The JUUL is a pod vape designed for transitioning smokers. It was one of the first of its kind. It’s slim, lightweight and easy to use. It utilizes disposable pods, so it’s like a disposable vape. But it’s rechargeable, so the only part you dispose of are the pre-filled pods.
JUUL pods come pre-filled with 3% and 5% nicotine salt, and are available in tobacco and menthol. Each pod holds about 0.7 mL of e-juice and they come in packs of two and packs of four pods. Unfortunately, I only have access to the tobacco pods here due to the flavor ban in New York. It happens to be a decent tobacco flavor but I sure do miss the days of cool mint and mango pods!
The JUUL was ahead of its time when it was released in 2015. Our first review of it was in February of 2016. A lot has changed since then. Additionally, the device has come down a lot in price in recent years. But is it it still one of the best pod vapes available in 2021?
Price: $9.99 (for the device), $16.99 (pack of 4 pods), $6.99 (charger)
Availability: Various convenience stores, JUUL website (in select locations) (juul.com/shop)
The JUUL resembles a USB stick more than a vape. On the other hand, it looks like almost every disposable vape modeled after it over the past few years. The battery is constructed of aluminum and the pods are made of plastic. It doesn’t feel cheap, it’s lightweight yet durable. It doesn’t have any buttons either—it’s draw-activated. So it only puts out vapor while you are puffing on it.
Its battery capacity is only 200 mAh, but it doesn’t demand a lot of power. It’s temperature controlled, so it tends to only put out just enough power for a fairly moderate puff. The JUUL battery comes with a mini USB charging dock and is available in the original grey or light silver.
The device has gone through a few iterations over the years. But most of the changes have been internal—its form factor hasn’t changed since the third edition. The JUUL is still 87.2 mm in length, 94.8 mm long and 15.1 mm in length. With a full pod in, it weighs just over 14 grams. It’s heavier than a cigarette but it’s still light enough to hold securely in your mouth using your lips.
The JUUL battery and pods are sold individually. They both come in the classic slim recyclable cardboard boxes. The battery only comes with a USB charge dock, and they are also available separately. The device is no longer available as a complete starter kit with pods anymore.
JUUL pods go for $15.99 for a pack of 4, and $9.99 for a pack of 2. The 4 pack has gone down in price by a few bucks, but pods are still gonna run you about $4-5 each. If you are eligible for shipping in your location, you can still use auto-shipping to save an additional 15% on pods. The pod snaps into the device. It doesn’t make a loud click but it fits securely inside the JUUL.
The JUUL was designed for the average smoker. So, you don’t have to be an expert to use it. It comes with a very simple user manual, but here are the main steps to using a JUUL.
That’s all folks! The JUUL is one of the simplest vapes to learn how to use. In some ways, it’s even easier than smoking because you can take a puff, put it in your pocket and take another one whenever you feel like it. The JUUL won’t turn on or produce vapor unless you’re puffing on it.
Due to regulations, JUUL has reduced their flavor selection to tobacco and menthol. I was lucky enough to enjoy my fair share of the original JUUL pod flavors back in the day. Today, I am limited to just tobacco.
Virginia Tobacco: This one is pretty realistic for a tobacco flavor. You don’t taste any smoke, but it does taste the way a fresh pack of smokes smell, before lighting them up. I wouldn’t really consider it a sweet tobacco flavor, but it does have a rich, almost nutty taste like pipe tobacco. I feel like if they’re gonna get any flavor right it should be tobacco, which they’ve managed to do.
The effectiveness of the whole device will depend on that one tobacco flavor, for many people like myself. I actually happen to like it, but it’s not my preferred all day vape. I use to enjoy it more as a change of pace when I was vaping the original sweet and fruity JUUL pod flavors.
For the record, you might still find some off-brand JUUL pod flavors for sale. From my experience, they range from okay to ridiculously bad, and that’s not considering their extremely inconsistent performance. Unless you have no other options available, I would stick with authentic JUUL pods. I also wouldn’t recommend attempting to hack and refill your JUUL pods.
