REVIEW – In a market crammed with all sorts of innovative and widely varying mobile phones, AGM has put out an interesting new entry. AGM has many years of pursuing the active and outdoors mobile electronics buyer. The AGM G2 Guardian smartphone falls right into their area of expertise, with the added functionality of a long range built in thermal camera that should be great for hunters, ranchers, or contractors that need it. Built around solid hardware and with strong weather resistance and battery life, AGM may have nailed the perfect outdoor phone. I ran it through it’s paces to see if there’s any flaws to this package, and will break it down in my review below.
What is it?
The AGM G2 Guardian smartphone is a rugged Android smartphone with a thermal camera, infrared night vision, a bright flashlight, and a loud speaker. Most rugged phones like this have sported antiquated processors and terrible cameras, so I’ll be sure to check those areas out as I go.
What’s in the box?
- AGM G2 Guardian smartphone
- US AC adaptor
- USB-A to USB-C charging cable
- Manual and quick start guides
- Extra port seals
- Extra screen protector (one is pre-installed on the screen)
- Working temperature: -10°C to 60°C (-14°F to 140°F)
- Thermal Sensor: 25 Hz, 256×192 resolution, F1.0 Aperture, 500 yard detection range of 6′ object, NETD: Less than 60 mk (@25°C), F#=1.0
- Battery life: up to 8 hours continuous (low brightness, low network data)
- Detector type: Vanadium Oxide Uncooled Focal Plane Arrays
- Wifi: 801.11 A/B/G/N/AC/AX (Wifi 5/6 supported)
- Non 5G Band Info:GSM: 850,900,1800,1900 CDMA:BC0, BC1, BC10 WCDMA: B1,B2,B4,B5,B6,B8,B19 LTE-FDD: B1,B2,B3,B4,B5,B7,B8,B12,B13,B17,B18,B19,B20,B25,B26,B28AB,B66、B71 LTE-TDD: B34 B38 B39 B40 B41CAMIMO: 4*4LTE Cat/Max Speed
DL：cat18 MAX 1.2Gbps（DL 256QAM） UL：cat18 MAX 200Mbps（UL 256QAM）
- 5G Band info:Band: n1, n2, n3, n5, n7, n8, n28, n41, n66,n71, n77, n78,n79NSA: Support, Option 3x/3aSA: Support, Option 2MIMO: n1/n2/n3/n7/n66/n77/n78/n79 Four Downstream, Single Upstream, n41 Four Downstream, Dual Upstream
SA SRS: n41:2T4R，n77/n78/n79：1T4R NSA SRS：n41/n77/n78/n79 1T4R
HPUE: n41/n78/N79： Total Power 26dBm
- Voice standards: WCDMA WB, VOLTE, VONR
- Size: 177.5mm*85.3mm*25.3mm
- Weight: 405g
- OS: Android 12
- Chipset: Qualcomm QCM6490 (CPU Kryo 670, GPU Adreno 643)
- Cards: 2 slots, dual SIM or SIM+MicroSD
- Storage: UFS2.2 256G (RAM 8G or 12G versions available), SD card supports up to 512G
- Screen: 6.58″, FHD+, 120Hz
- Cameras: 108MP Rear main, 20MP Infrared night vision, 2MP Macro camera, Thermal camera
- Flashlight: up to 100 lumens, top mounted
- Front camera: 32MP
- Sensors: Light, Distance, Gravity Acceleration, Geomagnetic, Fingerprint (on side key), Gyro
- Charging/Data: USB-C port, supports OTG
- 3.5mm Audio Port
- Speaker: 3.5W rear speaker
- Battery: 7000mAh, up to 18W charging
- Weather protection: IP68/IP69K/810H
Design and features
The design of the AGM G2 Guardian smartphone is a variation on the classic candy bar style phone. It basically sports a built-in rugged rubberized plastic case around the whole phone. The front sports the screen along with a waterdrop selfie camera and bezels that remind me of phones 5 years ago.
