Our Smok A-Priv review puts another affordable dual-battery vape mod from Smok to the test: does it offer more than the many similar devices on the market, or is it only worth considering if you’re on a tight budget?
Is it worth picking up?
Everything on the A-Priv is honestly pretty good. It performs well, the design is kind of cool and the feature-set is fairly standard but still covers everything you need. However, there is a criticism that it’s kind of easy to overlook: it’s a very stereotypical Smok mod.
Ignore the LED lights and the fairly unique design and you have a copy-paste device that doesn’t really do anything to stand out from the competition. It does everything basically every mod does, and coupled with the familiar home screen and menu system, it’s basically the same as many other Smok devices in particular – it’s like a better-designed D-Barrel.
This isn’t necessarily a problem, but if you’re looking to get another device and you already have a dual-battery mod, it’s a little difficult to come up with a reason to get this rather than something else. But there is one good reason: it’s really affordable at just under $30.
If you’re looking for your first high-end device, that alone is reason enough to consider it. Otherwise, it’s good but by no means great.
Every vaper has an opinion on Smok. Some take issue with their approach and some less-than-ideal devices in their extensive line-up, but it’s hard to deny that their devices have had a huge impact on the vaping industry. While you can quibble about the quality of what they have to offer, the prices are always low and (in our experience at least) most of the mods do what they should to a pretty good standard. The A-Priv is a perfect example of this: it’s a dual-battery device, offering 225 W of power, temperature control and boasting a very unique look, all for just $29.99. But is it really good, or is it just another copy-paste mod cranked out to earn the company some money while offering nothing unique to vapers? Is there any reason to actually pick it up? Our Smok A-Priv review aims to find out.
What You Get
The A-Priv comes in a standard Smok package, with an outer sleeve bearing a picture and some basic information, surrounding a box with your device, the instruction manual and a USB charging cable. It’s a pretty basic offering, but that’s not too surprising for the extremely low price.
Smok A-Priv Review – The Design
The A-Priv has a pretty unique look thanks to the design of the body. The zinc alloy chassis has a series of ridges at the back, patterning on the large faces and a black firing bar on the front, with holes all across the device revealing a white layer on the interior that lights up when you press the fire button. The mod is available in a range of colors, including pink, red, black, green, chrome (like mine), gunmetal, purple and more, with most having a black firing bar but some having white or a rainbow effect. The display screen is on the upper face of the device, right beside the 510 connection for the tank.
It might be a little too much for some people visually – there are definitely less in-your-face mods – but overall it does a good job in terms of looks.
The top-mounted display screen is pretty standard in terms of layout for Smok, with two battery life indicators in the top right, your main setting showed in the top left and the resistance of your coil and the operating voltage below it. There’s also a puff timer running along the very bottom of the screen. Overall it doesn’t do much special but it gets the job done and displays all the information you need clearly.
The A-Priv has a hinged battery door, with a small catch for opening and closing it. The polarity for the batteries is clearly shown on the interior of the door and you can also see symbols inside the main tube, and there are gold-plated contacts to ensure good conductivity. It clicks back into place automatically when you push it closed and stays secure.
Firing Bar and Adjustment Buttons
The A-Priv uses a firing bar rather than a button, which sits in front of the tank on the thinner edge of the device. I’m a big fan of firing bars, they make mods so much more comfortable to use, and when they’re well-designed they’re solid enough to avoid accidental activation. The A-Priv’s firing bar definitely falls into this category, and it lets out a click when you push it down so you know it’s activated.
The adjustment buttons are on the opposite edge, and it’s a single, rocker-style control where the right side increases your setting and the left decreases it. It’s quite thin, but the two sides protrude from the body of the mod so it’s easy to push them down as needed. Overall, both of these elements work really well.
The gaps in the body of the A-Priv reveal the white, LED layer on the inside of the mod. This struck me as kind of weird at first, but it does add some visual flair to the already interesting looking device. The menu system lets you choose your color (or colors) too, and there are multiple different modes that determine how exactly the lights respond and when. Of course, this doesn’t add anything to the device in terms of vaping, but it’s a pretty cool design feature regardless.
The A-Priv does a good job when it comes to design, overall. It takes chances, though, so it might not be to everyone’s tastes.
