The recent resurgence of mouth-to-lung (MTL) vape devices is no longer just a trend – both new and seasoned vapers are now seeing the benefits of a tighter, more authentic smoking-like experience over the massive cloud machines that have dominated the market. Of course, the prolific SMOK is going to capitalize on this, as evidenced by their latest, the SMOK PRIV M17 MTL Vape Kit.
This “sort of pen vape, sort of box mod” device is a nice throwback to simpler times, without giving up some of the performance features modern vapers expect. And for the most part, the PRIV M17 delivers to its target audience, with only one key misstep – but it’s a big one.
But first, let’s look at the PRIV M17. After removing it from the box, you’ll be surprised by the heft and hand feel from the mod. Even though it’s just 70mm tall, the M17 is similar in appearance to a standard pod mod, but is actually a rock solid, with a good amount of weight. This is without the included M17 tank, mind you… once the atomizer is attached, it becomes a sleek, diminutive beginner mod built with simplicity in mind.
And simple it is – the M17 features no adjustment buttons and no indicators, outside of a simple white LED. And the LED is practically hidden under the tank! I’ve used the term before, but this is truly a “set it and forget it” device, designed to sit in a pocket and only make its presence known when needed.
At just 19.5mm wide, the PRIV M17 isn’t going to power your major sub-ohm tanks. (And as a direct voltage mod, it shouldn’t.) But using the included 17.5mm M17 tank (creative branding, SMOK), the overall kit is well-composed and non-intimidating for newcomers.
The M17’s design is slender, but big enough that it doesn’t feel like a cig-a-like or throwaway pod mod. Instead, it benefits from solid stainless steel construction, and a compact form factor, so it stays light, but substantial in the pocket.
Physically, the elongated fire key is up to SMOK’s usual standard of quality, meaning it’s clicky, firm and comfortable to fire, without risking pocket fires. Other than that, there’s absolutely nothing that risks users doing something wrong by accident. The mod has all the protections users need to keep things moving, without bogging them down in minutiae.
That said, I wouldn’t MIND seeing some type of display to let newcomers know what’s happening, and when the PRIV M17 might need a boost of power. Because the onboard 1,200mAh battery lasts a decent amount of time, but until it’s dead, there really isn’t any indication that the mod needs charging. And newbies might not realize their draws are weaker and less potent until it’s too late.
SMOK PRIV M17 Specs:
- Mod Size: 70 x 26.8 x 19.5mm
- Tank Size: 55 x 17.5mm
- Max Output: 60W
- 2.0ml E-liquid Capacity
- Input Voltage: 3.4 – 4.2V
- Standby Current: <200uA
- 1200mAh Built-in Battery
- New Stick M17 Coil System
- 0.6ohm Stick M17 Dual Coil
- Direct Voltage Output System
- Big Lateral Fire Key
- Spring-Loaded 510 Connector
SMOK PRIV M17 Contents:
- 1 x SMOK Stick M17
- 2 x SMOK Stick M17 Core Dual Coil 0.6ohm
- 1 x Replacement Glass
- 1 x Micro USB Cable
I didn’t expect much from the included PRIV M17 tank, and the pair of 0.6-ohm coils, but I have to say, they were pretty damn good MTL/restricted lung hit atomizers. Long lasting, flavorful, and fairly versatile, these coils went well beyond the usual prebuilt coil expectation, and gave me roughly 10 days of performance a piece. And that was under testing conditions – I imagine a casual/new vaper will get even more lifespan from these gems, thanks to less-intensive use.
The physical tank wasn’t AS impressive, mostly due to the limited 2mL capacity and the even more-limited airflow control, which is simply an “open or closed” solution with practically zero customization ability. Basically, closing it off leads to a snug, true MTL draw, while having it “wide open” lets restricted lung vapers get in on the action.
Personally, I found the open draw the most satisfying, partly because of how I regularly vape. But also because the snug, closed draw didn’t produce enough vapor to make me feel like I was “registering” the draw. Ex-smokers might feel differently, though – it’s been a long time since I even thought of a smoking-like experience.
Vaping the PRIV M17
Though I’ve historically shied away from direct voltage/wattage mods from their lack of control, I found myself using the SMOK PRIV M17 kit more than expected. Though I had to adjust my vaping style and limit my draws, I was pleasantly surprised by the result. The flavor was strong, the vapor substantial, and the satisfaction-factor was much higher than most devices in this category.
Is the PRIV M17 going to replace your Vaporesso Cascade tanks (reviewed here) and 200-watt mod? Of course not. But it sure as hell can replace your disposable and refillable pod mods – especially those “closed” systems that demand you drop major coin on refills – I got more enjoyment from the PRIV M17 coils than I ever have with my Juul. Even with a drawer full of fresh pod refills.
One concern is the 1,200mAh battery doesn’t seem to be as strong as SMOK is touting. Though that’s a decent capacity for a mod this size, I still found myself killing the charge in a matter of 90-120 minutes – and if you’re measuring battery performance in minutes, not hours, there’s a problem.
Again, I may have been chain vaping it more than the typical user, but at the same time, a new user out at a bar or club might find themselves craving cigarettes more than usual. How is this battery dying after an hour going to help them stay off the analogs? It’s not.
Plus, the PRIV M17 doesn’t have 2-amp charging, meaning recharging the battery isn’t nearly as efficient as most in this range. It’s not an all-day affair, but it’s tedious and definitely not something you’ll be able to pull off when you’re out and about, unless you have a portable power bank right next to the PRIV M17 in your pocket.
The Bottom Line
Let’s not dwell on the times you’re NOT using the SMOK PRIV M17 and enjoy the time you are. Because while it lasts, the PRIV M17 kit provides about as good an entry-level vape experience as anything out there. Sure, there are damn good pod mods, and other beginner pen vapes, but in terms of performance and stealthiness (sic), the M17 offers flavor to spare and subtle looks to boot. If you’re new to this scene, and don’t want to buy new pods every few days, the PRIV M17 comes highly recommended.