Smartphones today are becoming increasingly versatile compared to the phones from decades ago. Recently, thermal imaging has gained prominence in the rugged phone community. These phone models all have specialized lenses with cutting-edge thermal imaging technology.
With so many models out there, it’s natural to wonder which one is the best pick. Read on to discover the best 10 thermal imaging phones on the market.
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Top 10 Thermal Imaging Phones
Here are the best thermal imaging phones that we have found:
Cat S62 Pro
The Cat S62 Pro is at the top of our list for one reason: it gets the job done. Other smartphones on our list have better hardware or impressive features, but the S62 Pro is built for first responders and other professionals.
With a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 mid-range chip, the S62 Pro will run multiple apps just fine, especially with 6GB of RAM. The internal storage isn’t the best at 128GB, but it is expandable.
The FLIP Lepton 3.5 sensor included with the S62 Pro is the latest technology and provides a better thermal image when using the dedicated free app. It detects heat sources up to 30m away and accurately measures temperatures.
You can also add notes to the thermal images and generate PDF reports, which is a feature that professionals will love.
Overall, these features make the Cat S62 Pro the best in this category of smartphones.
FLIR ONE Gen 3
Most phones today don’t come with a thermal camera, but several smartphone attachments let your device take thermal video and images. The FLIR ONE Gen 3 is one example that connects to any iOS device. You can even edit the pictures using the dedicated mobile app.
For phones covered by protective cases, there’s a OneFit connector that lets the camera connect to the port. Thus, you can keep your standard smartphone protected.
For those who wish to attach a better thermal sensor to their smartphone, the SeeK CompactXR has your back. It boasts a 206 x 156 thermal sensor, which is higher than many competitors’ devices. The CompactXR has a 1,800 ft. detection distance, allowing users to check temperatures at longer distances.
As working environments can be damp, the CompactXR comes with a waterproof case to prevent damage to delicate components.
Compared to other thermal imaging phones, the Blackview BV6600 is weaker in the hardware department, but that’s because it’s a budget model. Even if you can find better CPUs and cameras, the BV6600’s battery capacity is where it really shines. It is able to hold an impressive charge of 8,580mAh.
That’s not the only battery-related benefit, as the BV6600 can also reverse-charge other devices, acting as an emergency power bank. Another selling point is that it runs on Android 11, while some rugged phones today continue to run older software.
This smartphone is the best for those who wish to have a thermal imaging-capable smartphone but don’t want to break the bank. It may be slower than others, but it still gets the job done.
Ulefone Armor 9
Equipped with the essential FLIR Lepton thermal sensor, the Ulefone Armor 9 is an excellent beginner’s thermal imaging rugged smartphone. Its other cameras and hardware are impressive for a rugged device released in 2020. However, its endoscope capability is what really sets it apart.
The Armor 9 works with an endoscope you can purchase separately. This accessory is a rare advantage for those who need eyes on hard-to-reach corners. You also don’t have to worry about damaging the phone, as it has MIL-STD 810G, IP68, and IP69K ratings.
One drawback is the lower built-in memory capacity of 128GB, but the silver lining is that microSD cards up to 2TB are compatible with the Armor 9.
Blackview BV9800 Pro
The BV9800 Pro is the second of Blackview’s FLIR-equipped rugged smartphones. As it’s newer than the BV6600, you can expect it to have better features and a heftier price tag. Other functions include wireless charging, altitude measurement, jungle navigation, and more.
The rear camera has 48 megapixels, while the selfie camera has 16, allowing photographers to snap beautiful images in adverse environments. Even then, the 6,580mAh battery will last for a whole day. Combined with MIL-STD-810G, IP68, and IP69K ratings, this phone is built for any location.
The internal memory isn’t the best at 128GB, and you can only add another 128GB at most. The OS is Android 9, which is relatively old by 2022’s standards. Nevertheless, the BV9800 Pro remains a solid choice.
