SMOK Novo VS JUUL
This SMOK Novo review is gonna be a little different. Read on to find out why…
Table of Contents:
- JUULability Scale
- Advantages Table
- Pros and Cons
- Vapor Quality
- The Doc’s Recommendation
Now let’s get one thing straight, I LOVE the JUUL.
It’s still the first and only vape that has gotten me to quit my approximately ~four year long, pack-a-day smoking habit.
That being said, the JUUL certainly isn’t the perfect device.
Ask any JUULer about their complaints and you’ll get a slew of answers:
- LEAKY PODS
- LOOSE Pods
- Inconsistent Hits
- Unexpected Charging and Battery Issues
- EXPENSIVE Pods
- Flavor Loss
- Short Battery Life
…just to name a few.
The JUUL’s rise in popularity has resulted in the creation of a plethora of similarly styled pod-based vapes just fiending for a chance to overthrow the king.
There’s gotta be at least one of them out there that rivals, or even DOMINATES the JUUL.
With that in mind, this will be the first post in a long series in which I implement a new reviewing system that I call:
The JUULability Scale
In this review, the SMOK Novo will be pitted directly against the grand supreme leader: JUUL itself.
This system will consist of comparing relative performance in key vape metrics and giving the advantage either to the newcomer (SMOK Novo), or the JUUL.
These categories include:
- Vapor Quality
- Battery and Pod Size
- Level of Maintenance Required
- Overall Design
After the advantages are given, there will be a pros and cons list of the newcomer in comparison to the JUUL, and then finally a more in-depth look at each of the categories above.
THEN, I will give the Professor’s (my) recommendation and opinions.
And with that, allow me to introduce the first contender to enter the ring against the world heavyweight vape champion, the JUUL:
Let’s get this SMOK Novo review started with the advantage rankings I just referred to:
Pros & Cons
Keep in mind, this pros and cons list is a review of the SMOK Novo AS COMPARED to the JUUL.
- Consistent, thick clouds of vapor
- More than double the pod volume
- More than double the battery life
- SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper
- More device color options
- Easier to keep track of (larger size and brighter colors)
- Micro-USB charging (can be hit while charging)
- Better mouthpiece ergonomics
- Better overall ergonomics for people with big hands
- Novo pods have a higher build quality
- Refillable pods allow MANY more flavor options
- Pods leak less than JUUL Pods
- The potential for dry hits (no temp sensor)
- Slightly Poorer Flavor Production
- Hard to tell when pod coils are burnt out
- More maintenance required (filling pods)
- Slightly longer charge time
- Less informative indicator light
- Juice spitback is more common
If you’re already sold on the Novo just based on these comparisons and want to try it out, you can pick one up here for $19.95.
If not, then read on to get an in-depth examination of each of the main categories.
Let’s start with the big one, which also happens to be the Novo’s shining advantage over the JUUL by far.
WINNER: SMOK Novo
I’m putting this part of the review first because, to me personally, it is the most important category AND one in which the SMOK Novo excels.
THIS is the reason that I’ve found myself recently preferring the Novo over the JUUL.
SMOK Novo pods have large cotton wicks that are almost constantly saturated.
No more squeezing JUUL Pods, or waiting in between hits to give the wicks time to re-saturate.
Just thick, milky clouds all day baby.
The only time vapor production is noticeably reduced is when the battery is nearly dead. (which is also probably the best indicator of the Novo’s remaining battery life, more on that later)
If you tend to be a chain vaper (not unlike myself ¯\_(ツ)_/¯) then you’ll love the way the Novo hits.
The difference between the SMOK Novo and the JUUL in this category is so minimal that I considered omitting it from the review entirely. However, it is something I noticed pretty quickly and is worth mentioning.
I determined which of these two vapes produces a better flavor profile by refilling a JUUL Pod with my favorite 3rd-party mango e-juice so that I was vaping the same juice in each case.
The winner? JUUL
I’m not sure why, but the JUUL just seems to produce a cleaner, more vibrant flavor.
That being said, the difference certainly isn’t large enough to turn me away from the Novo, especially with how consistent those slightly less flavorful hits are.
Vapers mortal enemy since e-cigs first hit the market.
This is where the Novo falls short of the JUUL in the vapor department.
One of JUUL’s biggest advantages over almost every other pod-based vape is its proprietary temperature sensor. This means that you NEVER get a dry hit with the JUUL. If the temp sensor detects that the coil is getting too hot it automatically reduces power output to maintain a comfortable vaping experience, even if that means sacrificing overall vapor production.
Still, due to the Novo’s large absorbent wicks dry-hits are few and far between. There are really only two potential times you can expect dry-hits from the Novo, both of which can be very easily avoided. These situations are the following:
- When initially filling a pod
- When the pod is almost empty
Upon filling a pod, the large cotton wicks of the Novo need to be given a few minutes to “prime”. This just means that it takes a few minutes for the wicks to be fully saturated by the e-juice. Attempting to hit the Novo before this occurs will most likely result in a dry hit and potentially burnt wicks, ruining the whole pod.
