Nitecore is one of the mainstream flashlight brands based out of China, and they were well-known for pushing LEDs to the forefront back when incandescents were still popular. I must confess that I don’t keep up with their products too regularly; however, I do like their variety of keychain flashlight offerings.
The original TIP from 2017 was met with much acclaim, and Nitecore has subsequently updated the model several times. But in late April of 2019, they released the TIP 2. The model didn’t provoke my interest until a recent trip to Illumination Supply, where I decided to pick one up for a cool $30. Retail is $45 and can be purchased from here.
Nitecore has always been good at keeping up spec-wise, and the TIP 2 bears no exception. The output is absolutely blazing for a light of this size, courtesy of two Cree XP-G3 LEDs. It’s also rechargeable, waterproof, and the mode-spacing on the outputs has been done right. On paper, it checks a lot of the right boxes.
Some will complain about the XP-G3s, but in practical use they’re just fine. Most people dissatisfied with the performance of the XP-G3 are white-wall hunters in this regard. That being said, Nitecore has put Nichia emitters in their lights before, so its a shame they’re not present on this model.
Something unique to this model is the placement of magnets in the tail which hold onto the tail cap itself. They’re exceptionally strong, and they offer both a quick-detach option and the added utility of adhering the light to something while you’re working. This setup also hides the micro-USB input, and won’t wear out like some keychain lights that use a rubber port.
The TIP 2 compromises itself at the expense of being too versatile. It’s a keychain light, a task light, a ball cap light, and a pocket light all rolled into one. But it’s not particularly good at being any of those things.
Coming it at just slightly larger than the original TIP, but significantly wider, the size of the flashlight will preclude it from many’s keychains. And compared to many of the other keychain lights on the market right now, the TIP 2 is positively bulky and with marginal performance gains to boot. Cramming it into a pants pocket with keys is an awkward procedure. And to this effect, I’d argue that the TIP 2 is probably a better pocket light – solo – than a keychain light.
Another problem with the TIP 2 is the user-interface. This is the same interface that the Nitecore TINI uses; I gave the TINI a Grade D on my list, not solely on the UI though. I’d still consider the UI acceptable, but it does have some problems, starting with the two second hold to turn on.
The delay is intended to prevent accidental activation which is indeed a concern with the TINI. Because of the TINI’s slim design, it’s very easy to press-up against the buttons which are adjacent to the flat of the body. And even with the two second delay, I still found the TINI activating accidentally far too much. But none of that is a concern with the TIP 2: The buttons are on the side and are difficult to press on inadvertently even without the clip attachment. So, as it stands, the two second delay is completely useless and impedes practical use.
I believe I’ve stated this on another review of mine, but mode memory on a keychain light is also a bad idea, especially when there’s a mode like moonlight in play. When you want moonlight, you shouldn’t have to cycle through other outputs which are going to disrupt your night-adapted vision.
Nitecore is spec-chasing at the expense of practical use. For what it’s worth though, the competition doesn’t seem to be doing much better. The TIP 2 is a keychain light, but it isn’t an ideal one. There are certainly better keychain lights out there for the money.