (with Olight 14500 battery installed), extra o-rings, split ring, good quality wrist lanyard, product insert, manual, charging dock base, micro-USB cable for dock, adhesive gel-pad for dock, gel-pad installation manual. As before, there is also an overview of specs on the bottom and back of the packaging.
From left to right: Olight RCR (650mAh), S10R, Olight 14500 (750mAh), S15R; Olight 18650 (2600mAh), S20R.
From left to right: Panasonic Eneloop Pro, Olight 14500, S15R, S15 (2013); Nitecore EA1; Skilhunt DS15; Zebralight SC52; L3 Illumination L10.
All dimensions directly measured, and given with no batteries installed:
Olight S15R: Weight: 47.6g (69.2g with Olight 14500), Length: 89.6mm, Width (bezel): 23.1mm
Olight S15: Weight: 46.4g, Length: 87.0mm, Width (bezel): 23.1mm
Fenix LD12: Weight: 52.3g, Length: 99.9mm, Width (bezel): 21.6mm
Nitecore MT1A: Weight: 54.6g, Length: 104.6mm, Width (bezel): 22.7mm
Nitecore SENS AA: Weight: 26.1g, Length: 82.7mm, Width (bezel): 19.8mm
L3 Illumination L10: Weight: 20.7g, Length: 79.4mm, Width (bezel): 17.1mm
Lumintop ED15: Weight: 59.7g, Length: 100.2, Width (bezel): 21.9mm
Skilhunt DS15: Weight: 52.0g, Length: 92.1mm, Width (bezel): 24.0mm
Thrunite T10S: Weight: 60.9g; Length: 93.7mm, Width (bezel): 17.8mm, Width (widest): 18.7mm
Xeno E03:: Weight: 48.1g, Length 96.7mm, Width (bezel): 21.5mm
Zebralight SC52: Weight 39.5g, Length 79.0mm, Width (bezel): 22.6mm, Width (max) 25.4mm
Overall dimensions are similar to the S15 (2013), except the S15R is slightly heavier and longer now (likely to accommodate the charging circuitry).
Physically, the new "R" editions of the Baton lights look generally similar to the 2013 editions of regular Baton family. These lights remain relatively petite for their respective classes. Lights come with black anodizing (matte finish) and bright white labels. Although still without typical knurling, the raised checkered patterns on the body help with grip. With the reversible pocket clip attached, I'd say grip is good. What has changed is the button and tailcap design, which I will get to in a moment.
The bi-directional pocket clip is comparable to the earlier models, no real change here. It seems to hold onto the light fairly securely. I personally like it, as you can clip it on you in either orientation (i.e., bezel-up or bezel-down carry), although it might be rough on clothing given how tightly it fits. Note that the S15/S15R uses the same clip as the S20/S20R – which is longer than the S10/S10R.
In the head, the same sort of small spring and plastic surround is present, as on the original S15. This means that flat-top 14500 cells should work. Note that the length tolerances are tight for protected 14500. Even with the supplied Olight 14500, you really need to crank the tailcap tight to make contact.
The R-series tailcaps have been re-designed with a new charging dock feature – but otherwise functions as before. The S15R uses the same square-cut screw threads as before, still anodized for tail lock-out. Light can tailstand, and there is a split-ring/lanyard attachment hole on the side of the tail cap as before. And the tailcap still has a strong magnet, to allow the light to stand horizontally off any vertical metal surface. That said, I don't find the magnet quite as powerful as before. This means you may not be able to get the S15R to hold as stably off a small piece of metal (like a screw head on plastic plate cover, for example). It also does not seem to be removable now, as it is integral to how the charger functions.
What is new on the tailcap are the two exposed metal areas – an outside ring, and a recessed inner circular contact. These connect magnetically to the charging dock. I am happy to report that there is no open voltage at the tailcap, so there is no risk of accidentally shorting the 14500 battery inside the light. Scroll down for discussions of the dock and charging process.
As with the earlier model, the S15R uses an electronic switch in the head for on/off and mode changing. The button design has updated though – the hard plastic switch is now slightly recessed behind a raised metal surround. This means that the risk of accidental activation is now greatly reduced.
