Mini Review: Fenix E12, PD12, & E35UE

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Fenix E12, PD12, & E35UE Mini Review Roundup & Giveaway

Fenix has built a reputation in the EDC community as one of the leading flashlight manufacturers, using high quality materials and solid designs. In this mini-review roundup we take a quick look at some of Fenix’s newest offerings, the E12, the PD12, and the E35 Ultimate Edition, graciously provided by Fenix Outfitters.

Fenix E12

My immediate impression of the E12 is that it’s nothing flashy — it brings a simple, unassuming sensibility to the table. It’s styled very traditionally, with the usual black knurled aluminum body that you’d expect from Fenix and other practical flashlight brands. It’s decently compact for a 1xAA light as its head, battery tube and tailcap are all flush with each other. Unfortunately, the E12 does not come fitted with a pocket clip of any sort, limiting carry options to a keychain (which, I feel is just barely acceptable at its size) or deep pocket carry using an included wrist lanyard. Both a keyring and lanyard can attach to the tailcap, which also houses a reverse clicky switch. The switch is protected by a scooped “bezel” to allow tailstanding and easier access to the switch. At the business end of the light, there’s some interesting optics going on around its XP-E2 emitter. Turning the light on starts on its 8 lumen low mode, and soft presses of the tailcap cycle through its 50 lumen medium and 130 lumen high mode. On low, 8 lumens is plenty for walking around at night or scanning dark spaces, and personally I feel it’s more than enough. A 50 lumen medium is great for covering a larger area. Most impressive, however, is its 130 lumen high — it’s great to have that power when you need it in a compact light, and it’s this capability that Fenix tends to highlight, with good reason. You’d likely find yourself using low and medium modes in everyday situations, but I wish a moonlight or lower low were offered to help space out the levels better. The E12 produces a surprisingly wide, white hotspot, with relatively little usable spill in a bluish tint. It might not appeal to the most discerning flashaholics, but it makes its case as an simple, easy-to-use, reliable primary or backup light. I can see this doing well in a mini EDC pouch kit or a beginner’s carry as an intro to higher quality lights.

Reviewer Score: 2.5/5

Pros:

  • Sturdy build quality, clean fit and finish from Fenix
  • Pushes the envelope with an impressive 130lm high
  • Simple operation

Cons:

  • Lack of pocket clip and sized slightly too large for keychain, making it hard to EDC
  • Mediocre beam pattern and tint
  • Wide hotspot makes low mode appear brighter than it should

The E12, to me, seems average in many ways. Its $30 pricetag is a good indicator of what to expect — it’s a step up from keychain lights in build quality and output, but doesn’t stand up to $60+ EDC lights. Its strength lies in its reliable construction and simple operation at an affordable pricepoint.

BUY ($27)


Fenix PD12

The PD12 falls into the “primary EDC” flashlight category, with its compact size, decent set of features and other design cues that reinforce its role as a general utility light. For a CR123a light, it’s not the most compact, but still highly pocketable. This is mostly due to its wider head design: it allows for a deeper reflector around its CREE XM-L2 T6 neutral white LED emitter, some adequate heatsinking at the base of the head, and a less commonly seen electronic side switch. The other half of the light is less interesting — just a knurled battery tube with a scooped rear bezel to allow for tailstanding and a wrist lanyard attachment. The build quality, fit and finish, is superb as always from Fenix. Unfortunately, the PD12 also lacks a pocket clip — which I feel is necessary on a light this small meant to be used for everyday carry. A quick press of the electronic side switch turns the light on instantly. More interestingly, the light has “mode memory,” meaning it turns on at the last output level used. Modes through which it can cycle include a 10 lumen low, 80 lumen mid, 200 lumen high, and long-holding the switch accesses a 360 lumen burst mode. The memory feature is nice, but for general usage I often find myself using mainly the dimmest mode, which usually fires first. I can see value in memory for those who use their flashlights in emergency only situations and want the brightest light possible, or often work with the brighter modes. For a light like this, where the side switch encourages an “underhand” grip and discourages a traditionally tactical “ice pick grip,” memory for instant-on high might not be as useful. To turn the light off, a longer press is required. I have some issues with the switch and UI in my testing, though. Physically, the side switch lies very flush to the flashlight body to prevent accidental activation in the pocket. I found that this made locating the switch with my fingers in the dark to turn the switch on more difficult than it needs to be. A glow in the dark button or some texturing on it might have helped with tactile feedback in the dark. Secondly, accessing burst mode through a very long hold causes the light to turn off completely first (a long hold turns the light off), then holding for a moment longer unleashes a whopping 360 lumens. Because there’s no head-twisting involved, it’s sort of a necessary evil, but it is a bit jarring to reach burst after complete darkness in that brief pause between modes. Luckily, the PD12 delivers a beautiful beam pattern in a pleasant neutral tint. Its hotspot is tight and clear with plenty of usable surrounding spill, allowing it to perform well in general up close and short distance applications, but its deep reflector and high output levels really give it some distance as well.

