SMOK Alien 220 W kit review | Still the best mod on the market? [Guide]

We revisit the SMOK Alien 220 W to determine if it’s still the best dual 18650 mod in 2017

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SMOK-Alien

SMOK Alien 220 W kit intro

I needed a dual battery mod. Although a bit late to the party, I said “f*ck it” and went with the Alien. (I considered the Sigelei Kaos Spectrum, but the yellow and black paint splatter edition Alien 220 W won me over.) It’s been months since my purchase, and I still use it as one of my go-to devices.

Recently we reviewed the ProColor 225 W, the latest device from SMOK. It gave me a bit of déjà vu. It’s been a year since its predecessor the Alien was released, and not much has changed. Sure, they did improve the user interface quite a bit. Plus, they added fancy LED lights to compete with mods like the Sigelei Kaos Spectrum. But in terms of performance, they’re almost too close for comfort…

Price: $59.95 from Direct Vapor (Includes the Baby Beast tank)

Note: If you already own an Alien and would like to update or restore it, scroll down to learn how…

SMOK Alien 220 W kit gallery

SMOK Alien 220 W kit specs and Features

Kit Content

  • 1 x SMOK Alien 220 Mod
  • 1 x SMOK TFV8 Baby Beast Tank
  • 1 x 0.4ohm V8 Baby-Q2 Coil Head
  • 1 x 0.15ohm V8 Baby-T8 Coil Head
  • 1 x Micro-USB Cable
  • 1 x Replacement Glass Tube
  • Instruction Manual

Specifications

  • Dimensions: 44 * 30 * 85 mm
  • Wattage range: 6 – 220 W
  • Temperature range: 200 – 600° F / 100 – 315°C
  • Voltage range: 0.35 – 8 V
  • Resistance range:
  • 3.0Ω (VW Mode)
  • 0.06 – 3.0Ω (TC Modes)
  • Compatible TC Wires: Ni200| Titanium| Stainless Steel
  • Large OLED display
  • Individual battery level display
  • Micro USB port (Charging & Upgrading)
  • Ergonomic design
  • Lateral fire trigger
  • Spring-loaded 510 Pin
  • Requires (2) 18650 Batteries (Batteries sold separately)
  • Sliding battery door
  • Firmware upgradeable

Notable remarks

Good ol’ Alien

Smok_Alien_Kit

Ah, the Alien. Ever heard of it? If you haven’t, then what planet have you been vaping on, dude? The mod made big waves in the vape scene since its landing in September of last year. Although not the first SMOK mod to utilize a lateral firing bar, the Alien was one of the first to make it a new standard.

But there’s more to this device than just the firing bar. The user interface is what landed this mod a spot in my daily rotation. Once you use it, you won’t ever want use anything else. SMOK clearly put thought into developing the user experience, which is where it shines. Let’s have a look, shall we?

Note: The kit comes with the Big Baby atomizer, so you can chuck some clouds straight off the rip.

Form factor

Smok_Alien_Kit

How did this mod become so popular overnight? A lot of it is due to its form factor. For a mod that packs two 18650s, it’s rather compact. Holding the Alien in your hand just feels right, like it was just meant to be. Although it’s sturdy, I wouldn’t want to drop it on a hard surface anytime soon.

The battery door looks like it could easily pop off if you applied enough pressure. Other than that, this mod is just a brick of pure power. The lateral firing bar works like a charm. You press it, and it fires. Every time. I haven’t had any misfire or auto-firing issues. It’s a mod that I can truly depend on.

Overall, the ergonomics were well-thought out on the SMOK Alien. For its size and weight, it’s easy to pocket and carry around. Once you become accustomed to that firing bar, you probably won’t ever go back to using those little buttons again. Solid construction with an intelligent design, for the win.

User interface

Smok_Alien_Kit

One of the best parts about the Alien is its big, bright display. The main screen shows your Watts, Ohms, Amps, Volts, Mode, Puffs and duration of each puff – laid out a clear and digestible manner. You even get real-time monitoring of your internal PCB board. What more can you possibly ask for?

Three quick clicks of the firing bar will bring you into the selection screen where you choose between Mode, Puffs, Setting and Power. Simply hard-press the fire button to access each additional menu.

Note: Navigating through each screen can be done by using the left and right adjustment buttons or by quickly tapping the fire button.

