A subtle change is occurring in the ruggedized phone market.
This sector has been dominated by Chinese phone builders over the past few years, and most of these devices have sold on their ability to withstand harsh environments alongside being competitively priced.
Of lesser importance were the quality of construction, the inclusion of unique features, and overall performance.
However, that era may be concluding with products like the AGM Glory G1S coming to the market. It proves this market is no longer a race to the bottom for Chinese phone makers but an ambition to compete more directly with the best Korean, Japanese, and American designs.
In this review, we’ll be looking at a flagship phone that contradicts much of what we’ve come to expect from Chinese-made hardware.
The first impression of the AGM Glory G1S 5G unlocked smartphone is the size and weight of the unit itself. The specifications may lead one to believe that this is a big phone, But doing a little research on kimovil.com, I have determined that roughly half the phones released in the past year are larger than this model. In addition, while the TCL 30V 5G, which I reviewed earlier this year, has a 6.67-inch screen the glass is roughly the same size as the glass on the AGM Glory G1S, and the phones are approximately the same size and weight as the TCL 30V 5G is installed in an Incipio Duo case.
The ruggedized exterior of this phone is dark grey (looks like dull lead) and has accents in orange. On the front side, a 0.3 mm raised bezel surrounds the Gorilla Glass. While Gorilla Glass is very sturdy it is not indestructible so I choose to apply a screen protector on top of it. Unfortunately, most glass screen protectors are not less than 0.3 mm thick so the bezel doesn’t do much to protect it. Within the month it was cracked.
The earpiece microphone is above the screen glass and is covered by a plastic grill. The ruggedized corners of the phone protrude to distribute impact forces from the corners to the sides. I find that the corners aid in holding the phone in my palm. The lower right corner has a loop for installing a lanyard.
A rubber door protects the SIM tray and the USB/audio jack from dirt, dust, and water. The sim tray does not appear to have an o-ring around the exposed portion of the SIM tray so the only protection from water or dust intrusion to the phone interior is by the rubber door.
If not for the 5500 mAh battery opening and closing the rubber door on the base would be a nuisance. However, both the SIM tray and USB/audio door also have a notch on the side to make opening easier. If leaving the bottom door closed is a must then the phone can be charged using the AGM Glory series dock.
The AGM Glory G1S can be got directly from the makers, and it comes in only one SKU, with a single accessory option. A flat price of $699 is the price, and for a further $20, it can come with a charging dock.
It’s important to realize that this is an international design not specifically for the US market, and therefore it only supports the frequencies used by T-Mobile in that region.
According to the AGM website, there is also a Glory Pro based on the G1S available with a slightly different feature set, double the storage, and wireless charging for $819.99.
Compared to the typical pricing of rugged phones, the G1S and the Pro are both at the very high end of what customers might expect to pay, even from Samsung or other better-known brands.
Without a doubt, the camera array is the main selling point of the AGM Glory G1S Thermal Camera Smartphone. There are a total of FIVE cameras onboard.
It starts with the main camera—an impressive 48 MP auto-focusing Sony AMX582 with a top f-stop of f/1.79. It’s capable of taking some impressive photos, but its color temperature isn’t always accurate. Fortunately, onboard photo editing can adjust very easily.
Then there’s the selfie camera. Leaving behind the days of 2 MP and 5 MP front-facing cameras, this one is 16 MP and presents a nice, clean image.
There’s also a macro camera. While this one is only 2 MP, you can get incredibly close to your subject and an optimal range of just 3 cm.
Thermal imaging camera
AGM’s thermal imaging camera has some great features that let you take photos and videos. For starters, it has a 256 x 192-pixel resolution that is hard to beat with other smartphones and add-on devices. There are so many options that it could do an entire standalone review.
From color palettes to different modes and parameters, it offers more versatility than we’d expect from a smartphone thermal camera. A few things stand out, however. We love the layering of measurements. It marks the center of the screen and automatically tracks the highest and lowest temperatures on the screen.
For MRO and diagnostic purposes, this makes the job much easier. The fusion mode is interesting. It involves overlaying the visual image with the thermal image. It’s not as effective as FLIR’s MSX technology because it doesn’t highlight object edges, but it can still be helpful if you want to see more object detail. We also like that there are two temperature ranges available for better temperature accuracy. By default, it’s set to -4° to 302° F, and for higher temperature ranges, there’s also a 212° to 1022° F range.