Ulefone Armor 11T 5G
The Armor 11T is Ulefone’s second FLIR Lepton rugged smartphone. Compared to the Armor 9, the Armor 11T is superior in almost every aspect. The Armor 11T takes its hardware, software, and most importantly, the latest FLIR camera that comes with MSX technology to another level.
Some of the best features of the Armor 11T 5G are Google Pay support, a fingerprint lock, and facial recognition. You’d be pressed to find a rugged smartphone with comparable capabilities.
The camera is the main attraction, as it has AI functionality, night mode, and a macro lens, and your videos can go up to 4K resolution. Coupled with the MediaTek Dimensity 800 5G chipset, the phone will run any games in the app store without dropping a frame.
The Cat 60 is one of the older rugged phone models with FLIR thermal imaging capabilities. The camera will detect heat up to 100 feet away and even see through smoke. In addition, the phone is compatible with the SAF/EST Thermal Screening App.
The Cat S60 can withstand shocks and drops from 1.8 meters high thanks to its rugged build. In addition, the casing remains waterproof as deep as five meters for 60 minutes. When underwater, the rear camera can also capture videos and images.
Even though it’s around six years old, the Cat S60 remains a reliable phone for first responders and those who need heat detection capabilities.
You can consider the Cat S61 an upgrade to the S60, as it’s superior in almost every way. The first thing you may notice is the improved screen: a 5.2-inch FHD IPS display that works with wet fingers and gloves. It’s also made of Gorilla Glass 5 for extra protection.
At 16MP, the primary camera has three more megapixels, and the front camera has 8MP, also three more than the S60. Captured videos have a UHD resolution with a maximum refresh rate of 30 Hz.
The Cat S60 is also rated to withstand falls from 1.8m and is functional from -20 to 120 degrees Celsius. Thus, firefighters can take advantage of its resilience and use it to save lives.
Blackview BV9900 Pro
Even if the BV9800 Pro and BV9900 Pro are separated by 100 in the name, the latter isn’t designed to be a replacement. Instead, the BV9900 Pro has different features, such as a heart rate monitor, barometer, and underwater camera. It can even work in temperatures as low as -30 degrees Celsius.
In terms of the CPU, the BV9900 Pro has a newer and faster chipset, and with 8GB of RAM, you can multitask in the field without much effort.
Despite the luxurious hardware of the BV9900 Pro, its battery capacity is on the lower end at 4,380mAh. It does charge rather quickly, but you’ll have to ensure there’s enough juice left.
For its price, the BV9900 Pro is an excellent rugged smartphone with FLIR thermal imaging capabilities.
Practical Applications of Thermal Imaging on the Phone
There are many ways thermal imaging on a smartphone is beneficial to the first responder or even hobbyists. The most important advantage is that you’ll only need one device to replace many tools at once. After all, these rugged phones offer more than just thermal imaging.
How Thermal Imaging Phones Work
All thermal imaging phones we listed above use a FLIR Lepton sensor, a unique lens that can detect heat energy. The infrared radiation that all objects emit is then processed and rendered as an image in real time, albeit at lower framerates. As the brightness of your surroundings doesn’t matter, these phones can see more than the typical camera.
Advantages of Thermal Imaging Camera Phone
Here’s a list of the key advantages that thermal imaging phones offer:
- Reduce the amount of devices professionals carry
- Gain a clear view of wild animals
- Detect missing persons in the dark
- Find out where heat is leaking
- See camouflaged people or objects
- See-through smoke
Do Thermal Imaging Phone Apps Work?
If your phone has a thermal imaging camera, the app will work as intended. However, all apps claiming to offer this feature without requiring a specialized sensor are fakes. These only apply a filter over the current image.
Talk to a Tech Expert
It’s natural to have questions regarding thermal imaging, as it’s not a typical technology found on smartphones. If you have questions, simply reach out to us. Our trained representatives are more than happy to help you determine which model is best for you.
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