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Need a new thermometer? After researching dozens of models on the market, we purchased and tested the 11 best thermometers available today. Our panel of home experts completed side-by-side comparisons and real-world testing to determine which contenders are the most accurate and easiest to use. With various styles and features out there, from an innovative touchless forehead scanner to a traditional under-the-tongue model, this review will help you navigate and narrow down the options to the perfect one for your needs and budget.
Temperature Range: Body: 89.6-109.2 F; Object: 32-212 F | Modes: Forehead
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
Buttons are difficult to press
The Famidoc Touchless is a large, trigger-style infrared thermometer. It was one of the most accurate and precise devices we used throughout our testing, providing readings almost instantaneously (in about a second). It can take both forehead temperatures and readings of inanimate objects. It automatically turns off after approximately 30 seconds to save battery power and displays 'lo' or 'hi' when forehead readings fall outside of a normal range. The Famidoc's memory function holds 32 readings and can record both forehead and inanimate object temperatures (most models with a memory function only retain the former).
Our main gripe with this product is the user interface. The buttons (memory recall, volume, C/F, mode) are small, difficult to press, and may be difficult to read for some folks. They also take up valuable real estate, requiring the readout screen to be smaller. Though you won't have to access it often, the battery compartment latch is hard to open. All in all, this multi-purpose device is an excellent, highly precise option that we would gladly recommend keeping on hand in your bathroom's medicine cabinet.
Temperature Range: 89.6-109.4 F | Modes: Oral/Underarm/Rectal
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
Long read time
Limited memory capacity
The Vicks Comfortflex is a basic digital probe model that is easy to use and read. It has a single button and a large, bold font screen and displays a green/yellow/red backlight color corresponding to the severity of its temperature reading. Press the power button once to turn it on, and the device displays the previous temperature reading for a couple of seconds while it gets ready to take the next one. It comes with a few disposable probe covers and a hard plastic storage case. If you are looking for a basic, intuitive thermometer and don't need a ton of features, this is the one.
The downsides of this model are minor. Its memory only records one previous temperature reading, and it only displays this for a couple of seconds, and then it's gone. As a traditional probe model, it takes between 5-10 seconds to yield a reading instead of the near-instantaneous output of infrared styles. Still, we love this model and think it's a great option for anyone who needs a basic digital probe thermometer.
The FACEIL Thermometer is a have-it-all-at-once kind of product. If you use it a lot and can get oriented quickly to what you are looking at, it has many useful features. We love the large screen and bold font. As with all other infrared options, it completes a scan in about a second. Taking a basic reading then displays the current recorded temperature and icons for the mode (human body or object), volume, battery level, and memory readings. It holds up to 35 previous readings, so you never have to remember the patient's temperature from last time. Given its price point and performance, this is one of the best infrared thermometer deals around.
The flip side to having all of the information displayed simultaneously is that some people might find it overwhelming. And though it is relatively user-friendly, we found that it is less accurate than some other models we tested. It also doesn't come with color-coded backlights. However, if you want the speed and convenience of a forehead scanner and don't mind how the data is displayed, we highly recommend this option.
Temperature Range: 89.6-109.2 F | Modes: Oral/Underarm/Rectal
REASONS TO BUY
Multiple user profiles
REASONS TO AVOID
App required for more advanced features
The Kinsa Smart is an app-enabled smart thermometer that tracks information well beyond your current temperature. The device itself has basic digital features, including a large, easy-to-read display and color-coded backlight alerts that make it clear whether or not the patient has a fever. Once paired with the app via Bluetooth, it unlocks a variety of useful features for the data-obsessed. For example, it allows you to create unique profiles for each family member. Each profile has a home screen that shows a timeline of the readings taken and any symptoms noted at the time of the reading. It also provides basic county-level Covid and flu data specific to your location. You can also track medications, diagnoses, and set reminders.