Similarly, when the pod is ALMOST (not completely) empty the wicks can become desaturated and create a dry hit. This means that if you forget to check how much e-juice is in the pod (or your right in the middle of an INTENSE round of Fortnite) you can be violently informed that your pod is almost empty by the burning sensation in the back of your throat.
SMOK Novo Review: Design
This would be an incomplete review without addressing an important aspect of small vapes like the SMOK Novo and the JUUL: their general design.
Man, why do vape companies LOVE USING ALL CAPS SO OFTEN IN THEIR NAMES?!
WINNER: SMOK Novo
To begin with, the Novo’s 2mL pods and 450mAh battery MORE THAN DOUBLE the .75mL pod and 200mAh battery of the JUUL.
It’s nice to know that a full pod and charge with the Novo will last all day. I don’t feel the need to buy a second Novo and alternate them when one dies as I did with the JUUL.
Furthermore, in the event that your Novo does die midday, it features a micro-USB port so that you can continue to vape while the battery is charging.
I’d say the build quality of the battery itself feels about equal between the JUUL and the Novo.
As far as pod quality goes, however, the Novo is definitely the winner.
This makes sense considering JUUL Pods are designed to be used once, whereas Novo pods are designed to be refillable.
Novo pods also supposedly can use nicotine salt e-juice OR traditional e-juice, allowing for even more e-juice options. I personally love nicotine salts, so I haven’t attempted using normal e-juice in the Novo. It could be a great option for lower nicotine vapers though.
The pods fit into the battery very snugly and I have never had issues with loose pods as I have with the JUUL.
The JUUL wins in the “bells and whistles” category with its much more informative LED indicator light and proprietary temperature sensor.
We’ve already talked about the sensor, so I’ll explain the differences of the indicator light.
As we know, the JUUL’s light tells us when it’s being hit, what the current charge level is, how close it is to being fully charged (while charging), as well as some fun gimmicks like the infamous “JUUL party mode”.
The Novo’s indicator light, on the other hand, leaves much to be desired. It shows you when you are hitting the Novo… and that’s about it. The only feedback on battery life you get is a flashing light once the battery is completely dead… really helpful. A red light remains on while charging and turns off upon the Novo being fully-charged.
Really the bare minimum requirements as far as an indicator light goes.
The Novo pod’s mouthpiece is undoubtedly more comfortable than the JUUL’s. It is smooth and contours your lips much better than the JUUL’s…. rectangle.
Battery ergonomics really come down to personal preference. As someone with large hands, I like the Novo’s thick form factor that also happens to allow for the Novo’s larger battery.
This again comes down entirely to personal preference, but I thought I’d share my thoughts as the overall “look and feel” of any product is important to me.
When it comes to the Novo and the JUUL, I can’t choose a clear-cut winner. I like the looks of both of these devices.
The Novo is certainly flashier with bright colors and SMOK’s “Cobra” pattern. (the bright colors ALSO make it a lot harder to lose than the JUUL!)
On the opposite end of the spectrum, you have the sleek, subtle, and oh so sultry JUUL. I’ve always loved the look and feel of the JUUL, despite it having fewer color options and its favorite pastime of hiding in the strangest places.
This one’s a toss-up in my opinion.
SMOK Novo Review: Maintenance
It’s time to review the amount of work required to keep the SMOK Novo functioning efficiently. JUUL is quite difficult to beat in this category, let’s get to it.
It’s hard for any vape to beat JUUL at one of its main selling points: ease of use.
Popping in a new pod is just as easy as pulling out a cigarette and lighting up, something smokers greatly appreciate.
The Novo is no exception here, it certainly requires more maintenance than the JUUL.
The main source of this is the need to fill Novo Pods manually. It really isn’t that much of a hassle, but the narrow fill-hole on the side of Novo pods can be a little annoying to use.
I would like to point out, however, that refilling JUUL Pods is infinitely more difficult than filling Novo pods.
The positive outcome of this extra effort is the ability to choose from thousands of different e-juices and flavors. Just make sure the one you choose comes in a bottle with a narrow spout that can fit in the through the hole. (most e-juices use this type of bottle)
As far as cleaning is concerned, the JUUL definitely requires more regular cleaning than the Novo to maintain optimal performance.
This is because JUUL pods tend to leak more than Novo pods. We’ll talk more about that soon.
WINNER: SMOK Novo
There is one category in which nearly every vape in existence surpasses the JUUL: COSTS
JUUL Pods are so damn expensive compared to every other e-juice… It’s honestly absurd.
A pack of four JUUL Pods runs you $15.99 for a total of (drumroll please)………. 3mL of e-juice…
The average price of a 30mL bottle of e-juice ranges from $10-$20. I’ll let you do the math on that one.
JUUL’s business model is very clear: Sell the battery cheaply ($34.99) and make a FORTUNE on JUUL Pods. But I mean hey, what you’re REALLY paying for is the convenience of JUUL Pods.