  • Mode – Allows you to toggle between Wattage, Temperature and Memory modes.
    (You can quickly access this screen by pressing the fire bar and left control button simultaneously.)
  • Wattage mode – Gives you the choice between three preheat settings. Soft, Normal and Hard.
    (Pressing the fire bar and right control button will allow you to quickly access the Preheat menu.)
  • Soft mode is perfect for breaking in a fresh coil head, or conserving power. Hard is like a turbo booster for your lower-Ohm, bigger coil builds. Normal gives you the standard wattage output.
  • Temperature control mode – First you will first be prompted to choose your coil material (Nickel, Titanium or Stainless Steel). Instead of a Preheat menu, you can dial in your maximum Watts. Once you’ve done that, an additional screen will pop up which allows you to customize your TCR.
  • Puffs – In this screen, you can see how many pulls you have taken. You also could also limit the amount of puffs, although I’m not sure why anybody would want to do that. But, it is an option.
  • Setting – The setting menu gives you the option to engage Stealth mode, or adjust how long the screen stays on. You can also turn on Auto-lock, which locks your device when it isn’t in use. Lastly, you can adjust your screen Contrast, or manually adjust the Initial Ohms, according to your atomizer.
  • Power – This last screen gives you the option of powering down the mod. Just select Off, and hold the fire button. If you want to return to the main screen, just hard-press the fire button for a second.

The design

Smok_Alien_Kit

The carbon fiber and diagonal inlays are what really give the Alien mod that signature look. It’s hard to talk about the mod without referencing its wavy design. At the time it was released, there weren’t any mods that looked quite like it. Just one year later and that’s a whole different story…

We now have mods like the Vaporesso Revenger, Wismec Predator and Sigelei Kaos Spectrum. All of which take noticeable design cues from the mod that started it all. Props to SMOK for innovation.

If you like nice, clicky buttons, then you’re gonna love the Alien. The fire bar has just the right balance between firmness and responsiveness. The left and right adjustment buttons are super clicky too. The USB port is located right at the bottom of the screen, which is the perfect location for it.

I even love the way its 6 battery venting holes look on each side of the mod, giving you 12 in total. Atomizers up to 24 mm in diameter will sit flush. You can go with an even bigger one if you don’t mind a bit of overhang. That’s what she said… (Sorry, couldn’t help myself.)

Performance

Smok_Alien_Kit

In contrast to its pocketable nature, the Alien puts out 220 Watts. That should be more than enough power for just about any vaping style. For me, 80-100 Watts does the trick when using bigger coils. I usually end up swapping out the batteries only once during the day, or twice if I’m really going HAM.

The wattage output is accurate, compared to other mods I’ve tested. The battery efficiency is decent, especially considering how bright the LED display is. Having each individual battery’s life monitored on your screen is yet another feature that has now become a standard on most dual-18650 mods.

Using the mod is simple. Just hold it in the palm of your hand, with the screen facing toward you and squeeze. If you are accustomed to having a fire button, you can press down with your finger on the top part of the firing bar. The higher up on the bar you go, the less pressure it takes to fire it up.

3, 2, 1… Charge!

Smok_Alien_Kit

When possible, it’s always ideal to use an external charger for your cells. However, as a backup, the Alien does a fine job at charging your batteries evenly and efficiently. I’ve never experienced any issues using the onboard charging system. If you look closely you’ll notice that the battery door has an additional contact, which promotes balanced charging. It’s about time they’ve come up with that.

From the dead

Smok_Alien_Kit

Despite its massive popularity and cult-following, there have been some unsatisfied Alien owners. The most common concern was the paint falling right off, especially on the first-generation of Aliens. Although SMOK did address this, many people including myself still experienced chipping issues.

I haven’t dropped it (yet), but just from placing it down on my desk, the wear and tear is evident. Some people have reported that their screen stopped working, which makes the mod useless, since you have no idea what setting you’re on. Others have experienced the entire mod die on them. If this is you, keep on reading. There might be a chance to revive that old paperweight, believe it or not…

Update or nah?

Smok_Alien_Kit

If you’re happy with the performance of your device, there’s no real need to update the firmware. Especially if you’re not using it in temp control mode, since that’s the main purpose of upgrading. If you’re not happy with the new firmware, you can always roll back to the previous version anytime.

One of the most notable improvements is that the Alien will now prompt you for a new coil, when it detects one. However, be aware that sometimes it won’t always catch your new resistance, if you slip on an atomizer when it’s not active. You’ll have to unscrew it, hit the fire button, and try again. That’s the most annoying part about using this device. Just be careful when switching atomizers.

Warning: If by some chance you’ve already updated your Alien with the wrong firmware and “bricked” your mod, it may still be possible to restore it. Follow these instructions below and your mod should be back in a jiffy.

How to update your SMOK Alien | A quick and dirty guide

There are a bunch of great videos on YouTube that will show you how to do it. The best ones are over an hour long. They even have a guide on SMOK’s official website, but it isn’t laid out so well. If you’re like me, you probably ain’t got time for all that, so here’s the quick and dirty way.

