SMOK: an overview
SMOK (also known as Smoktech) is the flagship brand of Shenzhen IVPS Technology Corporation Ltd. (called IVPS for short). One of the oldest and most progressive companies in vaping, SMOK has a reputation for pushing the envelope. While many current vapers are familiar with its popular TFV4 sub-ohm tank, it has been broadening vaping’s horizons well before that product’s release. From being one of the first companies to use dual coils, implementing Bluetooth technology into vaping devices, and raising the bar for cloud production in sub-ohm tanks, SMOK has been a trailblazer.
Brief history of SMOK
SMOK was established in 2010 as IVPS’ leading brand. It is located in Shenzhen’s Nanshan district, the global manufacturing center of vaping. The company handles research and development, as well as manufacturing.
The first splash the company made in the vaping world was in 2011, when it released the industry’s first dual-coil cartomizer. At the time, using dual coils was considered bold and uncommon. Through these popular cartomizers, vapers were able to experience a whole new level of flavor and vapor.
2012 wasn’t quite as memorable a year for the company in terms of product, but it solidified SMOK’s reputation for pushing the envelope. The SMOK Telescope had a novel system that allowed it to use different batteries from 18350 to 18490/18500 to 18650. The company holds a patent for this unique design. The VMax and ZMax mods were the company’s foray into the “new” world of variable-voltage vaping. Like products from the majority of its Chinese contemporaries at the time, Smoktech’s 2012 lineup performed reasonably well, but was aesthetically unpleasing.
In 2013, the company pushed its new “cotton-less” technology in the Pyrex Aro and Tumbler tanks. These tanks used an atypical bottom-coil design to help avoid dry hits. Inspired by one of the most influential vaping devices of all time, the eGo Winder was SMOK’s take on what many consider the original enthusiast e-cigarette. Lastly, the Magneto was an updated version of the Telescope that featured a much better looking design and a unique magnetic firing switch.
As variable-wattage became the norm, SMOK answered with a bevy of variable-wattage products. The Rocket, Shuttle, and Silenus were variable-wattage mods that were easy to use. The most interesting product in SMOK’s 2014 lineup was the BEC Pro. This was the company’s first vaping device to feature Bluetooth connectivity, a forward-thinking feature that would be seen in future SMOK products.
2015 was a tremendous year for Smoktech. While the company always did well with the mainstream market, this was the first year that the company released products designed to satisfy hardcore vapers. The TFV4 redefined vapor expectations for a sub-ohm tank. It was the first tank that allowed the same kind of vapor that, until then, could only be achieved on a mechanical mod with an atomizer running super-low builds. It was a groundbreaking product that changed the perception and expectations of sub-ohm tanks. On the mod side, its X Cube series combined high-powered variable-wattage vaping with novel Bluetooth functionality. 2015 was a banner year for SMOK in the eyes of enthusiast vapers.
The company’s success has continued in 2016. It entered the rebuildable space with the TF-RTA. On the box mod side, the H-Priv offers vapers power and versatility at an affordable price. The company’s new Alien starter kit has been one of this year’s most popular devices. Naturally, SMOK’s flagship product of the year is the TFV8, the followup to the TFV4. Once again, SMOK has upped the ante on vapor performance in a sub-ohm tank.
Reputation of SMOK products
Over the years, SMOK has established a track record of offering reasonable quality at low prices. Beyond that, it has also started some noteworthy trends. Dual-coil cartomizers showed a different level of flavor and vapor in that product category. Bluetooth connectivity, while still in its nascent stages for vaping, has all kinds of potential. The TFV4 introduced a whole new level of vapor production for sub-ohm tanks.
When you ask many enthusiast vapers about SMOK, the first thing they think of is big clouds. This is thanks to the TFV4. Prior to this, vapor production was almost exclusively the domain of rebuildable dripping atomizers (RDAs). That the company was able to make its sub-ohm tanks synonymous with cloud chasing is a truly noteworthy accomplishment.