Smok A-Priv Review – The Features
Variable Wattage Up to 225 W
Like pretty much any mod on the market these days, the A-Priv offers variable wattage (VW) vaping, but the dual batteries allow it to push the power to an impressive 225 W. You make adjustments to the wattage in 0.1 W increments, but if you hold the button down it jumps right to 1 W increments, which is much more convenient for big changes and just in general. Like with many Smok devices, you also have the option to boost or reduce the wattage at the beginning of your draw with the hit strength feature, with “soft” giving you a gentle lead-in and “hard” boosting the wattage at first.
Temperature Control Mode
The TC mode on the A-Priv does everything you need it to. The device supports vaping with nickel, titanium and stainless steel coils, over the usual temperature range of 200 to 600 °F / 100 to 315 °C. You can adjust your ramp-up wattage easily, and there’s also the option to adjust the TCR setting so you can get TC mode working in most situations, for example if you don’t like the response or if your coil is a different grade of stainless steel. Overall it has everything you could really want from a TC mode.
The A-Priv has a standard Smok menu system, with three clicks taking you into the main menu and then the adjustment buttons being used to scroll through. The menu is pretty much self-explanatory, but you can avoid using it with some key shortcuts (for example, press the right adjustment button and the firing bar together to change modes). Personally, I usually find the Smok menu system a little annoying because you have to hold the fire button down to advance to the next sub-menu (rather than just pressing it) and if you accidentally enter it there’s no quick way out. That said, it’s not really bad, and you usually won’t need to use it.
The LED lights in the body of the device aren’t exactly a feature in the sense they’ll improve or even be relevant to your overall vaping experience, but it is advertised as a feature of the device. As well as being able to choose what color it lights up (through the menu system), there are several modes that determine how exactly it responds and when. The one they’re pushing the most is the music activated mode, where the light flashes in time with music you’re playing. I tried this out quite a bit, and while it seems to respond to loud parts or the general beat, it’s kind of glitchy and doesn’t really hit the mark – it responds better to speech patterns. But, more importantly, is this really a feature anybody asked for anyway?
The pointlessness of it all aside, the lights genuinely do look cool (on literally any other mode) and the choice of colors gives you a way to make the device your own a little.
The A-Priv has the expected set of safety features, including low resistance/short circuit, over-heat, low voltage protections and a 10 second cutoff in case you accidentally activate the device. You can also lock the fire bar and adjustment buttons for when the device is in your pocket.
Smok A-Priv Review – In Use
Performance – VW Mode
The variable wattage mode on the A-Priv performs really well, with no notable delay between pressing the fire button and the device responding, and good performance across the entire wattage range. The hit strength feature is really good if you like a harder-hitting vape in particular, because you don’t have to ramp the wattage right up to get the sort of vape you’re looking for – you get the initial kick and then it settles down to whatever wattage you choose. Overall, while you wouldn’t expect anything less these days, it works just as intended.
Performance – TC Mode
The temperature control mode also works really well. This is also kind of expected from a device these days, but you get a consistent performance in TC mode and it does a good job of staying close to your chosen setting. The ability to adjust the TCR and ramp-up wattage means it’s difficult to really be unhappy with what the A-Priv can do in TC mode – you can set it up to perfectly suit your preferences. I haven’t needed to change the TCR personally, but it’s good that the option is there for anyone who needs it.
Comfort and Portability
The A-Priv is a dual battery device, but with that in mind it actually does a pretty solid job when it comes to comfort and portability. Any dual battery device is going to be bigger than a single-battery option, of course, but compared to others in the same class it’s impressively compact and isn’t too heavy either. The curved shape of the body and the use of a firing bar instead of a button really helps on this front too – it fits nicely in your hand and all you need to do is squeeze it when you want to vape.
The device is pretty chunky, so you’ll need a sizeable pocket to really carry it around in, but it’s still better than more boxy options like the Voopoo Drag 2, for instance, in this area. If portability is crucial for you, then you’ll need to choose a different type of device (a pod system or single battery mod is ideal), but if you want the best of both worlds, the A-Priv doesn’t do badly at all.
The A-Priv is nicely put together. The body feels solid, the battery compartment is secure and well-designed, and everything essentially works as you’d hope. You don’t feel like you’re holding something amazing or especially well-machined, but there is no cause for complaint at all.