The JUUL pod is probably the most controversial vape kit ever released and single handedly is alleged to have created the so called ‘teen vaping epidemic‘ over in America.
It’s infamy stems from the huge 59% nicotine salt eliquid strength sealed pods and the fact it seemed the message it was ‘cool to JUUL’ had attracted shall we say a younger adult following.
I’ve covered all this on numerous occasions and whilst some politics is important to set up the review – I won’t go into too much depth here.
So Is the JUUL the Jewel In the Pod Kit Crown?
Obviously due to the TPD/TRPR here in the UK and wider Europe we can only buy the max 20mg nic sealed pods, as to if that level playing field is putting JUUL’s chances of success at risk over this side of the pond we shall see in the future. Incidentally the pods have a 1.7ml capacity which is under the allowed 2ml…
The company has attracted the wrath of EcigClick award winning reviewer Vaping With Vic who is extremely unhappy about the company’s ‘practices’ and ties with both Big Tobacco and the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) – I’ve linked to his video. Also this week Chris Bell another EcigClick award winner from Empire Vape Co has removed all his JUUL stock from his shelves and binned them!
More on that here if a little read takes your fancy – JUUL ‘secret shopper’ visiting his vape shop in Liverpool
It’s A Free Market So Will JUUL Hold Its Own?
OK so as I said JUUL next to IQOS are really putting the cat among the pigeons on the UK vape scene so is all the fuss worth it?
What I mean by that is in a free market where purchase power is everything – does the JUUL cut it as a vape device especially against a market flooded with both closed (pre-filled pods) and open (refillable) pod systems? And can it grab the incredible 75% of the the vape market it holds in the USA here in the UK?
I’ve had one JUUL on the go for a while however the device and x5 pods for this review were sent out direct from JUUL free of charge. As always my thoughts and opinions in a review are unswayed by freebies or indeed the politics within the vape scene.
Like it or lump it JUUL is here and whilst some claim they might have aggressive marketing methods – particularly towards vape shop owners – as always in a free market the product will have to be good to ‘make it’ and certainly if it’s to keep its incredible UK sales targets – no matter how strong the marketing and PR team are. If it’s good enough it will survive – if not it will just be another vape kit on the shelf.
Right…let’s see if indeed JUUL is the jewel in the crown of the pod kits.
Inside the Box
There’s a couple of ways of buying the kit – the device on its own with no pods – as a starter kit with the battery and x 4 pods and of course the JUUL pods can be bought separately in packs of four.
For this review I received the device/charger and x5 packs of pods. Inside the starter kit you’ll find:
- Rechargeable JUUL device
- USB Charging Dock
- Four JUUL pods (Mango Nectar, Royal Creme, Golden Tobacco, and Glacier Mint)
- User manual
- Includes 2 year limited device warranty
- Length (battery): 8.72 cm
- Length (battery + pod): 9.48 cm
- Width: 1.51 cm
- Pod capacity 0.7 mL [200 puffs]
- 200w internal battery
- Between 6w and 10w approx!
Quick Start Guide
- Plug charger into USB port and snap on device
- Remove all packaging from pod – including coloured cap and slot into device
- Tap device gently twice to check battery life:
- Green – 50 – 100%
- Yellow 25 – 50%
- Red under 25%
- Also tap twice to ‘wake device up’
- Vape is draw activated
Simplicity is key here as it is with most pod kits.
It’s really a simple matter of popping the pod into the device and vaping!
One issue the JUUL has here in the UK and Europe is the cap on nicotine strength the pods can contain – sub 20 mg. In this case the flavoured pods are 20 mg/mL e-liquid (1.7% by weight) – a long way off the 5 % (59mg) and 3% available in the USA.
There are currently a total of 6 different flavoured pods available however in the UK the Alpine Berry is ONLY available from the JUUL website.
Design and Build Quality
The outer shell is aluminum and is powered by an internal 200w lithium battery [4.5v] so not only is the JUUL pretty tough it’s also light as a feather.
