Pod Vapes vs Vape Pens: Which Is Right for You?
For new vapers, or those less familiar with the ins and outs of vape devices, we know it’s not always easy to tell which type of device is going to work for you.
In this blog article, we’ll explore the differences between pod vapes and vape pens. We’ll take you through what each style of vape does, how it works and what you can expect. You’ll see some of the key factors to consider when deciding which type of vape is suitable for your lifestyle, and find links to other helpful articles on the subject. Here, you’ll also find some of the most popular pen, pod vapes and products around to get you started.
Vape Pen vs Pod Vape: How They Work
Firstly, the basics: how do vape pens and pod vapes work, and why do you need to know? There are a few key differences to be aware of between these two types of vapes. By learning about their characteristics, you may find you lean more towards one over the other. While both vape pens and pod vapes offer enough in the way of performance and features that will suit most vapers, we’ll take you through each device type so you can get a feel for whether either style might suit your needs.
What Is a Vape Pen?
Vape pens typically look similar to a pen - hence their name. You’ll find these vapes often come in a cylindrical, sleek-looking style or design. The look of a vape pen and the way it feels in the hand might offer a sense of familiarity for those who are making the switch from smoking. They’re so easy to use, which makes them ideal for those new to vaping. They can also suit any vaper fed up with repeatedly buying disposables. Below, you’ll find some additional details about vape pens.
Some vape pens have adjustable controls. By adjusting the airflow, power settings and even the coil resistance, it’s possible to gain greater control over the way you vape, and influence the experience to suit your preferences. Always check the guidance included with your device to make sure you’re using it as the manufacturer intends.
Some vape pens automatically recognise the coils within and set the temperature accordingly - this is useful if you’re looking for a straightforward vaping experience, and want to avoid dealing with coil wattages.
They’re a convenient option. Even if you find a vape pen isn’t your go-to daily vape of choice, they can work really well as a backup for vapers who prefer to use another main vape. This is because they’re straightforward to use and typically light - a vape pen slips into your pocket easily. These vapes are a great option for those days when you don’t want to carry a heavier device around in your pocket.
Generally, refillable, rechargeable vape pens will have a larger battery than a disposable vape and come with a tank, a mouthpiece, and a push button.
Inside the tank or pod is where the vape juice sits. One of the great things about a refillable vape pen is that you aren’t limited to one flavour of e-liquid - the vape juice world is your oyster. Try and test different flavours depending on your preference. If you like the idea of experimenting with flavour variety, switch them for a different flavour regularly. The size of the tank, and therefore how much vape juice it can hold, will vary from device to device and from brand to brand. In the UK, the maximum tank capacity is 2 ml.
Inside refillable devices is the vape coil. This clever piece of technology is a small heating element called a coil that heats the e-liquid to a controlled temperature. By drawing the e-liquid through the cotton wick, the coil heats the liquid - turning it into vapour. As with most components, over time, the hardworking coil will need to be replaced. Look for the telltale sign of a loss of flavour. This is an indication that your coil is wearing out and should be replaced. The push button - located on the side, front or back of the device - activates the coil when pressed, and ‘fires up’ the device so that you can begin vaping.
The mouthpiece - which you put your lips and draw the vapour from - is an ergonomically designed part of the vape. Whatever the shape of the mouthpiece, they are all designed to be comfortable. We’ll explore batteries, vape liquids, how to refill a tank, and provide an explanation about charging refillable vape pens later on in this article.
At Vaping.com, we take vaping seriously, and our team tests hundreds of devices from the brands we stock. If you want to know which vape pen is the most versatile, or which is the best disposable vape pen, you’ll find a rundown of the most recent best vape pens (2023) on our blog. We also have the latest starter vape pens and vape kits on our website to choose from.
For a deep dive into the most common starter devices out there, explore our Guide to Different Types of Vape Pen. You’ll not only see how each type of vape works in detail, we also provide a snapshot of what to expect, including the pros and cons of each one.
What Is a Vape Pod?
The first thing to know about pod vapes is that they come in two or three main types.
A pre-filled style, pod system and pod mod. What differentiates the last two from one another is that a pod mod is somewhere between a pod system and a box mod kit, only smaller in form with a pod instead of a tank. They are more powerful and complex than a pod system, and often have the versatility of being suitable for all types of liquids with compatible coil options.
The pods are replaced once the e-liquid within runs out. The second type is what’s known as a refillable pod mod. These vapes have a pod that holds the vape juice, and must be refilled or topped up regularly. Also referred to as pod systems, these vapes can work for any adult switching from smoking to vaping, whether you’ve just made the switch or are now an experienced vaper. That’s because pod mods are considered versatile products - easy to maintain but with the ability to be used for both MTL and DTL vaping.
Typically small in size, pod vapes come in a range of shapes - from long and slim to the more commonly square design. Refillable 2 ml pod cartridges are compatible with any type of e-liquid (just choose the right resistance). Here are some more insights into what to expect from a pod vape.