A second change is the addition of a low voltage warning sensor under the switch (visible through the clear pinhole opening in the middle). The earlier S15 model lacked a low voltage sensor (previously present only on the S20). The red LED below the switch will light up and flash as the battery nears exhaustion.
The head of the light is relatively unchanged, with a flat stainless steel bezel ring as before. However, the standard red o-ring has been replaced with GITD blue one.
The S15R uses the same XM-L2 Cool White emitter and smooth reflector as the previous S15 (2013). The emitter remains well centered on my samples. Please scroll down for beamshots.
All the new R-version models come with an appropriately-sized Olight-branded battery (3.7V Li-ion). Rated capacity of the 14500 included on the S15R is 750mAh, which is about typical for this class. Scroll down for actual testing results.
As mentioned before, tolerances are tight for length on the S15R. I find you really need to crank the tailcap tight on my sample, in order for the S15R to run on its supplied 14500 (no problem with standard AA cells, which are shorter). :shrug:
The new charging dock for the R-series lights has an interesting design. The desktop dock connects by a supplied micro-USB 2.0 cable for a standard USB port (no AC adapter supplied, but you can easily find an after-market one). Note that the charging docks are common for all three R-models, so all are limited to the standard 500mA max charge rate of USB 2.0. See a charging analysis later in this review.
The is an adhesive gel pad supplied with the dock, in case you want to semi-permanently mount the dock on your desk.
Charging contact is made through those two metal areas on the base of the light's tailcap. Thanks to the magnetic attraction, this firmly holds the light in place, and allows charging to commence. A similar magnetic mechanism is used on the Klarus lights, though without the flat desktop mount dock.
A LED on the dock lights up constant red during charging (slowly flashing red when no light is present, or if an error is detected). The dock is supposed to terminate the charge and go green once the battery is fully charged (~4.2V). In practice however, this initial batch of lights has an issue in fully charging the cells. On my S10R, the dock charging terminates and the indicator starts flashing red once the RCR reaches a resting voltage of ~4.13V. On the S15R and S20R, the dock terminates and the indicator goes green – but the 14500/18650 batter is again only ~4.14V. I understand from Olight that they plan to fix this on subsequent batches, to allow charging up to the typical ~4.2V.
Personally, this is not a big issue for me, as it is better to consistently under-charge Li-ion than over-charge (i.e., better for the health of your cells). And you can always take the cell out of the light and charge separately if you want.
The "Extended" USB port on the dock is a secondary output port. Basically, with the dock plugged into a power source, this provides a pass-through to charge other USB-based devices (e.g., cell phone, tablet, etc.), up to a 2A charging current. Of course, for that kind of charging, you are better off using an AC adapter for the input source (i.e., I wouldn't want to to push a standard USB port too hard).
Scroll down for an overview of specifics of the charging process, along with other performance characteristics of the light.
The R-series interface is unchanged from the 2013 models of the Baton series.
As before, a quick press and release (i.e., click) of the electronic switch turns the light on or off.
Mode switching is controlled by holding down the electronic switch. The light will cycle between Lo – Med – Hi, in repeating sequence. As before, simply release the switch to select your desired mode. The light has mode memory – if you turn it off/on, the light returns to your previous level.
The R-series lights continue to features the ultra-low "Moonlight" level. You access this mode directly from off by a sustained (>1 sec) press-and-hold of the switch from off. This is a nice feature, as it means you can always turn the light on in the lowest possible mode if you want (i.e., no matter where you memorized it before). Mode cycling and memory works as before, once on.
You can physically lock out the light by a twist of the tailcap, as before. The "soft lock-out" is similarly unchanged - hold the switch down from off for >2 secs, the light shuts itself off (i.e., after one second of the Moonlight mode). You will not be able to use the light until you unlock it (by pressing-and-holding the switch for >2secs again). Note that this means that if you want Moonlight, you must release the switch before the lock-out takes effect (hold the switch between 1 and 2 secs). To unlock, simply press and hold the switch for more than 1 sec now.
