I used this rugged phone with a FLIR camera to see behind walls — and it even has an obnoxious 8,800 mAh battery

Blackview BL9000 Pro held in hand showing off the back.
(Image credit: Future)

I’ve explained in many articles the benefits of a thermal camera. Whether I’m using one to see if the neighborhood trash panda is prowling my backyard, or to uncover hidden dangers around my home, thermal cameras have proven invaluable to me as a first-time homeowner. But the problem with these attachable thermal cameras is that often I don’t have one on me when I do need it.

Enter the Blackview BL9000 Pro, a rugged phone that packs a built-in FLIR thermal camera that’s present whenever a need to see what's hidden arises. I’ve spent years reviewing the best phones, yet rugged phones are often overlooked because they lack the same brand recognition and broad appeal that the best iPhones and best Android phones offer.

I got to try out the Blackview BL9000 Pro as a daily driver for a week, and while it’s not for everyone, I do want to point out what makes this phone unique — including its massive 8,800 mAh battery, which is unreal for any phone.

Blackview BL9000 Pro: was $759 now $549 Blackview
See heat signatures with the FLIR thermal camera that's integrated with the Blackview BL9000 Pro. This Android phone features a rugged design complete with a massive 8,800 mAh battery for all-day use.
Price check: $434 @ AliExpress

Blackview BL9000 Pro: was $759 now $549 Blackview
See heat signatures with the FLIR thermal camera that's integrated with the Blackview BL9000 Pro. This Android phone features a rugged design complete with a massive 8,800 mAh battery for all-day use.
Price check: $434 @ AliExpress

Heat vision camera

FLIR thermal camera preview shown on Blackview BL9000 Pro.

(Image credit: Future)

Rather than anticipate a time when I would need a thermal camera, the integrated FLIR camera included on the Blackview BL9000 Pro means it’s always ready for any occasion. After a dreadful bout of nonstop rain, I noticed the paint on the ceiling of my downstairs bathroom started to crack. I didn’t think much about it then, but I certainly did the following week when heavy rain caused a noticeable leak in that same area — eventually leaving a water stain.

The Blackview BL9000 Pro pretty much confirmed my suspicion about a leaky roof over the bathroom because the area around the light fixture was noticeably colder whe viewed through the FLIR thermal camera. If I only had a thermal camera the prior week, I could’ve acted faster to prevent this — so now I’m forced to shell out the cost to patch up that area on the roof where water could be entering.

Few phones have this kind of utility, but nothing beats a proper thermal camera. For example, I tried out the Pixel 8 Pro’s temperature sensor, but I think it’s not as practical as a proper thermal camera to detect cold and hot spots. At least with the Blackview BL9000 Pro, I can also use its thermal camera to see in pitch darkness — perfect for when I’m doing some astrophotography in my backyard. Just check out some of the photos above to see the heat signatures in different scenes.

Two full days of battery

Closeup of USB-C cover on the Blackview BL9000 Pro.

(Image credit: Future)

This year’s crop of phones prove that they’re lasting much longer on a single charge, with phones like the Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro and OnePlus 12R taking top honors in our best phone battery life list. Even though they exceed 18-plus hours in Tom’s Guide’s battery benchmark testing, I would be shocked if they lasted a full 24-hours with real world use.

Yet, I managed to pull close to two full days out of the Blackview BL9000 Pro. That’s because it’s packing a beefy 8,800 mAh battery, whereas other phones usually top out at around 5,000 mAh. If longevity is high on your list, then you’ll be astounded by the Blackview BL9000 Pro’s endurance. Considering it has a 6.78-inch FHD+ LCD display with a 120Hz refresh rate, I’m pretty stoked it lasted me nearly two full days.

However, the beefy battery on the inside makes the phone feel dense — and when you factor in its ruggedized design — the Blackview BL9000 Pro looks and feels chunky. Style certainly isn’t in its DNA, so it doesn’t command the same attention as other, sleeker phones. But then again, its peculiar design and hefty size is also hard to overlook.

Great utility, only if you need them

Ultimately it’s imperative to ask the question of who’s the Blackview BL9000 Pro for, right? What makes this unlocked Android phone appealing is that it’s currently priced at $549, down from its original $759 price tag. That puts it in the midrange category, where it’s effectively competing against the Pixel 8a that I recently reviewed.

I personally wouldn’t have a need for the Blackview BL9000 Pro as a daily driver, but I do know a lot of contractors, handymen, and plumbers that could certainly see its value. Besides the hefty design, the only drawbacks to the Blackview BL9000 Pro is its underwhelming camera performance — which I sort of expected because rugged phones aren’t known for their camera prowess.

There’s also the matter around its software support, which could be a dealbreaker for some. Blackview doesn’t say how long its phones will be supported with new software and security updates, so don’t be surprised if it doesn't get upgraded beyond the Android 14 experience it offers out of the box. Knowing that, you’ll really need to think if the added utility of an integrated thermal camera and big battery are worth it.

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John Velasco
Senior Channel Editor for Phones

John’s a senior editor covering phones for Tom’s Guide. He’s no stranger in this area having covered mobile phones and gadgets since 2008 when he started his career. On top of his editor duties, he’s a seasoned videographer being in front and behind the camera producing YouTube videos. Previously, he held editor roles with PhoneArena, Android Authority, Digital Trends, and SPY. Outside of tech, he enjoys producing mini documentaries and fun social clips for small businesses, enjoying the beach life at the Jersey Shore, and recently becoming a first time homeowner.

  • cbocity
    admin said:
    Our phone editor used the Blackview BL9000 Pro as a daily driver for a week, discovering theextra features you won't get on a standard flagship — namely, a FLIR thermal camera and a massive 8,800 mAh battery.

    I used this rugged phone with a FLIR camera to see behind walls — and it even has an obnoxious 8,800 mAh battery : Read more
    I used this phones pedecessor for two years. Blackview phones are fairly robust, waterproof, and extremely useful. The body on aluminum frame construction, like a truck or suv, is almost tough enough to use as a hammer.
    In terms of updates, one huge problem is that Mediatek doesn't play well with the GPL. Custom firmware, that is verified and secure is unavailable, as they only provide their source to partners. Most of the smaller manufacturers do not have the resources to maintain updates long term. It seems that mediatek should follow Intel, Qualcomms path and provide full source access, as well as facilitate the development of glue and go manufacturers rom development being unified.
    Reply
  • northernrider
    Years ago I had Black view rugged phone. I think it was BV6600pro. It was no good for North America.
    I live in Ontario Canada Could only get signal from Rogers and couldn't use 4g.
    I travelled to Florida and could only get it to work with AT&T with no 4g.
    This soured me on Chinese brand phones.
    Reply