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This thermal camera gives your iPhone a cool superpower, and it's $70 off right now

The industrial-grade Topdon TC002 comes at a fraction of the cost of dedicated thermal imaging cameras thanks to this Black Friday deal, making it a fantastic addition to any repair toolkit or Christmas stocking.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Contributing Writer
Topdon TC002

Topdon TC002

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

What's the Black Friday deal?

This Topdon TC002 thermal imaging camera is one of my favorite toys, I mean tools, I've reviewed this year. And right now you can get it for 23% off, a savings of $70. 


Why this deal is ZDNET-recommended

I have quite a few Android smartphones that have built-in thermal cameras (such as the Blackview BV8900 or the Ulefone Power Armor 18T), and I find them really useful. But my daily driver is an iPhone, and while Apple is never going to add a thermal camera to its flagship smartphone, you can do the same yourself. 

Also: The 75 best early Black Friday deals: Live updates

One of the best ways to do this is with the Topdon TC002 thermal imaging camera

View at Amazon

Topdon TC002 tech specs

  • Ultra-high 256 x 192 resolution
  • 25Hz refresh rate
  • Enhanced testing range of -4°F to 1022°F (-20°C to 550°C) with high level of accuracy 0.1°F/0.1°C
  • Maximum error of ±2°C or 2%
  • Measures 2.8 x 1.65 x 0.55 inches and weighs one ounce
  • Comes with case, cleaning cloth, user guide, and 20-inch Lightning extension cable 

In the kit, you get the thermal camera, a case, a cleaning cloth, and a 20-inch Lightning extension cable -- which means you don't have to plug the camera directly into the iPhone, giving you greater flexibility.

The Topdon TC002 kit

The Topdon TC002 kit

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Also: This $10 gadget is my favorite repair tool of all time

That Lightning extension cable is a nice touch, and particularly useful if your iPhone is in a case that's too thick to properly accommodate the camera. 

 extension cable is a nice touch

The Lightning extension cable is a nice touch

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

As for the usability of the thermal camera, the TC002 is brilliant at capturing stills and video. Accuracy is such that you can see the thermal echos of fingerprints on a surface.

Thermal echos of fingerprints on a surface

Thermal echos of fingerprints on a surface

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

The software is very smooth and easy to use. What's more, it isn't laggy -- a problem I see with some of the software needed for thermal cameras.

The software required to operate the TC002 is some of the best out there.

The software required to operate the TC002 is some of the best out there.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Video capture is also incredible: Look at the detail in this flame (which has been converted from a video file into a GIF file).

The Topdon TC002 does an excellent job of capturing thermal video.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Why do you need a thermal imaging camera? I could rattle off dozens of good reasons, but here are a few uses I've found for mine recently:

  • Find overheating electrical components. (Faulty components usually run hotter.)
  • Diagnose all sorts of HVAC problems, from windows that leak heat, to radiators that aren't warming up properly, to AC units that aren't cooling.
  • Uncover dangerously overheating rechargeable batteries.
  • Find radiator pipes underneath floorboards.
  • Spot problems with cooling systems on desktop and laptop computers.
  • Spot binding brakes on cars.

Also: Are smartphone thermal cameras sensitive enough to uncover PIN codes?

The Topdon TC002 is a solid thermal imaging camera. It has a good temperature range, it's very accurate, the image is smooth thanks to the 25Hz refresh rate, and the software isn't laggy or crashy.

This is an industrial-grade thermal camera. At $229 during this Black Friday sale, you can pick it up for a fraction of the cost of dedicated thermal imaging cameras. This is a fantastic addition to any repair toolkit.

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