Topdon TC001 Review Thermal Imaging Camera for Android

Thursday, April 20, 2023

The Topdon TC001 is a really cool bit of kit - one of the best phone accessories you will ever have that will totally upgrade your phone! 
TC001 is a thermal imaging camera that works similarly to a night vision infrared (IR) camera but with a difference. Instead of light, the TC001 thermal camera captures heat and doesn't require any light to work, unlike an infrared night camera. The Topdon TC001 camera can be used at night or in a pitch black room. TC001 uses colors to distinguish between temperature ranges. 

The TC001 has a sharp thermal imaging resolution, using dark purple (cold), pink, amber and yellow (hot) shades to show the relative temperature of objects. The accuracy of the TC001 thermal imaging camera is very high but dependent on the contrast between cold and hot and the subject. 
For example, you won't be able to capture the thermal reading of a reflective object (e.g. mirror, copper pipes, CD disk, etc) accurately due to their reflective nature. The greater the difference between hot and cold, the more accurate the thermal imaging reading. The TC001 camera has been calibrated from factory with a margin of error of just +/-0.3 degrees Celsius.

While the Topdon TC001 thermal camera is made for Android, it does not support Android 10 natively so, the official TC001 mobile app from the Google app does not work with Android 10, unless sideloading the APK version, which involves manually downloading the app and installing it on the phone. Then, you can launch and use the TC001 app just like the official TC001 app from the Play Store. 

Aside from inconvenient, sideloading apps is usually safe; however, Android devices see APK apps as a security risk, blocking it as an untrusted unknown source. You will have to okay the prompt message saying "File might be harmful", which may put off some users.

When launching the TC001 app directly from the Google Play Store, the app detects the thermal camera within seconds. There is no email registration required. Simply open the app and you're ready to shoot and record video thermal imaging. You can adjust the contrast of the thermal imaging, as well as camera orientation (horizontal or vertical) and select various other settings such as Temperature Monitoring, which allows you to monitor a specific area by drawing a line on the phone screen.

The Topdon TC001 thermal camera plugs into the USB-C charging port of a smartphone (PC or tablet). It is a bus-powered device, so it uses the phone battery as the power source. The USB-C male connector is long enough to allow a secure connection to the phone as long as the phone USB-C port isn't too recessed or, you are using a thin protective phone. If you're using a thick phone case you will likely have to remove the phone case from the phone first, before you can plug in the Topdon TC001 thermal camera.
The location of the Topdon TC001 thermal camera at the bottom of the phone isn't the most convenient as the thermal camera kind of gets in the way when operating it but, you can always use the extension cable included. Being USB-C, you can plug the thermal camera front facing (like a selfie camera) or rear facing for a different aim.

Being a thermal camera, it is an expensive gadget, although the TC001 is a lot more affordable than many other thermal cameras. The range of useful applications the TC001 can be used is limitless from personal use to work cases such as electrical work. As a home insulation tool, the TC001 will work fantastically too, allowing you to identify cold spots/gaps in a house and prevent heat escaping. Dimensions of the TC001 are 6cm long x 3.5cm deep x 1.5cm thick and 29 grams in weight.


Potential deal breakers

  • Doesn't support Android 10 natively (same issue with other thermal devices)
  • Not compatible with all phone cases
  • Not compatible with all Android phones - check with Topdon before buying
  • Affordable for a thermal camera but still expensive
  • Images/videos do not get saved to the phones photo gallery
  • No built-in battery
  • No built-in mic 
  • Fixed focus lens 
  • Manual calibration not supported

Selling points 

  • Easy setup
  • Doesn't require any external light to work
  • Android and PC versatility
  • Compatible with USB-C and USB-A devices
  • Can be used in selfie mode
  • 50mk thermal sensitivity
  • Aluminum construction
  • Plug and Play
  • 3 meter reading capture
  • Lightweight 
  • No account registration to use the app
  • Very good thermal image resolution 
  • 25Hz frame rate
  • Low power consumption
  • 6 hour battery life with a 4000mAh phone
  • Self powered - no built-in battery
  • Wide temperature range -20C to +500C
  • High value to spec ratio
  • Extension cable included

Accessories include a stiff fabric cable (50cm long) with a female USB-C connector at one end and a dual male connector (USB-C & USB-A). A cleaning cloth and a hardshell case is also included made of EVA foam and with a single metal slider. The case is durable and water resistant but the zipper isn't. You can buy the Topdon TC001 thermal camera from amazon and Topdon website.

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