The market for rugged smartphones is booming. To meet the growing demands of users, several smartphone manufacturers like Caterpillar, Land Rover and Crosscall are offering devices that are specialized for this niche market. AGM, a Chinese manufacturer, is another brand targeting this field by offering a "robust" smartphone. What makes it so special? It's one of the few on the market to offer high-end specs and a Snapdragon 845 processor. We got the chance to try it and here are our first impressions.
Imposing, but not too much
Everyone has dropped a smartphone at some point, and this AGM X3 is intended for users who aren't necessarily cautious or who have to handle their smartphone in conditions that can at times be difficult.
As is customary in this niche market, the smartphone has a fairly impressive design although it's not the most elegant. AGM at least seems to have made an effort in this generation to make the device thinner (25% thinner) and lighter (at 216 grams). Compared to the Cat S61 or Land Rover Explore, the device is less conspicuous and bulky. The handling is quite good thanks to the curved rear, but you won't be surprised to learn that the X3 is much easier to use with both hands.
Thanks to its massive design, the X3 benefits from everything you'd expect from a robust smartphone: MIL-STD810G certification, resistance against low temperatures (-30°C) and very high temperatures along with IP68 certification. The device is also made of aircraft grade metal and the back is made of a material that protects it against falls. AGM promises that its "Hanging Frame" technology allows the smartphone to absorb the impact of a 1.5-meter drop. I haven't tested this feature, but the smartphone has been able to handle several drops from my desk (which is about 28 inches above the ground).
But the most appealing thing about this rugged smartphone is located under the hood. While this niche market is often inhabited with models that don't have impressive specs, the X3 is a bit of a game changer in this regard. AGM offers a 5.99-inch LCD screen with Full-HD+ resolution (2160 x 1080 pixels) that is protected by Gorilla Glass 5 and appears bright and effective.
The device includes a Snapdragon 845 processor coupled with 6 or 8GB of RAM (depending on the variant). There are three variants available: with either 64, 128 or 256GB of internal storage. All three variants come with Android 8.1 Oreo.
In everyday use, you'll find that everything about the device works very well. The smartphone offers a fluid experience and can support multitasking and demanding games (including PUBG Mobile) without any problems, just like you'd expect from a more "classic" smartphone. The X3 also has a fingerprint sensor on the back and facial recognition that works without any problems. With no mini-jack port, the X3 also offers rather good stereo sound produced in partnership with JBL that is quite powerful (98 decibels).
Two cameras and a 4100 mAh battery
In terms of the cameras, this AGM X3 features a double 12 + 24-megapixel photo module (f/1.8 aperture) and a 20-megapixel front camera. The camera is supported by artificial intelligence, which is meant to improve the final renderings of your shots. The shots that I took in my early tests seemed good to me, but the management of the brightness seems complicated. The artificial intelligence hasn't proven to be very useful, and AGM clearly can't offer what the competition in this price range can in terms of photo quality.
In the end, only the impressive battery capacity can really scare a typical flagship in this price range. The X3 offers a 4100 mAh battery that is sufficient to last the day, but not much more. It's a bit of a shame if you plan to take the device on a hiking trip. If it's any consolation, you'll have Quick Charge 3.0 and a 10-watt charger.
Not an affordable device
The AGM3 isn't as cheap as you might think, especially since its manufacturer isn't well known. The version I tested (8GB + 64GB) costs $700 in the US and £550 in the UK.
AGM X3 technical specifications
A unique smartphone
The AGM X3 is indeed a unique smartphone. It will certainly appeal to users looking for an outdoor smartphone who don't want to compromise on performance and enjoy a fast and convenient device to use. With this model, AGM has ticked all the right boxes for an outdoor smartphone. The only regrettable things are the battery life, which certainly has room for improvement, along with the mediocre camera experience. Lastly, like any relatively unknown manufacturer, there's always the question of reliability.
What do you think of the AGM X3? Let us know in the comments section below.