Juul vs. Vuse Alto
Despite talk of a ban on vape pods, prefilled pod systems like Juul remain the best selling products in the vaping industry. Not surprisingly, Vuse Vapor, a subsidiary of R.J. Reynolds, wants a piece of the action and has thrown their hat in the ring. This winter they launched the Vuse Alto, a prefilled pod system clearly designed to go head to head with Juul.
To understand what the fuss about Juul is all about, it is important to realize their role in the creation of the prefilled, or closed, vape pod market. The biggest story with Juul is their use of nicotine salts, as mouth to lung vaping devices with prefilled, disposable nicotine cartridges have been an industry standard for a decade. We examine this turning point in the history of vaping in our feature: The Truth and Technology Behind Juul and Nic Salts Revealed.
Today we will see how the Vuse Alto stacks up to the Juul vape pod system mano a mano. Despite Juul’s slight downturn in sales this winter, thanks to new FDA regulations on e-cigs, the San Francisco based vaping giant remains the undisputed e-cig sales king. How will this new contender from Vuse fare against the defending champ?
The basic principles underlying the Vuse Alto and Juul are quite similar. They rely on prefilled vape pods that contain both the e-liquid and coil. The pods, sold in packs, are designed for a single use, although it is possible to refill a Juul pod.
What sets a prefilled vape pod system apart from older cartridge based e-cigs is the use of nicotine salt e-juice. For a breakdown of how nicotine salts changed vaping forever, check out our feature “What is Salt Nic?”
Science explains the appeal of salt nic. By adding benzoic acid to the freebase nicotine used in regular ejuice, the pH level of the nicotine is lowered. This allows the manufacturer to crank up the nicotine to much higher levels without the harshness brought by high pH levels. There are also studies that show nic salts cross the blood brain barrier more quickly, leading to a satisfying experience.
Before continuing, it is worth noting that there are also refillable vape pod systems available. If you are looking for a bit more flexibility with performance and coils, and more nic salt e-juice flavor options, check out our article on the Top Ten Juul Alternatives. We review and test the best refillable, also known as open, vape pod systems on the market today.
Vuse Alto vs. Juul
The tale of the tape reveals a couple of evenly matched foes. The Vuse Alto is a slightly larger device than Juul, which is shorter and narrower. The difference is pretty minimal, measured in millimeters, and you would have to be awfully pressed for space for this to influence your decision on which of these pod systems to buy. Design wise, the Alto also has a rounded mouthpiece, which is a bit more ergonomic than Juul’s rectangular one.
Both the Vuse Alto and Juul are fueled by nic salts with a standard strength of 5 percent. This is strong but standard, and may be ideal if you are a current smoker looking to transition to cigarette alternatives.
As far as performance, the Alto’s 350mAh battery is significantly larger than the approximately 200mAh power pack found in a Juul. Both batteries charge quickly, according to Vuse less than an hour for the Alto and about 50 minutes for a Juul. The Alto’s extra battery life meshes well with the Alto’s much larger pod capacity.
A Vuse Alto pod comes with 1.8ml of ejuice versus 0.7ml for the Juul. The Vuse Alto has an average power level of 6.5 watts, the Juul has been estimated at running between 6.5 and 8 watts. Very comparable.
The coil in the Alto has a resistance of 1.1 ohms. This is lower than the Juul, which ranges between 1.8 and 2 ohms depending on who is testing. They have been cagey about releasing this data.
The lower resistance coil gives the Alto noticeably better cloud production. Big clouds are not a priority for discrete pod users, and no one would mistake the Alto for a subohm box mod.
But there is more to the vaping experience than raw numbers. The first thing that sticks out about the Alto is that it is almost completely silent. Vuse refers to this as QuietDraw™ technology, and it is the real deal. No crackling, hissing, spit back or gurgle. Not that the Juul is particularly loud, but the Vuse Alto makes nary a sound.
