After years of being ignored by the vast majority of vape manufacturers, the Geekvape Aegis has finally seen some competition in 2020. From the iJoy Captain 2, to the Vaporesso FORZ TX80, we’ve seen some interesting IP67-rated devices this past year. Today, we’re looking at yet another competitor for the Aegis line, the SMOK Scar-Mini, a compact little kit that’s supposed to be shockproof, as well as water and dust resistant. Let’s check it out:
SMOK Scar-Mini Specifications
·Dimensions: 75 mm x 50 mm x 25.5 mm
·Material: Zinc alloy, rubber, artificial leather
·Battery: Single 18650
·Wattage range: 1-80W
·Voltage range: 1-6.4V
·Vaping Modes: Variable Wattage
·Resistance range: 0.15Ω – 2.5Ω
·Dimensions: 56 mm x 23 mm
·Tank capacity: 3 ml
Material: stainless steel
SMOK Scar-Mini Packaging and Presentation
The new SMOK Scar Mini kit comes in a classic SMOK packaging, similar to that of the SMOK Nord 2 pod system, or the SMOK RPM40 pod mod. It’s a black, rectangular cardboard box featuring a picture of the Scar-Mini and accompanying TFV9 tank, along with pictograms of its main features, on the front, and a list of contents, the usual age-restriction and nicotine warnings, and various certifications, on the back.
Inside the box, we have a large Styrofoam holder, with cutouts for the SMOK Scar-Mini mod, a 22-mm SMO TFV9 sub-ohm tank, spare V9 Meshed coil-head, spare glass tube, and a bag of spare o-rings for the tank, a USB Type-C charging cable, user manual, as well as a warranty and battery safety cards.
SMOK Scar-Mini Design and Build Quality
The moment I saw that picture of the Scar-Mini o the packaging, I was reminded of one of my favorite SMOK devices of all time, the trusty AL85 box mod, also known as the mini-Alien. It was basically a more compact version of SMOK’s best-selling device ever, the SMOK Alien 220, of which I still have a couple functional units.
The new Scar-Mini has the same compact design as the AL85, the same battery cap popularized by the Eleaf iStick PICO many years ago, but that’s pretty much where the similarities end, because SMOK apparently intended for the Scar-Mini to compete against the GeekVape Aegis mods, so they introduced a few new elements to make that happen.
Like most Aegis mods, the SMOK Scar-Mini is almost completely wrapped in a layer of black rubber, which is supposed to absorb shocks and prevent damage if the device is accidentally dropped. As we’ve seen in the review for the Thallo S pod mod, SMOK has a tendency to “borrow” other companies’ successful designs, and the Scar Mini mod is no different. The Scar-Mini features the iconic leather handle and metal frame we’ve seen on pretty much all Aegis mods since the original GeekVape Aegis 100W. They changed the design of the metallic frame slightly, but it’s obviously inspired by that of the Aegis.
I like how smooth the rubber coating on the Scar-Mini feels to the touch, but SMOK could have done a much better job on the aesthetics. My review sample had a number of visible imperfections, from smudges on the rubber, to bits of excess rubber on the edges, and compared to the Aegis Legend, it just didn’t look as refined. Even the fake leather looked much better on any of the Aegis devices I’ve tried, both quality-wise and in terms of pattern. I’m just not a big fan of the “fluid” design SMOK has been going with lately, I think a classic leather finish would have looked much better.
The SMOK Scar-Mini has a classic 510 connection, with a gold-plated, spring-loaded pin, and fits atomizers up to 25mm in diameter, without any overhang. That only makes the company’s choice to pair it up with a 22mm tank seem strange, as they had so many options to go with. I personally have been rocking it with the black Druga RTA, and it looks so much better!
For some reason, the protruding battery cap is so much taller than that of the older AL85 mod, even though both mods only work with a single 18650 battery. It’s not a big deal, the cap screws on smoothly, the battery does not rattle inside the compartment, it just sticks out a bit more than it should, in my opinion.
I’m happy to see SMOK has made the transition to USB Type-C, but the placement of the charging port is my least favorite – on the bottom of the mod. That means I have to lay on one side when charging the battery, which increases the risk of e-liquid leaking from the tank, unless I detach the atomizer every time I need to charge a battery. They could have put it anywhere else, but they chose the bottom… Just like the Aegis mods, the Scar-Mini has a rubber plug over the charging port, to make sure water doesn’t get in.
With the sole exception of the GeekVape Aegis X, which had a phenomenal color display, Aegis mods have never had impressive screens. That said, they were all better than the ugly, outdated piece of crap on the Scar-Mini. This is the worst display I’ve seen on a mod in a long time. Not only is it extremely dim, but it’s so small that you can barely make out the information displayed, and the resolution is laughable.