As with many basic devices that incorporate smart features, sometimes the technology gets in the way. We could not easily use the thermometer out of the box without first downloading the app. The power button is small and in a somewhat non-intuitive location at the top of the device. We also found for oral readings that the thermometer stick is quite floppy. Though this would be protective in a rectal reading, it makes it difficult to hold in your mouth. These issues aside, we think the Kinsa is the best smart option for those needing to take temperatures and keep records.
The Braun Thermoscan 7 is a quick ear-read thermometer. It has a standard color-coded backlight and allows you to indicate the age of the patient (0-3 months, 3-36 months, 36+ months), which shifts the temperature range it considers typical, depending on the age setting. It's easy to operate with its large power button and big display, and it holds the last nine readings for easy reference. Readings are taken in just a beat more than a second, and there is an included carrying case and a 20-pack of probe covers.
Our biggest issue for single-person use is the disposable plastic cover. The device will not take a reading without one attached. This makes sense for hygiene and safety in a doctor's office, but if you need to take your child's temperature and realize you are out of covers, it can be a bummer. It's also slightly less versatile than other models since it can only take ear readings. However, for those who have trouble with under-tongue options, this one is a trustworthy alternative.
The Geratherm Mercury Free Oral Glass is a traditional glass model. No batteries, no buttons; the benefit of this product is that it is as simple as it gets. It comes with a calibrated insert that allows you to see both Fahrenheit and Celsius readings simultaneously. It is also highly accurate if the patient can hold it in place properly. For those who don't need any of the high-tech features that come with digital or smart thermometers, this one will do its one job well enough.
There are a few drawbacks to this model. First, readings take over three minutes, compared to an average of a couple of seconds for all other products in this review. Readings can also be difficult to discern since the glass has to be held at the right angle, and the font is small and thin. It is also not ideal for small children or adults who might have trouble keeping it adequately positioned under the tongue for that long. However, this is the perfect choice for those who prefer a conventional and precise option.
Why You Should Trust Us
At GearLab, we purchase each product we test at retail prices and do not accept any manufacturer samples. Over the past two years, we have researched dozens of thermometers and tested 15 different models. Besides testing and comparing accuracy, we also consider ease of use out of the box, record how long it takes for each device to register a reading, and note any additional features that improve the performance of each product. We subjected this lineup to over 40 individual tests. Scores in these test metrics combine and make up a product's overall score.
Our thermometer testing is divided into four rating metrics:
We created a test plan with a few different test metrics to test all aspects of a product's performance. For each metric, we highlight the contenders that outperform or fell short among the competition of thermometers.
Though value is not formally considered in overall product scoring, it still plays an important role. In our reviews, value is what you get relative to what you pay. In quantitative terms, we say that products with a comparatively high score and low price have a higher value. Based on our testing, models that come away as value options include the Faceil and Vicks Comfortflex.
Accuracy is the degree to which any given reading by a product represents someone's true temperature. That is, if you have a fever of 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit, you want confidence that your thermometer will tell you that your temperature is 100.5 degrees. We prioritized accuracy as the most important metric for a thermometer. During testing, all of the models performed very well. When used as directed, we would gladly rely on any of them to tell us whether or not we had a fever.
Though none of the thermometers were way off, some had higher degrees of accuracy than others. The Famidoc Touchless and iHealth No-Touch Infrared Forehead impressed us the most in this regard, with zero variance from reading to reading. The Vicks Comfortflex and Braun Thermoscan 7 were reliably within a tenth of a degree.
The next tier includes models like the Boncare 10-Second Digital, Goodbaby Touchless, Kinsa Smart, Geratherm Mercury-Free Oral Glass, and FACEIL. These models were also highly accurate, with a reading-to-reading variance of a couple of tenths of a degree. The least accurate models were the GoodBaby for Adults and CHOOSEEN. To be clear, all models in our test provided readings that were perfectly acceptable in terms of assessing a fever. Even the lowest performing model never had a temperature reading variance great than nine-tenths of a degree.
Ease of Use
Ease of use considers how simple it is for a user to get a reading. When you or a family member are feeling under the weather, you don't want to navigate an overly complicated set of buttons. Here, we want to know how intuitive each model is to use.