The FDA announced 2 Jan 2020 that it will begin enforcing all Deeming Rule requirements immediately for prefilled pod- and cartridge-based vaping products in flavors other than tobacco and menthol. Products sold after Feb. 2 are subject to enforcement if the FDA has not granted them marketing approval through a premarket tobacco application (PMTA). No PMTAs have been approved for vaping products yet. The FDA guidance only applies to products sold in the United States.
The draw on a JUUL is very similar to a cigarette. You can get a real mouth to lung style draw from it, and the clouds are minimal. The vapor temp is regulated by an internal chip, which is nice for battery life and flavor. But depending on your nic tolerance, the JUUL will either give you a head rush and possibly make you cough, or will leave you craving a warmer, denser puff.
The good: The pods are fairly consistent in terms of flavor, strength and quality control. I’ve gone through literally hundreds of proprietary JUUL pods over the years and they all pretty much hit the same. The vapor production is comparable to a cigarette, so it’s very discreet and suitable for stealth vaping. The JUUL is best suited for people who crave a tight cigarette-style draw.
The throat hit is alright, more so on the 5% pods. The 3% pods still have a little kick to them, but the throat hit is weaker due to the lower nic strength. So you have two options: medium and strong. The 3% will still deliver, but are less likely to give you a nic buzz. The 5% nic option is ideal for people who don’t just want to get their nicotine, but want to feel it a little bit too.
The bad: The temp control feature on the newer 2019-present JUULs restrict the vapor output to a minimum. It almost feels like you get this initial burst of power, you might get some light crackling, then it levels out right away. So, while the hits are consistent, they’re consistently weaker than many of the devices out there—disposables included.
The first time I hit a JUUL, it was a rush! I wasn’t accustomed to vaping nic salt yet. These days, I vape nicotine salt e-juice on a daily basis in refillable vapes. So the JUUL doesn’t hit like it used to anymore for me, it just feels airier and cooler than I remember. I don’t know what happened.
I suspect that it’s due to an update on the temp control feature because I also never experienced the occasional dry hit like I used to. But it takes me a few puffs to be truly satisfied. Every once in a while though, I’ll get a slightly warmer crackly hit that reminds me of the golden days.
If you google “JUUL customer service” you’ll see everything from praise to horror stories. I’ve made purchases from JUUL in the past without any major issues. But my cousin didn’t have the best experience when he needed to exchange his defective device. But that was a few years ago.
With that said, they do offer a one-year warranty. They claim to repair, replace or refund JUUL batteries within a year of purchase. While that sounds good on paper, I’ve heard stories of people giving up on vaping altogether because they didn’t get the type of support they were hoping for. I hope they have made improvements in that department.
For heavy vapers and smokers, you can get close to a half a day on a full charge. If you vape less, the battery might last a day. Ideally, you’ll want to fully charge it before your first use, but who really has time for all that? I was able to get a full evening of vaping on it right out of the box without ever charging it.
To charge it, insert the USB dock into your computer and attach the bottom of the JUUL battery to the magnetic contacts. You won’t be able to vape it while it’s charging unless you remove it, and it charges in under an hour. In fact, my JUUL took closer to 45 minutes to charge up.
I had a few late nights out when I feared my battery was going to die, but it just kept on going. However, if you’re using the JUUL as your main vape, it’s smart to keep an extra charged battery on hand, especially if you won’t have access to a nearby USB port or wall adapter.
The JUUL just doesn’t feel the same anymore. Aside from the complete lack of flavor options, the hit just feels empty. I suspect they either lowered the overall wattage output, or tweaked something to make the temperature control feature a lot more sensitive. The hits tend to be cooler and generally less satisfying. If you’ve ever vaped a JUUL prior to 2019, then you’ll most likely notice the decline.
Do you notice a difference compared to the original JUUL device? Leave a comment below.