The Different Vaping Devices for Mouth To Lung Vape

What is a Cigalike, Pod System, All in One (AiO) vape kit, Pod Mod Kit…? All the (Mouth To Lung) vaping devices explained. How they work & their differences.
This article should give you a good idea of what are the different types of vaping devices to (Direct Lung but more so, Mouth To Lung) vape, how they work and what differentiates them from one another.

The Different Vaping Devices

So, what are the different vaping devices? In total, there are 5 types of Mouth To Lung vaping devices. An vape device can be a Cigalike, a Pod System, an AiO (All In One) vape kit, a Vape Pen Kit or a Box Mod Kit.

Each one of these types of devices has its own characteristics that sets it apart from the others.

One of their key differentiating aspects are the elements they’re composed of (coil, pod, casing, tank etc…), another can be their form factor (but we’ll see that Pod Systems and AIO vape kits can take up almost any shape) and, lastly, but this one is less and less true, the size of their battery.

But. as you’ll discover, there are more differences.

We’ll explain all this in detail below. But first, some precicions.

1There are also Mouth To Lung Atomizers/tanks (e-liquid containers) but, obviously, you need a box mod to be able to use them. They determine, not the Mod since a Mod is basically a battery, if a device is MTL or not. But in this article, we’ll focus on full devices.

2Even though you’ll often encounter the term “Starter Kit”, we won’t refer to it here. There are a couple reasons why.

First, we don’t recognize this to be a helpful way of classifying Mouth To Lung vaping devices. Because, most often than not, “starter kit” is synonymous of “Mouth To Lung vaping device”. So, it’s redundant. BUT, sometimes, shops and vaping companies also apply the term “Starter Kit” to simple-to-use Direct To Lung devices.

Thus, and this is our second reason, the “Starter Kits” category encompasses a too wide a range of products and is therefore a useless category. If you’ve never done that before, you just have to visit the “Starter Kits” section of an e-shop to see what we mean.

Last, it’s at best a useless classification and, at worst, a derogatory term for MTL devices. As if Mouth To Lung Vaping was only good for beginner vapers. And that, surely, experienced vapers would not use MTL devices anymore. This is simply wrong.

3There’s also  a new naming trend: to call some All in One kits, Pod Mod kits. But the only somewhat distinctive trait they have compared to most AiO vape kits is strictly visual. They have a vertical design/form factor, instead of a more common rectangular one.

That’s it. They sport no specific feature nor they offer a different type of performance.

So, this is, in our opinion, reaching. In fact, it’s just a marketing/buzz term used as a “ploy” by brands to make us believe that they’re selling new innovative types of (trendy) vape devices.

What is a Pod Mod kit? It’s very much an AiO. So, it wouldn’t make sense to create a specific category for it as it’s not possible to define it differently than other All in One kits. You’ll understand this better when you’ll read what is (the definition of) an AiO vape kit below.

Now, after saying all this, it’s time we explained thoroughly what are the different vaping devices. And let’s begin by the simple ones among them, Cigalikes.


A cigalike is a true e-cigarette since it has the same form factor as one, hence its name. It truly is a a ciga(rette-)like MTL device. Though, and despite a somewhat comparable footprint, it’s heavier and often a bit bigger because of their metal body and battery. They can be disposable or rechargeable.

Unless it’s for fun, don’t buy disposable ones. They’re just too weak. Well, rechargeable Cigalikes are, in our opinion, also too weak to satisfy anyone who smoked regularly before and would like to try and quit smoking.

By the way, if you are trying or would like to stop smoking, you should definitely read our  Ultimate Guide On How To Quit Smoking And Begin Vaping Successfully to try and maximize your chances of success.

Cigalikes vape

Cigalikes, beside their form factor, and compared to other Mouth To Lung devices:

  • Rarely sport a fire button and therefore
  • Are draw activated. Meaning you just have to take a puff as you would a real cigarette and the heating mechanism goes off automatically.
  • Because of their size, Cigalikes carry the smallest batteries
  • Have the lowest power output
  • Have some of the highest resistance coils (small heating elements that vaporizes e-liquid to create the vapor we inhale)
  • Cigalikes usually produce very little vapor (because of the combination of a low power output and a high resistance coil)
  • Give a weak hit (it’s the more or less harsh sensation you feel at the back of your throat when you inhale smoke or vapor)

Pod Systems

The first and most important unique feature all Pod Systems share is, of course, the fact they use pods. That’s why they’re called POD Systems after all.

