The Firefly 2+ is what that Firefly 2 should have been. At $250, the 2+ is $80 cheaper than the last model and only $50 more than its rival, the Pax 3. What's more, according to the company, the Plus boasts a 33 percent improvement in air flow. That's a huge improvement right off the bat given that drawing on the 2 was like inhaling through a coffee stirrer.
In terms of basic hardware, however, the 2 and 2+ are practically twins. The new model is just over five inches long, 1.5 inches wide and just under an inch tall. Its magnesium alloy chassis weighs just under 5 ounces so the Plus is small and light enough to carry in virtually any pocket, pouch or holster of your choosing. You've also got your choice of six colors including woodgrain.
Interestingly, the 2+ uses the same 770mAh Lithium Ion battery as its predecessor. However, the Plus also sports improved firmware that does a superior job of managing the unit's power usage and greatly improves the battery life between charges. So if you've got an old Firefly 2 lying around, you can scavenge its battery (ad charging cradle) to use in the new model.
As for how long you'll have between charges, that's tough to estimate. Power usage with convection heating vapes like the 2+ vary widely based on a variety of factors from how tightly you've packed the bowl. During my testing, I got around a half dozen bowls at 380 degrees out of it before having to set the unit back on its cradle. Luckily, the battery on the Plus charges ludicrously quickly: just under an hour for a full charge, up to 80 percent in around a half hour and enough for one quick bowl in under 15.
Unfortunately, despite the technological advancements of the new model, it's still just as much of a pain to load as the first Firefly. You pry off the magnetic cover, crumble roughly-shredded herb into the borosilicate glass bowl, dust off any errant bits of weed from the surface (as they'll interfere with the air flow if you don't), replace the cover and then press both touch capacitive buttons to engage the heater.
After a few draws, you'll have to open the cover back up, stir the weed around to expose more surface area (using whatever you have on you as the 2+ doesn't come with a poker, unlike the $160 Linx Gaia), replace the cover and repeat until the bowl is cashed. And god help you if you try to do any of this outdoors where there is wind. Cleaning it is fairly straightforward but be warned, you're going to be going through a bunch of alcohol wipes keeping this thing tidy.
The process is a bit easier with concentrates. Simply plunk the included steel wool disc into the crucible chamber, add a dollop of concentrate, and replace the cover. You'll have to take a few initial shallow puffs to melt the concentrate into the disc but after that, just go to town.
Labor intensiveness aside, the Plus has one of the fastest heating elements I've ever used. It takes just three seconds to fully engage. "In addition to not having to wait to vape, you need a quick cool down time to preserve the material in the bowl so that you're not cooking it off while you're not actually ingesting," Firefly CEO Steve Berg explained to Engadget. "So it takes good care of your materials and helps it go a long way."
As such, you're able to really dial in the kind of hit you want by adjusting the temperature range and your draw speed. Since convection vapes like the 2+ continually heat throughout the draw -- ie, the longer you suck on it, the hotter the bowl gets -- you can take little "sips" to enjoy the terpene flavors or give it a good "heeeep" to get a stronger, hotter, and more vapory hit. In general, I found a 10-15 second steady draw granted the best of both worlds.
Adjusting the temperature range is easy so long as you use the associated iOS/Android app. The on-board controls allow you to adjust the range from 320 - 420 degrees in 20 degree increments but doing so is a bit clunky (per the user manual):
Press and hold the right button.
Tap the left button 3 times quickly, just like checking the temperature (while still holding the right button). This puts the Firefly 2 into "temperature setting" mode.
The LED blinks red 1 to 7 times, to indicate what the current set temperature is.
You then have to tap the left button up to seven times while holding down the right to select the desired heat level. Or you can simply use the app and select the exact temperature you want in 10 degree increments. Using the app also expands the available heating range to 200 degrees on the low end.
The app is helpful in other ways as well. It allows you to adjust various settings, see the remaining charge available, and calibrate the unit for more visible vapor. It also offers a number of how-to and instructional videos for vaping neophytes.
The Firefly 2+ is not for everybody, mind you. Berg points out that users with breathing issues or who simply don't enjoy the act of smoking and vaping would likely be better served by edibles, sublinguals or topical remedies. Conversely, vape users hoping to blow massive clouds should probably look elsewhere.
"If that's what somebody's going for, they may not be best served by a Firefly 2+," Berg explained. "You can turn the temperature up and create a huge cloud but really we're being very thoughtful about cannabis, about the compounds, about delivering a full-service and very comfortable experience. And so that's really where our focus is."
Overall, the plus stands a head and shoulders above Firefly's last model and certainly gives the Pax 3 a run for its money. We're excited to see if the 2+ can breathe new loose leaf life into a market currently dominated by concentrates and edibles.