The Differences Between Vape Pens & Portable Vaporizers

Vaporizers of all shapes and sizes fill the shelves and pages of online shops, and yet a lot of people still are not entirely sure what the differences between them are. It is important to understand the difference before you buy either, as this can help you know what sort of product it is that you are looking for.

To narrow it down from just vaporizers in general, there is often a more specific confusion about the differences between vape pens and portable vaporizers. This article will help you come to terms with the major differences. While there are obviously a lot of similarities between the two – a vape pen is a portable vaporizer, technically – there are plenty differences and the same cannot be said that a portable vaporizer is always a vape pen. This will be made clear shortly, when we run through it here in order to make it plain and simple. This does not need to be a cause for concern for you, which you will see once you can discern the two.

Before you choose one or the other, it is important to understand the differences. These differences can be responsible for different features and experiences, so depending on what you are looking for and the context in which you plan on smoking, all these factors are important in varying levels for different people.


Vape Pens are quite simply exactly what their name implies. They are vaporizing devices that resemble a pen. Thus, they are small, thin and light. This is a beneficial design for a range of reasons depending on your needs. For instance, included is the potential need for discrepancy when using the product. Unless it is in your mouth or next to a cloud of mouth vapor being blown into the air, it could just be a pen to the average passer-by. You may not want to disguise it or fool people into thinking it is a pen – instead, you may just want it to be portable and just want it to fit in your pocket or handbag. It is often chosen as a replacement for people trying to give up cigarettes, which makes sense in terms of size to an extent.

Portable Vaporizers include vape pens, of course, but they also include bigger vaporizers with better qualities and more features. They are bulkier and usually go up to about the size of a book, ensuring they are still easily movable but not an in-the-pocket type of thing. The bigger ones usually have better temperature regulators, too.

Top Portable Vaporizers


People can be so focused on ensuring they choose either a vape pen or portable vaporizer based on their appearance and convenience of use, that they can sometimes forget the value and importance of exploring its heating systems – the very crux of what makes the product work. All in all, appearance set aside, you are ultimately buying the product for what it does rather than what it looks like. Its appearance and aesthetic are a preference – but its functioning is the main focal point.

It is probably somewhat unsurprising that vape pens have a lower quality of heating, due to its size and the limited space for technology within its pen-sized walls. However, this is not to say they are entirely ineffective, only that they rely heavily on conduction rather than convection, as portable vaporizers can. Vape pens cannot, however, really get hot enough that they can carry non-liquid substances, meaning their functioning is best suited to oils. That said, there are more advanced products coming out in recent times that enable dry products, but they are quite expensive and limited at the moment in range due to their new nature. Overall, if you want dry products in your vaporizer, you are still probably going to find a bigger range of portable vaporizers rather than vape pens.

The heating element of a larger, portable vaporizer, is conducive to dry herbs, which is therefore more useful if you wish to use the product for cannabis consumption. As has been said, there are vape pens that do this, but they are not nearly as accessible, common or affordable as normal portable vaporizers – it all depends on how much you value the shape and size, in this case. Obviously, you could heat your cannabis into an oil and then use a vape pen too if you so desired, so it also depends on how frequently and readily you want to do it.

Portable vaporizers, like vape pens, can use conduction to heat. However, unlike vape pens, portable vaporizers can also use convection. This, essentially and as described in other articles, is the process of surrounding the product with heat rather than direct contact, creating a more potent vapour. This process affects both taste and effect, so is a particularly influential factor to consider and an important difference to understand.

Functioning plays a big role in all of these difference, so you should then consider the fact that portable vaporizers have better technological makeup and therefore are more likely to come including more features than the simple ones that a vape pen can produce. For example, a portable vaporizer might offer the function for you to smoke whilst it charges, whereas a vape pen may limit you to use only when it is fully charged due to limited reliance on battery life. Even more intricate still, a portable vaporizer may have an overall better battery life, whereas a vape pen may need more continuous charging. If you want to, you can then crank things up a notch with certain portable vaporizers and link them to technological apps on either your phone or computer.

Taste vs Effect

A big key in deciding between vape pens and vaporizers is first to establish which is more important to you: taste or effect. Most of the time, conduction heated products result in harsher tastes, because it is less controlled. The more advanced the vaporizer, the smoother the taste and texture. However, if the experience is not important to you, but the effect is, then either product will probably work just fine.


If what you read before made you realize that taste is not of major concern to you, then it is possible that you have also considered the fact of price. The worse the taste, the cheaper the product – this is a pretty reasonable thing to understand. However, it can go a bit deeper than that when you consider the other reasons the prices differ and why vape pens are generally cheaper than portable vaporizers.

Overall, vape pens use less technology and even just material to be made – therefore, they are cheaper. That is not to say, however, that you cannot find reasonably cheap portable vaporizers. At the end of the day, the major consideration for you should not be too heavily focused on price. Obviously, everyone has a budget. So, decide that budget and then explore the range within it – trust me, there will be a lot more than you are expecting to find! Do not just buy the most expensive portable vaporizer and expect it to be perfect – there are different features that make them perfect for different reasons depending on the person buying it. It is not one size fits all when it comes to portable vaporizers.


Seeing as you have gotten this far with your research process into vape pens versus portable vaporizers, you clearly want to make a decision that is well-informed and sensical. If you are buying a product to use one time and then never again – by all means buy the cheapest you can find and be done with it. But that is unlikely at this point in your reading, is it not? So, you then need to consider durability.

Cheaper products generally last longer – this goes with most things. If you are buying a product to see you through for a while, you need to consider durability. Vape pens are not particularly durable in comparison to portable vaporizers, because they are made out of less high-level equipment and technology.

On a practical level rather than a technological level, the bigger and bulkier the product, the more durable it is. Yes, this is because of its inner technology and heating systems and so on. However, it is also the simple reason that if you drop it or bash it – it is made of sturdier stuff! Think about it like a flimsy flip-phone in comparison to an old-school, brick Nokia in terms of what is more likely to break. Think of it simply: the smaller the pieces, the likelier they are to snap!

Replacements and Additions

As with anything, the more advanced the product, the harder its parts are to come by. Thus, a simple vape pen is easier to fix if one part is broken than a bigger portable vaporizer. A simple trip to an online vape store will have your vape pen fixed in no time – the process becomes somewhat more difficult when the product starts evolving in terms of technology! That is not something to worry too much about, though, if you bought your product from a reputable salesperson/store – they usually know where to source the parts from!

Both products have the potential for add-ons, both aesthetic and functional. It might be a firey sticker on the back of your portable vaporizer, or it might be a different coloured pen casing for your vape pen – the choice is yours and the variety is staggering! However, the vape pens do not have as large a range for this as portable vaporizers. Portable vaporizers have the potential to improve in various ways, including attachments and technological additions. Then there are accessories and decorations for both, for those who want to make their product as visually appealing as possible or at least match it to your taste!

In conclusion, there is no obvious, overarching, preferred product when choosing between a vape pen and a portable vaporizer, but there are better products depending on your needs. Overall, you just need to understand the difference between the two – namely in size, portability, technology and durability – before you make a decision and then you are set to go! Just reading this means that you are committed to making an informed decision, and you are much more likely to be satisfied with your choice now that you understand the difference between two of the most popular vaporizer styles on the market today! The next obvious exploration might be a desktop vaporizer?

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