If you are new to Cricut cutting machines you may be wondering which is the better machine whether you should pick the Cricut Joy or Cricut Maker 3.
You might also be wondering if the Maker 3 is worth the extra money (and why it costs so much more than the Joy).
We will look at both these machines to see what is the same and what is different helping you to understand the differences between the Cricut Maker 3 vs Joy, so that you can choose the best machine for you.
Features Comparison Table between the Cricut Maker 3 vs Cricut Joy
|Maker 3 Features||Joy Features|
|13”x12′ Cut size when using Smart Materials||4.5”x20′ Cut size when using Smart Materials|
Fine Point Blade, Deep Point Blade, Bonded Fabric Blade, Rotary Blade, Knife Blade, Scoring Wheel & Stylus, Foil Transfer Tool, Cricut Pens & Markers, and Quick Swap Tools including the Perforation Blade, Wavy Blade, Debossing Tip and Engraving Tip
Cricut Joy Blade, Cricut Joy Markers & Pens, Cricut Joy Foil Transfer Tool, Cricut Pens & Markers
|Matless Cutting when using Smart Materials. You can also cut other materials with the Cricut mats.||Matless cutting when using Smart Materials. You can also cut other materials with the small Joy mats. It also has a special card mat.|
|Can cut over 300+ materials||Can cut over 50+ materials|
|Intuitive Control Panel||No Control Panel|
|Cuts faster than Cricut Joy|
What are the Similarities between the Maker 3 and Joy?
The Cricut Joy and the Cricut Maker 3 are two of the more recent cutting machines released by Cricut so it is natural that they will share some of the same features and capabilities.
We’ll explore these similarities as well as the differences to see which one is the overall winner if you compare Cricut Maker 3 vs. Cricut Joy.
Ease of Use
Both machines are very easy to use. As the Joy machine has fewer cutting capabilities and functions many find that the Cricut Joy is the quicker and easier machine to learn how to use.
With both cutting machines, the choice of the materials being cut is selected in the Cricut Design Space software thereby streamlining the process when creating projects.
Both machines can be switched on and set up within a matter of minutes which is great as you can start crafting almost immediately.
Materials & Functions
The Cricut Joy and the Cricut Maker 3 work especially well with standard materials which include paper, cardstock, and vinyl (HTV and adhesive).
The Cricut Joy can work with over 50 materials and of course, the Maker 3 can work with these exact same materials (plus 250+ more).
Both the Maker 3 and Joy are capable of writing, cutting, and foiling.
Built-in Bluetooth is yet another shared characteristic. This allows you to transfer your designs from a computer or a tablet to the machine.
As the Cricut Design Space software is cloud-based, you can customize and edit your projects anywhere. All you need to do is to download the Cricut Design Space app.
The Maker 3 and Cricut Joy are only available in one color choice. The Maker 3 is available in a matt Pastel Blue color option whilst the Joy is only available in Blue.
The Maker 3 and the Joy can both can cut without the use of a mat when cutting Cricut Smart Materials.
This feature is great if you are a die-hard Cricut fan who only uses Cricut branded materials, but for many who like to use other brands of materials, this feature has no real benefit and is limited.
If you want to cut non-Cricut brand materials with either machine you will need to use a cutting mat.
The great selling point for the Joy is the ability to make cards effortlessly when using the Cricut Smart Card Inserts however if you do opt to create cards with these materials you will need to purchase the Joy Card Mat in addition to the machine.
Similarly, as the Cricut Maker 3 does not come with any cutting mat as standard in the box, if you wish to cut materials that are not the Cricut Smart Materials you will need to purchase the specific mats for the types of materials in addition to the machine.
Compatible Smart Materials
The Maker 3 and Cricut Joy can both cut Cricut's Smart Materials. Currently, Cricut offers Smart vinyl, Smart Paper, and Smart Iron-On.
Differences between the Maker 3 and Joy
Now that we know how they are similar, let's have a look at what is different about them, so that you can understand why they are priced differently.
The first and most obvious and biggest difference between the Maker 3 and Cricut Joy is the size.
The Joy is super cute and compact and weighs in at 3.9 lbs (1.75 kg). Its dimensions are a mere 8” (l) x 4” (w) x4” (h) (20.32 cm x 10.16 cm x 10.16 cm).
The Cricut Maker 3 is quite a bit bigger as it weighs 10.68 lbs (4.85 kg). Its dimensions are 21.18” (l) x 6.99” (w) x 4” (h) (20.32 cm x 10.16 cm x 10.16 cm).
Overall the Cricut Joy is half the weight and half the size, if not more, of the Cricut Maker 3. This is quite a huge difference and will definitely be a point to consider if you are short on space and need to easily and quickly store your cutting machine.
