Rugged phones have become mainstream from these abysmally huge and weird-looking devices in the past few years. According to a report, the market for rugged smartphones is expected to reach $8.6 Billion by 2027. But are rugged smartphones worth it? What kind of audience are they targeting? Should you be buying one?
We used the AGM Glory Pro rugged smartphone extensively for two weeks to better answer these questions, and here’s our review of the same. Before we get started, AGM provided us with the review unit, but they did not influence the editorial part. The company’s reading the review first time right alongside you.
AGM Glory Pro Review
- AGM Glory Pro
- User manual
- Sim ejector tool
- USB-A to Type-C charging cable
- An 18W Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 certified charging brick
- Extra rubber cover latches for USB Type-C port and Sim card slot.
Build Quality & Design
Build quality is an MSP of rugged devices, and as you’d expect, the AGM Glory Pro is built like a tank. It’s 17.5mm thick at its thickest point (at the speaker protrusion) and weighs 370 grams. It took me a lot of time to adapt to the thick design coming from the Pixel 4a. A large camera bump combined with its colossal speaker protrusion above the bump makes it harder to hold. Most of its mass lies at the top area thanks to the cameras and the huge speaker protrusion, making it harder to balance the device with one hand. The edges of the device have extra rubber layers for protection.
There are three cameras at the back, a thermal sensor (more about this later), and an LED flash. The speaker grille is situated on top of the camera bump. There are three grippy textured paddings located at the bottom left, right side, and bottom-most corner of the phone. The company claims that these are made of 10% fiberglass and add rigidity to the phone. The fingerprint sensor is located exactly in the middle of the device.
The phone has three buttons on the sides — Volume rocker, power on/off, and a custom mappable button is textured, with the mappable button also having a red accent. The USB Type-C and headphone jack are situated at the bottom, and the SIM card tray is on the left side. Both of them are protected with high-quality rubber caps. However, you don’t need a sim ejector tool to remove the sim card tray, but weirdly the same came included in the box. You can pull out the tray using your fingernails.
We have a massive 6.53-inch 1080p IPS LCD on the front with a huge chin and a waterdrop notch. The bezels around the edges are too thick, which I assume makes the phone more resistant to drops. Rubber padding that runs around the device’s edges is also raised by 0.3mm above the display to minimize the impact if the phone is dropped. It is also IP68/IP69K water and dustproof and MIL-STD-810H certified.
Overall, the phone is built like a tank and can survive lots of drops and rough usage without breaking a sweat, which you expect from a rugged device. However, these abnormalities do come at a cost, which, in this case, is sacrificing the comfort of holding a regularly sized smartphone, hand strain if you use it for extended periods, and adjusting the device every time you hold it, for your index finger to reach the fingerprint scanner. I would’ve preferred a side-mounted fingerprint sensor for this one, but the rear one works fine.
I’m spoiled by the OLED display of my Pixel 4a that I’ve been using for quite some time now, and of course, the LCD of the AGM Glory Pro is no match, but the panel is pretty good for an LCD. I would’ve liked it to be a little more contrasty, but the overall quality and colors are on point. Not to mention, there’s no backlight bleeding. The display can reach 500 nits peak brightness which is good enough for sunlight legibility. The viewing angles are also pretty good.
Coming from a display with a punch-hole cutout, adjusting to the waterdrop notch on the Glory Pro was effortless. My only complaint with the display is the huge chin and bezels around the corner. But this is certainly not something we haven’t seen in rugged smartphones. Overall, it’s a good quality LCD, but considering the device’s price, the company should’ve used an AMOLED panel instead.
AGM’s calling the display glass “Diamond Screen.” We can’t test this claim out due to the lack of necessary tools, but considering most mainstream phone manufacturers are yet to deliver ceramic glass above the display, don’t take the word ‘Diamond’ literally. We can probably expect scratches at level six with deeper grooves at level seven (Comment below if you got the reference). The company has also generously included a pre-applied plastic screen protector.
As expected from a humongous 6,200mAh cell, the battery life is fantastic. It’s easily one of my favorite things about the device. The phone lasted for a solid two days on heavy to mediocre usage. However, you might be able to stretch it to three days on light to medium use like I was able to.
My usage included browsing, watching YouTube videos, using Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook, and Telegram. With around 7 hours of screen-on time, the device made it through the third day with 16% battery remaining, which is impressive.
However, the time it took for the device to charge to 90% was prolonged but expected. The 18W QC 3.0 fast charger in the box did no justice to the extraordinary battery life. From 10%, the device took 2 hours and 24 minutes to reach up to 90%, after which it would’ve taken more than 30 minutes to reach the 100% mark since the charging speed slows down after around 90%.
AGM also claims that the battery used in the Glory Pro is “The magical Arctic battery,” which it says can sustain for 22 hours of use straight under -27℃, 10 hours under -30℃, and 1 hour under -40℃.
