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AGM Glory Pro Rugged Smartphone Review

The AGM Glory Pro (G1) is the most ambitious rugged smartphone that the Chinese manufacturer has developed so far and yes, it’s priced as a flagship device, but there are a few features that may justify the cost. First, there’s the rugged build which should ensure that the device does not break easily, but it also means that the smartphone is going to be thicker.

And AGM did not hold back at all, them made the AGM Glory Pro an absolute unit, encasing a huge 6200mAh battery and a large speaker on the rear side. Of course this is not enough to justify the price tag, so the second addition is the thermal camera. I have seen something similar on the CAT S62 Pro and it was a very welcomed addition for construction workers. Furthermore, the smartphone does have a top-facing powerful lantern and a couple of infrared LEDs to help deliver a good night vision. And they’ve proven to be surprisingly effective, more so than some dedicated night vision cameras that I tested over the years.

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Another major selling point is the support for 5G and this is perhaps the first rugged smartphone to support wireless charging. But is it enough to persuade people from getting a flagship device with a case? CAT has managed to do it over the years, so it’s very much possible, but you do need to have good customer support and to keep the devices updated, something that is not always the case with a lot of rugged smartphones. I am curious to see if AGM is also an exception (along with other major brands) and if the Glory Pro is able to deliver a good smartphone experience, while also ensuring that the device won’t easily get damaged.

The Design and Build Quality

I think that most ‘regular’ smartphones are no longer as fragile as they once were and some relevant steps have been taken so the glass doesn’t shatter as easily as before. I actually dropped an iPhone 12 on the concrete and a slim rubber case ensured that it escaped unscathed. The thing is that most people don’t need an especially tough smartphone, but professionals have very different needs. The construction workers and people that work in other types of harsh environments do require a devices that can handle multiple tumbles to the floor, lots of dust, corrosive substances and even submersion in water. And I noticed that some manufacturers went out of their way to get their rugged smartphones closer to the regular handsets, such as CAT and Kyocera, but AGM couldn’t care less, so the Glory Pro ended up with a unique design.

Let’s leave the strange circular speaker alone for a minute and just marvel at just how big this smartphone is. Don’t get me wrong, the bezels aren’t that much larger than on a device such as the Samsung XCover 5, but, at its 6.8 x 3.3 x 0.8 inches (17.4 x 8.4 x 2.0 cm), the AGM Glory Pro is a very thick device. That’s not all, because along with the 13 ounces weight (370g) and the hard plastic case, this phone can be a veritable self-defense weapon.
AGM relies on a combination between hard rubber and polycarbonate for the rear side of the device and the frame of the AGM Glory Pro has 10% weaved-in fiberglass, which should make it tougher and, potentially better absorb shocks than metal.

The frame does go a little bit outwards around the display and then it raises by 0.012 inches to provide some protection for the screen. I understand that AGM wanted to keep the front designed as close as possible to the non-rugged smartphones, but I wouldn’t have complained if the lip was a bit higher. It should still work as intended and I also noticed that there is an already applied screen protector for scratches. On the left side of the smartphone, there’s the volume rocker and the Power/Screen Wake button, while on the other side, AGM has added a red button that can be programmed. By default, it will open the camera, but it can also be used for other functions, such as the LED torch or the Push-to-Talk option, the latter being incredibly useful for simulation walkie-talking communication. I think that an SOS function should also be added with future software updates since people that perform more intense outdoor activities (rock climbing and even trekking) and may get lost would certainly make use of such option.

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At the bottom of the smartphone, there is a plastic cover that hides a 3.5mm headphone jack (which starts to be a rarity) and the USB-C charging port that is compatible with the cable provided in the package (no surprise there), but may not allow thicker connectors to go through. Since Apple, Samsung and other smartphones manufacturer have decided omitting the charger in the box will help save the environment (it won’t), AGM has added a QC3.0 charger in the package. The rear side of the AGM Glory Pro will definitely turn some heads and that’s because of the oddly shaped camera assembly and the speaker that sits in the middle. If you are familiar with the Leica phone, the AGM Glory Pro does have a similar look, although far less refined.