The company’s mods have often been experimental. For many vapers, SMOK devices had many firsts. From telescoping tube mods to wood box mods to box mods that can be controlled via Bluetooth, it has broadened the horizons of vaping devices. Its research & development team has created several twists that have influenced the entire vaping scene. While many of its competitors have tried to imitate its designs and technology, vapers were first able to enjoy them on Smoktech devices.
SMOK's impact on the industry
SMOK has been one of the most progressive Chinese vaping companies in the industry. It has put a lot of work into developing original products. This hasn’t always been the case with Chinese vaping companies, but is the norm now. Back when Smoktech had mechanical tube mods like the Telescope and Magneto, many of its competitors were satisfied cloning existing designs (see Sigelei, for example). SMOK showed the value of developing original products and has worked hard to establish one of the best reputations for any vaping company, not just Chinese ones.
It has also shown the value of experimentation. While most of the enthusiast vaping world was hooked on Boge single-coil cartomizers, SMOK’s dual-coil cartomizers proved to be groundbreaking. While it’s common for consumers to use Bluetooth connectivity on their phones to control all sorts of consumer electronics, Smoktech was one of the first companies that allowed the communications protocol to be used with a vaping device.
Its biggest impact on the modern vaping industry was made, of course, with the TFV4. It set a new standard for sub-ohm tanks in terms of vapor production. It also started the trend of offering multiple types of coils for a tank. There are more than a dozen TFV4 coils available, including multiple rebuildable (RBA) options. The coils range from simple dual-coil setups to stainless steel for temperature control to beastly octuple-Clapton coils. While it was common for manufacturers to offer two coil options, SMOK introduced a new level of diversity with its TFV4 coil heads. This trend continues in 2016 with the TFV8 coil heads.
SMOK dual coil cartomizer
This was the product that showed that SMOK was a maverick company. While two or more coils are quite common among enthusiast vapers today, back in 2011 many people never even imagined using more than one. These cartomizers offered a very different experience compared to the single-coil cartomizers that ruled the day. The flavor intensity and vapor production were unheard of for a cartomizers.
SMOK X Cube II
This box mod brought a lot to the table — 160 watt performance, temperature control, variable wattage, and Bluetooth connectivity. Unlike its earliest mods, the X Cube II looked great too. The handsome box mod also featured a unique “grip” firing button that many vapers found comfortable. While many of its competitors can compete with this mod’s specs, none can touch its Bluetooth controls. It’s an interesting feature that will certainly become more robust and prevalent in the future. SMOK was the first company to attempt it at a mass-market level and do it well. While the X Cube II was one of SMOK’s first products to implement Bluetooth in a way that made sense, the line has gotten even better with the X Cube Ultra.
This sub-ohm tank has been tremendously influential. Prior to its release, sub-ohm tanks sometimes offered great flavor and sometimes offered good, but not great, vapor production. That changed with the TFV4. This was the first tank to offer cloud production that was on par with what an RDA could achieve. The TFV4’s influence on modern sub-ohm tanks can’t be overstated.
Then there are the coils. From dual-coil to octuple-coil, titanium to stainless steel, and single-coil RBA to quad-coil RBA, the coil diversity of the TFV4 is unparalleled. The ridiculous amount of coils allows vapers to experience one tank in many different ways. Similar to how it influenced the entire vaping business to move towards cloud-chasing tanks, SMOK has influenced many of its competitors to offer a broad range of coil types. The groundbreaking work that went into the TFV4 has been succeeded by the TFV8.
SMOK has been one of the vaping businesses true pioneers. With several innovative devices in its catalog, the company has a long and well-earned reputation as one of the vaping industry’s true trailblazers. While many of its competitors copied, it made original products. While many were content to follow trends, it established them. SMOK is responsible for some of the best vaping products available and for pushing the entire industry forward.