We've already tested the Smok Novo once before, and next to the other pod systems that were being released at the time, we decided it wasn't good enough to make the cut. We've been hearing about the Novo more and more often though, so we decided to revisit it and see what we think after we've had some experience with other pod vape kits.
The Smok Novo is a small refillable pod vape kit with a 450mAh battery and a 2ml pod. Unlike the Nord, Smok's larger pod vape, the Novo is auto draw and therefore has no buttons. I quite like auto draw pod vapes, because not having any buttons means that you don't need to turn it on and off, and it's just that much easier to vape.
|Savor the peelies|
Like the Nord, the Novo has a metal body with snakeskin resin plates on the front and back of the device. I'm not exactly the biggest fan of snakeskin resin, but the lack of swirly colors that you usually see with resin does provide a remarkably clean look. Since the snakeskin resin isn't load-bearing like it might be on a tank, it doesn't really detract from the durability either.
The overall size is rather forgiving, being narrower but slightly taller and thicker than the Vaporesso Renova Zero. This size makes it pretty comfortable to carry around, but the tall and narrow profile means that it wants to lay sideways in a pocket. The very rounded body means that it's comfortable to hold in your hand or in a pocket, and the relatively light weight makes it easy to forget about until you want to use it.
The micro USB port on the side of the device is less noticeable than you might think, and it allows you to lay the device down flat when it's charging. The port is not braced against the body of the device though, which means you'll have to take care to not break it when plugging in and unplugging the cable.
The 2ml refillable pod fills through a rubber-plugged hole on the side of the pod. The round hole fits our 15 and 30ml bottles just fine, but some bottles like the chubby gorilla 30ml bottles that many salt nic juices are found in can be a little big and make filling difficult.
The pod attaches to the device via friction that comes from four plastic rails on the front and back of the pod. This allows the pods to fit firmly, but maybe a little too snug. Pulling the pod out certainly isn't as easy as it is with a magnetically attached pod like on the Vaporesso Renova Zero.
The vapor production from the 1.2 ohm coil is decent, though pretty standard as far as pod vapes go. The part that really throws me off is the flavor. There's something that's off about it. It's not necessarily lacking flavor, it's just a very different flavor than I'm used to. I'm using Pear at 12mg which I've been using in my Sourin Drop for months, and it doesn't taste like pear out of the Novo.
If I had to guess, I'd have to say that the odd flavor comes from the coil chamber being shrouded in metal. Whether you notice it or not, there are a lot of things in a vape putting off some kind of flavor. The coil, the wick, the chimney, the mouthpiece, everything plays a part in what your juice tastes like. I think the odd flavor that I'm getting is a slightly metallic taste from the coil chamber.
One of the most annoying things about the Novo that I really didn't think would bother me is the completely rounded bottom. Even something relatively round like the Suorin Drop can be sat upright due to the flat surface where the micro USB port is on the bottom, but the Nord has to be laid down. I'm sure most people wouldn't even think about something like that, but I find it genuinely frustrating.
Another inherent design flaw is the fact that the airflow comes in through a hole in the bottom of the pod. The coil is visible through this hole, and it allows quite a bit of condensation through. The Suorin Drop has a sort of check valve that won't allow air to pass the wrong way through the pod and helps to reduce leaking, but the Novo literally just has a hole. Suffice to say you'll be cleaning juice out of the device pretty frequently.
|You can clearly see the coil through the hole on the bottom of the pod. Condensation is a problem with the Novo.|
While the auto draw system seems to work reliably, it continues to fire for about a quarter of a second after you stop inhaling. This is problematic because it can cause excess condensation (which we know is already a problem with the Novo) and it can burn your coil prematurely. No auto draw system that I've used is perfect, but this is a particularly bad lag compared to other auto draw pod vape kits.
Between the odd metallic flavor, the auto draw lag, the non-reinforced micro USB port, the condensation issues, the sub-standard friction fit pod attachment, the fact that it can't stand upright and the difficult filling system, I'd have a hard time recommending the Novo over some of the other pod vapes in its class.
If you're looking for something with a similar form factor, I would absolutely recommend the Vaporesso Renova Zero over the Smok Novo. The Zero is similar in size and shape, but a little thinner so that it fits in a pocket a little better. The vertical ceramic coil provides some of the best flavor I've gotten from any pod, the auto draw is vastly superior, the 650mAh battery is considerably larger than the Novo's 450mAh, I haven't had any leaking issues, the pod attaches with magnets, the micro USB port is flush with the body, it has three adjustable power levels, and it's easier to fill. Plus it can stand upright.
|Look! It's standing up all on its own!|
Point is, the Novo isn't bad. When you consider another pod vape like the Renova Zero though, the Novo falls short in every way. In today's competitive and highly innovative pod market, there's no reason to settle for “not bad”.