Double Tool Holder
The Cricut Maker 3 can work with a lot more tools than the Cricut Joy. Due to this the Maker 3 has a double tool holder that houses separate tools compared to the single tool holder that the Cricut Joy has.
We find the double tool holder so useful as you can seamlessly create a design with multiple tools.
You don’t need to waste time switching between blades, scoring wheels, and pens! Just install the tools needed for the project and let the machine do its thing.
If you need to swap tools the quick release for Clamp B makes swapping tools effortlessly.
The Cricut Maker 3 has a handy storage tray that is great for storing all your tools and additional blades that you may have for your machine.
The Cricut Joy does not have this feature but to be fair, as the machine only uses 3 tools it does not need a dedicated tool storage tray.
The Maker 3 is super fast and can cut up to two times faster than its predecessor the Maker.
The Cricut Joy cannot keep up or compete with the speed of the Maker 3 and due to the main purpose of the machine being for quick and simple projects that can be created in under 15 minutes, one would not expect the machine to have a fast cutting speed.
If you think that you will want to create a lot of projects at once then we would recommend Maker 3 as you get to create more projects in a fast time frame.
Not only can the Maker 3 work with the same materials that you can cut with the Joy, but it can work with over 300 different materials.
It can also cut fabric that is not bonded, as well as leather, cork, balsa wood, and even acrylic!
If you wish to create projects with some of these thicker materials you will need to purchase a Knife blade.
Due to the machine being able to work with so many different materials this is the machine that takes the home hobbyist to a professional level.
Although both machines have the ability to cut long projects the cutting widths differ substantially.
The Maker 3 has a much wider cutting capacity of 13″ (when using Smart Materials) and 12″ when using a cutting mat, compared to the Cricut Joy that has a width of 4.5″.
Due to the narrow cutting width of the Joy the size of projects can be limited to crafters.
The Maker 3 can cut up to 12 ft in length however just like being able to cut without a mat, this capability is limited to the use of Smart Materials only.
The Cricut Joy can cut individual shapes up to 4 ft long or make repeated cuts up to 20 ft long which is quite impressive for this little machine when using the Joy Smart Material range.
If cutting large-scale projects is your thing or if you make multiples of the same project, then this capability is appealing, however as mentioned, you will need to use Cricut Smart Materials for this (and to be honest we are not the biggest fan of Smart Materials – it is pricey and harder to use in comparison to other brands).
Print then Cut
Being able to print then cut when using your Cricut Maker 3 machine is a very popular function. The improved sensors on the Cricut Maker 3, allow you to print on colored paper and then cut as well as white paper.
The Cricut Joy is limited with its capabilities as it can only draw and cut. It does not have the same built-in sensors which means that it cannot use the very popular feature of Print then Cut.
If you think that you will want to use this feature for making stickers or even printing onto and cutting designs from printable heat transfer sheets then we would recommend that you look at purchasing the Cricut Maker 3.
Intuitive Control Panel vs No Panel
The Cricut Maker 3 has an Intuitive Control Panel which means that you manually select your material using the material selection in Design Space which provides a lot more choice and options for material settings.
With the limited material options that the Cricut Joy can work with, the material setting is decided from the type of project you are making when you work with Cricut Design Space.
Both machines have the option to connect your machine to your device via Bluetooth thereby enabling a wire-free working area.
Cricut has gone one step further with the Maker 3 and added a docking slot for your device so you can slot it onto the machine whilst it cuts or you create in Design Space.
Due to the size of the Joy cutting machine, it is understandable that this feature is not possible.
As mentioned the Joy can only cut, draw and foil which means that there are very few tools that can work with the machine compared to the Maker 3.
The Cricut Joy has 3 different tools which are the Cricut Joy Markers & Pens, Cricut Joy Cutting Blade, and the Cricut Joy Foil Transfer Tool.
Due to the accessories and tools being specifically designed for the Joy you can not use any of the other Cricut tools or pens with the machine which means you have to purchase these for the Joy only.
The Maker 3 is capable of working with 13 different tools: Fine Point Blade, Deep Point Blade, Bonded Fabric Blade, Rotary Blade, Knife Blade, Scoring Wheel & Stylus, Foil Transfer Tool, Cricut Pens & Markers, and Quick Swap Tools including the Perforation Blade, Wavy Blade, Debossing Tip and Engraving Tip.
Due to the large number of tools that the Maker 3 can work with it is capable is a great machine to use for those wanting to run a business from home.
By being capable of embossing, engraving, and even cutting perforations or wavy edges to your materials you can create more detailed and varied projects.
If you want to get a full understanding of all the must-have Maker 3 accessories and tools that you might want to buy additionally with the machine.