Unsurprisingly, we found that models with fewer buttons (and fewer functions per button) were, on the whole, easier to use. This put digital probe options like the Vicks Comfortflex at the top. The Boncare 10-Second Digital also has a similar one-button operation and basic temperature output, but the display is much smaller. The Kinsa Smart has an even larger readout than the Vicks model, but between downloading the app and Bluetooth pairing, it takes some setup time the first go-round. The Faceil has a crisp, bold display, but it contains a lot of information.
For the traditionalists, the Geratherm Mercury-Free Oral Glass is a regular old analog thermometer (obviously, zero buttons). This one is straightforward to use but much less easy to read due to the small type size and having to angle the product correctly. On the other hand, the Braun Thermoscan 7 has a large display, making it easy to read. However, we found it somewhat annoying that the disposable plastic probe cover was required in order for the device to take a reading.
As for digital products, the iHealth No Touch Infrared Forehead also has just one button. The GoodBaby Touchless features three buttons (temperature, memory recall, and mute/unmute) that more or less do what you would expect them to and are thus straightforward enough for someone to use intuitively, without instruction. In terms of button configuration, we are decidedly not fans of the Famidoc Touchless, which has more buttons than it needs to. They are also sometimes difficult to press because of their small size, and the functions are not all intuitive. The CHOOSEEN is somewhat sleek looking but puts two of its three buttons on the underside, making it more difficult to use.
Thermometers have one primary task, but additional features can improve the user experience and offer insight beyond a basic temperature reading. We don't just look at the total number of features but assess the value that each one brings.
Several contenders we tested, like the Famidoc Touchless, CHOOSEEN, Vicks Comfortflex, Braun Thermoscan 7, and GoodBaby Touchless, have backlight colors that correspond to the seriousness of a temperature reading. For instance, green corresponds to an average body temperature, yellow/orange for a low-grade fever, and red for a high fever. This feature helps make sense of the readings in even less time. The Thermoscan 7 even allows you to select the patient's age to ensure that it provides the most accurate information possible.
We also appreciate large displays that don't require squinting for most folks. Top performers here include the FACEIL and GoodBaby Touchless infrared devices, as well as the digital probe Vicks Comfortflex and Braun Thermoscan 7. In addition, all of the infrared models in our lineup have some memory storage capacity (except for the iHealth), making it easy to track temperature changes throughout an illness. Thermometers that come with cases or covers include the Vicks, Geratherm, and Braun, while the infrared models do not require one.
The Kinsa Smart takes top honors for data collection and storage. This app-enabled smart thermometer pairs via Bluetooth to your smartphone. It can track not only temperature over time but illness history, including other symptoms or notes from a health care professional. Each reading and note is timestamped, so it's theoretically possible to track a patient's entire illness history over years. We don't think everyone needs this tech, but for those who are into data collection, it's a next-generation product.
Most of the thermometers we tested offer a relatively rapid response, but the speed at which they produce a reading is also a factor you may want to consider. For this test metric, we timed how long it takes for a product to record a temperature and then compared the results.
During testing, three distinct speed tiers emerged that correspond to the type of each thermometer. Infrared forehead/ear scanners are all almost instantaneous. They take about one second to record and report a reading. This includes models like the Famidoc Touchless, iHealth No-Touch Infrared Forehead, FACEIL Thermometer, CHOOSEEN, and Goodbaby models. The Braun Thermoscan 7 was also extremely fast but noticeably a beat or two slower than the forehead infrared models. Digital probe options, like the Vicks Comfortflex, Kinsa Smart, and Boncare 10-Second Digital, had a range of reading times between 9-13 seconds. Lastly, the analog Geratherm Mercury-Free Oral Glass took far and away the most prolonged amount of time, recording reading speeds of 2.5-4 minutes.
Investing in a thermometer to keep in your health kit is essential, and you'll be thankful to have this device on hand if a fever strikes. However, considering the multitude of options on the market, selecting one can be overwhelming and a struggle. Lucky for you, you can save some time and energy by taking advantage of our hard work with our informative review. We are confident that our lineup includes an option for your needs and budget.
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GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.