If you are looking to spend about $300 for a portable vaporizer, you surely have come across both the PAX 3 and the Firefly 2 and may be wondering how they exactly stack up when compared to each other.
Today we hope to answer that question in this comparison by looking at these vape side by side.
This comparison will serve as a summary of the two vapes features and performance, and we see how they stack up alongside each other.
If you want to get a full detailed overview of each of these devices be sure to the full reviews of both of the PAX 3 and the Firefly 2.
The PAX 3 is a small and sleek portable conduction heating vaporizer in which is usually my go-to when I need an easy to use a portable vaporizer.
The Firefly 2, on the other hand, is an on-demand convection heating vaporizer which gives the Firefly 2 much more superior vapor for the person looking for the best vapor quality possible.
With all that said, there’s much more than meets the eye when looking at these two vaporizers. So we’re going to break it down into the following 5 key areas as we do with all our comparisons.
- Ease of Use
- Temperature Control
- Vapor Quality
- Pocketability and Discreteness
- Battery Life
So without further ado let’s compare these two top end vaporizers!
Ease of Use
The Ease of Use category of our comparison takes a look at how simple and enjoyable the device is to use as a whole.
In this section, we will look at features like how the device feels in the hand, temperature adjustments, weight, and how easy the vape is to use overall.
Both the PAX 3 and the Firefly 2 are both easy to use and intuitive designs, but there’s definitely some differences in their day to day operation.
The PAX 3 is a really simple device to use with only one “button” on the device itself which is located under the mouthpiece. The PAX 3 is also sporting Bluetooth connectivity which allows it to link up to your phone for some additional features. It is worth mentioning that the Bluetooth feature is 100% optional and is not required for basic functionality of this vaporizer.
You press in the middle of the mouthpiece once, and the unit will turn on. If you hold it in, you can begin cycling through the various temperature settings. We will expand upon the temperature settings in the next section.
The device overall is painfully simple to use with not much required on the user’s end as the vape does most of the work for you. Simply draw from the vape at a slow to moderately fast pace you should get a substantial hit every time.
The design is very discreet and sleek. It’s not overly large and fits well in the hand regardless of how large your hands are. Someone with smaller hands can conceal the vape mostly with their palm, while someone with larger hands will have no issue disguising this device in their palm.
For the best results, it is advisable to grind your material extra finely. I would recommend turning your grinder upside if you have a 4 piece grinder so you can break the herb up much finer than a standard course grind.
The PAX 3 is sporting a large bowl capable of loading between .3 and .4 of ground material. This large bowl size is great for someone who doesn’t like reloading their vape often, or someone vaping with a group of people often.
Pax Labs includes a half pack oven lid which cuts down on the herb needed for an optimal vaping experience. The PAX 3 performs best with a fully loaded oven, so with that the half pack oven lid lets you load .15-.2 of ground material. This smaller bowl size is ideal for the solo user or someone who doesn’t mind repacking their device more times throughout the day.
The PAX 3 does have the option of the doing concentrates in lieu of using herb.
A small rice sized dab in the concentrate insert will net you a session that would be the equivalent to a session with the half pack oven lid. I find you get more bang for your buck regarding the effect you get from each hit with concentrate insert. The sessions are a little shorter than it would be for herb, but I found I got results I wanted much quicker.
The Firefly 2 is paired with a smartphone application for most of its functionality. From the app, you can adjust your heating profile, adjust the power tuning of your heating profile, adjust which capacitive touch button activates the heater, and see your battery level.
Unlike the PAX 3 the application is mandatory for the Firefly 2 as it has no way of adjusting the temperature of the device itself. Personally, I don’t think this is a big deal, and I like the added functionality of the smartphone application.
Looking at from an ease of use standpoint does paint a different picture, though. You don’t always want to use your phone to change basic settings, so it can be inconvenient at times when you just want to up the temperature without pulling out your phone.
The vaporizer has two touch capacitive buttons on the side of the unit that is used to trigger the on-demand heating oven. The Firefly 2 heats up in an instant and delivers vapor immediately unlike the PAX 3 which has to heat up every time you use it.
