Our Smok RPM 40 review puts the mod-style pod vape to the test. Does it manage to offer the best of both worlds, or would you be better off picking one or the other?
The “Real Pod Mod” name of the RPM 40 tells you all you need to know: it offers the user-friendliness of a pod-style device with features you’d expect from a mod. It performs really well, has great battery life and still manages to be portable.
The RPM 40 is a little more expensive than many of the pod-style devices on the market, but for an actual pod mod it’s a fantastic device. It offers more than enough in terms of power, has excellent battery life and is very user-friendly.
The real kicker is the fact you can change the coil without having to buy a whole new pod, and there’s even an RBA option for more experienced vapers. Of course, there are better devices if you’re into big clouds and high-VG juices, but if you’re looking for a pod device, it’s easily one of the best options out there.
The terminology surrounding vaping can get pretty complicated. With the advent of pod-style devices, yet more terminology came around to confuse things, in particular the term “pod mod.” These aren’t “mods” in the sense that long-term vapers might understand the term, though, which used to exclusively refer to bigger, “third generation” devices that tend to run on multiple batteries and offer variable wattage settings so you can tailor your experience. Typical pod devices have more in common with the cigalikes from the early days of vaping, with “automatic,” puff-to-vape operation and no options for settings. However, the “Real Pod Mod” (RPM) 40 from Smok takes things to the next level, offering mod-like features in a pod-style device. Our Smok RPM 40 review takes a look at what it can do, and whether it’s worth the $44.99 asking price.
What You Get
The RPM 40 comes in well-presented box containing the device, two pods (one standard and one Nord pod, pre-loaded with an RPM mesh 0.4 ohm coil and a Nord 0.6 ohm option), a USB charging cable and a short manual. Overall this is a good selection of gear – all you need to do is add e-juice and start vaping.
Smok RPM 40 Review – The Design
The RPM 40 has a straightforward but effective design. It’s a cuboid-shaped device, with an opening in the top for you to insert the pod, and a front face containing a large square fire button and two smaller adjustment buttons below the full-color 0.96 inch screen. The other three faces of the device have paneling, which has carbon fiber-like black sections on the black, chrome, purple and gold versions of the device (with your chosen color framing it around the edges). The other four colors (prism rainbow, white, orange and green) have resin or paint-splatter style designs on these panels, but all of them look great in their own way. There’s a “Smok” logo above the fire button and the “RPM 40” logo on the back side, but that’s the only branding and it’s thankfully minimal.
Overall, the RPM 40 looks great in all colors, with the uniform shape of the device and pleasingly-simple design giving it a look somewhere between a chunky vape pen and a traditional pod system.
The pods for the RPM 40 are arguably the most important part of the design, including the mouthpiece, refilling hole and the spot for the coils. Thankfully, these are really well-designed, with Smok clearly prioritizing ease of use when putting them together. The fill holes on both the RPM and Nord pods are on the side, with a rubber stopper to cover and uncover the hole. The coils slot directly into the holes at the bottom of the pods, with no screwing or anything needed – you just push them into place. The pods have a cube shape, with two protruding tracks on the sides that match up perfectly with the interior of the slot.
The mouthpiece is also really well-made, curving inwards to a thinner spout with a large hole in the top. The inward-curving sections are really comfortable on your lips, so it fits nicely in your mouth while you vape. There are two big airflow slots towards the top of the device at either side, which aren’t adjustable but in combination with the coils you do get some control over how airy your draw is.
The coils themselves are pretty much the same as the coils on any other device, with the only difference being the fact that they don’t have threading for the connection to the pod. The RPM coil is lower-resistance and the mesh coil means it offers great flavor, working best at around 25 W, and being the better option for standard-style e-liquid. The Nord coil is basically the same in terms of design, except the coil is a standard design and it has a slightly higher resistance, making it ideal for nicotine salt e-juice but not quite as good for standard juices. The coils both have little ridges around the base for you to grip onto with your fingernails to pull them out, and four holes in the body to soak up juice, although the RPM’s are slightly bigger.
The Display Screen and Front Panel
The display screen on the RPM 40 is really well-designed and gets the job done well. The display shows your wattage setting towards the top, with smaller sections below for the resistance, the voltage your device is firing at and a puff counter. The bottom section has a color palette, with a row of options for changing the color of the icons on the screen. This is obviously purely aesthetic, but it’s a nice touch that adds a bit of visual flair to the device. The very top row has the “Smok” logo and a small battery level indicator.
The front panel of the device is pretty simple, with a square, protruding fire button above the screen and two adjustment buttons below. You can lock the adjustment buttons by pressing both of them simultaneously (and a little padlock icon appears next to the wattage) and you can lock the fire button by pressing it three times in quick succession.
The RPM 40 has a great look, and the design of the device is clearly set up with user-friendliness in mind. Smok has done an excellent job with this aspect, overall.
Smok RPM 40 Review – Features
Variable Wattage up to 40 W
The main feature of the RPM 40 is the mod-like offering of variable wattage up to 40 W. This might not sound huge if you’re used to non-pod mods, but in terms of pod devices this is a really impressive amount of power. It’s more than enough to work with whether you’re using high-nicotine salt e-juices or standard-style, lower-nicotine juices. It also just works in 1 W increments so it’s easy to dial in your desired setting, and for me this is more than enough precision when it comes to settings – I tend to use whole-watt settings even when I can set it to a decimal.
