What Are the 4 Types of E-cigarettes?

April 09, 2022

It can be hard to believe that there was no such thing as a vape just fifteen years ago. Modern e-cigarettes were not yet widespread. In this short time, the technology and design standards have advanced rapidly and taken many forms.

Whilst they all fall under the broader category of e-cigarettes, each e-cigarette type has its unique function and benefit. What they offer to one user may not suit another.

As a beginner, you may be wondering which is the right choice for you. It's easy to misunderstand these different products and to become frustrated when deciding between them.

Luckily, we have you covered. In this rundown, we'll go through each type, explain a little about the device and the pros and cons. Using this guide can lead you to your perfect decision!

Types of E-Cigarettes & Vape Kits

1. Cigalike E-Cigarettes

cigalike e-cigarette

With more people in the U.K switching from tobacco than ever, cigalike e-cigarettes provide a specialised kind of vape constructed to take the form of traditional cigarettes. 

They are the same cylindrical shape and may feature similar markings and design characteristics such as patterns and colours. 

Some e-cigarette designs even replicate the feel of traditional smoking, giving the effect of a cigarette's burn.

How Do Cigalike E-Cigs Work?

Your cigalike design will have replaceable cartridges but no buttons for charging. They are specially designed to function as seamlessly as possible but come with fewer options. 

Many smokers trying to lower their nicotine intake by switching from traditional tobacco products to vaping will choose cigalike e-cigarettes.


  • Authentic feel — Users love these vapes for their authentic cigarette feel, as many of them are trying to transition from smoking to vaping. 
  • Affordable — E-cigarettes are also cheap and easy to use, which many beginners like. 
  • Subtle — These vapes create little mess and less evident vapour in the air, appealing to users who want a nicotine hit without drawing attention. 


  • Shorter battery life — When used long term, some users take issue with the short battery life. 
  • Perhaps too simplistic — Experienced users often report that the atomiser isn't perfect and are frustrated with the lack of settings. 
  • Wasteful — Another sticking point is that the throw-away models create a lot of plastic waste and can be considered bad for the environment.

2. Pod Kits

With more attention to streamlining design and standardisation, these vapes are slick, flat and perfectly shaped for your hand. Often they appear like a longer, flatter USB drive and feature no adjustable features. 

These pod kits get their name from removable ‘pods’ that clip in and out from the far end of the mouthpiece. These pods contain the liquid of the user's choice.

How Do Pod Vapes Work?

Pod kits will usually contain no button to operate. Instead, the user merely has to inhale to activate the device. 

These e-cigarettes require little to no maintenance and feature rechargeable batteries. Often, the pods are small and rectangular, made from plastic and are colour-coded to advertise the flavour. 

This kind of vape is prevalent among beginners or more seasoned users who want a simple vaping experience.


  • Ease of use — Of all the varieties on this list, for long term users, this model is by far the simplest to use. Simply keep your pod vape charged, clip in a pod and your device will be ready to use. 
  • No maintenance — Keeping many parts internalised means less mess and fiddling around with coils and maintenance. 
  • Flavour and nicotine content selection — The pod systems have a wide variety of easily-identifiable flavours, all with different nicotine content. 


  • No customisation — Having many of the parts inaccessible might make for a clean design, but experienced users may find these devices less customisable. 
  • No interchangeable pods — Depending on the system, you can only use pods specially created by your vape's brand. The lack of interchangeability could mean that they could be potentially expensive or offer a smaller range of flavours. 

3. Vape Pens

person smoking vape pen

In the lineage of vaporisers, these products were the first vapes to focus on a customisable experience. 

These vapes take their name from their shape, but not all vape pens will appear exactly like a pen. They come in many shapes and sizes but are usually long and cylindrical. 

These vapes have more parts and are more versatile, but they require significantly more maintenance. 

How Do Vape Pens Work?

Unlike other vapes, vape pens usually begin functioning or heating by pressing a small button. They feature a mouthpiece, a refillable tank, and a coil. You can also expect a more extended battery life.

This coil is an integral part of heating your liquid and should be replaced every two weeks for the pen to remain operational. 

This type of vape is often the preferred choice for more experienced users but are still very simple to use. 


  • Elegance in simplicity — One of the best benefits for complete beginners, for most models, is the simplicity of these devices. 
  • More variety — Having a refillable tank means you can choose your custom liquid from an endless variety of flavours. 
  • Superior battery life — Vape pens have a much better battery than cigalikes and are rechargeable.


  • Not always ergonomic — Whilst the styles of this kind of device range dramatically, many users report that the pen shape is not always easy to hold. 
  • Cheap — Cheap versions of vape pens have oversaturated the market. These devices tend to be messy and easy to break. 
  • More maintenance — No matter what price point you choose, these devices come with a high level of maintenance, and buying replacements can become expensive over time.

