Smokers looking to trade in their old tobacco cigarettes for a cleaner, healthier alternative have no shortage of options today. Vapes come in a number of styles, sizes, and complexities. Some mods have a refillable tank, a large battery pack, coils and other pieces to manage independently. The majority of folks who vape today, though, opt for the simple, user-friendly experience offered by pod vapes.
Pod vapes account for the majority of vape market sales right now, and are sweeping the globe as an alternative to cigarettes. Within the category itself, though, are broad ranges of brands, styles, juice blends, and more. Two major competitors in the pod vape market right now are the Juul (read our guide here and our review here), from Juul Labs, and the Phix (read our review here), by MLV. Though each vape adheres to some of the generic standards of manufacture and functionality, design nuances and specially-blended juices are what truly distinguish one pod vape from the next. Here are some of the ways the Phix and Juul stack up against one another.
To do a proper comparison, I used the original tobacco flavored pods for each vape. Pod vapes use nicotine salt e-juice to get higher concentrations of nicotine per hit and a feeling in the throat similar to smoking a cigarette. Each company has a proprietary blend, so their taste and feel is a little different, but noticeably so if you puff them back to back.
The Phix hits the back of the throat a little harsher than the Juul, but that could also be the way the juice is made. For the full-bodied tobacco hit, the Phix delivers reliably. Opt for the Juul to get a “light cigarette” hit. Neither exhale carried much scent. There was the brief smell of tobacco, and then nothing. After each puff, the Phix consistently delivered a bit more vapor than the Juul. For the first few puffs of the Juul, it was difficult to tell if I was really getting a hit.
The Phix’s form factor is a little larger than the Juul, but perhaps negligibly so. Each device is oblong, the Juul more rectangular and slim. The Phix’s diamond like shape gives it a little bit of a grip. Pod vapes are generally designed to slip easily and comfortably into a pocket or a bag. Both vapes wear a sleek, minimalist black metallic look. Vinyl skins are available online to personalize the device, for those who want more than the basic black aesthetic.
By virtue of its smaller form factor, the Juul is lighter and more compact than the Phix. Using either one, though, felt essentially the same. If anything, the rhombus shape of the Phix simply made it easier to pick up off the table; I could scoop it more easily into my hand than the Juul. The Juul is a simpler, smaller rectangle.
Pods slide easily into each vape. The Juul pod clips into place with a hard, knowing click. The Phix, instead, snaps in itself into place via magnet. Despite the smaller size of the Juul, it was easier to get the pod snapped into the heating unit. Due to the unusual shape of the Phix, lining up the pod with the unit didn’t feel as intuitive.
In the Box
Between the two, both starter kits offer the same essentials. Each is packaged with the heating unit and a charging cable. The Juul, however, also includes a mixed 4-pack of flavored Juul pods. The Phix Starter Kit, by contrast, comes with a single, tobacco flavored pod. Though the Phix comes with a single pod, it boasts a 400-450 puff count. Phix pods are 1.5 mL compared to the Juul’s 0.7 mL pod size. Regardless of size, each pod contains 5% nicotine by volume, the standard for pod vape juices.
Both devices charge via USB charger. The Juul charger is a USB plug with a magnet to connect to the unit, while the Phix has a small length of cable between the USB and the charging unit. Between the two, the Phix’s charger feels sturdier, since the device actually sits inside the charger a half inch or so.
The price of each pod vape may be one of their biggest differences. The Phix has a few nuances like magnets and an easy grip design, but is the lower-priced of the two.
Phix Starter Kit – $34.99
Includes Device, Charger, and single pod (original tobacco)
Juul Starter Kit – $49.99
Includes Device, Charger, and 4 pack mixed pods (mango, tobacco, menthol, creme brulee)
The Juul retails a little higher than the Phix to start, but the trade off is having four Juul pods at first purchase, versus the Phix’s one. Replacement Juul pods are $15.99 for another pack of four (or the manufacturer offers a monthly subscription mailed straight to you). The Juul now offers its tobacco and mint flavors in either 5% or 3% nicotine. Replacement Phix pods are $19.99 for four. Phix currently only sells their pods in 5% nicotine strength. Both brands have a variety pack, including four different flavors, or 4-packs of single flavor.
Simple, effective, and with the variety of pods to back it up, Juul Lab’s Juul is clearly the right choice if you want to set and forget your vape and enjoy an easy experience. MLV’s Phix is an outlier on the scene for now, but is the better choice if you like a considerate design, engineered to feel tough, yet elegant in your hand.
How does the Juul compare to other pod vapes? Read our Juul vs. Myblu comparison article and find out which one is best for you!