Since a lot of Spinfuel VAPE readers skip to the bottom of each review before diving in, allow me to save your mouse a few scrolls – the SMOK S PRIV 230W mod is another high-functioning, palm-friendly box mod from the ever-so-prolific company.
Ever since the Alien hit the streets more than two years ago, SMOK has made no bones about offering its successful products in a wide range of colors and combinations. When it launched the more-advanced ProColor, I figured SMOK was trying to diversify and grow these products. But in reality, this mod has just served as another baseline for a slew of similar mods – the Veneno, the Majesty, and now the S-Priv, to name a few. But none of these offer much more to users beyond different facades and LED light shows.
Let’s take a closer look and see if the S-PRIV – with its top-hatted skull and attention-getting lights – is a logical next step for your mod collection.
Initial impressions of the SMOK S Priv 230W mod
Taken at face value, the S PRIV is going to be a “love it or hate it” device. Unlike other SMOK designs, which used LED backlighting as an optional way to enhance the look of the Mod, the S-Priv’s skull face is practically dependent on the flashiness, looking flat without it.
(Not to mention the included Big Baby Light Edition tank illuminates, as well.)
The skull? Well, it’s certainly a well-designed dead guy, with a symmetric black top hat framing the display, two glowing eyes, and teeth that may or may not be used for venting, it’s certainly not a poorly machined afterthought. But it’s also not subtle, and might be a little too corny for experienced vapers. My anodized emerald green test Model only furthered this point.
That said, the three-dimensional skull design doesn’t jut out too far from the face of the Mod, and it doesn’t make things uncomfortable inside a jeans pocket, or in the palm.
But the lights… oh those lights. Between the illuminated eyes, the light-up tank, and the screen itself, my test Model looked like a biker’s Christmas tree. No matter which combination and flashing pattern I chose, the S-PRIV is LOUD. But, when I turned off the LEDs, the Mod suddenly looked like it was missing something. Maybe a more subtle color like black or silver would change my opinion, but if you’re going to have an emerald green Mod and tank, might as well light ‘em up.
One final note – the S-PRIV battery door is an area of concern. While seemingly the same as all other SMOK Mods, my test Model door was far too tight, and the slick, anodized aluminum frame didn’t make things easier.
Vaping the SMOK S Priv 230W mod
The rest of the S PRIV fits right within SMOK’s recent mid-sized Mod conventions. The 86x47x30mm dimensions mean the S-PRIV is slightly larger than the ProColor, but noticeably smaller and more slender than the Majesty. Yet, the smooth edges and more-ergonomic design is more akin to the latter. Clearly, SMOK likes the form factor, and with good reason – it’s comfortable, and feels good to operate.
One thing that is always welcome back is the bright, high-resolution TFT display, which has become my favorite vape Mod display, by a country mile. Whether on the touch-enabled G PRIV2, or this series of mid-sized devices, the beautifully rendered display makes viewing and navigating the operations an absolute breeze.
Plus, with a growing range of color customizations, the screen is rapidly approaching perfect. Perhaps the skull is a bit much, but this display will always be a highlight of SMOK’s Mods… at least until they devise something better.
In action, the S PRIV screen makes menu navigation a breeze. Though it’s unclear if the Mod has an updated chipset, the crystal clear display allows users to clearly see what options are available, and how to get back if in the wrong branch of the menu tree.
There is still the same tired long press/short press mechanics to engage a selection, but with this proven screen, I knew where I was, and how to get where I wanted to be – not always a given with more limited displays.
That said, I would have loved SMOK to add another button to the skull head for an “action/enter” interface, rather than relying on long presses of the fire key. Though everything here works as intended, the long press is quickly becoming dated, and only leads to more frustration, especially on the parts of novice vapers.
The rest of the control buttons are firm, clicky and have SMOK’s usual high standards of craftsmanship. Though there’s nothing groundbreaking on display here, there’s also something to be said for delivering something proven to customers. On a Mod that features so many things Unnecessary for vaping, it’s good to see SMOK still delivered the goods in materials and build quality.
The SMOK Big Baby Light Edition Tank
If SMOK had included yet another standard Big Baby tank in the S PRIV starter kit, I probably would have just included a link and a short explanation, to save some digital ink. Because little has changed since we met the Big Baby more than a year ago. The same hinged top-fill, bottom AFC tank we’ve all grown to appreciate is exactly what we have here.
However, the included Big Baby Light Edition tank has two things that warrant mention:
First, as the name (and the entire device kit) implies, this tank lights up every time you fire, thanks to what seems to be an LED built into the base of the tank, beneath the bottom o-ring. And, to ensure you’re always lighting up your tank in style, SMOK included a huge array of colored o-rings to match any mood or scenario.
