Earlier this summer, my ZDNET colleague, Jack Wallen, posted his impressions of the AGM Glory G1S rugged smartphone. I’m following that up with this formal review. I spent a month using the G1S in the water, on the beach, in the wilderness, and in other environments where this mid-range phone was destined for.
Phones like the AGM Glory G1S are clearly not designed for the standard consumer who is looking at the iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, or Google Pixel. However, with a big rugged protective case on those phones, there isn’t much difference in size and weight. The Glory G1S is built for people looking for a tool to solve a specific problem. If you’re looking for a phone that comes with a thermal imaging sensor and night vision cameras, and, also, just acts like a regular smartphone, then the Glory G1S is the one to consider.
Also: The best night vision security cameras: see in the dark
Jack provided all of the specifications in his article so check it out for those details. It’s also interesting to read another opinion about the phone, with both of us agreeing that the Glory G1S is a solid Android smartphone for the right customer.
The AGM Glory G1S is a big phone, measuring 315 grams. Given the cameras, large battery, and rugged features, it makes sense. When you are working out in the field, it is nice to have a big display for viewing information, and the high level of durability is appreciated with frequent drops.
The 6.53-inch display has a resolution of 2340 x 1080 pixels, with a small central notch for the front-facing camera. The display is very bright and easily viewable outside, thankfully. There are some wider bezels at the top and bottom, but I am actually impressed by the narrow side bezels for such a rugged phone. An orange line highlights the frame of the display.
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The volume and power button are positioned on the right side, with a durable lanyard opening in the bottom right corner. A programmable hardware button — in a textured orange finish — accents the left side, while the SIM card and microSD card tray are on the right side. The four corners have extra TPU material to protect the phone from drops, similar to how protective cases are designed.
In addition to a microphone opening, a unique red laser pointer is situated on top of the phone. This can be toggled on and off through a quick control button in the notification shade. From my use, the laser pointer was very handy for pointing out objects to others. I just wish it had the capability to serve as a laser range finder.
More: Why you need an Android smartphone with a thermal and IR camera
A rubber port cover can be removed from the bottom to reveal a USB-C port and 3.5mm headset jack. The USB-C port is inset from the bottom so you need to have a USB-C cord that fits into the port for charging.
You can also charge up the AGM Glory G1S through its $20 dock accessory. With the dock, you can set the phone down into the slot and it will charge via the four pin connections on the lower back of the phone. The charging dock is all powered by USB-C.
The back of the AGM Glory G1S is one of the most distinguished features of the phone, with a radical upper rear half that houses five openings: three cameras and a flashlight. The camera system includes a 48MP Sony IMX582, a 2MP macro, and a 20MP Sony IMX350 infrared night vision lens.
In the center, the infrared thermal imaging camera sits proudly. To test, I tried out night vision while camping and the imaging sensor was certainly helpful for getting through trails in dark conditions. There’s also a rear fingerprint sensor that regular readers will know I love for its ergonomics, accessibility, and reliability.
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The AGM Glory G1S launches with Android 11, which is almost two generations behind the latest Google-made software. The Jan. 5, 2022, Android security update is present on our review unit. I haven’t heard any plans from AGM regarding Android updates but having such an old security update on the phone is not a good sign for long-term support. The bottom line with this phone is to buy it if you like what is currently on the phone, and not what more it can be. Security updates are important for businesses, so hopefully, we see some activity here soon.
The G1S runs a stock version of Android with no bloatware or extra apps installed. The only additional apps are focused on the specific tool experience, including a compass, FM radio, and ‘IRCamera’ for thermal imaging. The laser pointer controller appears as an optional tile in the notification shade.
Other than all of the stock Android settings, there is a setting for the left side user-defined key. You can set this key for push-to-talk, audio play, and opening services like the camera, LED torch, laser pointer, or even Google Assistant. I currently have it set for the laser pointer.
More customization is found in the thermal imaging camera software. Pro and Classic options appear at the bottom of the thermal imaging software. You can change the thermal color palette, create timelapse shots, toggle measures on and off, integrate GPS info, highlight areas on the image, and more.
I took the Glory G1S on a recent ship check to measure the temperatures of various engines, the temperature of water in the piping, and hotspots in electrical panels. I also took the phone fly-fishing since I spend time standing in the river, and a phone that can withstand the water and drop into the river is important.
In general, the software is easy to use, and very functional for beginners, too. The thermal imaging application also allows for video creation, which I appreciate the flexibility.
I tried watching movies on the Glory G1S, too, and they looked great on the big display. I’m not a fan of the single rear speaker found between the cameras, though. It is fairly loud, but not as loud as the ones I’ve experienced on other rugged smartphones. Having a loud speaker is a must for fieldwork.
If you are looking for a device that can capture thermal imaging pictures and videos, be used to see and capture objects at night in infrared vision, and serve as a rugged Android smartphone, then the Glory G1S is the one to buy. The Amazon $599 price is very attractive for such a powerful mid-range phone. Now if only the company can be a little more proactive with Android security and firmware updates.
Alternatives to consider
Want more rugged phone suggestions? These are your best options: