If SMOK made TV shows, they would be like the “Real Housewives” series – endless variations on the same theme, with enough of the same stuff underneath to make you wonder why you’re still paying attention. Take, for example, the all-new SMOK NOVO Ultra Portable, or simply put, a pod mod starter kit. The NOVO Pod Mod brings absolutely nothing new to the table, other than the name, a new coat of paint, and a questionable reason for being.
If you’re a pod mod enthusiast, or a collector, or just someone who needs to own every one of the 38 devices SMOK releases each month, let me save you the trouble of scrolling down – the SMOK NOVO is a perfectly functional, decent pod vape. There’s some improvements under the hood, and it satisfies in its delivery of high-nicotine/salt-type e-liquids. And for that reason, it earns its B- score.
But if you keep buying SMOK pod mods in hopes that the next one will be “the one” – the pod mod to end the JUUL pod’s reign of dominance across the vaping landscape – well, get comfortable and put down the credit card, because the NOVO isn’t it.
Taking design cues from competitors like the Aspire Breeze, the NOVO is a wide, more-rounded affair than SMOK’s previous pod offerings, like the SMOK Fit Ultra and the Infinix (reviewed here). And it’s likely that this was done to accommodate the 450mAh integrated battery – nearly double the capacity of those two other SMOK pod mods I just mentioned.
With this wider frame comes a suitably wider mouthpiece, but don’t be fooled into thinking the NOVO has loftier dreams than snug, mouth-to-lung vaping. Nope, there aren’t any direct lung hits to be found here, no matter how much battery power sits under the hood. The SMOK NOVO is a tight ultra portable, authentic smoking-like experience for new vapers, or just those who long for those cigarette-like draws from the days of yore.
The aesthetics of the NOVO are in line with SMOK’s larger devices, most notably the gorgeous X-Priv, (reviewed here) right down to the honeycomb/snakeskin pattern that adorns the device faces. The package is completed with some nifty chrome-like trim, but don’t be fooled by the appearance, this is still plastic, and the finish will chip if not cared for properly.
Still, I have to hand it to SMOK for moving past the matte plastic design they’ve employed on previous pod mod releases. The NOVO is easily the best of the lot.
The pods themselves are standard-fare for anyone who’s used one of these beginner vape mods before. They’re integrated into the mouthpiece, and remove easily for filling and replacement. Once in place, they lock in with a confident “snap” sound, and the device is ready to go. Each one offers the industry-standard 2mL capacity, with a versatile 1.2-ohm resistance – not loose, but not like vaping through a cocktail straw, either.
Filling isn’t bad, considering the messy nightmares we’ve had with other pod mods, but the NOVO still caters to those with needle tipped bottles, and not droppers like so many companies insist on still using. That said, unlike the Infinix kit, there ISN’T a needle tipped bottle in the kit, so consider that a major oversight on their part.
Instead, the kit comes with a simple offering of the device, two pods, and a tiny USB charge cable you probably don’t need anyway.
SMOK NOVO ULTRA PORTABLE Pod Starter Kit Specs:
- Size: 88.3 x 24.3 x 14.3mm
- Weight: 40g
- Battery Capacity: 450ml
- Standby Current: <200uA
- E-Juice Capacity: 2ml
- Input Voltage: 3.3V-4.2V
- Output Wattage: 10W-16W
- Covered with Cobra Pattern
- Ergonomic Design and Portable Size
- Air-Driven System
SMOK NOVO ULTRA PORTABLE Pod Starter Kit Contents:
- 1x – Smok NOVO
- 2x – Smok NOVO Replacement Pod
- 1x – Micro-USB Cable
The battery is the star of the show here. The SMOK NOVO’s 450mAh outperforms most internal cells twice its size, and I managed to get 3+ hours of STEADY use out of it before the tiny LED light indicated it was time to plug in. If you’re used to dual-18650 mods, there’s nothing here that’s going to impress you. But if you’re comparing similar devices, don’t be put off by the 450mAh – this battery can flat out GO.
That’s why it’s a shame that the actual vape quality isn’t up to the same standards. Sure, it vapes well enough, with quick ramping, solid throat hit (when using the appropriate nic salt-type liquids) and warm, relatively thick vapor. But the NOVO’s flavor quality isn’t nearly as good as the older Infinix, which offered a much more nuanced, layered balance of flavors than this. I could taste my liquids fine, but I knew what other flavors I was supposed to be enjoying, and they just never quite came through.
Also, for a pod mod, the NOVO’s mouthpiece gets awfully warm after just a few repeated draws. Again, nothing tragic or off-putting, but this residual heat didn’t seem to align with the weakness of the flavor underneath. A little disappointing to see a dropoff in flavor quality when SMOK’s products are usually so focused on BETTER flavor with each new iteration.
Overall, I liked the SMOK NOVO enough that it earned a spot on my wall of “to revisit” pod mods (you’d be surprised how few actually even make it that far). I didn’t love the flavor, but I did appreciate the form factor, draw quality and outstanding battery life enough that the NOVO will be used in the car from time to time, and at times when I need to be a little stealthier about my vaping.
Is it necessary? Is it even the best SMOK pod mod released in the last few months? No and no. And it’s probably not going to dent the JUUL’s sales one iota. But if you’re looking for a solid, no-frills pod mod vape, the NOVO is roughly on par with its competitors, and looks a hell of a lot better than most of them along the way.