AGM’s thermal imager has several excellent features that allow it to take photos and videos. First of all, it has a resolution of 256 x 192 pixels, which is hard to match with other smartphones and add-on devices. The options are so numerous that they could be the subject of a whole separate report. From color palettes to different modes and settings, it offers more versatility than you’d expect from a smartphone thermal camera.
However, a few things stand out. We like the measurement overlay. It marks the center of the image and automatically tracks the highest and lowest temperatures on the screen. This makes it much easier to work with for diagnostic and maintenance purposes.
The fusion mode is interesting. It consists of superimposing the visual image with the thermal image. It is not as effective as FLIR’s MSX technology, as it does not highlight the edges of the object, but it can still be useful if you want to see more details of the object.
We also like the fact that there are two temperature ranges available, for greater temperature accuracy. By default it is set from -4° to 302° F, and for higher temperature ranges there is also a range from 212° to 1022° F.
Finally, there is a 20 MP Sony IMX 350 infrared camera that allows you to take true night shots and see what’s there when there is not enough light for a normal camera. The image is displayed as a black and white image but does not require ambient light. It uses an infrared LED in the phone to give the sensor what it needs. This limits the effective range compared to a night vision system that costs thousands of dollars but is excellent for inspections in dark areas.
Most of the phones of this type we’ve seen in recent years have been built with cheap SoCs from MediaTek and other manufacturers of cheaper SoCs.
AGM hasn’t gone that route for the Glory G1S, which uses the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 SoC as the Moto G50, the Redmi Note 10 JE, and several Nokia models, including the XR20, X100, X20, and X10.
The core of this chip is an octa-core CPU composed of two units of the A76-based Kryo 540 Prime CPU, clocked at 2 GHz, and six units of the A55-based Kryo 560.
This silicon does not offer the raw power of high-end Snapdragon SoCs, but it is very efficient. The GPU is the Adreno 619, a good choice for those who need graphics performance.
In this SKU, the Snapdragon 480 is paired with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, and you can expand the storage space with a micro-SD card in the SIM slot. This is the typical solution where the card slot can accommodate two nano-SIMs or one card and a micro-SD.
One aspect where the G1S justifies its price is the clarity of the display. The large 6.53-inch screen has a resolution high enough to display content at 1080p and is admirably bright and crisp.
Performance and battery life.
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 480 5G is used as the SoC. Nokia also uses it in its XR20 rugged phone. The AGM smartphone thus gets enough power to maneuver smoothly through apps during the simplest tasks. However, you should not let too many apps run in the background, otherwise, performance will quickly plummet. Thus, the power reserves are quite low.
The heating of the case can be quite noticeable. It is even quite high at room temperature, reaching 46.7°C. Although the cell phone should not have any problems in continuous operation, it could be different in very hot environments.
The mono speaker is located on the back of the phone and is integrated into the bulky camera module. It can be quite loud, but then it is unpleasantly high-pitched. A 3.5 mm audio jack is available, but it is deeply recessed in the case, so check if the jack is adequate. The sound can also be transmitted via Bluetooth to external headphones and speakers. Here, too, modern aptX codecs are supported.
- Night vision and thermal imaging
- Outstanding charging station
- Full of features
- A high price
- Only available on T-Mobile in the United States
- 480p video streaming
The large battery of the AGM Glory G1S gives it good endurance: the mobile lasted almost 16 hours in our WLAN test and should therefore be able to last two working days with moderate use.
The relatively low charging power of 18 watts combined with the generously sized 5,500 mAh battery means that, depending on the state of charge, the phone can take up to three hours to charge again. It is also possible to charge the device via the charging station, which is connected via the Pogo PIN on the back of the device. However, the charging power is then only 10 watts and it takes even longer for the battery to become full again.
Wireless charging is not supported for this model, although the manufacturer’s website offers contradictory information.
Despite its shortcomings, which include a less-than-stellar main camera, unfortunate streaming capabilities, and non-standard OS updates, the AGM Glory G1S 5G open handset brings a lot to the skilled worker. The phenomenal battery life, versatile camera framerates, and sturdy sole are the strengths that ensure this phone lasts longer and performs better in the field than virtually any other phone accessible.
In the most pessimistic scenario, if none of the phone’s features meet your expectations, it’s still an elite camera with Android support. However, the phone has many features that are normal for today’s mid-range phones and should be an important tool and a nice gadget for some customers. If you are looking for a thermal camera or a rugged phone, I recommend you consider the AGM Glory G1S.