Now, the cost of giving up JUUL Pods is having to find a GOOD 3rd party e-juice, and there are lots of bad ones. You can begin the search yourself (which could be a long and wasteful journey) or you can check out my post on THE BEST E-juice companies and flavors. (COMING SOON)
A 3-pack of Novo pods costs about $10-15, and each pod should last you AT LEAST three refills (and potentially longer) if used properly. (Remember, each refill is also more than double the volume of each JUUL Pod)
Which brings me to my next point, the most annoying aspect of the Novo’s maintenance is determining when a pod is bad.
I still haven’t fully figured it out; the lifespan of a Novo pod varies in my experiences. The main indicators of a cashed pod are:
- Primarily: Vapor tastes bad/burnt OR vapor production becomes inconsistent on a full charge (keeping in mind that inconsistent vapor may ALSO just mean your battery is almost dead)
- Secondarily: The pod’s wicks are visibly darker in color
The color of the wicks is labeled as “secondary” because I have had pods in which the cotton begins to darken, but the flavor and consistency of the vapor are still good. I continue to use pods until the flavor becomes unpleasant, but it can be hard to tell sometimes. There’s a bit of an art to it. Hence the annoyance.
SMOK Novo Review: Malfunctions
In this section of the review, we will see how the SMOK Novo stacks up to the JUUL in regards to a few common vape malfunctions.
WINNER: SMOK Novo
Ask any JUULer about JUUL Pods and they’ll have a host of messy stories to regale.
JUUL Pods regularly leak a small amount of their (extremely expensive) e-juice from the bottom of the pod into the battery.
Not to mention the endless stories you hear about people’s JUUL Pods erupting for no apparent reason. This happens in packs of pods that people have not even opened yet AS WELL as in pods that are currently being used.
These exploding pods don’t occur TOO often, but at four dollars each, it really should NEVER happen.
As for the Novo, it would seem that there is some slow leakage similar to that of JUUL Pods, however, this leakage seems to be less severe than JUUL’s and is also more easily cleaned due to the larger pod opening on the Novo. A quick wipe with a paper towel is all you should need.
This wouldn’t be a complete review without “Dry-Hit’s” evil little brother “Spitback” making an appearance.
Hated almost as much as dry-hits, spitback (liquid e-juice spraying into someone’s mouth) is one thing that all vapers would be better off without.
Although both the JUUL and the Novo suffer from occasional spitback, it is definitely more common in the Novo.
Now, when JUUL DOES spitback there tends to be a larger amount of e-juice ejected than with the Novo. However, when it comes to spitback I’d rather have it major and infrequent over minor and frequent.
JUUL gets a slight advantage here.
This concludes the SMOK Novo VS JUUL comparison section of the review. What did we learn? Read the next section for a summary.
The Doc’s Recommendations
This unorthodox SMOK Novo review was created to make it easier for you to understand what this vape is all about by comparing it to the most relevant reference point: the JUUL.
I can’t objectively tell you which of these two vapes is better, because that depends on a number of subjective preferences.
What I CAN do is tell you my personal opinion and give recommendations on who I think the Novo is most suitable for.
Since getting the Novo, I have been loving it. Once again, the most important factor for me is the consistent vapor production.
I also love saving money by NOT buying JUUL Pods.
As the days go by I find myself using the JUUL less and less, but that isn’t to say I’m abandoning it forever.
Plus, I plan on reviewing MANY more pod-based vapes, so who knows what I’ll end up sticking with.
Based on all I’ve covered and experienced so far, here are my thoughts on who is better suited to the Novo than the JUUL.
You may prefer the
Novo over the JUUL if:
- You vape very frequently (chain-vape)
- You are looking to save money
- You are trying to save money by refilling JUUL Pods
- You don’t mind having to manually fill pods
- You want a longer battery life and larger pod volume
- You don’t mind paying a little extra attention to avoid dry-hits
- You just want to mix it up and try something new
You might not prefer the
Novo over the JUUL if:
- You don’t “chain-vape”
- Ease of use and low-maintenance are important to you
- You’d rather pay (a lot) more for convenience
- You like JUUL Pods, and don’t want to go through the hassle of finding a good 3rd-party e-juice (there are LOTS of bad ones)
- You can’t stand dry-hits and spitback (the devious duo)
- You don’t want to have to “guess” when you need a new pod
This should give you a better idea of whether or not the Novo is right for YOU.
It comes with two pods to get you started, but finding the right e-juice is your responsibility!
If you want to take the Novo for a spin, you can pick it up for $19.95 by clicking the button below. In most vape shops it’ll cost twice as much!
The Battle is Over…
This brings an end to my SMOK Novo review.
And also completes my trial run of the JUULability review system.
There will be many more in the future, so stay tuned.
I have really enjoyed the Novo and hope this post helps some others share in that enjoyment. (and save some money too!)
Have a great day dear
JUULers Novonites, we’ll see you soon.
How do you like this review format? Too in-depth? Not in-depth enough? Have you decided to try out the SMOK Novo? Which vape should I run through the JUULability Scale next? Let me know in the comments below!