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