Build wise it’s very well put together though some pods can be a little tight to get in which on the other hand means once snapped in there’s no wiggle room and the magnets also make for a firm fit.
The pods are 0.7ml capacity so under the limit of the TPD/TRPR and are sealed as in they cannot be refilled.
Design wise it’s extremely simple and whilst I usually like those kind of clean lines the JUUL won’t win any beauty contests.
It is dare I say functional and maybe a little bland to look at, especially as all the flavoured JUUL pods have the exact same coloured top. This can mean if you’ve got a couple of flavours on the go you have to smell or puff on them to check the flavour – a little gripe.
But also from a design point of view the different coloured caps on say the Apollo Brez do add a bit of ‘interest’ to the look of the set-up.
It is comfortable in the hand however even the brushed finish does make it a little slippery and I have dropped it more than once. That could be old age but as I said it is quite slippy in the hand.
One major gripe I have is the charge dock. I have an old school tower PC under my desk with USB ports on top. This means the JUUL dock doesn’t sit up and proud like you see on a laptop and a few times the battery has lost the connection – despite magnets – as gravity takes over – definitely something to bear in mind.
- Check out our JUUL Alternatives
How Does the JUUL Pod Mod Perform?
As I’ve already explained using the JUUL is as simple as it gets. Tap it twice to wake up and puff away – easy.
I didn’t receive all the pods – the Royal Crème was missing – I’ll get on the flavour/vapour of the 5 I did get in a moment.
First up the charge time from flat to full is around an hour according to the website. That’s about right in my experience though I was sub 60 minutes a few times.
OK it’s a 200mAH internal battery which compared to many pods out there is very low and from what I can gather you’re looking at between 6 and 10w max.
And there’s my real issue with the JUUL – it feels extremely underpowered to say the least.
Add to that the pods are nicotine salt based and the throat hit is pretty much non-existent.
The vape is extremely and I mean extremely smooth and despite the max allowed nic level as I’ve said the e-liquid is also smooth meaning I’m dubious as to if this is suitable for the majority of smokers coming straight off lit cigarettes. However the draw is the tighter side of restricted which I found reasonably comfortable…so almost the perfect MTL vape with decent vapour.
I had my original JUUL about a month ago and have used it as my ‘go to’ MTL set-up for quite some time. Indeed I’ve taken it pretty much everywhere with me as I really and I mean really wanted to put it through its paces.
Sure I can feel my personal nic levels are OK…just about lol…however I do find I’m chain vaping it to get even the slightest tickle at the back of my throat. The JUUL tickle is feather-like to say the least.
As someone who still enjoys a robust throat hit – even after all these years – I’m not sure this is the best kit to buy straight off the fags if that’s what you’re looking for. I would however say it’s not a bad back up or shall we say an intermediate kit for a few weeks down the line on a quit smoking journey.
JUUL Pod Flavour Review
As I said I received x5 of the 6 available flavours and all at 20mg nic salt. As always taste is a subjective thing so what I may like/dislike may be the opposite for you.
A blend of rich traditional tobacco flavour with a smooth finish. 1.7% nicotine strength
Smooth is most definitely the word here…think Silk Cut rather than a stronger blend.
The taste kind of deceives if that makes sense. Sure it’s a decent tobacco – certainly better than any of the all-out Big Tobacco company e-liquid blends…however almost as soon as it hits the taste-buds it kind of melts away coming back on the exhale but far too weak for my strong tobacco flavoured preferences.
The nic salt base means there’s no throat hit at all [consider this line added to the next 4 flavours!].
Bold and crisp mint flavour with an icy finish. 1.7% nicotine strength.
Regulars will know what I’m about to say…I don’t do menthol lol.
Bold is a bit of an overstatement – if you like almost harsh brain freeze menthols this isn’t for you.