There is still a "hidden" strobe mode, accessed by double-clicking the switch when on. Double-click again to return to constant on (or turn off and on).
Note that there is an undocumented "short cut" to jump to Hi from off: simply double-click the switch from off.
For information on the new R-series lights, including the build, user interface and dock charging, please see my video overview of the recent models:
For all my videos, I recommend you have annotations turned on. I commonly update the commentary with additional information or clarifications before publicly releasing the video.
As an aside, if you want to get an instant notification for every new review that I post, you can subscribe to my YouTube channel. The vids go public at the same time as the reviews here on CPF.
As always, there is no sign of PWM at any output level – The R-series lights are current-controlled, just like their predecessors.
The S15R strobe is a fairly typical fast "tactical" strobe, of 9.8Hz frequency (as before, and consistent with other members of this family).
As the switch is an electronic one, a standby current drain is always present when a battery is installed. Interestingly, the reported standby current is lower for the S15R (1.5uA spec) than the S10R (8uA reported, 9uA measured).
On the original S15 (2013), it was so low that I was not able to get a stable reading with my DMM. When initially connecting, I got a brief ~1uA current, which then dropped down to a <1uA current. oo: At that level, it would take forever to drain a battery (roughly speaking). :laughing:
For the S15R, I measured this standby drain as a miniscule 1.9uA. For the supplied 750mAh 14500, that would theoretically translate into over 45 years before a battery would be fully drained. This is below the self-discharge rate for Li-ions, and hardly a concern. However. I do recommend you lock out the switch at the tailcap when not in use, to prevent accidental activation.
Because the AC charger uses a USB connector to the charging cable, I was able to take direct measures of the charging parameters using my Xtar VI01 "USB Detector" (basically a specialized USB current/voltage meter). There are many of these on the market now, and this model was favorably reviewed by HKJ here.
For charging tests, I started with a discharged Olight 14500 battery (protection circuit tripped). For all these tests, I left the USB detector in place for all readings. Note that the voltage reading on this device refers to the input voltage (i.e., from the USB port).
Initial charging current and input voltage:
As you can see, charging started at 0.49A with a typical USB ~5V input voltage ("U" is meant to represent Volts on the top display above). This is fully consistent with the USB 2.0 specs.
After 45 mins, the charging rate was significant reduced, to ~0.37mA.
By 1hr 15 mins, the rate was down to ~0.27A
By 2hrs, the rate was down ~0.17A
By 2hrs 15 mins, the rate was down to ~0.14A
And by ~2hr 20 mins total time, charging had terminated (and the dock LED was green - not shown in the pic below, which is from my S10R review):
Note however that final resting battery voltage was only ~4.14V. Olight apparently plans to adjust this or the more typical ~4.2V full charge.
This pattern is pretty much what I would expect from a typical CC/CV algorithm. :thumbsup:
For white-wall beamshots below, all lights are on Max output on an 3.7V Li-ion (RCR) battery. Lights are about ~0.75 meter from a white wall (with the camera ~1.25 meters back from the wall). Automatic white balance on the camera, to minimize tint differences.
Beam pattern remains very similar to the S15 (2013), as you would expect (i.e., the Batons are all relatively "floody").
I haven't bothered to show 1xAA or 2xAA beamshots, but you can infer relative appearance from my output tables later in this review.
All my output numbers are relative for my home-made light box setup, as described on my flashlightreviews.ca website. You can directly compare all my relative output values from different reviews - i.e. an output value of "10" in one graph is the same as "10" in another. All runtimes are done under a cooling fan, except for any extended run Lo/Min modes (i.e. >12 hours) which are done without cooling.
I have devised a method for converting my lightbox relative output values (ROV) to estimated Lumens. See my How to convert Selfbuilt's Lightbox values to Lumens thread for more info.
Throw/Output Summary Chart:
My summary tables are reported in a manner consistent with the ANSI FL-1 standard for flashlight testing. Please see http://www.flashlightreviews.ca/FL1.htm for a discussion, and a description of all the terms used in these tables. Effective July 2012, I have updated all my Peak Intensity/Beam Distance measures with a NIST-certified Extech EA31 lightmeter (orange highlights).
