Reviews can be subjective, but this is an indisputable fact: Smok is a giant of the vaping industry. Yet, throughout the years, they have continued to offer an e-pipe to a niche market that is basically ignored by most other large players. Their latest version, the Guardian 40W kit, is the focus of this review.
Retail price on the Guardian kit is expected to be $59.95USD.
Let’s get to it.
The first impression upon opening the box is that the pipe is a fusion of old and new. The cylindrical bowl is a nice matte wood grain finish with a jet black OLED screen on top. On the underside is a brushed antique brass plate with a micro USB port and three battery vent holes. It’s a clean look with a nice feel and finish.
The On/Off/Fire button is located directly above the 510 connector and comfortably accessed with your thumb. The button is also used to navigate the various setup and operation menus. Above the fire button is a tiny hole to access a reset button if necessary.
The Guardian is powered by an internal 1000mAh battery. Not a lot, but likely a design consideration to keep the Guardian compact.
Both the 510 and the included Helmet Mini tank are 19mm in diameter to assure perfect alignment. The satin black Helmet mini has a polished brass airflow control ring that gives the kit a nice look without being too blingy.
The finishing touch is a curved drip “stem” molded in gloss black plastic. The plastic seems hard but if you’re a biter it’s probably going to leave permanent scars on the stem.
With the child-proof cap on the Helmet tank (push to turn), 1.7mL capacity and no-leak design the Guardian kit meets EU TPD regulations.
Also, this sample had a couple of issues:
First, the airflow ring did not function. Airflow was fine, with a restricted lung hit, but turning the brass airflow ring did not change airflow, and I was not able to try a more restrictive MTL hit.
Second, no spare glass was included even though indicated on the box and in the manual.
Keep in mind that this is an early kit and it is not clear if these are actual defects or if the box and manual need updating — but it is something to be aware of.
Time to take the Guardian for a spin.
Press the fire button five times in rapid succession and you are greeted with the boot logo and firmware version followed by the main screen. To power off, you can use the menus or press and hold the fire button for 8 seconds then select “Off”.
Press the fire button three times quickly to enter the setup and operation menus. You can scroll through the various icons with each press of the button.
The Guardian has six sub-menus:
I won’t detail each step, but using the menus you can do everything expected: select wattage or temp control and wire type, raise and lower wattage and temperature and adjust preheat, view your vape data (puff count and limit), and turn the mod off. There is also a preheat (Strength) function that can be used in either VW or temp control mode to change the ramp time of your coil.
I filled the Helmet tank with a max VG juice and used one of the supplied coils in wattage mode at 22W with the Strength set to Norm. The kit performed very well with no dry hits and decent flavor. Remember – this ain’t a cloud machine, and that isn’t the intended use.
The pipe gave me a low battery warning much sooner than I am used to but that is the trade off to keep the pipe aesthetically pleasing. Also, the 1.7mL tank is not much more than some pod mods so expect to refill often, though it works when paired with the 1000mAh battery.
I did not have any Ni, Ti, or SS coils and could not vape the guardian in temperature control mode.
It’s different. I like it.
While it may never be an all-day-vape mod, with the small internal battery and tank, the Guardian is different and a lot of fun.
It is comfortable in the hand and operation is simple and intuitive – just enough to be functional without miring you in menus and options.
Vapor and flavor with the Helmet tank are satisfying but not epic – that’s not really the point.
Personally, I view this as a sort of novelty to enjoy when sitting around the house watching TV or having a cocktail – though some pipe aficionados may disagree.
When you consider that there are some $300 e-pipe kits out there, Smok delivers quite a value with the Guardian 40W kit.