Note: According to SMOK, you should hold the fire button the entire time during the update, but I have done it over three times without doing so. No problemo. Leave a comment if it worked for you.

Note: This will only work on a Windows PC. If you own a Mac, you will unfortunately need to do your upgrade on another computer.

  1. The first thing you’ll need to determine is whether your Alien is a Version A or a Version B. This will be displayed when you turn the mod on or off. If it says V1.x.x, then it’s Version A. If it says VB1.x.x, then you’ll need the firmware update for Version B.
  2. Now, you’ll need to download the appropriate version. Since it’s a compressed file, you must extract the files into a folder. Double-click on the file and choose the folder where you want the files to go. Select Desktop, so you don’t have to go searching for them afterwards.
  1. Run the executable file called “NuMicro ISP Programming Tool”.
  2. Remove your batteries from the Alien. Attach the mod to your computer using the Micro USB data-transfer cable, preferably the same one that came with your device.
  3. Once the device is connected, click on the Connect button in the upper right-hand side of the software. It should now say Connected in green.
  1. Make sure it says 00013000 in the box labeled Config 1: 0x. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to download the software again and re-install it, according to SMOK. Don’t give up, try again!
Smok-alien-updating-program-2
  1. On the bottom, just above the status bar, select Erase All under the Program menu. Click Start. This will completely delete the previous firmware version on your mod. When it’s complete, you will see the word PASS in green letters at the bottom of the window.
Smok-alien-updating-program-3
  1. Click on the APROM button under Load file. Make sure the folder where you extracted the software is selected. Click on Bin Files (*.bin) in the lower right-hand side, and choose Intel Hex Files (*.hex) from the drop-down menu. Click on the hex file and select Open.
  2. Under the Program menu, just above the status bar, select APROM and hit the Start button.
  3. If it says PASS in green, then you’re good to go! Enjoy your updated Alien.

Caution: After updating the firmware, your Alien will be automatically set to 220 Watts. Be sure to adjust the wattage back down before having a vape, so you don’t accidentally burn your coil out.

Likes

  • Comfortable to hold
  • Compact for a dual-18650 mod
  • 220 Watts of power
  • Balanced charging
  • Intuitive user interface
  • Ergonomic firing bar
  • Available in a wide range of colors
  • Firmware upgradeable
  • Well-constructed

Dislikes

  • Doesn’t always detect a new atomizer right away
  • Battery door can snap off under pressure
  • Finish will start to chip away over time

Verdict

There is not much left to say about the Alien. Very rarely do we decide to review a product that was released a year ago, let alone a few months. (Not to mention we already reviewed it back then.) In vape years, 365 days can feel like an eternity. However, in this case, it made perfect sense to do.

Here we are, one year later. The SMOK Alien is still going strong. Is it still the best mod on the market? I’m not going to give you a straight yes or no answer. It’s just not that simple. However, I will say that it is still one of the best dual-18650 mods available on the market right now, especially for the price.

I’m not going to even compare it to three, four or five-battery mods, because that would be unfair. To make a long story short, if you’re new to vaping, or even if you’ve been vaping a while, you really can’t go wrong with an Alien. I don’t get to say this often, but I personally bought one with my own money from a local shop in Brooklyn (7onevape) and I’m still thoroughly satisfied with my purchase.

Dave Kriegel

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Dave has always had a passion for helping people quit smoking. As a former smoker himself, he knew how hard it could be. As soon as he learned about vaping, he instantly became obsessed with it and helped many people stop smoking. Vaping360 has given Dave a platform to do this on a much larger scale, by educating the public about the wonders of vaping. When Dave is not writing he is either listening to music, performing it, or cruising around on his Penny board.

  • Jason

    Anyone found yet the safety protections?

    • Tony Glock

      It probably does not have reverse battery protection…my H-Priv does not have it!

  • Bill Herbst

    I’ve discovered through reading and confirmed through experience that the early firmware versions of the Alien mod do indeed misfire sporadically (meaning that you press the firing bar and nothing happens; then you have to wait a second and press the bar again — very aggravating). My test unit came with firmware v1.1.3 and misfires frequently.

    SMOK has corrected the problem in recent firmware updates that are available on the SMOK web site. Since the updates can be installed only through Windows, however, Mac users (which include me) are out in the cold. Perhaps the percentage of vapers who use Macs is small, but our exclusion does mar an otherwise nice mod.

    • Glen Travis Hopkinson

      Take it to the local library most have computers you can use, might be able to update that way, or find a friend who still uses windows, we are out there. i might have a newer one just bought it , so far loving it, well other than the spitting but that was my fault with juice control.

