Over the last decade (and more) Will, our product manager, and I have tried many hundreds of different vape devices.
There’s rarely a perfect device, although we do highlight our favourites on this blog.
This process has given us an insight into what makes a great device.
We’ve put this post together because, if you’re looking for a vape device, it helps to know what to look for.
Don’t expect a discussion of advanced features such as custom wattage curves here. This is a back to basics post!
10 key features to look for
1. A clear tank/pod
Dark or shaded pods and tanks may look nice, but they are terrible for vaping.
When you can’t see how much e-liquid remains, it is all too easy to use up all your e-liquid.
The result? Burnt coils and unnecessary expense.
2. Sticky controls
You should lock your device before you put it in your pocket. But how many of us always remember to do this?
All too often I have put a device in my pocket at 12 watts, and taken it out at 60 watts. That’s a disaster if you are using a high resistance coil.
By adding a bit of extra pressure to buttons, it can make it harder to pocket press the buttons. (Smart mode, covered further down, can also help here.)
3. Intuitive controls…
I’ve used all sorts of complicated devices. But at the end of the day, I want something which is fast, easy and intuitive to use.
Take wattage controls, for example. I don’t want to have to press a button 3 times and then cycle through to get the wattage I need. I just want a simple up-down button.
4. …Which are hard to accidentally change
I once had a vape which would suddenly change from voltage to temperature control.
Before I knew it, a pleasant vape was suddenly delivering a plume of burnt vapour into my mouth.
That’s why a good vape device makes it hard to change key settings accidentally.
5. Long-lasting battery
At a minimum, I want and expect a battery that is going to last me at least a day of usage.
Battery technology has come far, and anything less doesn’t cut it anymore. (Especially when many devices will now last 2 days or more when Mouth-to-Lung vaping.)
Do note, though, that while mAh denotes battery capacity, capacity is not everything.
The life of your battery also depends on the power you use it at. For example, a 2000mAh battery used at 30 watts will not last as long as a 1000mAh battery used at 12 watts.
When using 18650 batteries, it’s also important to take power delivery into account. Too few amps can cause low power warnings. For example, if you prefer high wattage vaping, you’ll find the Molicel 2600mAh battery performs better than the Extreme Vape 3000mAh battery.
6. USB-C quick charging
I don’t want to have multiple types of cables. I want a single cable which will work with all my devices. USB-C cables are faster, and should be the default option for vape devices going forward.
A USB-C cable is not the only thing that matters, though. As we saw with the Geekvape Obelisk FC200, super-fast charging is achievable even with high capacity batteries. Waiting hours for your device to charge is not going to be acceptable in the future.
While we’re at it, that USB-C charging point should be on the side of the device, not on the bottom. Allowing your device to stand while it charges ensures that the coil remains saturated while the battery charges.
7. Vivid, colourful screen
A great device will also display key information on a screen which you can see both in bright light and in the dark.
I like to see:
- crisp text
- well-organised information
- good use of colour
- a bright, well-lit screen.
That makes information easy to digest even when it is in small letters.
Displays should prioritise important information (wattage, battery life, resistance) above elements that are essentially unimportant (puff count, puff length.)
8. Push-fit coils
Remember those days when you had to:
- unscrew a base
- unscrew a coil
- carefully thread a new coil
- screw both new coil in
- replace the base
Those days should be long gone.
Push-fit coil technology makes tanks faster, easier and painless to use. It should be standard across all devices.
9. Push-to-fill top fill
To fill early vape kits, you needed to:
- remove the tank
- remove the coil
- carefully fill the tank from the bottom
- replace the coil
- replace the tank.
If you got e-liquid in the centre tube, you flooded the tank and rendered it unusable.
Top fill means you don’t have to remove the tank or pod from the device, speeding the process up.
Push-to-fill also reduces the chances of leaks and makes it impossible to get e-liquid down the centre tube.
10. Tough devices
There are still tanks out there that crack easily when you drop them.
(Some of them are great in other ways, and it is worth putting a vape band around these for extra protection.)
I’ve also had vape devices that malfunction after being dropped.
Companies like Geekvape, which have pioneered waterproof, dust-proof and shock-proof devices, have shown us that vape devices don’t have to be fragile.
Glass can be toughened, or given a metal frame to strengthen them.
Some of us just want a device that can do one thing. But many of us like flexibility.
Even if you are relatively new in your vaping journey, it’s nice to have a device that can make that journey with you.
Here’s a couple of features I like to see for that flexibility.
11. Adjustable airflow
People’s preferences are different.