When preparing the Firefly 2, you don’t have to do anything special to your material. For the flower, the grind from a normal 4 piece grinder is all you need to achieve good extraction with the Firefly 2.
Since the Firefly 2 is a convection heating vaporizer, it favors a grind consistency that allows the air to move freely over all the herb. Likewise, this also means you should not pack the herb down; a loose pack is the best for maximum airflow.
The Firefly 2 has a small bowl size roughly .1-.2 depending how coarsely your material is ground up. I liked using the Firefly 2 by myself, but it can be used with one other person without feeling like you’re constantly reloading the bowl.
Like the PAX 3, the Firefly 2 can also vaporize concentrates with the concentrate pad.
I like this concentrate implementation more from both an ease of use and vapor quality perspective.
The mesh pads are much easier to clean than the concentrate insert included with the PAX 3. It’s a simpler system, and I find it more enjoyable to use day to day.
Which vape is easier to use?
I would hand it to the PAX 3 by a slight margin. The Firefly 2 is a pretty easy device to use and is also a breeze to clean and maintain for regular use. With that said the convection heating requires a decent amount of air being pulled over the herb which can pose problems for beginners or people with limited lung capacity.
The PAX 3 I find is just an easier and more convenient device to use especially while out and about. The large oven size is perfect for someone who doesn’t like loading their vape multiple times throughout the day.
Also being able to control the temperature without pulling out your phone every time is a big pro in my opinion for the PAX 3.
In this section, we’ll compare the vapes means of temperature control.
Powering up the PAX 3 is simple enough – just press the middle of the mouthpiece, and you’ll see the unit’s 4 front petals begin to glow white. The unit will also vibrate letting you know it’s changed its state of power from off to on.
The mouthpiece does a lot of things and serves as the only “button” on the unit or means of control on the unit itself.
From there, you can press and hold in the middle of the mouthpiece which will bring up the temperature control mode. To adjust the temperature, just press the middle of the mouthpiece without holding it to begin cycling through the 5 temperature settings.
The new 5th temperature setting is a custom one in which you can set from the smartphone app.
Once you’ve decided on your heat setting, you can press and hold the mouthpiece again, and the unit will begin heating up to your chosen temperature.
The temperature settings are as follows:
- Temperature 1 ~ 360F (1 Green Petal)
- Temperature 2 ~ 380F (2 Yellow Petals)
- Temperature 3 ~ 400F (3 Orange Petals)
- Temperature 4 ~ 420F (4 Red Petals)
- Temperature 5 ~ Custom (4 Blue Petals)
There are also new “heating profiles” in which you can use to change the experience very greatly.
Boost Mode – This eliminates a lot of the cooling down in between hits. It keeps the oven hotter for longer, allowing you to achieve much greater vapor production. This is very ideal for the concentrate insert, where you’re looking for the most heat possible to vaporize your oil.
Efficiency Mode – This mode gradually increases the temperature over a session, promoting the optimal efficiency of your herb.
Stealth Mode – This mode cools down the PAX 3 faster while in use, cutting down on the odor typically associated with conduction heating vaporizers.
Flavor Mode – This mode makes the PAX 3 a conduction on-demand heating vaporizer. What this mean is the PAX 3 will only heat your herb when you are pulling air through it. Clouds won’t be as dense, but you will get the maximum flavor and smoothness from the device.
The different heating profiles offer a lot of diversity to the unit, and help add a lot of value to an already stellar package.
All of the temperature control for the Firefly 2 is done via its smartphone app.
There’s no way to alter the temperature of the vape on the device itself, so you’re limited to pulling out your phone every time you want to adjust the temperature.
In reality, I didn’t find it as much of a hindrance, but there have been a few occasions where I wish I could just use two touch capacitive buttons in someway to cycle through the temperatures for better ease of use.
The Firefly 2 offers 4 temperatures for dry herbs, and 1 temperature specifically for concentrates.
The temperature options are as follows:
- Low (340F)
- Medium Low (360F)
- Medium (380F)
- Medium High (400F)
- High (420F)
- Concentrates (500F)
This is a good temperature spectrum and covers the temperatures you will ideally be vaping at in most situations and conditions.
