The first Firefly vaporizer was revolutionary when it debuted in late 2013. Along with the original Pax, it helped take portable vapes mainstream with Apple-esque minimalist design and convection heating. But in the modern Internet of Things era, the OG Firefly now feels laughably out of date -- especially compared to the Pax 2. Thankfully, Firefly has just released a second-generation model that's smaller, lighter and more functional than its predecessor. It's even got an app!
Gallery: Firefly 2 hands-on | 14 Photos
Gallery: Firefly 2 hands-on | 14 Photos
The single coolest feature on the new Firefly is indeed that companion app, available for Android and iOS. Whoa, whoa, whoa, put down your pitchforks. I'm serious! Look, the Internet of Things is, for the most part, a silly excuse to add connectivity to stuff that really doesn't need it. But the Firefly 2 does IoT right. Pairing the vaporizer to your phone is dead simple. You open the app, make sure the vape is awake by touching either activation button, and that's it: It'll automagically connect.
Once paired, the application provides all sorts of helpful information and added functionality. Unlike the original Firefly, which had just two power settings -- on and off -- the app allows you to select from among six heating profiles, including a superhot setting just for concentrates. It also enables you to select a preferred activation-button setup -- left, right, both or either -- which makes it more usable for southpaws. Additionally, the app gives you a detailed battery-charge indicator so you'll actually know when your battery is getting low before the vaporizer dies.
I didn't think that a vape could actually benefit from the addition of an app but this thing is really quite handy. The app allows the Firefly to outsource a lot of functionality to your phone, which saves space, weight and battery life for the vaporizer itself. And unless you're constantly swapping between loose leaf and wax -- thereby necessitating continuous heat-profile switching -- the app does a good job of staying out of the way. That is to say, the Firefly works just fine on its own but is even better with the companion app.
The $330 device itself is also a more manageable size. My biggest issue with the original Firefly was the size of the damn thing. Weighing more than half a pound and measuring nearly 6 inches in length, the OG model could double as a bludgeon. I mean, forget the roll of nickels: You toss that into a sock and you've got yourself a homemade flail. Not so with the Firefly 2. It's 30 percent smaller and 50 percent lighter than the original. It even manages to pack a larger battery into its smaller frame (770mAh at 5.7Wh, up from 750mAh at 5.5Wh). As a bonus, the Firefly starter kit comes with a spare hot-swappable battery.
What's more, the new edition incorporates a handy LED indicator into its cover. See, the original had a wonky mechanical power button that wouldn't always activate the device if you didn't push it just right. This often resulted in me futilely huffing a cold bowl because the only way to see if it was actually on was to wait and see if the heating coil started to glow. The new Firefly has not one but two -- count 'em, two -- power buttons, one on either side of the device. You just have to touch them to activate them. You'll know you did it right thanks to the glowing LED light.
That said, the LED isn't particularly bright and was often unreadable in direct sunlight. I also noticed that the touch-activated power buttons would turn the unit on randomly, like when I was refilling the bowl or adjusting the magnetic cover plate. It ran through a full battery charge just sitting in my bag because the cloth case I had it in (that's a lie, it was a sock) had come in contact with them.
Lastly, the Firefly 2 has a new trick. While the original only handled shredded loose leaf, the new one can heat solid concentrates as well. You'll only have to tamp a small aluminum disc into the heating chamber to keep the weed wax from gumming up the works. And it had better, given that this Firefly is actually $60 more expensive than its progenitor (and $50 more than the Pax 2). All told, you're going to have to drop a whopping $330 for the Firefly 2. Still totally worth it, though.