4. Box Mods

person smoking box mod

Box mods take their name from adding the ‘mod’ attachment, a large box-shaped element below the mouthpiece. They are often larger and heavier.

The large case is primarily a stylistic decision, but some devices may retain more battery. Box mods may feature more elements than a vape pen, such as LED screens or customisable settings.

How Do Box Vapes Work?

Whilst they look different, box modes operate similarly to vape pens and require similar maintenance. They feature a mouthpiece, a button to activate the atomiser, and a large battery. 

Experienced users favour box mods, but their large size is not for everyone.


  • Customisable — Like vape pens, these devices are highly customisable, and the Box Mod may feature an even higher level of choices for your user experience. 
  • Wide variety — These vapes feature an extensive variety of options.
  • Longer-lasting battery — Box mods come with a much larger and longer-lasting battery, which means less recharging. 


  • Bulky — Whilst some users prefer the feeling of these vapes in their hands, others find them to be bulky to heavy. 
  • Higher price point — Box mods are often on the expensive side, aimed at a market of more experienced users. 
  • Not for beginners — As these large vapes have more parts and work with a higher voltage, they can even be considered dangerous for complete beginners.

Things to Consider When Choosing an E-cigarette

Besides personal preference, the best e-cigarette will depend on several factors related to your vaping style, budget, maintenance, and battery life.

Vaping Styles

When exploring the features and functions of a vaping device, you may run into many new terms and abbreviations. Some of these pertain to the style of vaping your product is suited to and how you prefer the vapour delivery. 

Here are some usage terms that are important to know:

  • MTL (Mouth to Lung) — This style of vape works by allowing the vapour into your mouth that you can then inhale. In this respect, this style could be considered similar to cigarette smoke but without most of the chemicals associated with it.
  • DTL (Direct to Lung) — These products allow users to inhale the vapour directly into the lungs without first holding it in the mouth. More experienced users often seek this type, as the feeling can be strange to beginners.
  • RDTL (Restricted Direct to Lung) — This style is similar to DTL but is a smoother and more restricted experience for those bridging the gap from MTL to DTL. Some box mods might even contain the option for switching from DTL to RDTL at will.

Disposable or Refillable

Some devices are disposable, meaning that you can purchase the product, use it, and toss it in the bin when the cartridge runs dry.

Refillable options may allow you to refill the tank yourself or purchase replaceable pods. 

The difference between these affects not only the use but the costs. Disposable devices are on the lower end of the price range, while refillable ones are on the higher end. 

However, depending on your usage levels, refillable ones may be more affordable in the long run, especially if you have to replace your pods frequently. 

Price Point

Depending on what E-cigarette type you choose, you could be spending anything from £5 to £2,000. The cost depends on what kind of experience you are after and how long you plan to use the product.

Generally speaking, for short-term use, e-cigarettes are on the cheapest end of the spectrum, but the prices can stack up for long-term use. With most e-cigarette users in the U.K preferring to use these products long term, this might not be the best bet.

Pod vapes are the best solution for a moderate, consistent user on a budget. They require little to no fuss, and the device is usually relatively affordable. 

On the most expensive end are pen vapes and box mods, which offer a wide variety but customisation options that can get extremely expensive for users with specific preferences.

Level of Maintenance

Another consideration to determine what vape is best for you is maintenance. Depending on the device, you may have to expend some effort to keep your vape in good working order. 

Some users like to have customisation and will happily perform routine maintenance to achieve this. Others prefer to pick up their vape and be ready to use it straight away. It's all about preference.

A vape pen or box mod will require more maintenance, including changing out coils, cleaning, and swapping out parts. It’s best to perform this routine maintenance every two weeks. But the payoff is that you can expect more options when it comes to your product.

On the other hand, for those who want to have a product always ready to use, consider pod vapes or traditional cigalike e-cigarettes. These devices work as soon as you pick them up. The battery is always ready to start heating your liquid, and the only thing you might have to replace is the pod or cartridge.

Battery Life & Charging

There's nothing worse than being on the go and having a product not work when you need it. It's true of mobile phones and wireless headphones, and the same is true for your e-cigarette too!

The more battery life, the more expensive the products become with vapes. It is worth considering what battery you need by figuring out how often and where you would likely use it. 

For example, if you plan to use your product at home mostly, you will not need to prioritise battery, and there are even desktop models for this purpose. E-cigarette products with low battery life are usually cigalikes and some vape pens.

Consider a pod vape for those interested in having their vape last the day. The most extended battery life is box mods, but they can be at a significantly higher price point.  


There is no one vape to serve every need. These four types of e-cigarettes serve different purposes, and each subgroup contains different products. 

For devices that deliver attention to style, a no-fuss solution, and a wide range of flavours, look no further than RELX.

RELX combines innovative design with a smooth, seamless vaping experience. With a wide range of choices, we guarantee to have something that fits your flavour and vaping style preference. Shop RELX today to experience a smooth user experience and quality that lasts.

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