Some people like a restricted vape. Some like an airy vape. Some enjoy something in between. That’s why a device with adjustable airflow is superior to one without it.
12. Wide wattage range (but not extreme)
A good wattage range future proofs against a change in your vaping preferences. For most vapers, 8 – 80 watts will cover everything from MTL to RDL to DL vaping. (Do note that vapers who just MTL don’t need anything like this wattage range.)
Few vapers ever need a wattage range of more than 100 watts. For most, it just increases the chance of a burnt coil.
Likewise, I can’t ever imagine a situation where you would need a one watt power ratio, although to be fair it doesn’t do any harm.
13. Smart Mode/Intelligent wattage selection
You don’t need it for set wattage or low power devices. But for devices with a wide wattage range, Smart Mode is a very valuable tool.
Smart Mode works in different ways on different devices. Depending on the device, it may:
- select the right wattage for your coil
- define a range within which you can adjust the wattage
- simply recommend the best wattage.
The first two are more effective for error-free vaping, as it’s easy to miss recommended wattage on the screen.
Turn Smart Mode on, and you are far less likely to have a burnt out coil.
Want to push the limits? Simply turn it off.
14. A range of coil resistances (but not too many)
When different coil resistances are available, you can easily switch between different styles of vaping.
For example, you might choose to use a 1.2Ω coil for an MTL vape, or a 0.3Ω for a DL vape.
But this can be overdone. When you have 15 different coils for the same device, people just get confused. Is there really that much difference between a 0.18Ω and 02Ω mesh coil?
While we’re on coils, let’s not forget about…
15. Clear naming (which doesn’t change!)
The naming of coils and devices continues to cause confusion. Different coils with the same or similar names (sometimes identical to coils from other brands) makes it easy for people to order the wrong things.
Ideally, this issue wouldn’t be compounded by changing the name of the coil/device after the device has been released!
Bringing it all together
Few devices are perfect (although some devices might be perfect for some needs), and it’s hard to find something that ticks every box.
In particular, there are some older devices that have withstood the test of time but have not benefited from more modern features. Some users love them for specific features and are willing to forgive small usability issues. You’ll even find some of these in our Best Vape Kits roundup.
The Aspire PockeX, for example, is a great device, but the tank can crack more easily than more modern devices. (Update: That’s been fixed now with the PockeX Box.) Meanwhile, the Aspire Nautilus Mini uses old-fashioned and fiddly filling, but for many vapers the cool metal drip tips make up for that.
Having said that, here’s a small selection of devices that do tick a lot of boxes….
Eleaf iStick Power 2: Easy-to-use MTL
The Eleaf iStick Power 2 kit is a great example of a mod which has been designed for ease of use. The e-liquid is clearly visible, Smart Mode ensures ease of use and the controls are intuitive and easy to use. Using it for Mouth-to-Lung vaping? Then you’ll find the 5000mAh battery incredibly long-lasting.
One thing it does lack is top-fill, but the magnetic connection means the pod-tank is still super-easy to remove and fill.
- Easy to use
- Great option for Mouth-to-Lung vapers
- Internal 5000mAh battery for long-lasting power
- Includes 2ml Eleaf GTL Pod Tank
- Stylish design
Geekvape Obelisk 120 FC: Super-fast charging DL device
You’ll notice we mentioned fast charging. Well, the Obelisk 120 FC currently beats all other devices hands down. Despite having a respectable 3700mAh battery capacity, the device can go from zero to full charge in just 15 minutes! You can even use it as a power bank to charge up other devices such as your phone.
- Great option for Direct-Lung vapers
- 120W mod device powered by built-in dual cell 3700mAh batteries
- Includes 2ml Geekvape Zeus tank for sub-ohm vaping
- OTG Reverse Charge – use as a power bank for other devices
- Low-temperature PD extra safe charging design.
- Embedded colour screen displaying all vaping information
Geekvape Aegis Nano: Tough, easy-to-use starter kit
At the time of writing, the Geekvape Aegis Nano has not been released yet. But we’ve been putting the sample through its paces, and so far we’ve been impressed.
With a 5-30 wattage and with fixed coils, this is very much a MTL starter device. And it has just what a starter device needs – serious ease of use. That’s helped by smart mode. The Nano automatically recognises the resistance of your coil, and adjusts the output accordingly.
While a starter device, the Aegis Nano does come with airflow adjustment, which is not always included with compact starter devices. It also comes with Geekvape’s legendary toughness – it’s waterproof, dustproof and shockproof.
- Automatically adjusts wattage to suit coil
- Seriously tough
- Adjustable airflow
- Choice of 0.6 or 1.2Ω coils