The new Firefly2 feels oddly familiar in the hand. Its metal body features clean lines and touch sensors to activate. An LED light blinks green to indicate it’s ready for use.
One might call it the iPhone of vaporizers. This isn’t a moniker unique to the Firefly2; other vaporizers, including the Pax 2, have been described similarly. But the comparison makes extra sense in the case of the Firefly2 since the device’s creator previously worked at Apple.
Mark Williams spent six years developing software for the Mac OS and working under product luminary Steve Jobs before setting out to invent a better, safer vaporizer. The Firefly2, a high-end vape available in stores in June, aims to do for smoking what Apple products have done for our digital lives.
Make it simple.
“I’m sure that in my subconscious while I was designing this, I had visions of Macs in my head,” Williams, CEO and cofounder of San Francisco-based company Firefly, tells Tech Insider. “If Apple designed a vaporizer, this would be it.”
To use the device, you remove the magnetic lid and fill its chamber with loose bud. Pop the lid back on and place two fingers on each side of the mouthpiece to turn it on. The vape heats up to 400 degrees in three seconds and only passes hot air over the flower when you inhale — helping to preserve your tobacco or marijuana, though Williams shies away from admitting the latter use case.
Williams channeled Apple’s design ethos in making the vaporizer so simple that anyone could pick it up and know how to use it, he says.
He also wanted it to be beautiful. The previous model, released in late 2013, had a plump, cherry red base much like the vintage Italian sports cars that Williams obsessed over. It was eye-catching, but clunky-looking and overly shiny.
Firefly2 features strong, clean lines and comes in striking matte-finish colours. The weed chamber now has 55, laser-drilled holes for air to pass through, as opposed to the original’s six. It looks worth the $329 price tag, even without knowing what’s under the hood.
“A lot of folks are coming to this from not having vapes before,” Williams says. “We want them to feel confident that … it looks like a really high-end piece of electronics, and it’s going to work well. That sort of assurance is something that informed the design language.”
The revamped vape is also 55% lighter and 33% smaller than the previous model, according to the company website.
The Firefly2 syncs via Bluetooth to a smartphone app that lets users control the heat settings and get firmware updates.
This might sound excessive, but it means customers won’t have to buy the newest model to get new software. The most recent update just reduced app bugs, though Williams says in the future, users may be able to select optimum settings for the material in use (such as temperature-specific tobacco, concentrates, and marijuana).
Firefly has plenty of competition in the vaporizer space. The Crafty captures old-school vape-lovers (it’s made by the company that developed the first mainstream vape, the Volcano) while the sleek, stealthy Pax 2 is a magnet for vaping-newbies.
The Pax 2 takes about 40 seconds longer than the Firefly2 to reach temperature, and uses conduction heating, which means it burns the material directly. By comparison, the Firefly2 uses convention material, passing hot air over it. Some pot bloggers suggest this technology gives a better high, as you’re not scorching certain compounds in the weed.
Williams says he received the best advice of his career from Apple cofounder Steve Jobs.
“The actual statement Steve made was, ‘Build the best thing you possibly can,'” he remembers. “It’s so hard to do a really sophisticated consumer electronic really well, it’s so darn hard. You have to be super passionate about it.”
The Firefly2 is the product of that passion.