I tested the world’s first thermal phone camera with a 50Hz refresh rate, and here are the results

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

ZDNET’s key takeaways

  • The Xinfrared One XH09 is available from Amazon for $369.
  • It has a fast refresh rate, an IP65 rating (so you don’t have to worry about water or dust), and it’s very accurate.
  • Instructions can be a little vague, and the app isn’t as streamlined as it could be.

I keep finding novel uses for thermal cameras, from locating defective components on circuit boards, to finding out where that draft is coming into my living room. This is one of those tools that felt — at first — like a gimmick, but quickly became one of those things that I turn to regularly.

However, one drawback of thermal cameras is that the refresh rate — how fast an image updates on the screen — can be quite slow. This can make them cumbersome to use because the image on the smartphone can lag compared to where you’re pointing the camera. 

Also: How to build a winter emergency kit (and why you should)

Not anymore!  The Xinfrared One XH09 is the world’s first thermal camera for smartphones with a fast 50Hz refresh rate (50Hz means the display is refreshed 50 times per second).

Note that I’m testing the Android version here, but there is also a version for iPhones with the Lightning connector.

Xinfrared One XH09 tech specs

  • Field of View: 19.63°×14.71°
  • Focal Length: 9mm adjustable focusing
  • Frame Rate: 50Hz
  • IR Resolution: 256×192 @12μm
  • Magnification: 2× to 15× continuous digital zoom
  • Operating Temperature: -4°F to 140°F (-20°C to +60°C)
  • Temperature Range: 32°F to 212°F (0°C to 100°C)
  • Size: 23 x 23 x 23.8mm
  • Weight: 18.5g
  • Rating: IP65
  • Support: Android 9 and above

Comes with a handy carry case.

Comes with a handy carry case.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

A few things immediately stand out about the XH09. It’s bigger and bulkier than most other standalone units I’ve used, but at just a little over 18 grams and a cubic inch in size, it fits into a pocket with no problems.

To help make it easy it carry in the pocket, the XH09 comes with a carrying case, which is handy for protecting the camera and keeping the USB-C extension lead with it. That lead comes in handy if you don’t want to — or sometimes can’t — attach the camera directly to your Android smartphone. The USB-C port can be inaccessible on many smartphones if they are in a protective case or are the ruggedized type. 

Also: My search for the best cheap Android tablet is over

I also really like the fast refresh rate of this camera, With a lot of other thermal cameras, I find that searching around for heat signatures –especially on things like circuit boards, which can be densely packed with components — can be frustrating because of the slow refresh rate of the camera. This is no problem with the XH09.

Giving the new Raspberry Pi 5 a thermal once over!

Giving the new Raspberry Pi 5 a thermal once over!

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

The app is also full-featured, even allowing you to watermark an image with coordinates and the weather conditions, which could be a handy feature for engineers working outdoors and others who have to make reports or assessments.

All in all, this is a great, professional-grade thermal camera. The fast refresh rate makes it pleasant to use, and the IP65 water and dustproofing means you’re not worried about it when taking it outside. 

Small, yet powerful!

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

ZDNET’s buying advice

I like the Xinfrared One XH09 a lot. It’s fast and accurate, the app it connects to is well-made and has pro-grade features, and the refresh rate is fast, making it the smoothest thermal-camera-on-a-smartphone experience I’ve come across. This comes in super handy when you’re sweeping around looking for a single tiny hot component on a crowded circuit board. 

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