Our Smok Stick V9 Max kit review takes a detailed look at the chunky, 4,000 mAh tube mod: what can it do, is it easy to use and how does it perform?
Is it worth picking up?
The Smok Stick V9 Max is a beast of a mod. It combines a chunky, long-lasting battery with simple operation and huge performance, all for a solid price of $59.99.
Of course, you can find more affordable devices on the market, but getting something that works as well as this (whether you’re a new or more experienced vaper), and a tank, for less than $60 is going to be a challenge.
If you want to keep your vaping as simple as possible, pod systems are still worth considering, but if you’re looking for high-end performance in a beginner-friendly package, this comes highly recommended.
Smok has been putting out consistently excellent vaping devices for quite some time now. Back in the early days of vaping they had some solid options, but since the release of the TFV series of tanks and the Alien mods, they’ve been right at the top of the pack. The Smok Stick series has arguably been one of the best offerings for new vapers on the market, maintaining the simplicity of vape pen setups but boasting the performance of a mod and solid battery life too. The V9 Max version is picking up where the previous incarnations left off, with a huge 4,000 mAh battery and a massive 8.5 ml tank in the kit, priced at $59.99. But how does it perform? Is it worth the investment? Read our Smok Stick V9 Max review to find out.
What You Get
The Smok Stick V9 Max kit comes in a standard Smok box – a plain black container with a thin sleeve covering it containing all of the info about the contents – and contains the battery, the tank and two coils on the top level (one mesh and one quad, both 0.15 ohms) on the top level. Underneath, you’ll find a USB charging cable, a user manual and some spare O-rings for the tank. This is a great offering, all round, giving you everything you need to start vaping apart from e-juice.
Smok Stick V9 Max Review – The Design
The Smok Stick V9 Max has the look of an old tube mod. It’s thick and meaty, with a solid black body, a slightly wider base to help it stand up and the tank sitting snugly on top. The body of the device has the fire button towards the top – in an inverted pentagon shape and with an LED light in the middle – the “Stick V9 Max” logo on the front and the “Smok” logo on the back. The strangest aspect of the device’s appearance is the wider glass section on the tank, but the airflow control ring around the base and the mouthpiece match the device perfectly, so it still looks cohesive and cool overall. You can also pick the device up in stainless steel, blue, red, gold and a rainbow effect color, but all of them have the same matching parts and look great.
The V9 Max Tank
The V9 Max tank has a massive capacity of 8.5 ml, bigger than the vast majority of tanks on the market but perfect for the sort of high-wattage vaping the Stick V9 Max is designed for. Like on previous Smok tanks, it has a swing-open top to access the fill hole, but this time it’s controlled by a little button along the upper section of the tank. This effectively locks the tank when it’s closed, designed to prevent it from opening automatically while it’s in your pocket or bag. This is really easy to use, and it opens up to reveal a sizable fill-hole, so there are no complaints here.
The tank also has three big airflow control slots, with a twistable base so you can cover or uncover them to suit your personal preference when it comes to vaping. It has to be said, though, that the low resistance of the coils and the overall design of the tank means it’s a lot more pleasant to use on open airflow settings.
The two coils included with the Smok Stick V9 Max kit both have the same 0.15 ohm resistance, and look pretty similar from the outside. However, they’re very much distinct when it comes to the designs of the coils. The pre-installed option (S1) is a mesh coil, designed to increase the surface area of coil making contact with the wick and your e-juice, thereby boosting vapor production and flavor. The other coil (S2) is a quad coil, composed of two sections arranged in a figure-8 when you look down at them from the top, with dual coils in each little segment. Both coils have big wicking ports, so they can work well with any juice regardless of PG/VG ratio.
The Fire Button and LED
The fire button is pretty hard to miss, with a red outline on the inverted pentagon shape and the bulk of the button protruding far out from the body of the device. It pushes down really easily and it lets out a little click as you push it in. The LED light in the point at the bottom works as an indicator light. It switches on when you press the fire button down, lighting up white, and flashes three times when you turn the device on or off.
If you press the button twice quickly, or during charging, the color of the light tells you how close the device is to being fully charged, with green representing over 70 percent, amber representing between 30 and 70 percent and red representing less than 30 percent. Smok has done a great job here, managing to convey a lot of information to you as a user without a display screen.
Although there’s a tank included with the kit, it’s worth pointing out that the Smok Stick V9 Max has a spring-loaded, gold-plated 510 connection. This is the standard connection for tanks of all types, so if you have a tank you like already or want to change it up every so often, you can do that without issues. This is a particularly good feature because the Stick V9 Max supports low-resistance vaping, so it will work with pretty much any tank on the market.
As with most vaping devices these days, the Stick V9 Max comes with some in-built safety features to ensure you don’t run into issues when you’re vaping. This includes an 8-second cutoff to protect against accidental activation, low voltage protection, short circuit protection and battery protection. You can, of course, also switch the device off to stop it from activating in your pocket.
The Smok Stick V9 Max is simple in terms of design, but Smok has clearly put plenty of care into every element. It looks cool and does everything you need it to without unnecessary complications. They’ve done a great job overall.
Smok Stick V9 Max Review – In Use
One of the biggest selling points of the Smok Stick V9 Max is its huge 4,000 mAh battery. This is better than you’ll find on many mods, especially if you’re considering devices similar in size. The upshot is that even with the high power output of the device, the battery will comfortably last you for more than a day of vaping. I got just over two days of use out of it per charge during testing, making it through around 17 ml of e-liquid. You can press the fire button twice in quick succession to see your remaining battery life too, so you’ll know when you need to charge.