There isn't an output difference between the new S15R and the previous S15 on 14500 Li-ion. However, there is a definite drop in max output on 1xAA batteries.
Although the manual makes no mention of 2xAA support, I figured it was a safe bet since the voltage is 2xAA is intermediate to the 1xAA and 1x14500 configurations. The 2xAA extension tube offered on the original S15 still fits on S15R, so I thought I'd give it a try.
Output levels on 2xAA are virtually identical to 1x14500 (although I did find a slight increase in output over the first minute or two, on fresh cells)
To better illustrate relative levels better, here is a detailed output comparison to S15, on 1x battery configurations.
I haven't shown 2xAA, since it's basically the same as 14500 (except for the slight bump in initial Hi).
As you can see, the specs haven't changed from the original S15 released in 2013. And in terms of 14500 performance, initial output levels seem unchanged across the board. Generally, output is no different between standard AA and 14500 – except on Hi. In fact, this is the only thing that has changed on my samples – my S15R is definitely lower output on Hi than my original S15. :shrug: See my runtimes for more information.
As an aside, max output on Li-ion is lower on the S15R than the S10R (and runtime patterns are different). This is something to keep in mind if you are trying to choose between these models - scroll down for actual runtimes.
I have begun to switch to using newer Panasonic Eneloop Pro (2550mAh typical capacity) for my NIMH testing. Panasonic acquired Sanyo a little while back, and the new Panasonic-branded Eneloop Pro cells are an updated version of the former Eneloop XX cells (i.e., Panasonic Pros are basically 3rd generation XX cells, with improved charge holding ability). For the time being, most of my runtime data is still using 2000mAh Eneloops, so both types are shown below,
Ok, there's a lot a data up there. :sweat: Let's start with the 14500 performance.
The step-down pattern on Hi is different on the S15R than the original S15 (and different from the concurrent S10/S10R as well). On the new S15R, the light steps-down abruptly from Hi to Med after 15 mins runtime. On the S10/S10R, the light starts to step down after 4 mins runtime (and takes another 4 mins to reach the new steady-state). Also, on the S10/S10R, this extended Hi runtime is intermediate to the initial Hi and Med modes (i.e., this differs from the S15R, which steps down to the defined Med level). There was no step-down on the original S15.
As with my S10R, the supplied Olight Li-ion (14500 in this case) has a longer runtime than my standard AW battery. This suggests it is even greater capacity than the "750mAh" would indicate. The difference is even more pronounced in this case over the RCR in the S10R, but that's likely because of the ability of the Olight 14500 battery to accept a full charge. For some reason, my Olight RCR would only charge to ~4.15V, even with an external charger.
On the standard AA cells, the runtime graphs indicate that not only is initial output on Hi reduced from the original S15, but it rapidly drops off over the first couple of minutes. Basically, within minutes, the S15R on Hi is not that much brighter than Med (on standard AA/NiMH/L91). And again, after 15 mins, it actually drops to the Med level (although that distance is not very great). There has clearly been a circuit change with the S15R, and standard AA cells are clearly not fully supported on Hi any more.
However, overall output/runtime efficiency on all levels (on standard batteries) is excellent on the S15R. This is something that was less impressive on the S15 – it was really in the 2xAA configuration that the S15 truly impressed.
For 2xAA, I have done runtimes on a couple of battery types, and only on Hi. Note that since the S15R drops to Med after 15 mins, many of these runtimes would look better on the Med runtime graph scales. Also note that I mistakenly labeled the S15R runs as "Turbo" below (I meant to say "Hi").
As before, the S15R is quite an efficient performer on 2x standard alkaline/NiMH AA batteries. Note sure if Olight is still offering the S15 body extender tubes for sale, but they are a nice option on the S15R too, in my view. Just make sure you don't try to run 2x14500 – or the circuit is likely to go poof!
