There’s been some debate around the emergence of touch screen vape mods in recent years. While they’re heralded by many as a long-overdue step in the right direction, vaping purists criticize the move as unnecessary, gimmicky and impractical. So where do you stand in the discussion?
Let’s take a quick look at the reasoning between the two schools of thought to better understand why vapers feel the way they do about touchscreen box mods, as well as the likelihood of them becoming the new norm across the industry in the future.
Touch Screen Vape Mods: The Benefits of a Fully Digital Experience
The Smok G Priv 2 of 2017 was a groundbreaking device within the industry, specifically because it was the first from a major manufacturer to feature operation through a touch screen interface. Several reviewers on YouTube and social media noted many new advantages to a digital vape experience, most notably the following:
- Significantly reduced dust and water permeability as dust-, scratch- and waterproofing become increasingly standard in modern vape mods, it naturally follows that fewer button cutouts mean less device liability altogether. Because touch screen devices would do away with both up and down adjustment buttons (and in possibly even the fire button), they’d be naturally better protected against permeation than so-called “analog devices.”
- Significantly increased device longevity over time, physical buttons and their underlying switches are bound to degrade until they no longer respond. This is true for any piece of electronic hardware from high-end vape mods to gaming keyboards. The introduction of full touch screen functionality would eliminate this specific limiting factor in a vape mod’s lifespan, ensuring you only move on to another device by choice in order to check out new technologies in high-end vapes, rather than out of necessity.
- Open-ended addition of features via firmware upgrade at any time, bugs, errors or lack of functionality in a vape mod can be patched directly via the manufacturer’s website. In the case of touch screen vapes, this opens up significantly more possibilities. Since touch screens wouldn’t be limited by the number of buttons physically present on the device, new modes can be added (ex TC or bypass modes) with new virtual buttons or sliders on the onscreen display, all with a simple firmware upgrade.
- Software (rather than hardware) button locking as is the case with any smart device — whether it be a smart car or a high-end Fitbit — software is better than hardware when it comes to preventing accidental or unauthorized operation of electronics. This is due to the use of passcode or pattern locks instead of simple catches and releases. Physical button locks are not only unreliable but are subject to the same wear and tear as the buttons themselves. Touch screen vapes would be much better at ensuring you aren’t unwittingly burning e-liquid every time your backpack (or leg) gets into a cramped position.
Are There Disadvantages That Come with a Lack of Physical Buttons?
While it might seem dandy to do away with physical keys on future vape mods in some respects, many veteran vapers bring up several glaring drawbacks to fully digital vaping — the two most important of which are:
- Power efficiency and battery consumption via Screen-On Time (SOT) constant operation of touch screen controls would mean more SOT, invariably affecting battery longevity. This is why virtually all vapes with touch screen functionality are dual battery box mods. In effect, vapers not only concede the possibility of lightweight or ultra-portable form factors in their devices; they’ll need to spend more cash (and charging time) on batteries as well.
- Diminished convenience from the lack of eyes-free operation one of the best things about physical buttons on a vape is the ability to fire or fine tune output settings without ever having to look at your device. Once you’ve gotten used to the physical control layout on a vape mod, you’re able to operate it by feel, with little to no difficulty regardless of ambient lighting or weather conditions. Things like screen glare or poor lighting can adversely affect a vaper’s ability to operate a touch screen device. And because touch screen UIs commonly use virtual toggles and sliders, even a badly placed thumb can mean terrible flavor on the next hit.
Pro-tip: Vape Mods Are Not Smartphones
Although touch screen implementation in vape mods is seen by many simply as natural progression (parallel to modern smartphones and watches which are shedding their last few physical buttons), it’s worth noting that vapes are a different category of device altogether. While more convenience can always be a good thing, be prepared for tradeoffs in terms of power efficiency and the possibility of eyes-free operation.
It will ultimately come down to personal preference, influenced largely by know-how and experience. As countless casual and novice vapers look forward to full touch screen operation in next-gen vapes, there will always be veteran and advanced vapers who prefer to be able to control every aspect of their device their way, with less regard for longevity.
It’s safe to say that while touch screen vape mods are likely to become more common in the future, their analog cousins aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.