When Cricut released the Maker 3 with the increased cutting capacity and ability to cut without the use of a cutting mat, they launched one of the latest accessories being the roll holder.
The roll holder attaches to or sits on the tray of the Maker 3 and feeds the Smart Material in and out of the machine.
When the machine is finished cutting your project, it positions the end of the cut above the built-in trimmer so you can cut your material before unloading your project and material from the machine.
The Cricut Joy does not have a dedicated roll holder and cannot use the newly released holder that can be used by the Maker 3.
What is in the Box?
Now that we have looked at the common features as well as the differences, let’s have a look at what is included in the box for the Cricut Maker 3 and the Cricut Joy.
|Cricut Maker 3 Box||Cricut Joy Box|
|Cricut Maker 3 machine||Cricut Joy machine|
|Welcome card||Welcome card|
|Premium Fine-Point Blade + Housing||Blade + Housing|
|Power adapter & USB cable||Power Adapter|
|Material for a practice cut||Materials for a test cut|
|Free trial subscription to Cricut Access™ (for new subscribers)|
100 ready-to-make projects online
|Free trial subscription to Cricut Access™ (for new subscribers)|
50 ready-to-make projects online
|StandardGrip Mat, 4.5″ x 6.5″ (11.4 cm x 16.5 cm)|
|Fine Point Pen, Black (0.4 mm)|
The Cricut Joy retails for $159.99 compared to the Maker 3 retail price of $399.99.
With the increased capabilities and functions as well as the larger number of materials for the Maker 3 you will need to decide if making the substantial extra investment is worth it.
Feeling Unsure which Cricut Machine is For You?
If you wish to see what is the best Cricut machine available, have a look at our new Cricut machine buyers guide to see which of the Cricut machine/s are best for you.
Not sure if a Cricut cutting machine is for you, then read our best vinyl cutter guide to see what other vinyl cutters are available.
Pros and Cons
First of all, you can't go wrong with a Cricut cutting machine and both the Maker 3 and Joy have many advantages and are suited for different crafters.
When it comes to downsides, there is some room for improvement in the Design Space app. It is quite basic which might be fine for beginners, but you might want more options to edit and customize the graphics.
Some people might find the Maker 3 machine a bit loud. But with the cutting speed of the Cricut, it is not surprising that there is some noise.
The size of the Cricut Joy may be on the small side for many, and especially those crafters who are more experienced. But if this is not your first machine and you are looking for a compact and portable cutting machine, the Joy is perfect!
The Cricut Joy does have its limitations in terms of cutting power and depth which is further extended as it is really only suitable for cutting the more common craft materials like paper, cardstock, and vinyl.
With that said you are not likely to notice any difference with standard materials like vinyl, paper, and cardboard stock between the two machines.
The benefit of both machines is the ability to cut long projects as this speeds up the time to create and cut projects which is an awesome time-saver when crafting.
Cricut Maker 3 vs Cricut Joy
The Final Verdict
I think both machines are great and are winners in their own right! Here is why…..
If this is your first Cricut machine but is not entirely sure if crafting with a cutting machine is for you, then we highly recommend that you invest in the Cricut Joy.
The cost to purchase the machine is not a large investment to start out with and allows you to try out the craft without the pressure of having to love the craft only because you shelled out a lot of money for the cutting machine.
You should also consider if you will want to progress to creating projects that are not only bigger in size but also from the many other materials that the Cricut Joy is not capable of cutting.
If you do start off with the Cricut Joy and then find that you absolutely love crafting with a Cricut and want to move on to different material-type projects with the ability to use different tools, then you can always upgrade to the Maker 3 and have the Joy as your quick crafting machine. It's a win-win!
However, if you are absolutely certain that you only want to work with paper, cardstock and vinyl then the Cricut Joy may be perfect! The Cricut Joy is perfect for making cards, labels, gif tags, cupcake toppers, invitations, small decals, and more.
If you know for sure that this is the craft for you and that you will definitely want to work with over 300 different materials and have the ability to use a variety of tools, then the Maker 3 is definitely the machine to consider (the Maker 3 is my absolute favorite machine – and I own all three Cricut Machines).
Not only will you be able to cut faster with a wider cutting area, but you will be able to use the other features like Print then Cut as well as cut thicker materials with the use of a Knife Blade.
I hope that this gives you more information about how the Joy and Maker 3 are similar and also how much they differ.
Choosing the right machine can always be a little overwhelming, so if you have any questions leave a comment and we will get back to you!
>>> Click here to purchase your Cricut Maker 3 (ps. if you can afford this machine, this is the one I recommend for sure!)
Which one will you get? Will the small and cute size of the Joy sway you or are you going to venture into creating projects using the 300 different materials?