Firefly Vapor has released a major firmware update for the Firefly 2. The biggest change this firmware update made is the ability to adjust each heat setting with the “Power tuning.” What this lets you do is either ramp down the temperature to 89% for even superior flavor and smoothness, or you can bring the slider all the way up to 111% which gives the Firefly 2 a lot more extraction power.
When you set the power tuning to 111%, you get almost instantaneous vapor production. If your complaint was that the Firefly 2 didn’t produce clouds – that complaint has now been addressed as the power tuning allows you to get a faster and more thorough extraction of both your flower and concentrates.
Each bump in the power tuning alters the temperature slightly allowing you to find your personal sweet spot. It’s worth also noting once you find your power tuning level you probably won’t touch it much. I typically leave mine at 106%, I don’t want to sacrifice vapor quality to much, but I like a bit more punch when I vape, and I found this power tuning fits me perfectly.
Which vape has better temperature control?
In my opinion, they are equal in this respect if you don’t mind using your smartphone for the Firefly 2. Otherwise, the PAX 3 may nudge out the win for you personally if that matters to you.
However, I feel both units have very comparable temperature control systems and I don’t feel one is necessarily better than the other.
The PAX 3 can be a bit more convenient in some circumstances when pulling out your phone is not an option or a hassle for the time being.
In this section, we’re going to compare the vapor quality of both of these units.
When we look at vapor quality, we look at 3 different traits that together paint a picture of how the vaporizer will perform before you purchase it and start using it.
We’re going to be looking at the vapor production which is the amount of vapor, flavor which is how well the vapors flavor represents the herb or concentrate you’re using, and smoothness talks about the harshness of the vapor and how easy it goes down.
I typically prefer convection heating vaporizers however the PAX 3 has excellent vapor quality for being a conduction heating vaporizer.
The PAX 3 can produce some serious clouds; it’s oven works wonders on the higher heat settings. The first few draws of the session will be lighter, but this is par for the course with pretty much every vaporizer. After the first few draws, I found the vapor production to be very noticeable and consistent through the rest of the session, taking a gradual decline as the session continued.
Flavor is really good for a conduction heating vaporizer. However, I feel it still pales in comparison to a convection heating vaporizer. The flavor, in the beginning, is always fantastic, but the vapor does start to taste a bit like burnt popcorn when you’re about halfway through a session.
The oven of the PAX 3 is located on the bottom of the unit allowing the vapor some time to cool off before reaching your mouth. The vapor is overall very smooth and easy on the throat. However, I found temperature 4 to a little harsh for my liking when vaping herb. I personally liked to vape between temperatures 1-3 to get the most enjoyable experience for myself when vaping herb.
Vapor quality with concentrates is pretty equal to herb, and I found using concentrates with the PAX 3 acted more of a replacement for vaping herb rather than a whole different experience.
You won’t get noticeably better vapor production, but I found the concentrate vapor to be much better tasting and much smoother especially when vaping on temperature level 4.
The Firefly 2 is a convection heating vaporizer which gives it an edge in the vapor quality department when compared to the PAX 3.
The Firefly 2 has the ability to deliver large dense clouds but this at the expense of flavor. The heat levels Medium to High at 100% power tuning produce a good amount of vapor. Bumping the power tuning up further up to a maximum of 111% will allow you to produce insane amounts of convection produced vapor.
Flavor is ultimately the reason why I prefer convection heating vaporizers. Another factor in play here is the fact the Firefly 2 is an on-demand heating vaporizer. It heats up in a few seconds and doesn’t stay heated in between hits. This preserves the volatile terpenes in your flower and concentrate. The Firefly 2 flavor profile is one of the best on the market and is a very true representation of the material you put in it.
The vapor is also very easy on the throat regardless of heat setting. Convection heating vaporizer, in general, produce very smooth vapor, and the Firefly 2 is no exceptions whatsoever in this regard. The vapor is noticeably smooth even at High heat and 111% power tuning.
Vapor quality with concentrates is much different compared to the PAX 3. The Firefly 2 will vaporizer a small rice sized dab in a few large and dense hits. Flavor like herb is a true representation of the concentrate you use, and the concentrate vapor is very smooth on the throat.
Which vape has better vapor quality?
