On paper, there's little not to love about Pinecil v2. It's a nice portable soldering iron, it uses low-ohm tips allowing for quick heating, uses the sweet type-C power, and at $25 it's quite a deal. Do I need another soldering iron? Not really. But such deal was simply too tempting to pass.
As it often happens, my enthusiasm led me to buy two irons, some extra tips, nice silicone type-C cables, and even the darn replacement tip contacts. And no, I didn't buy both for myself - one I figured was a perfect present for a friend.
The shipment arrived reasonably fast and I immediately tested it. I still preferred my KSGER but the Pinecil seemed quite usable when I needed to solder something quickly without getting the big guns out. I definitely believe there is a place in my arsenal for something like this. However, in a practical sense, it would always be my second choice. Thus, over a 3-month period, I found myself using the Pinecil only a few times.
And then it came time for some microsoldering on Framework HDMI Expansion Card. It was a single-wire mod but QFN package made it ideal work for the Pinecil. So, for maybe the 10th time in 3 months, I inserted its soldering tip, plugged it into a type-C charger, and... nothing. It was bereft of life.
After trying a fAfter attempting several solutions suggested online, I finnally contacted Pine64 support. They responded almost immediately, asked me for order number and requested pictures of my power supply, only to follow up with an extended silence. After a week or so, I got bored and pinged them to see what the status is, only to be informed that the warranty for the Pinecil was merely one month and there was nothing more they could do.
I don't care how cheap the product is but 1 month warranty is not acceptable. Either you stand behind your product or you don't. By having warranty match no-questions-asked-return period offered by most retailers, it's clear that they're doing the bare minimum. I would argue that a one-month warranty equates to virtually no warranty at all.
Should have I known that before I made the purchase? Maybe. Maybe not. But as I am in the market for a new portable soldering iron, one thing is certain: my new portable iron will not be a Pinecil. Not because it died - that happens. It's purely because I know I cannot count on company for any support. And if they're not willing to support their customers, it's reasonable to assume they're doing the bare minimum with their manufacturing process as well.
Are other portable soldering iron companies the same? Possibly, but that remains to be seen. However, with the Pinecil, the adage "buy cheap, buy twice" certainly proved true. And at $50, it's not exactly a budget device anymore.
PS: My friend's Pinecil still works. Alternatively, maybe it died but he's too thoughtful to tell me. :)