Pods are customized tanks (to match the shape of the Pod System) usually made out of plastic and contain (what acts as) a non-replaceable coil and some sort of wicking material (commonly cotton or ceramic).

It’s important to remember that the coils inside pods CANNOT be changed independently. When it has expired, you need to throw away the whole pod.

This is the main difference between a Pod System and an All in One kit.

They have a filling port to insert e-liquid unless they are what we call “closed Pod Systems”. In this case, they are already pre-filled with juice and can’t be refilled.

Pods connect to the electronics and battery via conductive metal pins. So, a Pod System is comprised of only 2 pieces: the pod and the casing which encloses the electronic circuit (+ chipset) and the battery.

They can have a wide variety of form factors. From simple, stick or pen-like objects to futuristic or  unclassifiable ones.

So, they seem difficult to identify just by looking at them. But, as paradoxical as it sounds, it can be a way to recognize them. Yes, because other vape devices like Box Mods, Cigalikes and Vape Pens are, as their name suggests, more limited in their shape. Less so the AiO vape kits , though. We’ll speak about them, next.

vape pod system

Pod System usually (NOT always):

  • Are draw activated
  • Have a smaller footprint than All in One Kits, Vape Pens and Box Mod Kits.
  • Thus, Pod System have smaller batteries
  • Low power output
  • High to average resistance coils
  • Low to average battery life
  • Produce less vapor
  • Pod Systems deliver a low to average hit: It depends on the concentration of nicotine in the e-liquid used (as well as the Propylene Glycol vs Vegetable Glycerin ratio with the Propylene Glycol contributing more to the hit sensation) but as the power is relatively low, so is the hit. Though it can be enough for some, like ex-“light smokers” or people who never smoked before.
  • Pod systems can also serve well as a secondary device.
  • Have no airflow control. So, you’re stuck with the type of draw the manufacturer has implemented.
  • They’re easy to operate and maintain. But a consequence which can be considered a drawback is that you can’t change the coil of a pod. So, Pod Systems are less cost-effective and contribute to pollution more.

[NB: As soon as you can change the coil, the device you’re holding is not a Pod System anymore, it’s in fact an AiO vape kit. It doesn’t use a “pod” but a, oftentimes, plastic, customized tank. Yes, we are aware that we could make the opposite argument and declare that an AiO vape kit sporting a plastic or customized tank is in fact a Pod System.

But that wouldn’t be the best choice of words since the point of an All In One kit is specifically to integrate the tank and the battery/Box Mod in one unit by way of customization. And the point of a “Pod” System is to combine a tank and a coil into one inseparable unit, i.e. a pod.

Though, today, it becomes more and more difficult to retain these meaningful and useful classifications with all these new devices and shops and manufacturers themselves wrongly calling everything a Pod System and, thus, blurring the lines.]

Still, we think Pod Systems can be great devices depending on the context or mood. We have some many ourselves and use them every day. And they may be used efficiently to stop smoking. Although we would recommend to consider an MTL AiO kit instead.

If you could get both at first, that would be the best option. It would allow for a richer experience. And you would have more choice to help you find what works best for you as well.

All in One (AiO) Vape Kits

An All in One is a Direct To Lung – DTL – or Mouth To Lung – MTL – vaping device of which the tank and the battery have been combined together to form one integrated and visually cohesive unit.

[NB: as they usually have a sufficient power output and vaping companies provide coils with different resistance for their devices, most All in Ones can provide both a DL/DTL and MTL vaping experience. So, they are perfect vaping decvices to help you choose which type – Direct To Lung vs. Mouth To Lung vaping –  you prefer.]

Here, you should guess what the main difference between a Pod System and an All in One (AiO) vape kit is since we’ve alluded to it above. It’s the fact you can change the coil used in the tank/atomizer.

The shape of AiOs, similarly to Pod Systems, can also vary quite a lot.

Beside the possibility to change coils, their main characteristics are, for the most part, the same as Pod Systems but better/bigger.

Their size is generally bigger than Pod Systems to accommodate their bigger battery and tank. This is less and less true for the tank since, nowadays, manufacturers, to be TPD (Tobacco Products Directive enforced in Europe) compliant, can’t sell devices with tanks containing more than 2ml of e-liquid. So, to make economies of scale, more and more companies are making 2ml tanks for their products. It’s slowly becoming the standard.

