We’ve been paying more attention to pod mods recently, but you might have noticed there’s one we haven’t covered yet – the infamous JUUL. This is the sleek little gadget that has the US public health industry’s collective knickers in a massive twist, because it’s packed with so many dangerous features that make it uniquely attractive to teenagers. For example it’s available in kid-friendly flavours like cucumber, and we all know how easy it is to get teens to eat bland, watery salad vegetables, don’t we? It also recharges from a computer’s USB port, and what kid wouldn’t want to own such an unusual piece of cutting-edge technology?
Jesus, I can’t even manage any more sarcasm about this. Seriously; I’ve seen American public health “experts” cite the fact JUUL can be recharged from a laptop’s USB port as a feature that makes it attractive to kids. Every single e-cig and heat not burn device I have can be recharged from a laptop’s USB port. Yes, even my big clunky, dribbly mods. My phone can be recharged from a USB port. So can my tablet, and its keyboard. So can one of my digital cameras, all three of my iPods and the headlamp for my bike. Honestly, I’d have more trouble finding small consumer electronic devices that can’t be recharged from a USB port. Anyone who thinks this is a clever marketing feature aimed at turning kids into nicotine addicts is a sub-moron.
Anyway, why am I ranting about JUUL? I don’t have a JUUL. I was going to explain why we haven’t reviewed it yet but I got distracted. Never mind. What I do have is a JOYA pod mod, which turned up a couple of weeks ago and has now been thoroughly reviewed. Let’s have a look at it.
This is actually the second JOYA I’ve been sent, but German customs rather unsportingly confiscated the first one, so I had to wait for another to turn up. When it finally arrived my first thought was “What a neat little box!” My second was “Oh, and it was nice of them to include a portable charging case.”
The third was “Hang on, this looks just like a JUUL, doesn’t it?”
Yep, it’s a JUUL clone. In fact it looked so much like a JUUL I ordered a pack of JUUL pods just to see if they’d work in it.
OK, let’s take a step back. What I received was packed in a cardboard sleeve labelled as a device kit. Inside this were two small, flat boxes. One of them contained a four-pack of assorted pods; the other held the device itself.
This isn’t glamorous packaging. The package is neat and well-printed, but it’s just a card sleeve with a slide-out drawer, which contains the device and a docking station nestled in a lightweight plastic tray. Still, it does a good enough job of protecting the contents, so as far as boxes go it’s good enough.
The pods, meanwhile, came in four flavours – tobacco, mango, mint and fruit. Interestingly the package says they’re 5% nicotine – or 50mg/ml – which is way above the EU’s stupid 20mg/ml limit and probably explains why customs confiscated the first one. On the other hand it matches US JUUL pods, so I was getting to try the device with the nicotine strength it was designed for.
Looking at the device itself, it’s a sleek and impressive little thing. It also feels robust and well made despite its ridiculously light weight. Mine is a nice subdued gunmetal colour apart from the two tiny brass contacts at the bottom, and it all seems to be very nicely finished. By the way, one of the things that apparently makes JUUL and its clones so dangerous is that teachers and parents can’t recognise them because they look like USB storage drives. Well, do they mince. It’s easily twice as long as any USB drive I’ve seen in at least ten years. Anti-vapers really do come up with the stupidest arguments.
Anyway. Along with the device is the tiny docking station. This plugs into a USB port – I know; you’ve seen that on the news – and the JOYA simply sits in it to charge. It’s held in there by a magnet, too, so it won’t fall out if the teacher bumps your laptop. Overall it’s a very neat system, and only takes about 20 minutes to fully charge the not exactly capacious 220mAh battery.
As I mentioned, I also got a portable charging case for the thing. This is another neat little package, consisting of a leatherish-wrapped box with a small LED display and a magnetic lid. Inside there’s a slot for the JOYA, complete with charging pins at one end, and compartments for three spare pods. Dick Puddlecote informs me that the official JUUL PCC doesn’t have space for extra pods, so hats off to JOYA for innovation here. Under the tray with all these useful compartments is a 1,200mAh battery charged via a micro USB port, so there’s enough juice in there to give your JOYA five full charges; the LED display will show you the mod’s charge status plus what percentage charge is left in the PCC. It’s a very nice little accessory.
Vaping the JOYA
Anyway, let’s get down to business. Once the JOYA was fully charged I snapped in a pod – one of the ones that came with it – and took a puff. This device has an automatic switch, so there’s no fire button to mess with. It’s as simple as it gets.
It’s also very effective. Like any pod mod, it’s never going to compete with my usual gear when it comes to producing dense, hot vapour; it just doesn’t have the power to do that. On the other hand it does deliver a very effective nicotine hit, and considering the size of the thing vapour production is actually pretty impressive. The secret is in the liquid, of course; it’s 50mg/ml nicotine salt liquid, so it delivers plenty of nicotine and it does it very, very smoothly.
Oh, by the way, public health morons: Yes, one pod contains as much nicotine as a whole pack of cigarettes. Of course it bloody does, because it replaces a whole pack of cigarettes. A normal vaper will get through a pod a day, so you’re getting all the nicotine you want without a side dish of carbon monoxide, tar and potential death.
Anyway yes, this is a very effective alternative to cigarettes. I used it non-stop for almost a week and didn’t find it in any way unsatisfying for the first four days. After that? Well, this is part of the reason why I want the hardest cliff-edge Brexit possible.
Remember how I said I ordered a pack of JUUL pods? So, they turned up and I plugged one into the JOYA to see if it worked. And it did, perfectly. Unfortunately these were EU-approved JUUL pods, which means the nicotine level has been slashed to a measly 1.7% – it’s marked 20mg/ml on the box, but actually just 17mg/ml. This is not an improvement. Does it become totally effective with TPD-compliant pods? No, but you’re going to get through a lot more pods. The 20mg/ml limit is utterly stupid, and by making devices like this less effective it will deter smokers from switching. The sooner the UK can flush the TPD down the toilet of history, the better.
I have to say, the JOYA – with full strength pods, at least – is a great little device. It’s barely heavier than a cigarette (so I can work with it perched on my lip) but delivers a satisfying puff of nicotine-laced vapour along with some great flavours. Which I like, despite being very much not a teenager. It’s simple to use, and combined with the PCC will easily keep you vaping for at least a couple of days between recharges or restocking the pod supply. My only reservation is that, with EU-legal pods, it’s not going to be a lot cheaper than smoking. If you can get proper 50mg/ml pods it could be just what you’re looking for.
For more information on the Joya Vape Pen please feel free to visit the Joya website.