Without a doubt the Firefly 2. You can’t beat convection heating when you’re primary concern is vapor quality, which the Firefly 2 excels at. You can’t go wrong with the Firefly 2 whether you’re a connoisseur or just someone looking for a portable with fantastic vapor quality.
Pocketability and Discreteness
This section looks at how easy the vapes are to bring with you on the go as well as looking at the viability of using the device in public.
The PAX 3 remains the same size and shape as the PAX 2.
I believe the ultra small form factor of the PAX is one of the reasons why people love this device so much. It is very easy to conceal in your palm and it also easily fits into any pocket without much of a fuss.
The PAX 3 can be used in public without drawing much attention to yourself. The vape itself isn’t flashy, or anything, and the only thing you need to worry about are the smell produced by the unit.
Compared to the original Firefly, the Firefly 2 is 55% lighter and 33% smaller than its original design. The Firefly 2 also is sporting a magnesium alloy body compared to the Firefly 1’s much heavier stainless steel body.
I found the actual design of the Firefly 2 to fit in the hand very well; the unit lays in the palm well, and it is easy to make contact with the capacitive touch sensors on the side.
The sleek designs allow the Firefly 2 to easily slide in and out of your pocket without any trouble.
This is another vaporizer that can easily be used in public, and you won’t have to worry much about the smell with this vape when vaping on the go like you do with the PAX 3.
Which vape is more pocketable and discreet?
Both designs are about equal in this respect. They both easily fit in any pocket or bag, and they are both discreet designs for on the use.
The PAX 3 does smell while in use, so that is something to consider. However, I don’t think it’s much of an issue in reality unless you’re vaping indoor or in close quarters with other people.
In this section, we look at how long the battery lasts, how the vape charges, and we look at if the batteries are replaceable or not.
The PAX 3 has outstanding battery life for portable with no replaceable batteries.
I found on average you’ll get about 8 ovens with herb give or take depending on how hot you prefer too vape.
The PAX 3 charges with a magnetic charger that snaps onto the back of the unit to charge. I’m not a fan personally of the charger; I wish the magnet was stronger and would actually bite on to the unit and secure itself tightly.
As it stands, the charger will disconnect from the vape if it falls from where its charging which has happened to me on a few occasions.
The PAX 3 takes about 2-3 hours to fully charge from a dead battery depending on the power source the charger is connected too.
The Firefly 2 is included with two 7.4V Lithium-Ion batteries that you can swap out on the fly.
Each battery gives you anywhere from 5-8 bowls. I found vaping solely on the high setting will put around you around the 5 bowl mark for reference.
The Firefly 2 is charged with a dock that the unit just slides into. I like this better than the magnetic charger as the dock won’t accidentally roll around or anything.
The battery of the Firefly 2 is charged in about 45 minutes which is great especially when you’re charging both batteries up. Firefly vapor sells an external charger for the extra battery, if you don’t have it you’ll have to charge both batteries with the dock one at a time.
Which vape has better battery life?
I would hand it too the Firefly 2. Its’ replaceable batteries are very useful when vaping on the go. Picking up a few extra batteries is always a good idea if you ever plan on having extended adventures away from home.
The PAX 3 still has outstanding battery life. However, it’s lack of replaceable batteries leaves it behind when compared to the Firefly 2 in this respect.
Conclusion, which vape is the best for you?
There are a few reasons why you would buy a Firefly 2 or a PAX 3 over the other.
Let’s start with the PAX 3.
This device is a champ if you’re someone who’s looking for one of the simplest devices to use on the market for the on the go use. It’s very easy to get satisfying hits without much effort on the users part. The large bowl size makes this great for someone who’s going to be constantly on the move, or someone who likes to share their vape with friends.
The addition of the PAX app is a welcomed addition especially considering it is 100% optional and not required for basic operation of the PAX 3.
I feel the Firefly 2 would be the best option for someone who’s looking for the best vapor quality possible in a portable vaporizer.
The Firefly 2’s vapor quality is the best when compared to the other high-end options currently on the portable market.
You can appreciate the true effects and flavors of your herb and concentrate when using a convection heating vaporizer like the Firefly 2.
The replaceable batteries make this a great option for someone who values long battery life in their portable vape.