The ZQ Essent DNA mod review and this is a smart looking single 21700 device – so how does it perform?
DNA mods these days tend towards the higher end, hand made end of the scale.
There’s a couple of reasons for this, partly is the fact that the DNA boards and their partner in crime the Escribe software are very well regarded, for both wattage and temperature control, as well as the huge amount of customisation you can do.
There’s also the price of the boards themselves, which are not cheap. In fact to pick up a board at retail, it’s as much as many complete mods!
Finally, the scuttlebutt is that Evolv (maker of the DNA boards) got a little irritated at the amount of warranty returns they were getting from Chinese manufacturers who used their boards. Often discovering the fault lay not in the board, but in the quality of the mod…
So it’s very interesting to see a new mod coming out with a DNA 75C from a Chinese company.
If you want to read up a little more on DNA mods, you can check out our guide to them here.
What Can We Expect From The Essent by ZQ?
I had never heard of ZQ before the Essent showed up, and looking at their website it’s easy to see how I may have over looked them.
Its parent company is Skey, a vape distributor, and ZQ entered the vape market in 2018 with a pod system.
Since then they have released… mostly pod kits.
In fact the only other one of their products that we have reviewed, was the Xtal Pod Kit that Neil H took a look at here.
So a removable battery mod, running a DNA board, and looking like mods that cost twice the price, was a bit of a departure to say the least!
Clean looking single battery box mods have been a bit or a rarity in the mainstream, and you can understand why. Every manufacturer is trying to come up with their own “must have” device, and a lot of the attention has shifted to pod mods.
This is a reviewer designed mod, a collaboration in this case, between Steamshots TV and Smartin TV, two German reviewers.
I have to confess I had never heard of these two gentlemen, but there’s a nice welcome note in the packaging from them.
This was sent over to me free of charge directly from ZQ, thank you. As always, I will report back honestly on what I find, and my reviews are not influenced by freebies.
Inside The Box
- ZQ Essent Device
- 18650 Battery Adapter
- USB Cable
- Manual, Warranty Card, Greeting Card
- Cleaning Cloth
- Dimensions – 85*27*47.5mm
- Weight – 143g
- Power Output – 1-75W
- Chipset – Evolv DNA75C
- Material – Aluminium Alloy
- Battery – Single 21700 or 18650 (with adapter)
- Charging – 1A, Micro USB
- Screen – 0.9″ Colour TFT
Design and Build Quality
The ZQ Essent comes in three colours, Black (which I received), Gunmetal, and Full Black, which is a limited edition (500 units).
Interestingly the Full Black version, which uses DLC to achieve it’s inky blackness, also seems to come with a 21700 battery in the box.
The packaging is very nice to look at. There’s a sleeve showing the device, over the top of of a smart black box that is held closed by magnets. Flip that magnetic flap open, and it’s displayed beautifully with a tissue-paper overlay that really highlights it.
Unfortunately I will note that getting the accessories box out, which are sitting in a card box below your mod under the tissue paper, is an exercise in frustration! In the end, I resorted to tearing the cardboard slightly to pry it loose.
Hopefully this is not a sign of all flash and no finish in the mod itself!
ZQ Essent Body
It says on ZQ’s website the body is made from aluminium alloy, however I’m unsure if the top/bottom plates and battery tube are also aluminium, or if they are stainless steel.
Regardless, they are steel coloured, so I will refer to them as such!
With the black version that I have, the main body is finished in a silky smooth black finish. Very clean looking finishing with the only branding being an engraved ZQ Essent on one of the side panels.
With a steel battery tube running through the cut out the mod, it then has steel plates at the top and bottom. Not a terribly innovative design, but it’s classic and works well.
The curve of the battery tube, and the slight angle where the sides meet the front of the mod, make it very comfortable to hold. Regardless of whether you prefer to thumb fire, or finger fire.
It’s a fairly lightweight mod at only 143g without a battery or atomizer, but it feels high end.
There’s something about a well finished mod, where everything seems solid and well put together. No creaking or flexing at all.
ZQ Essent Top Plate
I’m relieved that there’s no branding on the top plate.
The 510 plate is actually quite small, so it’s not going to be peaking out underneath any tanks you put on.
There’s also two rather large torx screws that hold the plate onto the mod. I’m not thrilled with how these look, but it’s not like it’s ugly, I just wish for a cleaner finish.
ZQ Essent Base
The base is where you will find your regulatory marks and the company name “ZQ” printed.
Bellow the printing are two torx screws, that mirror the two on the top of the mod, and your battery cap.
ZQ Essent Battery Cap
I know some people are really against screw down battery caps, as they’re definitely not as quick to change batteries as a hinged battery door. Also when you are changing batteries, you end up holding on to three things (mod, battery, and cap) rather than two.
I’m actually quite a fan of them for a couple of reasons. They are much harder to get wrong being one of the top ones. I have owned many mods over the years that have what would charitably be called “quirks” with their battery doors, and a few have just plain broken.
With a screw down battery cap that isn’t ever really going to be a problem. Also, by doing away with a spring to make sure the battery is firmly in place. They eliminate an area where you can get some voltage drop.
Again, it’s not a major thing, especially on a regulated mod. But you never want to be wasting potential vaping energy because your battery is losing voltage due to a dodgy spring.
The battery cap here is “fine”, but that’s the nicest I can be about it. The threading is not the smoothest, and there’s a tiny bit of crunching.
Also the only vent holes I can see on the mod are the two tiny ones on the cap. Something is always better than nothing in the event of a thermal event, but I can’t help wishing there was a bit more venting, if only for peace of mind.
I’m being super picky, because otherwise it’s such a well put together mod. But hey, that’s my job as a reviewer right?