Indeed, AGM wanted to use a single 3.5W loud speaker which can reach up to 110dB and it’s positioned on the rear side which I think is not the best place for it. A front-facing stereo system would have worked much better because the moment you put the smartphone on the desk with the screen up, the speaker gets severely muffled. And it also prevents any attempts at keeping the rugged smartphone at least a little bit flush on the desk. In any case, pointed upwards, the speaker indeed gets loud, very loud and in terms of sound quality, it’s a bit average.
Surrounding the speaker, there are four cameras and they’re all actually useful, which is again, a rarity in the smartphone market (we’ll speak more about them in the following sections).

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From the speaker, there’s a plastic piece which protrudes upwards reaching the top of the AGM Glory Pro and here’s where you can see the dual torch module which can reach up to 120 lumens, so it’s quite bright and useful. I know that some early variants had an IR range finder, but it seems that AGM decided to replace it with a secondary LED (which is a bit of a shame). Underneath the camera system, there is a fingerprint sensor and four desktop dock connection spots. The fingerprint sensor is not that great since it works only half the time and sometimes even less. I assume that industrial workers will not use this system at all and face detection works far better, especially since even a bit of dust on your finger will render the sensor completely useless.

How rugged is it?

I have already talked about the rugged exterior, the protective lip around the display and the scratch-proof screen protection, but the AGM Glory Pro offers much more than that. The device is IP68 and IP69K-rated and this means that the smartphone is fully protected against dust ingress and it’s also pretty much waterproof, allowing the submersion under water down to 5 feet for 30 minutes. Additionally, there is also protection against high temperature spray downs which is useful in an industrial environment. The AGM Glory Pro seems to also have passed the MIL-STD-810H, having survived continuous drops from up to 6.5 feet on concrete and it was also designed to remain operational when the temperature ranges between -4F to 60F (-20C to 140C) which is an impressive feat.

I wasn’t able top find the exact tests that the device survived to pass the MIL-STD-810H certification, except for the drop and temperature tests. But it does seem that the AGM Glory Pro makes use of an interesting technology called Arctic Battery to ensure that the phone doesn’t shut down in freezing cold. And that’s down to -40F, where the battery will last only up to 1 hour. They were able to achieve it by apparently preventing the heat dissipation in cold environments and, instead, the heat would be delivered towards the internal components to keep them operational.

I don’t have the means to simulate -40 degrees F, but my freezer does go down to -10 F (-23 C) and, after leaving the smartphone in the freezer over the night (about 10 hours), it didn’t really have any impact on the battery. The moment I put the smartphone in the freezer, it had 94% battery and, when I removed it, it only dropped to 90%, so the AGM Glory Pro aced this test without problems.

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I have noticed that over the years, the manufacturers moved away from smaller screens on rugged devices and are now matching the regular smartphone’s sizes. And, while that’s nice for media consumption, it also means that it’s far easier to break the screen if it hits a sharp angle. AGM has not mentioned that they used Gorilla Glass, so I assume they didn’t, which validates a lot more the pre-applied scratch-resistant cover.

The Display

The AGM Glory Pro has a 6.53-inch LTPS TFT display and yes, it’s not an OLED, but it still looks nice, with the colors slightly with a cooler tone (while an iPhone 12 has them warmer). At the top of the display, there is a waterdrop type of notch (or teardrop) for the front-facing camera and I know that some people are annoyed by it, others don’t even notice it after a while and to be honest, it’s subtle enough for me. I also know that an important factor for a rugged smartphone is the peak brightness of the display and after checking it out for a bit, the AGM Glory Pro definitely has a brighter display than an iPhone or a Pixel smartphone. After checking it with a dedicated tool, I saw that it went up to 860 nits, which is very much acceptable. The resolution of the display is 2340 x 1080 pixels, so it’s not really 1440p, but it’s perfectly fine for a 6+inch display, regardless of what other manufacturer may want you to think.

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And it’s easier on the battery life. I could see no pixel with my naked eye and the videos and movies looked alright. There is a good amount of detail, the colors are accurate (the tone is cooler as I mentioned previously) and the images are a bit saturated as it usually happens with some Samsung smartphones. It also lacks that greenish tint that I usually see with iPhones to give some videos a more cinematic feel.
I noticed that the software does have multiple modes for the colors, from which the Boosted does add more contrast, but then again, nowadays almost all displays look good regardless of the price tag. But, I don’t deny that I would have liked to see the refresh rate of the screen to go above 60Hz, especially due to the price tag, but I don’t think it’s really a mandatory feature, especially on a rugged device. Also, I saw that there is no Always On Display mode available which is a shame. There is some semblance of AoD that can be enabled only when the smartphone is charging.