All in One (AiO) Vape Kits

All in One kits also usually:

  • Have a fire button
  • Have a higher power output
  • Sport average to low resistance coils
  • Can be used with different type of coils (often, aside from MTL coils, they offer low resistance ones for Direct Lung vaping)
  • Produce more vapor.
  • Deliver a stronger, more satisfying hit.
  • Which is essentially why we advise people wanting to quit smoking to purchase All in One kits instead of weak Pod Systems. The hit sensation still depends on the concentration of nicotine in the e-liquid as well as the PG (vs VG) ratio obviously, but as they often deliver more power, the hit AiOs produce should be proportionally stronger.
  • All in One kits often have an airflow control. Thus, you can choose the type of draw you prefer and suits you best.
  • Have a longer battery life. Unless it’s is used at a high power setting, of course.
  • More controls and indicators (usually battery life and power output)

To summarize, an All in One kit offers an airflow control, replaceable coils and a bit more of everything else, which means more versatility and choice.

It can be, and often is, the main device an MTL vaper uses as a daily driver because of its good performance, convenience, aesthetics and ease of use.

All in One kits are the best suited Mouth To Lung vaping devices for smokers who want to quit. Their power, vapor production, hit etc… can not only match the feelings and sensations given by a cigarette, but increase them. So, they can more than favorably replace a cigarette.

Box Mod Kits

Box Mod Kits are composed of two visually distinct pieces (the battery and the tank), with one (the tank) placed on top of the other (the battery/Box).

As the word “kit” suggests they should, in terms of aesthetics/design but functions as well, match. Both components are made to look and work best with each other. They share a design language and colors.

Still,  as they are two distinct pieces, there is a positive consequence: you can combine a tank from a Box Mod Kit with any other Mod. Evidently, the opposite is also true. You can take the Mod of a kit and put the tank you want on it.

It’s an obvious benefit for the longevity of each of these components. If one stops functioning, you can still use the other. Something you can’t do with All in One kits.

box mod vape

What do Box Mod Kits often offer (compared to AiOs)?

  • More Power
  • More flexibility and choice
  • Better longevity
  • A different design
  • A more sophisticated chipset (controls and determines the Box performance and features)
  • An independent tank
  • A screen
  • More functions/features

Without going into too much details, Box Mod Kits, because of all this, can perform way better and offer a more customizable user experience.

The more advanced chipset gives better performance like ramp up time or power setting controls. It permits a more complex User Interface. Essentially, you can choose exactly how it makes the box and tank work and vape.

The independent tank allows for a better construction (of the chimney, liquid chamber, airflow design). So, again and combined with the power and electronics of the Mod,  this means potentially better performance in vapor production, density, warmth etc…

The screen, when there is one, gives you more information but also creates the possibility for a better user interface and more features.

Some AiOs have a screen [NB: this begins to be more common for Pod Systems too. Some Pod Systems have all the features of an AiO vape kit beside being able to change the coils. ] but the controls and info they give is usually very basic compared to what you get with a Box Mod.

With all this being said, we, mouth to lung vapers, do not need all the features of a Box Mod Kit. Though, it can be nice to have some of them.

Being able to fine-tune the power output is good. A screen is useful since it can provide a visual on the exact power delivered, the battery level or the number of puffs taken.

When/if you buy one, just be careful that it’s indeed an MTL vaping device, or that it’s compatible with MTL coils at least.

Vape Pens or (Tube) Mod Kits

Vape Pens are either Mod Kits or All in Ones in a tube/pen format. The tank sits nicely on the battery.

Their form factor is what defined them. When the tank and battery are two distinct units and can be used independently from each other (as long as their size and power requirement permit it), they are Box Mod Kits. When tank and battery are one integrated unit (the tank is inside the casing), they are (a subcategory of) AiOs.

If you didn’t know, the term “Mod” is an abbreviation of “modified” and refers to the fact that, in the early days of vaping, devices were tinkered with a lot. They were customized to deliver more power and vapor. (Mechanical) Mods with a tube/pen shape are still common and used heavily by experienced vapers or purists today.

At Ecigator, we’re not particularly fond of Vape Pens form factor, unless they are either not so round and boring looking or are in fact Pod Systems and, consequently, smaller than your usual Vape Pen. Plus, Vape Pens are more often than not Direct Lung devices. For these reasons, you won’t find many promoted on our website.

Still, If you decide to acquire one, be sure to check if they are regulated (with an electronic board/chipset and all the necessary safety features) and can be used as Mouth To Lung vaping devices (they need to sport MTL coils).

That’s it. We hope this article has given you a better idea of what are the different types of Mouth To Lung vaping devices, how they work and what differentiates them from one another.

Matthew Ma