Speaker & Audio Quality
AGM calls it the world’s largest and loudest smartphone speaker; sadly, they never talked about its quality, probably because they knew that the focus is not on quality but loudness. I was very excited to try out its speaker but was immediately disappointed by how hollow and muddy it sounded. It’s a 3.5W unit, and the bass is severely lacking and muddy. The overall sound output just doesn’t do enough justice to the enormous speaker grille.
I would’ve preferred a stereo setup, but again, this phone is for people who need a loud-sounding speaker and don’t care about the quality. The sound output via the 3.5mm headphone jack was surprisingly good.
It’s been a while since I reviewed smartphones, and by reviewing the AGM Glory Pro, I was surprised by how the general philosophy that “Higher is better” has changed over the years. The smartphone is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 480, which I thought would significantly underperform my Pixel 4a’s 730G.
But it turns out I was wrong. The SD 480 performs better than the 730G, and surprisingly, it even surpasses the flagship Snapdragon 845 in raw benchmark numbers (AnTuTu). The Snapdragon 480 manages to score around 3,30,000, the 730G scores around 2,80,000, and the Snapdragon 845 also scores around 2,80,000. Keep in mind that that GPU in 845 is the strongest; however, it’s unable to keep pace with raw CPU performance numbers of the improved Qualcomm processors.
If you don’t understand the above paragraph, all you need to know is that the phone performs great when it comes to day-to-day usage. I tried Genshin Impact, a very heavy game, and it ran “well” in the lowest settings, with minor lags and stutters here and there. Hence, the phone’s not compatible with gaming, but other tasks should work fine. The phone did get warm after 30 minutes of gameplay, but there were no thermal throttling or overheating issues.
Our unit comes with 256GB storage and 8GB RAM. Now, the company didn’t mention what kind of storage the phone’s rocking, but after benchmarking it, we can say that it’s probably UFS 2.1. Memory is expandable by adding an SD card as the phone has a hybrid SIM slot with support for SD cards with up to 512GB of memory.
Now, you may be wondering why the sequential write and read speeds are different if both the devices have the same UFS 2.1 storage. The answer is simple, and it’s due to a larger capacity NAND in the Glory Pro, which is almost double the storage capacity of the Pixel 4a’s.
Like most rugged devices, the Glory Pro ships with stock Android 11. However, the Chinese variant ships with XOS from Infinix. The software experience on our variant was meh. It’s clean and doesn’t come with a lot of bloatware but a couple of essential apps for using the thermal camera. However, I’ve noticed a couple of bugs in the UI, which I’m not sure will be removed with a software update as the phone hasn’t been updated since August 2021.
One of the first bugs I discovered was using navigation gestures in Android 11. The “Swipe up and hold for recent apps” doesn’t work and resulted in me depending on the three on-screen buttons, which took a lot of time to get used to. Other than that, there are general UI glitches and crashes in the UI and the camera app.
The phone has four cameras — 2021’s most popular sensor, i.e., the 48MP Sony IMX589, a 2MP macro camera, a 20MP IR camera, and a thermal camera. At the front, there is a 16MP shooter. Pictures from the primary sensor are usable when clicked in daylight. However, grains dominate in night shots. Night mode does help reduce the noise, but the night images just aren’t good.
The 2MP sensor is not at all usable. The images that come out of it are horrible. The thermal imaging works well and AGM claims that it works from -20℃ to 150℃ or 100℃ to 550℃.
For all the adventurers out there, the IR camera works surprisingly well. In pitch-black conditions, it can definitely come in handy. The camera app isn’t that good. The preview footage looks choppy, and the overall UI could’ve been better. Overall, the phone’s cameras are definitely not in the league of other $899 devices, but two cameras — IR and Thermal sensor might come in handy.
Who Is The Glory Pro For?
With all the details out of the way, let’s talk about the target audience of the Glory Pro. It’s not made for your average user who opens social media and does office work on their phone or someone who’s into mobile gaming. Still, it’s made for people who work in harsh conditions and go adventuring/camping and need a phone that lasts longer and comes bundled with a bunch of useful features (Like IR and Thermal sensors).
Okay, but is it worth it? For an asking price of $799, it trades blows with today’s flagships. You could buy a Pixel 6, slap a Rhinoshield tempered glass screen protector, and a Spigen skin for an extra 100 bucks, and it’d still cost around $700. Not to mention, you get better performance, cameras, and software features. But if you want a phone with thermal and IR cameras and something that you can abuse the hell out of, the Glory Pro is the strongest and will not disappoint you.
AGM Glory Pro
The AGM Glory Pro is one of the best rugged devices. It’s not made for everyone, especially considering the price. If you need a phone that could work even in harsh conditions, this is the one to pick. Although, you might also want a look at other options in the market that are cheaper if you don’t want to spend $799 on a rugged smartphone and if you don’t go to the Himalayas too often.