Inside the tube you have an easy to see positive indicator, and the battery cap has a small negative indicator on it.
ZQ Essent Screen and Controls
The screen is a standard DNA75C – it’s not the largest at 0.9″, but plenty big enough to display all the information you require, and full colour (the “C” of 75C). Of course if you dive into the wide world of themes, you can make it look however you want.
The button configuration is likewise standard DNA. There’s a well sized round fire button above the screen, and three rounded rectangle buttons below.
Underneath the buttons is your USB port, and because this is a DNA board, it’s a USB mini. Boo…
Still, I can’t really knock any points of ZQ for that really, I just hope Evolv refresh their boards with USB C soon!
ZQ Essent Buttons
I have to say that the buttons deserve a special mention, although on the front they have the same smooth finish as the rest of the body, they have really eye catching chamfered edges.
These are polished up, so they have a jewel like sparkle of bare metal that contrasts with the black.
It’s hard to photograph, but they really catch the light nicely. A really nice contrast with the almost matte black.
Also there is absolutely no button rattle – definitely a pro in my book!
ZQ Essent Wattage
The theme on this mod is pretty much stock DNA. Wattage is adjustable up to the maximum of 75W, but it doesn’t round robin.
There’s also a wattage boost mode. That seems to start at a higher wattage to kick your coil into life more quickly. This is probably most useful for coils that have quite a large mass and take a while to heat up.
Confusingly there is also Kanthal as an option. As far as I can tell, this is just another wattage mode.
Another slightly confusing thing for a wattage vaper, is that there is a temperature display on the mod at all times. Again, this is a quirk of the standard DNA 75C theme.
You don’t need to worry about it though, as it won’t have any effect when you are vaping in wattage mode.
ZQ Essent Temp Control
Temp Control aficionados are well looked after by Evolv’s board. You have a full range of options including.
- Nickely 200
- Stainless Steel 316
- Stainless Steel 430
Notably absent is a TCR mode, but this is something that if you want, you can use the EScribe suite to put in exact TCR values.
Another area of temp control is the much vaunted “Replay” mode. Replay mode essentially tries to take a lot of the faff out of temp control, allowing you to find your perfect vape, and then reproduce it.
How Does the ZQ Essent Perform?
This is a funny one to review, because lots of people will have used a DNA board before.
Indeed, the 75C itself has been out since 2017.
There’s a wealth of info out there for those who want to get more in depth on the board, and people have written plenty more than I have space for in this review. So I’m going to be focusing on how the mod actually is to use.
What Size Tank Can I Use?
The instructions say you can use up to a 26mm without overhang. In my testing I mostly used 24mm and 25mm tanks on it, and there was definitely room to spare.
One oddity I noticed was that the 510 plate is slightly further towards the front of the mod, leaving a little more space at the sides.
So I think if it were set bad about 1mm further, it would manage a 27mm tank, which is the width of the mod.
Not a major thing, and I really am nitpicking here!
One positive thing to note is that it actually looks OK with a 22mm tank as well. Sometimes I find that a larger mod looks silly with some of my favourite MTL tanks, but this one actually looks OK.
OK, You’ve Mentioned EScribe, Do I Need This?
Not enough? Let me explain.
As it’s set up, the screen will switch itself off after 30 seconds. That’s fine. However, it will lock itself after only a minute of inactivity.
I can’t begin to tell you how frustrating it is to put your mod down for a minute, only to have to unlock is every time.
Happily EScribe is compatible with Apple computers these days (it never used to be) so regardless if you are a Windows or MacOS user, you can take advantage of it.
One thing to note, is that because the mod is micro USB, if you are trying to connect to computer with just USB C ports (like most current Macs) you might run into problems with it not being recognised if you use a hub to give you standard USB A ports.
ZQ Essent – Switching Off Auto Lock
- Plug your mod into your computer and open the EScribe software
- Select the “Safety” tab
- Untick “Automatically lock when idle”
- Select “Upload Settings to Device”
- Disconnect your mod by pressing “Disconnect”, unplug, and you’re good to go!
Obviously you need to be remember that you have done this, it is after all a safety feature. So if you’re putting the mod in your pocket or a bag after disabling this, remember to lock it manually.
I know at least one person has said that the mod prompts you to confirm your resistance whenever you unlock it. In use I never experienced this except with an atomizer that I know suffers from jumping resistance if it’s not tightened up properly.
So if you’re often getting a note asking if it’s a new coil when you unlock, check out your atomizer, as I would say that’s the most likely culprit!
Happily EScribe also includes a section to allow you to check if your resistance is jumping.
ZQ Essent Battery
Battery life is as good as any other single battery mod I’ve tested. Obviously if you use the 18650 adapter, you’ll get slightly less.
In use I could usually manage a little over 2 days out of a 21700, vaping at around 30W on a 0.5Ω coil.
Pushing it up the maximum, I got about a days worth of vaping.
- Classic, high class, design
- DNA 75C Board
- Great build quality
- micro USB Connection
- Slightly scratchy battery cap
- 510 could be centred better
- Automatic lock after 1 minute
Final Review Verdict
Honestly, I have had to struggled to find anything wrong with this.
My only major complaint has been the rather irritating timeout where the mod locks almost soon as it goes to sleep. However this is something that can easily be fixed by spending 5 minutes at a computer.
If ZQ were to change this one thing in the theme before sending them out, it would be an almost perfect mod!
My others niggles are incredibly minor. But I think it’s only fair that I report them. The micro USB connection is also not the fault of ZQ, but rather the board they are using.
As I said at the top of the review, single battery box mods have fallen a little out of favour recently. And ZQ have definitely hit the ground running with one of the nicest I’ve tested.