As smartphones became more capable and equipped, they have transitioned from cool gimmicks to indispensable work tools. There’s a growing interest to make mobile computing available to more and more sectors, including environments that are not kind to the expensive and high-end phones we’re used to carrying in our pockets.
The rugged smartphone market has been steadily growing in the past years, bringing mobile technologies to harsh environments. However, for the most part, durability has come at the cost of processing power, memory, camera quality, and other features found in top-tier phones.
AGM’s new phone, the Glory G1S, seems to bring a shift to this trend by proving that rugged phones can be tough, elegant, and packed with computing power and technological perks at the same time.
With a thermal camera, night vision camera, and a solid build, the Glory G1S is not the kind of phone you would carry with you to your office. But it surely has the potential to carve a niche for itself in the specialized market for people who previously had to keep separate phones for work and everything else.
Solid and sleek design, with minor flaws
At $699, the Glory G1S has tried to maintain the core principles of rugged phones while at the same time integrating as many features of top-tier smartphones as possible.
The AGM Glory G1S is tough enough to withstand drops on solid surfaces from a height of up to 1.5 meters (about five feet), can remain submerged in 1.5-meter-deep water for up to 30 minutes, and blocks 99 percent of dust. The ruggedized exterior can absorb and distribute shock and the bezel around the screen protects it against direct contact with hard flat surfaces in falls. The front screen is made of sturdy Gorilla Glass.
The phone has a rubber plug to seal the earphones and the USB-C charging/data port. The rubber plug is a weak spot because if not correctly placed it can undermine the phone’s ability to stop water and dust. And every time you remove the plug to charge the phone or to transfer data, its effectiveness diminishes (the Glory G1S comes with a couple of replacement plugs).
But AGM has also designed the phone in a way that reduces the need to remove and replace the rubber plug. For an extra $20, you get a charging dock that connects to the phone through surface-mounted pogo contacts on the back of the phone. While it is not wireless charging, it is a very useful feature, especially for a phone whose dust- and water-proof body is one of its main advantages.
Sturdiness makes the phone heavy, which is expected. The AGM Glory G1S weighs 315 grams compared to the 200-240 grams of high-end phones like the Google Pixel and iPhone. You can feel its heaviness and it gets uncomfortable if you use it for a long time.
Ruggedness does not prevent Glory G1S from looking sleek, however. The ruggedized rubber exterior gives a firm grip. The dark exterior and orange accents give the phone an elegant look. The lower right corner has a lanyard loop that is easy to use and very handy. And the phone comes with a 6.53-inch screen, which is a little smaller than Google Pixel 6 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max.
A rich array of cameras
The most powerful features of the Glory G1S are its cameras. The phone comes with a 20-megapixel night vision camera and a thermal imaging camera. These are unique features that make Glory G1S a perfect phone for people who are working in dark environments (e.g., mining and excavation, outdoor excursions, etc.) or require thermal sensing capabilities (e.g., firefighting, industrial inspections, wildlife monitoring).
The night vision camera features an infrared LED emitter and sensor to better illuminate near-range areas.
The thermal imaging camera comes with a 256×192 resolution and a 25-fps frame rate. The camera shows the temperature at the focal point of the image as well as the higest and lowest values in the image.
Glory G1S also has two rear cameras, a Sony IMX582 48-megapixel sensor with an f/1.79 aperture and a 2-megapixel macro camera. The main camera takes excellent stills, but unfortunately, its video recording is limited to 1080p, which is pretty low for today’s standards.
The phone also has a front-facing camera with a 16-megapixel resolution for selfies and video calls.
Decent compute, memory, and performance
The AGM Glory G1S is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 5G system-on-chip (SoC) and a Qualcomm Adreno 619 GPU. While its processing power does not match that of processors in high-end phones, the Snapdragon 480 is very power efficient and does not drain the Glory G1S’s 5500-mAh battery quickly. The phone has 8 gigabytes of RAM and 128 gigabytes of on-device memory, with a micro-SD slot that can extend its storage.
While the processing power is inferior to high-end phones, the performance of the Glory G1S is quite satisfying. Apps and browsers open quickly, and you can even run many games with acceptable framerate/performance.
The screen is a 2340×1080 LTPS TFT. The colors are pretty vivid and the brightness is good enough to not appear too dim under sunlight and too bright in darkness. Unfortunately, despite having the display gear and compute power for hi-res video play, the phone does not support high-resolution streaming, and you’ll get no better than 480p from services like Netflix and Disney+.
Solid operating system and some additional perks
The AGM Glory G1S comes with a plain version of Android 11, plus an app for the infrared camera and the Zello walkie-talkie app. The OS does miss some good features found in other Android phones, such as picture-in-picture support and one-handed mode, which is very useful for big-screen phones such as Glory G1S.
The phone has a laser pointer on the top, which can come in handy in some work environments. The phone also has a programmable side button which can be configured to turn on the laser point or LED torch, take photos, toggle audio play, launch Google Assistant, or use the phone on push-to-talk mode through Zello, which can be very useful for some types of jobs that need radio transceiver-style communication with multiple parties.
The fingerprint sensor is on the back of the phone, right under the cameras, which is not the most ideal place but is still easy to reach.
Overall, I’m very impressed with the AGM Glory G1S. Although for someone with a desk job, it will not be a replacement for Pixel or Galaxy phones, it packs a lot of power and comes close enough to high-end phones to become a favorite among fans of rugged phones and harsh environment workers.