The AL85 came out four years ago, but still has one of the nicest black-and-white displays I have ever seen on a vape mod. If this Scar-Mini screen is the best SMOK can do in 2021, they must think we have the memory of a fish. They can hype up their products as much as they want, the reality is that this mod, as a whole, is inferior to the AL85 or the Alien 220W, but it costs more than either of them.
SMOK Scar-Mini Menu and Navigation
Comparing the new Scar-Mini vape mod with the AL85 in terms of features is a joke. It’s mind boggling that despite the four-year difference between their respective launches, the older product is so much more advanced.
The AL85 had all the features of its bigger brother, the Alien 220W, had multiple vaping modes (wattage mode, temperature control, TCR, memory mode), preheat settings, screen brightness adjustment, as well as many others, not to mention the wealth of information displayed on the home screen (amperage, vaping mode, and even the temperature of the PCB). The SMOK Scar-Mini has none of those things…
With the Scar-Mini, you only have the one vaping mode – variable wattage, no preheats whatsoever, and virtually no settings to fiddle with. All you can do is clear the puff counter by pressing the fire button and the – button simultaneously, lock the fire button by pressing it three times in rapid succession, and lock both the + and – buttons by pressing them at the same time. That’s literally all you can do with this mod.
I don’t know what SMOK were trying to do by using one of their most barebone boards ever, but I don’t like it at all! I was never a fan of temperature control or TCR, but I did like my pre-heats, and just knowing that my device was capable of so many things made me appreciate it a lot more. The SMOK Scar-Mini just feels super basic.
The SMOK TFV9 Tank
Even without knowing anything about this tank, I can tell you that it’s a poor choice for the Scar-Mini. This mod is supposed to be super durable, yet this is just an average tank, with a lot of exposed glass that will probably break at the first serious impact. Don’t get me wrong, the TFV9 is an ok tank, it’s just not a good fit for the the durable theme of the Scar-Mini.
Just like the older SMOK TFV tanks, like the TFV4 and TFV8, it features a swivel top cap, only one that works a bit differently. SMOK was often criticized for the design of its TFV tanks, which sometimes opened up accidentally and produced messy leaks. This TFV9 top cap now needs to be lifted up and then turned to one side to open. It’s a bit more complicated, but at least instructions are etched into the top-cap itself, so you won’t even have to check the manual.
The V9 Meshed coil-heads have a resistance of 0.15Ω, and a recommended wattage range of 40W – 90W. The Scar-Mini can only put out 80W, so you’ll have to use the TFV9 with a more powerful vape mod, if you want to push this coil-head to its limits. It’s a nice coil for direct lung vaping, which SMOK has always been good at making. However, these newer models not only produce insane amounts of warm vapor, they’ve also improved a lot in terms of flavor.
You’ll be happy to know that the TFV9 tank is compatible with Baby Beast coil-heads, so if you ever get bored with the V9, there is an entire line of coil-heads to explore.
Battery and Performance
The SMOK Scar-Mini is powered by a single 18650 battery (not included in the kit), which, depending on the capacity of the battery, the wattage you vape at, and how much you vape, will last you anywhere from three hours to a whole day. It really depends, but I reckon the average vaper will get at least 6-7 hours of use out of a decent battery, like a Sony VTC5A.
The Scar-Mini features fast on-board charging via the new USB Type-C interface, but, as always, I recommend investing in an external charger. It’s safer, and it will extend the life of your batteries.
In terms of performance, I can’t really say very much about the SMOK Scar-Mini mod. It does what it’s supposed to do, but the problem is that that’s not much. It can only do wattage mode, basically has no advanced settings, so it’s basically a vape stick disguised as an advanced box mod.
It fires fast enough, the buttons are responsive, as is the default power ramp-up, but that’s about all I can say about it.
The TFV9 tank is actually the better of the two devices in this kit. It produces loads of vapor, the flavor is outstanding, and it’s compatible with SMOK’s popular Baby Beast coil-heads. It’s just not a great fit for the Scar-Mini, either in terms of size or durability.
For me, the SMOK Scar-Mini is a lesson on how to make the most profit without actually investing a lot of resources in your product. The Scar-Mini may be more durable than the old AL85 compact vape mod, but it’s inferior to it in all other aspects, which I personally find shocking. The display is a joke, it has no advanced features whatsoever, and even the rubber and fake leather finish leaves a lot to be desired. SMOK may have wanted this to go up against GeekVape’s Aegis mods, but it has a lot of work to do before going up against one of the most popular family of mods in vaping. Granted, the Aegis platform is showing its age as well, but it’s still a lot better than this abomination.