The Internal Hardware

The AGM Glory Pro uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 5G / 8nm octa-core CPU which can go up to 2.0GHz. There’s also an Adreno 619 GPU, 256GB UF2.2 storage and 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM. If 256GB is not enough, then you can use the microSD card slot to add up to 512GB more. I admit that I was surprised to see a Snapdragon 480 instead of something more suitable for a flagship smartphone, but I suppose it was to be expected considering that the CAT S62 Pro uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660. So, the manufacturers of higher end rugged smartphones put a lot of money in the build quality, while keeping the SoC midrange. Even so, how powerful is the Snapdragon 480? To find out, I ran a few benchmarks.

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GeekBench 5 Results

The first one is the GeekBench 5 and the Single-Core Score was 508, while the Multi-Core Score was 1687. What does that mean? Well, it means that in terms of single-core performance, it’s only a bit below the Poco X3 which had a score of 556 and it uses the Snapdragon 732G. The multi-core result sits again, very close to the Snapdragon 732G (Xiaomi’s Poco X3) which makes the Snapdragon 480 a veritable mid-ranger SoC. It’s a bit funny that Qualcomm calls the 480 the first 5G low-end SoC, so I guess the standards have seriously been raised over the last couple of years. At the same time, I did check the Compute score and, at 1106, it sits next to the 730G, so there’s definitely some entry-level pedigree here.

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GFXBench Results

The next benchmark is GFXBench and it mainly checks the graphical performance of the smartphone. The 1080p Aztec Ruins OpenGL (Normal Tier) puts the AGM Glory Pro below the Samsung galaxy S8, but above the Google Pixel XL. The 1080p car Chase Offscreen test puts is below the LG G5 and the 1080p Manhattan Offscreen test puts it next to the Samsung Galaxy S7 Active. There are of course a lot of other tests that were ran under this benchmark and I have added a few of the results that I got.

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3DMark Results

The 3DMark benchmark was a bit harsh on the AGM Glory Pro with the Wild Life suite of tests, but the Sling Shot seemed to show a more favorable set of results. Leaving the benchmarks behind, I decided to play a few games and see for myself how well the rugged smartphone fares in this regard. Asphalt 8 ran fine, with one dropped frame here and there, but overall, it was a smooth experience. Call of Duty mobile also ran without any problems, no stuttering and everything loaded fast. Lastly, I checked ARK Survival Evolved which is one of the more graphical intensive mobile games and again, it runs smoothly, with very little dropped frames and pretty much no stuttering.

The Software and Support

The rugged smartphone uses Android 11 and it’s pretty much the stock version. The only additional apps were the IRCamera which allows access the thermal camera and the Zello app which is a reliable Push-to-Talk Walkie Talkie app. There is no bloatware, no ads, just the apps that Google forcibly installs into all the Android OS versions. I have seen that some people complained that you can’t block phone numbers (there is no blocklist) and I am not sure if there was an update in the meantime, but, after checking the Calls section, I could add any number to the blocklist. I did experience an interesting behavior: the AGM Glory Pro would randomly reboot about once a day.

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I immediately assumed that there may be an app that was causing it (since I moved some apps via the Cloud), so I simply reset the phone, deleting everything. The behavior continued, so I decided to start the smartphone in Safe Mode and interestingly enough, the reboots stopped. I uninstalled DDG and Compass, and after waiting for another couple of days, it seems that the smartphone does not restart randomly anymore (I will update the article if it happens again). Is there a chance that the AGM Glory Pro will receive any software updates or if it will be upgraded to Android 12? AGM did not say if it will upgrade its Glory series to the next Android version, but it’s not too difficult to predict if they will from past behavior.

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AGM Glory Pro

AGM Glory Pro AGM Glory Pro

SOFTWARE & UPDATES

7.0/10

Pros

  • Properly rugged smartphone
  • The battery life is excellent
  • Supports 5G
  • The thermal camera works really well
  • There is a black and white night vision camera

Cons

  • No Gorilla Glass protection
  • Most likely stuck on one Android version
  • The bottom placed speaker is loud, but not that great in terms of sound quality (mainly due to the weird position)
  • The fingerprint sensor doesn’t work well
  • 1-year warranty

Author

Silence Dogood

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