Because it’s a big battery, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that charging takes a little while. You can vape while you charge, which is good, but it did take about five hours to recharge fully. Really they should have given the device 2 A charging to prevent this issue.
Overall Smok has done a great job here apart from the slightly excessive charging time – it’s something you can feasibly use as your main device even if you’re a long term vaper and get through a ton of e-liquid each day.
Performance – The Mesh Coil
The Baby V2 S1 mesh coil comes pre-installed in the tank, and it’s 0.15 ohm resistance combined with the direct voltage output of the device means it works at up to 60 W on a full charge and decreases as the battery runs down. This works with the mesh coil to produce some serious clouds. The flavor is also hard to fault: everything comes through very clearly even at the highest airflow setting.
It’s worth noting that it can be a little hot to vape if you try reducing the airflow, and realistically you’ll only get the best performance out of the coil with the airflow all the way open. This means you can’t really use it for mouth-to-lung vaping, and even for longer-term vapers like me it’s much more comfortable to use if you take a big lungful in quite a short puff. This really comes down to the big space on the inside of the mesh coil, which leaves tons of room for airflow and makes the draw pretty much unavoidably airy.
If you aren’t much of a cloud chaser (I don’t mind clouds but usually I vape at 30 to 40 W) then it might not be ideal, but it is easy to get used to and it performs really well.
Performance – The Quad Coil
The quad coil has the same resistance of 0.15 ohms, but features two internal sections rather than one, with each containing a dual coil. The result is a coil which supports vaping at the same power as the mesh coil, but with slightly more restricted airflow. Don’t let this put you off if you’re a cloud-chaser, though, you still get plenty of vapor with the coil. It is less of a cloud-chasing coil than the mesh option but if you’re not bothered about taking things to the extreme you’ll be more than happy with what it can do.
The flavor from the coil is hard to fault – on that front, it performs just as well as the mesh coil. The surface area of coil vaporizing juice is still pretty high thanks to the two sections of the chamber, and the slightly more restricted airflow probably helps on that front too. While the vapor is slightly warmer as a result, it does make it more suitable for mouth-to-lung vaping when combined with a reduced airflow setting, and generally better if you aren’t strictly a direct-to-lung vaper as well.
The mesh coil is great, but for how I vape personally – wanting enough vapor without necessarily fogging out a whole room – this coil is a much better match.
Ease of Use: Refilling and Changing Coils
Refilling the Smok Stick V9 Max is a simple process thanks to the excellent design of the tank. You simply press the button on the top edge of the tank so you can swing it open, then fill up into the big, curved, oval-shaped fill hole. The button is positioned so you can push it down and open the top of the tank in one motion, although it does take a little bit of force thanks to the new locking mechanism. Of course, the body of the tank is completely transparent so it’s easy to fill up without over-doing it and spilling any e-juice. When you’re done, you lock the top back into place and you’re ready to start vaping (after five minutes so the juice can soak in for new coils, of course).
Changing coils is as simple as it is on pretty much any device. The top section of the tank screws into the coil and the coil screws into the base. So to remove the coil you need to unscrew the tank from the top, but this is easiest to do if you grab both the top and bottom to twist. Really this is much better with an empty tank, but the glass section will stay attached to the top of the tank so you will be fine if there’s a little bit left in.
Once you’ve unscrewed the top, all you have to do is remove the coil from the base (again, just unscrew) and screw the new one in its place. The process isn’t as simple as on pod-style devices (like Smok’s own Nord), but it’s about as easy as you’ll get on higher-end devices.
Comfort and Portability
The Smok Stick V9 Max is a chunky device, but it’s still pretty portable as far as mods go. The size is admittedly bigger than an average vape pen, but this is a small price to pay for the substantial battery, and it’s no more difficult to carry around with you than a box mod. This is especially the case if you take the battery size into account – if you want something that will last you as long between charges, you’d need quite a chunky dual-battery device anyway.
When it comes to comfort, the Stick V9 Max is actually great. The tube shape makes it a more comfortable fit in your hand than most box mods, and the button is perfectly-positioned so it’s really easy to use and your thumb falls naturally onto the button. The fact it protrudes out from the body is a big help with this too.
Does the Smok Stick V9 Max Leak?
Leaking is one of the most common issues with many vaping devices on the market, and while not a huge deal, in excess it can ruin an otherwise solid device. The good news is that leaking is pretty much not an issue with the Stick V9 Max. I’ve had one instance of leaking (from the airflow holes) during testing, but this was after a period of chain vaping on a close-to-empty tank, and it wasn’t exactly a big leak either.
On Smok’s TFV series of tanks, the swing-open top was a big source of leaking. When you carried the device around in your pocket, the top cap could swing open and you’d lose tons of juice by it simply leaking out of the fill hole. The good news is the button-opening system they’ve added to the V9 tank completely removes this issue – it won’t open accidentally on you and your juice stays where it’s supposed to be.
The Stick V9 Max is really well put together. The device itself is quite straightforward, and with an internal battery and only a single button to control it, there isn’t really much that could go wrong. The tank is the most important part, but everything works perfectly: the different parts screw in place snugly, the button opening system is without issues and it fits flush to the body of the mod.