Battle of the Vape Pod Systems
In June 2015, PAX labs, a company known for its dry herb vaporizers such as the PAX and the Era, revolutionized the e-juice vaping market. Their new pod system, JUUL, grabbed vapers by the throat, demonstrating that all those bells and whistles that we saw with modern box mods are not really necessary for a good vape session.
It’s been nearly three years since JUUL debuted and, although a lot of manufacturers tried to create devices that would replace it as the go-to portable vape pod system, PAX still dominates the market. Well, at least for now, that is.
Just recently, a new pod system, the BYRD by Space Jam, was released. We did a pretty extensive review on it right here, so make sure to give that a read - you’ll soon realize why JUUL might not be the big kahuna for long. Since its release, the BYRD slowly but steadily captured the imagination of vapers who came to rely on JUUL for their daily nicotine fix.
Here’s what one Reddit user had to write about it:
Creating a closed pod system that could rival JUUL took a lot of planning. It also took a lot of guts - going after one of the biggest names in the vaping market (JUUL passed the one million mark of sold devices a couple of months ago) isn’t something that you do lightly. It takes months of preparation. So, how do you surpass the undisputed king of the e-cig market? By building something better, making it more available to users and charging a lower price.
On the surface, the BYRD and JUUL look pretty similar. That’s why we’ve decided to take both devices, vape on them for a bit, and then write up an honest, no-nonsense comparison of the two. How does the Byrd really stack up against JUUL? Well, here’s what we think.
JUUL vs. The BYRD - Cost Comparison
One of the biggest problems with JUUL is the fact that it’s so damn expensive. When all is said and done, a beginner pod system shouldn’t cost you around $50 without even including a measly 3mL of vape juice. JUUL, however, does - it currently retails for $49.99. This starter pack includes the device, a USB charger, and four differently-flavored pods.
On the other hand, the BYRD sells for $39.99 (right here on BuyVapor, which is currently the best price that you can get it for). The starter pack comes with the BYRD device, a charging cable, and four pods. However, while you only get 2.8mL of juice with JUUL, with the BYRD you get around 3.5mL because every pod contains 0.15mL more. This doesn’t seem like much in the grand scheme of things, but when you realize that you’re almost getting an extra pod worth of juice with the BYRD, it really puts everything into perspective.
When it comes to replacement pods, both manufacturers are sticking to the same price - $15.99 for four replacement pods of the same flavor. Again, the scales tip in favor of the BYRD once you factor in the fact that its pods pack more vape juice than those of JUUL.
Simple math suggests that opting for Space Jam’s the BYRD will result in modest savings in the long run. However, it’s not all about the money - a couple of bucks more or less isn’t what’s going to swing it here. To beat JUUL, the BYRD had to outperform it in other categories, such as ease of use, portability, battery life, flavors, design, and more. Just like everyone else, we were pretty surprised by the results of our testing. Read on to find out the outcome of the JUUL vs. the Byrd battle!
Design and Portability
If you place the BYRD and JUUL right next to each other, you’d be hard-pressed to say which is which. The devices are very similar and, if it weren’t for the markings, distinguishing between them would be almost guesswork. JUUL is around 9.5 cm long, while the BYRD comes in at around 10.5 cm and is slightly slimmer at 1.5 cm. If you have a good eye for details, you’ll catch the difference otherwise, both devices will look the same to you.
That’s why it’s difficult to declare a clear winner here, at least in terms of portability. Both vapes will fit comfortably into your pocket without showing - they don’t bulge, aren’t cumbersome, and definitely aren’t heavy. When it comes to design, JUUL doesn’t have too many distinguishing features - it’s a dark rectangle with a small LED light somewhere around the middle (it flashes to indicate battery life). The BYRD has a small logo near the base of the device, as well as a colored bottom cap (vivid green, Space Jam’s signature color), which makes it easier to identify it should you drop it somewhere in a poorly lit room.
Considering everything here, we’d give a slight edge to the BYRD, but only because it looks a bit more interesting than JUUL. Both devices have a design adequate for the purpose, however, and JUUL might be slightly more favored by vapers who are looking for a nondescript vaping device (no logo and no flashy colors).
Ease of Use
Both JUUL and the BYRD are extremely beginner-friendly. There are no buttons on either of them - they light up at a mere draw and go idle when not used for some time, saving battery power in the process.
JUUL’s LED battery indicator glows white when in use. To see the remaining battery, simply tap the pod twice. Depending on the charge, it will flash red, amber or green. If it’s red, it’s time to plug in your device into a charger. The BYRD, on the other hand, gives you the LED status unprompted - once the charge goes down, it will start flashing red, notifying you that you’re running out of battery juice.
When it comes to switching pods, it’s as easy as pie with both devices. Pods are locked in place magnetically, which means that they won’t rattle when inserted and won’t accidentally fall out. Moreover, the BYRD will let you know if you insert the pod the wrong way around by flashing red - simply turn it around, pop it back in, and you’re good to go.