They are often square in design. The click-in pods are easily inserted into the top of the device. This constitutes what’s known as the ‘mod pod’ element of the design.
A range of vaping experiences. Some vapers find that pod systems work for them as these devices provide a smooth restricted draw with higher nicotine salt and 50/50 e-liquid blends. There are also sub-ohm pod options available for those vapers who prefer the contrast of a lighter draw that comes with lower nicotine strengths.
Versatility and customisable options. From coils that work with above-ohm higher-strength nicotine liquids to those that are suitable for sub-ohm lower-strength nicotine vape juices, pod vapes offer the ability to taper the amount of nicotine. This is great if you’re looking for a product that allows you to reduce the amount of nicotine you’re using over time. Some systems have cartridges that are refillable and come with a built-in coil. These are convenient because the whole pod can simply and quickly be changed out once the coil has worn out.
At vaping.com, you’ll find our vape starter kits come with refillable pods and extra coils. If you’re just starting your smoke-free journey, pod vapes can deliver a satisfactory experience while providing familiarity. Why not explore our guide to the best pod vapes? We’ve got hundreds of pod system starter kits available in our online shop. Explore top brands and view some of the highest-rated products around.
With both vape pens and pod vapes, some of the more advanced devices can offer two types of vaping experiences.
- Sub-ohm - Coils from 0.8 Ohms or below offer what’s known as Direct to Lung (DTL) vaping. with lower nicotine levels, sub-ohm vaping allows for bigger cloud production.
- Above-ohm - otherwise known as plus-ohm, this is where nicotine salt vape liquids with higher nicotine levels provide a smooth experience with less vapour production. Coils above 0.8 Ohm are often popular with heavy smokers, as the Mouth to Lung (or MTL) experience more closely resembles the experience of smoking, and the familiarity can be useful for users just transitioning to vaping.
Before exploring the huge variety of e-liquids out there, it’s useful to know that in the UK, when it comes to vape pens and pod systems, the maximum capacity of e-liquid is up to 2 ml. As a general rule, smaller devices may have a smaller vape juice capacity. If you want to refill your device as little as possible, look for a device with a larger capacity. It’s worth knowing there are vape juices available with nicotine salts. These are available for some vape pen devices, and these nic salts - which provide higher concentrations of nicotine - can actually offset those smaller tank capacities.
When refilling your device, no matter which type of device you opt for, tanks and pods should be correctly filled to the limit as per the manufacturer's guidance. By filling your vape with the right amount of liquid, you’ll also prevent the coil from drying out. When a coil dries out, this can cause it to burn out. Overfilling is another issue, and it’s one that can cause vapes to leak. A leaking vape isn’t pleasant at the best of times, and is especially annoying if you’re carrying yours around in your pocket or a bag. Here’s some guidance on how to refill your device correctly that should help you avoid this issue.
How to Refill a Vape Pen
How you refill your vape pen will depend on what type you have, but generally, it’s a fast job to refill it.
- Designs usually allow for ‘top filling’ via a rubber stopper, or the top section can be removed to uncover the port beneath it, where the vape juice topped up.
- Fill it up to the recommended level.
- Clean away any excess liquid before you begin vaping.
How to Refill a Vape Pod
In vape pod systems, the pod will typically need to be removed from the rest of the device before you can refill it.
The location of the slots depends on the brand and type of device. Many vape pod devices come with cartridges that can simply be replaced once the vape juice runs out - another convenient factor that could work well for those new to vaping. Accordingly, either remove the stopper or the pod and refill it, or, if yours is a capsule vape pod, switch your old pod out for a new one and you’re ready to go.
From checking coils to cleaning the tank, our handy guide has troubleshooting tips and guidance about the common and frustrating problem of vape leaks. Learn about why your device is leaking by following the link.
Battery Life and Charging
Both vape pens and vape pods have built-in batteries. In most vape pens, the battery is the largest component. As a general rule of thumb, the smaller the device, the smaller the battery. A larger capacity battery that’ll last all day is probably going to be important if you have an on-the-go lifestyle. If you don’t have the ability to regularly recharge your device, choosing a vape that has a longer battery life is a good idea.
There are safety aspects to consider, too. Every vape pen you’ll buy on Vaping.com comes with a compatible USB cable to charge it. Simply plug into the device and connect it to a compatible USB port. Only ever use the cable provided to charge your device, and don’t leave a device to charge overnight.
Charging a Vape Pen
Charging your vape pen is straightforward. In your kit, you’ll find a compatible USB charger. Plug in your device using the cable - the USB end goes into the power source while the USB-C goes to your vape. Some vape pens have a light that indicates it’s fully charged and ready to go.
Charging a Pod Vape
A kit will come with everything you need to recharge your vape whenever needed, including the USB cable. As many vape pods have internal batteries, they can be recharged time and time again for the duration of their lifetime, making them a better buy than repeat purchasing of disposables.