All Baton lights use an electronic switch, and therefore require a small stand-by current when fully connected. However, the standby drain on S15R remains at a ridiculously low 1.9uA, which would theoretically translate into many decades before the supplied 14500 battery would be drained (i.e., this is below the self-discharge rate of Li-ions).
Accidental activation is always a potential concern with electronic switches – however the likelihood of this has been greatly reduced thanks to the new switch design. You can also "soft" lock out the switch electronically, and can still physically lock out the light at the tailcap as well.
The tailcap magnet is no longer removable (i.e., it is integral to how the charger functions), and it doesn't attract as heavily as before.
There is a step-down feature on Hi now, but it doesn't engage until 15 mins into a continuous run.
Supplied in-light charging feature on this initial batch of lights will only charge batteries to ~4.13-4.14V resting voltage. I understand Olight is looking to correct this on subsequent batches
An AA battery extender is no longer included with the light, but the one for the S15 model still works fine. Note that 2x14500 should NOT be attempted (i.e., the circuit can only handle 1x14500).
As mentioned in my S10R review, these new R-version updates to the Olight Baton series offers a new functionality: in-light 3.7V Li-ion charging (with supplied Olight battery). Generally, these new R-series lights offer similar performance, although there are a couple of noticeable differences from the standard S15 that I reviewed in 2013.
One significant update from the previous S15 model is the revised electronic switch. Physically, the switch is recessed slightly from before, with a built-up metal surround now. This means that accidental activation is far less likely. Olight has also introduced the low voltage warning feature from the S20 (which has long been missing from the S10/S15 models). On all the new R-series models, there is a red LED below the switch that lights up to tell you when the battery is running low.
The build and overall feel of the S15R is similar to the earlier S15 (i.e., decent bi-directional clip, keychain attachment point, magnetic tailcap, etc.). The R-series lights are a tiny bit longer than before (likely to accommodate charging circuitry), and I find the magnet has slightly less pull (but still more than enough). There is no open voltage at the tailcap, as the magnetic connection is required for initiating charging. Unlike before though, the magnet is no longer removable (i.e., it is integral to how the charger functions).
The new charging dock is well designed, with a secondary output feature (i.e., you can charge your cell phone right from the dock). It even includes a gel pad to stick it to your desk. That said, a slightly longer input USB cable would have been nice (as well as an AC-adapter), but you can easily pick these up elsewhere. Note that the initial batch of R-series lights/docks will only charge batteries to ~4.14V resting, but I understand Olight is working on raising this to a more typical ~4.2V.
Circuit function is generally similar to before, with an identical user interface. There is now a step-down feature on Hi – after 15 mins of continuous runtime, the light steps down to Med (on all batteries). This is relatively long period before a step down - and it can always be reversed by cycling through modes or turning off/on.
Note that S15R doesn't seem to fully support a distinct Hi mode on 1xAA (alkaline/NiMH/L91) any more. On this battery source, Initial Hi output on my S15R is greatly reduced on standard cells (compared to both Li-ion, and to standard AA on the S15). It also quickly drops to a level just above the defined Med mode on the S15R. This is something to keep in mind if you were planning to run the light on 1x standard AA (i.e., you may want to stick with the original S15). That said, the S15R runs 2xAA just fine at full output (using the AA extender tube from the S15).
Performance of the supplied Olight-branded 14500 is excellent, lasting longer than my standard AW RCR battery. This is definitely a good way to run the light, especially coupled with the desktop charging stand.:thumbsup:
Overall, output/runtime efficiency remains very good on this model, on all battery sources. The 1x14500 and 2xAA configurations remain the "sweet spot", in my view.
The beam pattern of the actual light hasn't changed much. The S15R reflector is smooth finish as before. But a new GITD blue o-ring has been added to all models.
Overall, the S15R is a good update version to the original S15. There are definite build improvements, and a whole new functionality added with the 14500 battery and desktop charger. Except for the reduced Hi mode on 1x standard AA, the S15R is likely to be considered an improvement in just about every way. Certainly a strong contender for this class. :wave:
S15R was supplied by GoingGear.com for review, on behalf of Olight.