JUUL pods vs. The Byrd Pods
(Nicotine, Flavors, Design, and Availability)
One of the biggest comparative advantages that the BYRD has over JUUL are the flavor profiles they offer. This is not surprising, seeing how Space Jam has been making M2L juices for a number of years.
Currently, JUUL offers more in terms of flavor variety - they have eight flavors available, three of which are limited editions (Cool Cucumber, Classic Tobacco, and Classic Menthol). However, most of those flavors are slightly underwhelming. As most users report (and we can confirm), the BYRD flavors are much more developed, on-point, and satisfying, even though there are only four available at the moment. We don’t doubt for a second that Space Jam will come up with new flavor combinations soon - these four flavors are, in our opinion, just the way to test the waters and to see what the consumers are looking for.
When it comes to nicotine, these pods use nicotine salts as opposed to more common freebase nic formulations that are found in regular vape juices. This means that the manufacturers can up the nicotine content without the throat hit becoming too much to handle. Right now, JUUL pods use a 5% nic strength (50mg/mL), while the BYRD uses 6% (60mg/mL). The difference is not huge, but this means that those looking to quit regular cigarettes might have a better chance with the BYRD.
Design-wise, the BYRD uses a new, horizontal coil placement and top airflow, while JUUL remains faithful to their vertical design. Consequently, the BYRD pods can fit more vape juice but, more importantly, the flavor notes are more pronounced, with less dry hits, and with a slightly less restricted airflow.
Last, but not the least, it’s important to note that JUUL has pod availability issues. Even regular flavors are sometimes unavailable and users can only order 15 pod packs from the official website every month (60 pods). While that’s not a small number, it means that heavy users often have to get inventive when trying to get to their pods. The company is forced to do this because they don’t have the capacity to produce a greater number of pods for now (plus, it’s a scarcity tactic that allows them to keep the pod price relatively high). The BYRD doesn’t have this problem for the moment. The pods are available right here on BuyVapor and there’s no limit to how many you can order (provided they don’t get sold out).
The biggest problem with all the pod systems is the potential for the pods themselves to leak. This usually happens during transport - the pods are still usable but now they’re just that little bit emptier and the package is a whole lot messier. JUUL had this issue in the past but managed to solve it (for the most part - it’s still a problem on occasion).
Unfortunately, pod leakage is something that the BYRD is still struggling with. Don’t get us wrong - out of 10 packs, we maybe had one leaky pod, so the problem is not that bad at all. Still, it would be ideal if it didn’t happen at all. Right now, we’re happy to chalk this down to growing pains - Space Jam is doing something new and the kinks need to be ironed out. Hopefully, the number of leaky pods will be reduced to a minimum as the company perfects the process in the future.
Battery Life and Charging
The JUUL uses a 200 mAh battery, which is pretty decent in terms of capacity, especially if you take into account the size of the device. Most users report that they can go through a work day with a full charge, provided they don’t use it all the time. This sounds great but what sounds better is a 350 mAh battery that can actually get you through the whole day (and not just the work day) without having to worry about how often you vape. This is exactly what the BYRD offers.
The BYRD’s large (for its size) battery guarantees that you will have enough power to vape when you need to, without worrying about where you left your charger. Similar to JUUL, the BYRD also uses fast-charge technology and can go from zero to a full charge in about an hour.
The BYRD is a pretty reliable little vape monster. Despite the fact that it doesn’t have temperature-sensing technology like JUUL (which is something they will look at in the future, according to a representative), dry hits are very rare, even on a nearly empty pod.
As we’ve already mentioned, it’s also way better in terms of flavor than any of its competitors, including JUUL and the Kilo’s 1K. Also, if you like blowing clouds around, you’ll get more bang for your buck with the BYRD. Granted, those clouds won’t be huge but they still beat anything that JUUL can manage. Another problem with the JUUL is that the spitback can be hellish. Usually, the way around it is to adjust and readjust the pod until you have it under control. With the BYRD, an innovatively designed mouthpiece saves you from the worst of it. Even if there is some spitback, the mouthpiece will protect your lips until you get a moment to adjust the pod.
The Final Verdict
It goes without saying that both JUUL and the Byrd are great vaping devices. However, if you’re in two minds about which one to get, we recommend Space Jam’s the Byrd. Its performance is on par with JUUL, as is its portability and its design features. However, the BYRD just tastes better and delivers more nicotine per puff, which is the whole point, really.
In addition, the Byrd’s battery life is better, meaning that you don’t have to carry your charger with you everywhere you go. The occasional leaky pod is a bit of a problem but we’re positive we’ll see less and less of that with future pod batches.
Order the BYRD pod system on ByVapor, get more vape juice, and pocket $10 you would spend extra if you opted for JUUL. After a few days, it will become your favorite vape, we can guarantee that!