Vape Pod Vs. Vape Cartridge: Which is Better?

If you’re deciding between a vape pod and a cartridge, you must first understand your expectations. These usually revolve around:

  • What you plan to vape
  • Whether you want a universal product or a unique design
  • How much discretion you want

Vape pods are better for those who want a sleek but dedicated design. They are not universal products, meaning you’re usually stuck to a single brand once you start, but they’re also less recognizable.

Vape cartridges usually have the same 501 threads, meaning you can use the cartridges with different devices. This allows you to swap between brands without issue, and you have a greater variety of juices to choose from.

While the universal design is a great selling point, vape cartridges are easily mistaken for cannabis cartridges, which can cause issues when traveling or even walking down the street. You may get your vape pen confiscated or need to leave it behind.

Vape Pod vs. Cartridge: What’s the Difference?

The main difference between vape pods and cartridges is their design.

If you look on the inside, they’re basically the same product. They both contain oil and an atomizer with heated coils to burn that oil. They come in similar varieties, but pods often restrict you to the options of a single brand or design.

While both are convenient options for your vaping experience, the different appearance and reputation of the systems has some preferring a pod system over a vape cart.

Vape Pod

Vape Pod

A vape pod contains oil, a ceramic heating element, and a combustion core to ensure proper vaporization. You need a compatible device to use the pod, and most pods and devices are exclusive to each other.

Some popular vape pod systems include:

  • Vaporesso (Luxe X and Zero 2)
  • Argus P1
  • Caliburn A3
  • Voopoo Vinci
  • DotPod Nano

Most feature a sleek, flat design, similar to a flash drive, but there are several variations to consider. Brands focus on making a recognizable system, and some prefer vape pods for this alone.

Beyond this, some users claim that pods use advanced airflow technology, but this isn’t necessarily a blanket statement. This depends more on individual design than pods as a whole.

Because vape pods do not have a universal appearance, they may be more discreet. They’re sleeker than some cartridge rigs, and it’s easier to identify what type of oil is in the pod.



Most vape cartridges have the same glass cylinder appearance. They bottom features 501 threading, referring to the length of the connector and the amount of threads used to connect to the battery.

They are all filled with 1 to 2 ml of oil, and a cart vape can use any properly threaded cartridge. This opens the door to many manufacturers and formulas, but it also means they may be mistaken for cannabis oil or THC.

It’s not easy to discern the difference between cartridge flavors and compositions, and you may run into problems with law enforcement or security when carrying cart vapes out in public.

Moving beyond this issue, cart vapes often offer more customization than pod vaporizers, including variable voltage settings and universal cartridges. They also require more maintenance as a trade off.


Vape Pods and Cartridges Compared

Vape pods and cartridges work in the same way and use the same oil blends, but they differ in terms of:

  • Design
  • Compatibility
  • Usage (and ease of use)
  • Short and long term costs
  • Level of customization
  • Capacity and battery
  • Flavor transfer

While some of these details are indisputable, the impact of others depends on personal preference, usage, and expectations.


Pods have a more diverse array of designs, and you can discover what brand the pod is based on its design. Pods are often made with polycarbonate or plastic, and many have their vape coil built into the pod.

Vape pods appear similar to a USB flash drive with a mouthpiece on top. The pod system you choose restricts you to pods of those types, but you may end up with a more aesthetic and discreet vaping device.

Cartridges have a more universal appearance. They almost always (with a few exceptions) screw into any compatible device you have, and they are commonly associated with CBD oil and other controversial products.

Vape cart designs are better suited for customization and modification.


The pod system that you start with is the one that you are stuck with. You can purchase multiple pod systems if needed, but each one will use different pods.

While vape pods have a similar appearance, there are slight variations in their dimensions and design that prevent you from using two different brands. Once you invest in a certain system, you’re limited to the vape products they have to offer.

This means you may need to purchase separate brands for different e-juice blends, such as nicotine and cannabis extract.

Cartridges are compatible with any similarly threaded device, meaning you have a wider variety of vape juice brands and products to choose from. You can also use the same vape pen for multiple cartridges, meaning you can swap between different flavors and liquid blends as needed.

Usage and Ease of Use

Pods are easier to use than cartridges.

Most pod systems simply snap in, and they use a magnet to ensure they’re perfectly in place. Because of this, some vapers find that they leak less and are safer to carry around in your pocket or back.

Pod systems may be easier for new vapers to use. They require less maintenance, and they’re commonly draw-activated or only have a few instructions to follow.

Cartridge installation is slightly more involved. They thread in, so you must take care in lining up the threads to ensure a proper connection and seal. They may also loosen over time, leading to leaking and other issues.

Cart vapes can vary in difficulty of use. You can find simple pens that act similarly to a pod system or e-cigarette, or you can spend more money on a customizable vape and several mods.

Cartridge systems often require more maintenance, and you may need to replace individual parts over time.

Costs and Considerations

Cartridges may save you money in the long term if you go the simple route and don’t over-indulge on mods. (Mods are fine to purchase, but it’s easy to get carried away and buy several versions of something you don’t need.)

You have a greater array of options when purchasing cartridges, and you can adapt them to fit most budgets. If something goes out on your vape, it’s usually easy enough to replace that part instead of the entire unit.

Pods may cost you more money in the long run. While some companies offer rewards programs to offset your investment, you may find yourself purchasing several systems after one fails to meet your expectations.

While pods are lower maintenance, you may need to replace the entire system more often than you would your cart vape. This can cause higher costs over time.


Customization and Modification

With vape pods, you want to ensure you’re comfortable with your first choice. After the initial purchase, you wouldn’t be able to make any modifications by adding new components or hardware.

Cart vapes, particularly box mods, have more to offer in terms of customization and modification. They also allow you to tweak your settings to vaporize the oil exactly as you want, tailoring the juice to your taste.

Box modes may also have a longer battery life, allowing them to power more features and providing you a longer time between charges.

Portability and Convenience

Portability and Convenience

Most pod systems (not all) are slimmer and easier to transport than cart vapes.

Pod systems aim to emulate the convenience offered by disposable vapes. They’re slim enough to fit in your pocket or purse. They’re also less likely to leak, making them preferable for those who want to stash their vape and go.

Pods are less likely to be mistaken for cannabis vapes that are not permitted in certain areas, decreasing your chances of running into trouble.

Capacity and Battery

Pods may have a higher liquid capacity than vape cartridges. While the size differs depending on the brand, most come in 1 mL or 2 mL varieties. While you can find larger cartridges, most are only 0.5 to 1 mL.

Pod systems may not last as long as box mods or other cart vape systems, though. While their battery lasts more than long enough for extended use, it may not be sufficient for your expectations.

Flavor Transfer

Pods offer a more consistent flavor from start to finish. Many prefer them for this reason, and some even claim they’re more potent than traditional cartridges.

Cartridges contain a similar oil blend, but the rig you use affects flavor transfer. They work better for those who want to tweak their settings to achieve a certain flavor, but there may be inconsistencies in flavor (especially towards the end or with poor vaping practices).


If you’re choosing between vape pods and cartridges ask yourself:

  • Is there a pod system that seems to fit my expectations perfectly?
  • Do I want more control and variety in my vaping experience?
  • How much time and effort will I invest in maintenance?
  • Is there a negative stigma surrounding carts in my area?

While there are other factors to consider, the answers to these questions play a major role in your choice. Pods are great for aesthetics, portability, and consistency, while carts are better for customization and variety.

Still need help choosing one over the other or understanding the difference? Comment your questions or concerns, and we’ll do our best to put you on the right path.


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