The 4 Generations of Electronic Cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes, in all their shapes and forms, have been around for a decade already. Thanks to various innovations, technological breakthroughs and the neverending race for the perfect vape, this industry, throughout its relatively short history, has gone through many changes. Therefore, electronic cigarettes can now be categorized in multiple generations.

Although experienced cloud chasers are already familiar with the generations of electronic cigarettes, there are many new vapers who might not understand, for example, the difference between an eGo battery and an APV. Therefore, in this article, we take a look at four different electronic cigarette generations to make it all more comprehensible for all you newcomers in the vaping scene!

The 4 Generations of Electronic Cigarettes

First Generation – Cig-a-Likes

Generation of electronic cigarette

A Typical Cig-a-Like. Source: Vapor Look

The first generation of e-cigarettes are roughly of the same size as regular tobacco cigarettes, and they usually feature a similar look to these, therefore, they are often called ‘cig-a-likes’. A cig-a-like is a bit heavier than your regular cancer stick, though, and it sports an LED light on the end of the device which lights up when inhaling.

The majority of people who have heard the term ‘e-cigarette’ immediately think of cig-a-likes. That’s because this type of e-cigarettes is not only easily accessible, cheap and easy to use, but also because they are most often used in media to portray almost everything that has to do with electronic cigarettes, or vaping.

Some cig-a-likes are disposable e-cigarettes, meaning that you can vape on them until the non-reusable battery discharges, and after that you just throw them away. However, cig-a-likes may also feature rechargeable batteries and replaceable cartridges (cartomizers).

Second Generation – Mid-size Electronic Cigarettes

generation of electronic cigarettes

Electronic Cigarettes With eGo Style Batteries

Second generation electronic cigarettes usually look like pens or laser pointers, and they are considerably larger than cig-a-likes. When using a typical second-gen e-cigarette, you need to manually press the ‘fire’ button while you inhale.  These personal vaporizers also feature batteries of much larger capacity (mostly 3 -7 times larger; 450 – 1100 mAh) than cig-a-likes, meaning that they, in most cases, can provide you with vaping power for a day or two.

The battery of a second generation e-cigarette usually features a 510 threaded connection which provides quite a wide compatibility with atomizers/clearomizers. Some mid-size electronic cigarettes also allow you to adjust the voltage either with the help of 2 tiny buttons or by twisting the base of the battery. eGo style batteries are ones of the most popular power sources of mid-size electronic cigarettes.

Second-gen e-cigarette batteries are usually paired with entry-level clearomizers, such as Innokin iClear 16, Aspire ET-s or a Kanger E-vod.

Third Generation – Advanced Personal Vaporizers (APVs)

Advanced Personal Vaporizers

Various Different Advanced Personal Vaporizers. Source: Vivid Smoke

It might be hard to identify a third generation e-cigarette just by the looks of it – they simply come in many different sizes and shapes, from the shape of a screwdriver to a box of the size of a big, bulky smartphone. In most cases, they are, however, considerably larger than cig-a-likes or second-gen e-cigarettes. Almost all third gen e-cigarettes feature a manual ‘fire’ button, therefore, these are considered manual e-cigarettes.

The main element of a third generation e-cigarette, in most cases, is a ‘mod’s brain’ and the power source. There are two types of mods:

  • Mechanical Mods: Actually, a mechanical mod is a very simple device – there is no electronic circuitry in it. Such a mod features only a fire button, a battery compartment (usually for a 18650 type battery), and a connector. They are not suitable for every vaper. Why? While mechanical mods are technically simple, some knowledge and the ability to put things together when it comes to volts, watts, ohms and amps is required to use them safely. However, mechanical mods have become favorites of advanced vapers because, when used properly, these devices can be very effective in delivering plenty of flavorful vapor.
  • Regulated Mods: Regulated mods are more complex than mechanical mods: they incorporate control hardware that lets the vaper modify the voltage and/or wattage output; often have additional features like electrical resistance meters, as well as safety features like reverse battery polarity protection. Regulated mods can be very powerful, but they are also much more user-friendly than mechanical mods.

Mods, unregulated or regulated, are usually paired with all kinds of different atomizers – it can be a standard clearomizer, a sub-ohm tank, a rebuildable atomizer or a rebuildable tank atomizer.

Fourth Generation – Innovative Regulated Mods

Fourth Generation of Electronic Cigarettes

The Snow Wolf 200W Box Mod

Although usually e-cigarettes are categorized only in three main generations, we would like to add the fourth generation to the list – to distinguish the most recent, most powerful, most advanced and most innovative devices on the market.

Mods with automatic temperature control and ability to handle very low ohm builds, as well as sub-ohm clearomizers (or rebuildable tanks) themselves featuring adjustable and dual airflow slots – we would like to include all of these devices in the fourth generation. All of them are far, far superior to cig-a-likes and eGo style battery powered devices, and they are much more advanced even than the majority of mods released in 2014.

All of this might seem really difficult to understand and confusing, especially when it’s time to look for the right vaping device. This is why is here to help.

Here are some of our recent mod reviews:

But what is a great mod without a proper tank? For now, we have reviewed a couple of clearomizers, including:


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2 Responses

  1. Jasmine says:

    Good to see the transition from the basic e cig to the regulated box mods.

  2. Jeff says:

    There’s still some decent cigalikes for beginners like the vapourlites vl4 kit but I’d also recommend an EVOD for a beginner too.

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