Locking Keys and Switching Off
As mentioned earlier, you can lock both the fire button and the adjustment buttons, which is really useful if you’re carrying the device around in your pocket. You can also switch the device on and off with five quick presses of the fire button. With the ability to lock all the keys you don’t necessarily need to do this, but it’s still a good feature to have for an extra bit of peace of mind.
In addition to locking and switching the device off, the RPM 40 has in-built safety features too. It has overcharging and over-discharge protection, so the battery stays within safe limits. It also has a minimum resistance of 0.2 ohms – this isn’t likely to be needed in most cases because the coils are made by Smok, but it’s a bit of extra protection in the unlikely event of a short or if you try to make any dangerous modifications. There is an optional RBA head, though, so it’s good if you’ll be using this and building your own coils. Finally, it includes an 8-second cutoff and high temperature protection, just in case you’re vaping too much or you forget to lock the key and end up accidentally firing the RPM.
Smok RPM 40 Review – Battery Life and Charging
The Smok RPM 40 has an in-built 1,500 mAh battery. Like the available wattage settings, this might not sound like too much compared to mods, but if you look at other pod-style devices it’s actually really impressive. The Nord, for instance, has a 1,100 mAh battery, and that is still much better than most pod devices like the Juul, which tend to offer less than 500 mAh. The batteries actually last a reasonable amount of time because the devices tend to work at much lower power settings, so you don’t need as much battery to get you through the day.
The RPM’s maximum power setting is pretty relevant to this equation, then, and in a sense it’s good that Smoke boosted the battery life compared to some of their lower-power options. The RPM 40’s battery can comfortably get you through a day of vaping, and probably a little more if you vape at lower settings and not too often in the day. I’ve mainly tested the device with salt juices at around 15 to 20 watts and have consistently gotten a day’s worth of use out of a single charge.
The battery recharges quickly with the included USB cable too, with it going from empty to fully charged in around two hours. You can also vape while charging, which is an indispensible feature if you’re looking for your first device and won’t have a spare to use during charging.
Smok RPM 40 Review – In Use
Performance – RPM Pod
The RPM pod’s mesh coil makes it a great option if flavor is your main goal when you’re vaping, although it’s excellent for vapor production too. The coil works really well right up to 40 W, although you do start to lose a tiny bit of flavor towards the top of the range. 25 W is definitely a good choice of sweet spot if you’re looking for a good balance between flavor and vapor production. It works equally well with both standard and nicotine salt juices, although personally I turn the power down a little with salts.
The coil also keeps its flavor pretty well throughout multiple pods of e-juice. The RPM 40 is also super-responsive, apparently firing within a millisecond of you pressing the button – for all intents and purposes, it starts producing vapor instantly. It has a more open draw than the Nord pod, making it a good choice for direct-to-lung vaping.
Performance – Nord Pod
The Nord pod has a slightly higher resistance coil and more restricted airflow than the RPM pod, making it really mainly suited for mouth-to-lung vaping and nicotine salt e-juices. The pod performs really well within those restrictions, though, and at lower power settings than the RPM pod. The vapor production isn’t quite as good because of these factors, but in terms of satisfaction and flavor it does a great job. At 25 W the vapor starts to get a little warm and the flavor starts to decline, but at around 15 it strikes a good balance between being satisfying and performing well. It works really well mouth-to-lung, so it’s a great choice for when you’re first starting to vape.
Ease of Use
The RPM really shines when it comes to ease of use. The pods simply push into the big spot at the top of the device, and it’s designed so it’s literally impossible to push them in the wrong way. The device confirms you’ve connected the pod when it’s attached. The coils, in turn, just push into the big hole at the bottom of the pod – you do have to make sure you get the angle right but it’s still easy to do. Finally, refilling is super-easy: just pull the rubber stopper out of the fill hole, twist it off to the side and drip juice into the pod.
Even the more mod-like elements with the display, settings and fire button are really easy to work with, even for a newcomer. There aren’t any menus or anything to deal with, so aside from pushing right to increase your setting, left to decrease it and holding the fire button as you vape, there are only a couple of things you need to know. Pressing the fire button and the right adjustment button simultaneously changes the color of the display, and doing the same with the left adjustment button clears the puff counter. The rest is just the three presses to lock the fire button, five to switch the device off and pressing both adjustment buttons simultaneously to lock them.
In short, even if it’s your first device you’ll be right at home with the RPM 40.
Comfort and Portability
The RPM 40 is compact and comfortable to hold. Standing just short of 10 cm/4 inches tall and being 2.5 cm / 1 inch square for the cross-section, it’s small enough to fit in pretty much any pocket. The shape also makes holding it just like holding any vape pen – it fits comfortably in your hand and it’s easy to push the fire button while you’re holding the device in a natural position.
Does it Leak?
The RPM 40 is still a pod-style device, despite all it’s mod-like trappings, and so leaking isn’t a huge issue when you’re vaping. I’ve noticed a small amount of e-juice in the top of the device where you connect the pod, but this is probably due to condensation and is absolutely minimal. Of course, you need to make sure you’ve pushed the coil in properly and closed the fill-hole, but provided you’ve done that you won’t have an issue with leaking.
The RPM 40 is really well-made. The whole device feels sturdy and reliable, but the best example of why is the pod connection. Not only does the design make it impossible to push it in the wrong way, when you’ve connected the pod, you can hold the device by the mouthpiece without it coming out, but if you try to separate them it comes out so easily you wonder how it ever stayed in to start with. It fits snugly and has the perfect amount of resistance. Of course, the buttons all work well and everything fits like it should, but that really shows how much care went into the design.