Vape pods usually have batteries that work efficiently and are generally smaller than you would find in other (more powerful) mod kits. When charging your vape pod, some pod systems will often have an LED light indicator that lets you know when it needs charging. The light might even change colour to alert you!
E-Liquid Flavour Options
While there are plenty of flavour options available from a wide range of brands, the key thing to know about all those flavour choices is the amount of nicotine. As we’ve discussed, different nicotine levels allow for different vaping experiences, so it’s important to select one that is going to suit your preferences, and meet your expectations. Just make sure you are selecting a vape juice that’s compatible with the device you’re using. At Vaping.com, you’ll also find recommendations for vape juices alongside device listings.
- We stock different size bottles. Shortfill bottles in 60 ml sizes allow vapers to adjust their nicotine levels by topping up with 10 ml nicotine shots. These kinds of sub-ohm liquids are ideal for some vape pens.
- Small vape pods allow for above-ohm nic salts that have a higher nicotine value. Find 50/50 PG and VG liquids in a range of 10-20 mg strengths in 10 ml bottles.
- Our range of pre-mixed 10 ml vape liquids have a specified amount of nicotine included, and range from strengths of 3 mg up to 12 mg.
- An abundance of flavours are available - find vape juices to suit your taste.
- Discover which flavours are the most popular vape flavours in 2023.
Customisation isn’t usually a starting point for new vapers, but something that many learn about once they become familiar with different products and their functionalities. When we talk about customisation, we mean the ability to adjust factors like airflow - to tune the temperature and flavour. This can enhance the vaping experience, and provide even more personalised enjoyment.
The Go S Pen Kit from Innokin is a slimline vape pen that has an adjustable airflow control at the bottom, so you can tune your vape to your specific MTL preference.
The Aspire PockeX is an all-in-one vape pen that features an innovative top-fill design. With no plus or minus buttons, you won’t need to worry about adjusting your wattage settings. This is a really easy-to-use device that will suit new and experienced vapers alike.
Power settings on some devices can also be adjusted to make them compatible with different types of coils. Pod vapes are highly versatile. As you start to explore the category, you’ll find endless combinations of pods and coils.
The Doric 60 Pod Kit from VooPoo is a great starter for anyone new to sub-ohm vaping. This PnP pod kit comes with two corresponding coils that allows for DTL vaping and those large vapour clouds. The Doric 60 Pod Kit has alternative options available for MTL coils. This device is really easy to use, and has the ability to automatically switch to the right wattage, depending on which coil you’re using. This means you don’t need to learn about wattages, and won’t have to fiddle around with complex settings.
The Aspire Favostix Pod Kit is a great kit that allows users to switch between MTL and DTL vaping, which means it works for the majority of vapers. The variable wattage setting offers complete control of the flavour and cloud production. Its long-lasting battery makes it ideal for use when out and about.
As the world’s best-selling vape brand, SMOK is a great brand to know. From pens to pod systems, SMOK is renowned for developing innovative products. That’s why we’ve featured them in our best vape brands guide, where you can find out more about the brands we stock and what they have to offer.
With a customisable device comes the need for a little maintenance. This isn’t a bad thing, but it does mean you will need to keep an eye on your device, and make sure that you are taking care of it to preserve its longevity. It’s always worth spending a bit of time looking after your vape to keep it in good condition.
As with most devices, components will need to be replaced from time to time. Vape pens have components inside them that wear through over time. The coils - and other replacement parts - usually require some maintenance and cleaning to keep them working as they should until eventually, they will need replacing. Pod vapes can work well for first-time vapers, or for those transitioning from disposable vapes. Some models have pods with integrated coils, which means you can just pop in a new pod without the need for cleaning.
Which Type of Vape is Right For Me?
Overall, both types of devices are convenient and fairly straightforward to use. Both vape pens and pod vape options are generally better for your wallet over time. By this we mean it’s more likely to cost you less money than if you were to repeatedly buy disposable vapes.
- Easy to use, refillable and rechargeable - vape pens come with replacement parts and are better value for money than disposables.
- Plenty of device styles and designs.
- Lots of flavour and nicotine options to choose from.
- Great for beginners who are ready to move to a reusable and permanent style of vape.
- A good backup device for those on the go.
- Can allow for nicotine tapering - some vapers choose to start with a higher-strength nicotine juice and reduce their intake over time.
- Not a huge amount of customisable options.
- Small devices - refillable and rechargeable. Highly versatile and good value for money.
- Great for beginners - changeable pods easily snap in making this device ready to go in seconds.
- Options for a variety of compatible vape juices that are low or high nicotine strength.
- A wide variety of compatible coils and pods are available.
If you want to explore some of the latest vape pens, pods and starter kits, you’ll find some of the top vape pens available on Vaping.com. Some of the products you’ll see on our site even come with reviews from users just like you, so you’ll see whether they live up to their claims, and how they stack up against each other. Scroll to the bottom to read our in-depth blog article at the bottom of the page for a deeper dive into vape pens.