Review Score: 3/5

Pros:

  • Good output/size ratio
  • High quality construction
  • Great beam tint and pattern

Cons:

  • No pocket clip
  • Side switch difficult to locate

The PD12 is a solid light, but it’s not the only neutral white 1x123 light, it isn’t the most pocketable, and the operation isn’t for everyone. Because of some key oversights like the lack of a pocket clip and the missteps associated with the electronic side switch and its resulting UI, I give it a 3/5. I would recommend it to someone interested in buying one as it is a good light — it’s just that there are others that outclass it in certain aspects.

BUY ($47)


Fenix E35 Ultimate Edition

Last up for review is the fittingly Ultimate Edition of the E35. It’s the largest of the group, accommodating a 1x18650 battery or 2xCR123a configuration. With the added length from using these battery types comes plenty of power and longer runtimes than the previously mentioned lights. As expected from a Fenix light, it’s built very well and looks great. While the E35UE lacks a pocket clip as well, it isn’t too much of an issue considering its size alone precludes it from comfortable pocket carry. The light also utilizes the electronic side switch, but unlike the PD12, is much easier to locate due to the rubber texturing on the button. The side switch again encourages an underhand grip, which is great for exploration and general path illumination. A short hold (it feels longer, though) of the button fires up the E35UE’s CREE XM-L2 U2 emitter in whichever mode was used last through a memory function. The light can cycle through a 10 lumen low (lasting 140 hours), an 80 lumen mid, and a 200 lumen high. Holding down the switch longer turns the light off, and longer still accesses a monstrous 900 lumen burst mode. That’s some serious power coming from this light, which can really help in outdoors applications. The beam itself is interesting — a cool white, huge hotspot helps illuminate larger areas. Its spill is comparatively less useful, as it exhibits a dark ring right around the hotspot, which brightens back up towards the edge of the beam. In application, I found the hotspot is big enough so that the usable spill doesn’t matter as much. The wide hotspot of a beam and the 140-hour long runtime on low make a winning combination for a long-lasting emergency light, especially backed by Fenix build quality.

Reviewer Score: 3.5/5

Pros:

  • Fenix build quality
  • Impressively high output on burst, great runtimes on low
  • Useful, wide hotspot
  • Balanced ergonomics on underhand grip with longer battery tube

Cons:

  • Hold switch activates too slowly
  • Can’t ramp up into burst mode, requires light to turn off and back on again — can be disorienting in the dark
  • Dark ring in spill

The E35UE can really satisfy those looking for power, but brighter isn’t necessarily better. What I appreciate in the E35UE is its great runtimes, usable low mode paired with its big hotspot. The lack of a pocketclip isn’t really a dealbreaker, as I see this right at home in a bag, glove compartment, or tool chest. Not everyone thinks to keep a larger light in their rotation, but a light this capable for only $45 is well worth the versatility it provides.

BUY ($45)

You can enter our giveaway to win one of the lights reviewed today at our widget below. The contest will last for one week. Good luck and carry on!

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my personal EDC doctrine requires my light to use only common replacement batteries, THe only one of the reviewed lights that uses a battery that you can buy at CVS or walmart or whatever is the AA powered E12. I carry the mag light solitaire, or the Fenix E5, and as a primary light I like the Led lenser P6

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