If you are trying to vape discretely, noise is an issue. We are opposed to the covert use of e-cigs by minors and do not endorse vaping in prohibited areas.
We feel the teen vaping epidemic poses an existential threat to the vaping industry. Check out our Signs and Symptoms of Teen Vaping if you are worried your child is vaping. It was written by someone who was once a very sneaky teen, and is currently an avid vaper. This is the guide that every parent needs and the Truth Initiative could never provide.
We also advocate adhering to basic vaping etiquette, but that being said, sometimes you do not want to draw attention to your vaping. The Alto is great for this sort of stealth use. Both the Vuse Alto and Juul have 5 percent nicotine nic salts. So it doesn’t take much to get a fix, and chain vaping is probably not advisable. This strength makes the Alto a fine cigarette alternative for any current smoker looking to switch to vaping.
As mentioned above, the Alto does hit a bit harder than Juul. The combination of no noise and better cloud production is quite impressive. Neither device has a fire button, and instead use autodraw activation. In both cases, the draw is fairly stiff and restrictive. This is par for the course for closed vape pods, and a consistent theme throughout the years for low power, high nicotine cigarette alternatives.
Vuse Alto and Juul Flavor Options
Vuse had several years to perfect the Alto after Juul hit the market. They put this time to good use by designing a quieter, and more powerful product. The one area where Juul has the edge is flavor selection. The Vuse Alto has four outstanding flavors, versus eight for Juul. Or to put it more succinctly, Vuse does not have a mango flavor to go head to head with Juul.
If you don’t want a Juul and don’t feel like waiting for Vuse to introduce additional flavors, there are some great Juul Mango alternatives on the market. This is another example of the advantages provided by a refillable pod system. The flip side of the coin is that prefilled pods are more convenient and easier to use for beginning vapers. We pitted these all of the top mango flavors head to head in our Best Mango E-Juice comparison.
Juul offers Virginia Tobacco, Mint, Mango, Cucumber, Menthol, Fruit, Crème and Classic Tobacco pods. The Alto has two tobacco options. The Alto Original Tobacco is a sweet tobacco with a nice throat kick, and Alto Rich Tobacco has a more robust flavor.
I have a bit of a sweet tooth and prefer the outstanding and jammy Mixed Berry. This is a great flavor. The Alto may not have a mango flavor yet, but fruit vape juice fans will adore this strong ejuice.
Going head to head with Juul’s best selling juggernaut, mint, is the spearminty fresh Alto Menthol.
The Vuse Alto comes out FAR ahead on the value side of the ledger. The actual device starter kits cost about the same. This is no surprise with this level of technological parity. Alto pods are sold in 2-packs, and each pod is 1.8ml. This gets you about 30 percent more e-juice than a Juul 4-pack of 0.7ml pods. The Alto pods also cost at least $2.50 less per pack
What this translate to is a device that costs less than half as much to operate. If you pay retail price for a Juul pod, it will cost you $244.28 to vape 30ml of nic salt vape juice. Selling ejuice in bigger pods is apparently a smart move financially, because it costs only $112.50 to vape the same quantity of nic salt ejuice using an Alto.
If you are looking to try a prefilled vape pod system for the first time, you can’t go wrong with the Vuse Alto. It is also a great choice for vapers who are looking for a convenient, compact and well-engineered “on-the-go” device. Current Juul users should consider making the switch. They don’t have as large of a flavor selection, but the available Alto ejuices are all outstanding.
Judged on technical merits and performance, the Vuse Alto decisively beats the Juul. This is not surprising, as Vuse had several years to perfect their prefilled vape pod design. The Alto is cheaper to operate, generates a much better vapor cloud, and has better battery life. The quiet draw makes the Alto noiseless to operate. Head to head, the Alto flavors stack up well and their Mixed Berry is especially impressive.
Vuse offers additional flavors for their other devices, and hopefully they have some more options for the Alto in the works. This might give the Vuse the edge it needs to win the decisive knock-out victory that R.J. Reynolds was looking for.