  • Ron

    Just got mine today and I’m loving it. I’ve been using it all day with a tfv8 (not baby) and the time to ramp up compared to my old minos r150 is amazing. I haven’t updated the firmware yet, but I’ve only had one misfire all day.

    It’s a bit heavy, but I wouldn’t consider that a con… it’s like saying a con for a rolls royce is the weight.. it’s just part of the style of the mod. I’d be worried if it was super light.

    Having a firm button is a pro, not a con. I don’t want a loose button that feels cheap or can be pressed by accident. It’s not like it takes a body builder to press it…

    This could be the best regulated mod on the market, and when you consider the price, it can’t be beat.

    • kris murray

      what watts do you rn it at

  • Gustavo Felisberto

    Couple of questions:
    1-Does it charge the batteries via USB or does one need external charger?
    2-Saw your comment on updating only from windows. Did you try the OTA update with Bluetooth?

    • Helmuth

      Yes it does charge via USB, But I rather to use an external charger its only $18, so iI can charge a couple of extra batteries I have

    • Ian

      I’ve heard it’s best to get an external charger for this mod because it isnt really designed to charge the batteries evenly. So you may over charge one battery while the other is still charging.

      • Bigbob Misterbarker

        The mod does balanced battery charging, so it actually is designed to charge both batteries properly.

  • Rami

    I bought one within 2 weeks the firing button quit out on me.. waste of money. First time purchasing a smok product and probably my last.

  • Patrick

    Where did you get the “bluetooth” thing from, I have this mod and it does not have bluetooth.

    • swampdrainer65

      Same here! I keep hearing that the Alien, Marshal G320 and the GX350 have this bluetooth connectivity for updatng through the Smart BEC app. I have bought or used all three of those mods and none of them have bluetooth! There is a setting in the menu for these devices called “Download” but it does nothing that I can see. Very weird.

  • Holmezy Holmes

    Need help,

    Had my Smok Alien less than a month, charged up my genuine efest 3000mah batteries in the mod as normal, then the mod was just lifeless and killed my 2 batteries, now my laptop acknowledges that the mod is connected but still no display or power to the mod whatsoever, dont know whats happened.

    Confused

  • Mike Lyno

    I like this mod but as mentioned the power bar/button is stiff with a really short throw. Biggest thing I don’t like is the screen dimming after 10 seconds. Irritates me, I hope they release a firmware to eliminate that dimming.

  • David Goddard

    Been in use for 3 weeks now and the paint has come off in large patches all over the device, had to resort to putting a wrap on it to make it presentable. Very dissapointed in the paint job on it, in case you think that it may be the way in whihc I have treated the device; I am the sort of person that keeps the protective film that comes with a mobile phone on the screen for the first 12 months. All of my other mods of various ages look ‘like new’ yet I can rub the paint off this with my thumb rubbing it. Such a shame I boutght the device because it ‘looked nice’ not that it had any special features.

  • tkm

    I just bought my smoke alien 3 days ago. Last night it kept shutting off on me. I work night shift (iron worker) so it gets cold on December. The board temperature never went above 16 or 19 degrees Celsius. I don’t know if hat is an issue when it gets too cold it shuts off. If that is the case then this thing is not for outdoor work at night in the winter. Any help is appreciated.

  • Stephen

    Lovely vape but crap finish paint flakes off after 10 yay she of use I’m not the only one two other people I know have the same problem after 10 days look real tatty will I by SMOK again big question . I was looking forward to getting this mod deal let down and cheated

  • David B. Foster

    I received my Smok Alien kit on September 15th 2016. I’ve never liked the TFV tanks and I thought this mini would work better than the first one. The problem I have is the tank can’t keep up with my vaping and will give my hits that are in the dry side, not sure what I’m doing wrong because I don’t read much about anyone having trouble with it running dry. So much for the tank.
    I really love this mod, I’ve been using it with a Uwell D1 sub ohm tank with 0.25 ohm coils. I’ve had no problems with the paint common off and every time I push the button it fires without any worries. This has a great screen with all the information you need from a mod with temp control. I think that Smok may have changed the paint or something to keep it from flaking off.

  • Kinani

    hey i have just purchesd this MOD and i need to know does it come with batteries or do i need to buy my own?

    • Rikard Jerner

      you need to buy your own

  • VenomvapesAlien220w

    Let me start by saying alot of you make some good points. My personal experience with SMOK products has been nothing short of incredible. I own quite a few box mods (not all smok) and i have to say this alien mod is by far my favorite. Took forever for shipping. i’m currently using the big beast (TFV8) Love the combination. However i see people mentioning a Bluetooth feature, i have not successfully connected that way. Can someone advise me as to how to do this? But all in all a great machine. Hope everyone else enjoys this mod as much as i do.

    • Tony Glock

      The Alien does not have Bluetooth!