Around the back of the phone is the main selling point of the AGM G2 Guardian smartphone: the thermal and infrared camera systems. In the center is the loud 3.5 watt speaker – this can easily fill a small room and competes with my bluetooth handheld portable speakers nicely – negating the need to carry one of them if you’re working on a project or just want to blast tunes while hiking or something (ps. please don’t do that). I like the orange accents on the black/grey theme, the phone screams rugged/outdoorsey from every angle.
On the bottom is a rubber port seal that exposes the USB-C charging/data port and headphone jack. Notice in the shot above how the phone body includes a raised lip around the screen, so you can set it screen down and not worry about scratches, a nice touch that usually requires an external case on other phones.
On the right side of the phone is the power/fingerprint button, and the volume button. I mapped my thumb and pointer fingers to the fingerprint sensor and it was as reliable as any other I’ve used, with near-instantaneous unlocks.
The picture above shows the top of the phone, you can see the selfie camera waterdrop area and the extra large flashlight in a novel top facing position.
On the left side of the phone is another rubber port cover, this time for the SIM/SD card tray. There’s also an “AI Assist” button that invokes Google Assistant.
Setup was very easy on the AGM G2 Guardian smartphone, it’s completely stock Android 12 except for the thermal camera app.
First up, I was worried about the general phone performance on a device like this. Other manufacturers who have put out rugged phones (and even thermal-equipped phones) often have severely weak and/or old chipsets that make using the devices painful. Luckily, AGM did not go this route, and included a pretty recent and decent chip: a Qualcomm QCM6490. I hadn’t heard of this but it has lots of cores and enough memory to do anything you’d want a smartphone to do.
I ran the Geekbench benchmark, and achieved a 1113 single core and 2861 multi core score. This puts it right around a Google Pixel 7 level of performance, which is more than enough for any standard task and even some light gaming.
The main display looks nice and crisp with decent colors. I like that they went with a 120 Hz panel, and it doesn’t seem to cause too much of a battery hit (maybe they’re doing a variable refresh rate). In direct bright sun it can be a bit hard to see, the main screen could have used a slightly higher max brightness.
Next up, I tested out the thermal and infrared cameras on a variety of things, including 3D printers with parts up to 200°C as well as livestock several hundred yards away. Here’s a video:
I was impressed with the thermal camera performance. It was reporting within a degree of what 3 different 3D printers were set to run at, so margin-of-error difference between the 4 total devices. There are settings to record maximum and minimum temperatures over time, change the color bands, and to overlay the main camera over the thermal image (this always seemed to be a bit “off” for me, but I could see how this would be useful). I also tested the use-case of spotting hunting game, people, or livestock at a distance using thermal imaging:
The flashlight works great, it’s as good as most small EDC flashlights. I’d be confident carrying just this phone and leaving behind my normal EDC flashlight for a hiking/camping night.
Finally, I dunked the AGM G2 Guardian smartphone in about a foot of water for 20 minutes, with no issues at all. Cameras remained bubble free, and the rubber port covers kept water out as well. The IP69K rating is the highest dust and water resistance, with the added ability to resist industrial cleaning jets (signified by the “K”).
What I like
- Rugged build and weatherproofing
- Good thermal camera performance, especially at long ranges
- Good midrange performance from the chipset
- Loud but decent sounding main speaker
- Good (but not great) main screen
What I’d change
- Large and heavy – but not as large and heavy as some competing devices
- Stabilization of some kind for the main camera – only bright still shots turn out well, everything else is difficult.
- Couldn’t find any definitive software update schedule – upgrades and security updates may be less often as mainstream phones (or even nonexistent), putting yourself at some additional risk for exploits and malware.
Based on my few weeks of use, I think the AGM G2 Guardian smartphone could be invaluable to a variety of outdoors scenarios like hunting or ranching. In addition, contractors might love the ability to quickly take a thermal reading of something while also playing their favorite tunes at the job site. If you’re looking for an outdoor-safe rugged phone, and especially if you could benefit from night vision and long-range thermal vision, the AGM G2 Guardian seems to be unrivaled at the time of writing this review.