The problem I had was simple – the light is stupidly bright, and I haven’t yet found a way to shut it off. After just three or four puffs, my retinas felt like I just received an eye exam. And before long, I had to remove the tank because it was becoming annoying.
From the side, the illuminated tank is a cool effect, and definitely offers something discussion-worthy. But, even after trying several different colored O-rings, the Big Baby Light Edition just proved to be a nuisance.
The second concern was more serious. Perhaps I would have enjoyed the Light Edition tank if it vaped well, but the included V8 coils (a 0.4-ohm Q2, and a 0.15-ohm T8, respectively) were both absolute duds. With flat flavor, limp vapor, and even some mild burning at Moderate wattage, these Big Baby coils were a huge miss.
To be sure it wasn’t just a bad set, I swapped in some old spares from previous tests, and the vape quality improved a bit, and moved closer to what I expected from the tank. But I also noticed it was still nowhere near as good as the company’s Prince coils, or those from the Uwell Valyrian, as two comparisons.
I know these coils have a strong following, but it might be time for SMOK to move on from the Baby series toward something a little more nuanced.
Vaping the SMOK S-PRIV 230W Mod
With 230 watts of proposed power listed on the Box, I’m thrilled to report that the S-PRIVfired accurately and powerfully, with no noticeable increase in heat anywhere on the aluminum frame, and no misfires or warnings. As a metalhead, part of me wanted to see a little smoke coming from the skull’s mouth, but as a responsible vaper, I was happy to see things stay cool.
While it consumes a lot of battery power at this wattage, volume vapers looking for a few high-powered puffs should have no problems pushing the S-Priv.
Under more typical use in wattage Mode, the S-PRIV performed as well as any of its predecessors, with smooth, uninterrupted puffs at a wide range of outputs. There is virtually no ramp-up time, even on ultra-low-resistance builds, and I noticed no power spikes or drops when chain vaping.
Unfortunately, I encountered a few hiccups when switching to temperature control. While 99% of my time in TC was enjoyable, there were a few instances of the Mod randomly jumping out of temperature control and to the menu screen. I experienced something similar on the T-PRIVa while back, so I wasn’t overly surprised. But it’s notable all the same.
One significant positive was the battery life, which was quite good, even when vaping well over 100 watts for extended periods. Plus, the battery balancing was outstanding. When the cells began to get a little low on the indicators, the Mod continued to perform as if they were fresh.
Wrapping up, and Score...
On a strict performance level, I had precious few complaints about the S PRIV, except for the occasional TC hiccups. But the power performance is accurate, proven and reliable, which we’ve come to expect from SMOK.
But that’s about all we need to say here, because we’ve done this review so many times before. There is absolutely nothing in the S-PRIV that we haven’t seen already in countless other SMOK Mods. We don’t knock a company for maximizing its product line, but even the most die-hard SMOK fans have to wonder when the next round of innovation will come.
That said, if you’re considering the S-PRIV kit, buy it for the solid power and reliable performance first, the LED lightshow second, and the tank (a distant) third. And if you like this type of design, be a little extra careful about keeping this device out of the hands of children, since that skull definitely makes the S-PRIV seem more like a toy than it probably should.
SMOK S PRIV 230W Mod score: B-
SMOK Big Baby Light Edition tank score: C-
Overall kit score: C
SMOK S-PRIV Specs and Contents
SMOK S PRIV Mod Specs:
- Customizable LED-Lit Skull Eyes
- Top Hat OLED Screen
- Customizable Screen Color
- Large Firing Bar Mechanism
- Requires Two 18650 Batteries
- Hinge Latch Battery Access Door
- 230W Maximum Output
- Temperature Control (Ni200, Titanium, Stainless Steel)
- TCR Functionality
- PreHeat Function
- Memory Settings
- Strength Settings
- Full Protection Suite
- Micro-USB Charging Port
- Firmware Upgradeable
SMOK TFV8 Big Baby Light Edition Tank Specs:
- Stainless Steel & Glass Construction
- Hinge & Lock Top Fill System
- 5ML E-Liquid Capacity
- LED-Lit Tank With Customizable Color O-Rings
- Bottom Dual Adjustable Airflow Control
- V8 Baby Coil Structure
- Delrin Wide Bore Drip Tip
SMOK S-PRIV230W Starter Kit Contents:
- 1x SMOK S-PRIV Mod
- 1x SMOK TFV8 Big Baby Light Edition Tank
- 1x Pre-Installed SMOK V8 Baby-Q2 Coil (0.4Ω)
- 1x SMOK V8 Baby-T8 Coil (0.15Ω)
- 1x Replacement Glass Tube
- 1x Charging Cable
- 1x Spare Parts Bag
- 1x User Manual