What you get is a sweet minty inhale with a not quite extra strong mint exhale. It is quite refreshing and definitely palate cleansing – to a point. By that I mean that after roughly half a pod it became a little sickly for my personal palate…but then I must stress menthol flavours are not my cup of tea.
Freshly picked apple flavour with a crisp finish. 1.7% nicotine strength.
So close to being an awesome apple flavour!
The smell off the pod and vapour is divine to say the least however that inhale promises a lot but doesn’t deliver at all.
It’s actually very frustrating as in you can almost taste fresh crisp apples but just like the tobacco flavour as soon as it hits the tongue it just fades away – quite bizarre actually lol.
It’s actually quite weird on the exhale because as the vapour blows over your taste buds it once again registers as fresh tasty apple but mutes just before you blow the clouds…frustrating to say the least.
Tangy mango flavour with notes of tropical fruits. 1.7% nicotine strength.
Again lovely aroma from the pods and yup once again the taste just disappears the more you puff on the pod.
The only way I can describe this one is a fruit squash that’s been watered down.
Once again that initial inhale promises a rich fruit punch however it never makes it on either the inhale or exhale.
A real let down for me…
Berry flavour with bright and fresh notes. 1.7% nicotine strength.
For some reason this flavour is only available on the website.
Again the smell is bloody lovely and this time it just and I mean just about manages to holds it’s own.
Flavour off the inhale is slightly more defined and does come through a tad stronger on the exhale. Still a bit under-flavoured for me but certainly the best of the bunch I’ve tried.
- Dead simple to use
- Fast charging
- Choice of flavours
- Decent vapour
- NO leaking at all
- Feels way underpowered
- Poor throat hit
- Poor battery life
- Flavours muted
- Fiddly charging unless using laptop
- Only one nic strength option
- Pod caps all same colour
- Pricey when not on offer!
As I said at the start one if not the key to JUUL’s phenomenal success and some might say notoriety over in the USA is the strength of nicotine within the pods. Over here it’s a very different story and it seems that somewhere in the calculations they’ve cut back the strength – but also on the flavour formula.
From what I’ve seen and read the flavours over here are definitely muted and putting all 5 to the taste test I have to agree. They’ve cut back on the nic and it definitely feels like a cut back on the flavour concentrates.
I’ve seen too many claims on the net of the flavours nowhere near as tasty here compared to the US and that stands up for me and that’s without tasting the US versions!
Hey if I’m wrong tell me so as I’m sure you will!
I’d use one word to describe the whole vape experience off the JUUL – underpowered.
Pumping out a max of 10w isn’t cutting it for me and trust me the battery life isn’t that good either. Less than full power only adds to the flavour drop meaning the tiniest almost non-existent throat tickle fully powered just drops away to nothing halfway into battery life.
It’s back to those flavours again and the way they promise from the aroma and millisecond into a draw – then literally melt away on both the inhale and exhale is really quite bizarre!
Is The JUUL the Pod For Qutting Smoking?
Maybe…but only just…let me explain.
I don’t think the JUUL is the go to device for smokers looking to come straight off the lit cigs – however each to his/her own.
IF the throat hit isn’t high on your list then the 20mg nicotine will obviously get into your system and help the cravings.
If however you need that scratch/tickle on your tonsils the JUUL is one for a little further into your vaping journey.
And IF you’re looking for robust flavoursome flavours then sadly like the device they too are underpowered! I will say they do last well – I lost count but got at least a day and a half from each pod using it as my go to.
Bear in mind also that a packet of x4 Juul pods is around a tenner which means you’re paying that for less than 8 ml of e-liquid…though to be fair that’s pretty standard if a little cheaper than some other sealed pod systems…and also bare in mind the pods have just a 1.7ml capacity.
Not impressed with the flavours at all…sure the system is a cinch to use but here’s that word again…underpowered.
It’s not one I’m going to carry around however I think they’ll sell plenty if only for the curiosity factor…