Action Gains Memory continues its flagship line of outdoor smartphones with the new AGM X2. The new top model is packed with a powerful Qualcomm processor, the latest technology, a great dual camera and sensors that even we haven’t heard of before. This smartphone is the best the outdoor phone market has to offer, at least on paper! Need an explanation?
- Samsung puts its mid-range models into a sturdy case and calls them XCover; the upper-range models are also available in a robust version called “Active” – but unfortunately hard to get. I would rather consider these versions hybrid outdoor mobile phones.
- A Caterpillar S60 also advances into the price regions of the X2: but it offers only half as much performance, the equipment therefore does not do justice to the price (HD display, 3+32GB, Android 6), but the thermal imaging camera is probably a very cool gadget. Which of the two is probably the more stable device can only be determined under extreme conditions.
In the test we’ll find out whether AGM X2 is actually the best outdoor smartphone for your money or whether you are better advised with the cheap alternatives!
Design / build quality / scope of delivery
The AGM X2 Outdoor Smartphone is a really masculine device. During my test phase, several people called it a “monster” or remarked: “That won’t fit in my pocket anymore”. But the AGM X2 isn’t as outdoor as other candidates. As with its predecessor, the AGM X1, the exterior is a successful mix of stability and suitability for everyday use.
AGM X2 measures 168 x 82 15.4 mm at the thickest points and weighs 268.8 g. Without the plastic bumpers, which were intended to protect against a fall, it “only” measures 167 x 80.5 x 14.32 mm. That’s quite a chunk and I even have often problems operating the phone. At the same time, the outdoor characteristics are kept within limits – we already know this from the AGM X1, which we could call a hybrid. The phone has a slim edge over the display glass and houses the already mentioned bumpers and plugs over the connections, which keep dirt and water away. The “MIL-STD-810” label (an American military standard) naturally gives even more confidence in the stability of the AGM X2.
Underneath you find a beautiful smartphone. I particularly like the two-tone rear. If you take the trouble and polish away fingerprints, it really shines – unfortunately fingerprints reappear just as quickly. The dual camera is very discreet and is even one millimeter below the glass. The fingerprint sensor is located in the middle. The AGM logo and the screws complete the overall picture of the rear. The frame is partly made of patinated metal, which attracts attention. Buttons are neatly embedded and have a good pressure point. On the right side there is the power button and on the left the volume control- plus an additional button. This is used as trigger of the camera or, if you press and hold it for about one second, you can access the camera app. You’ll never miss a snapshot again.
The front is additionally protected by small elevations at the top and bottom. Gorilla Glass 5 is used, both on the front and on the rear, which is additionally secured by advanced protective films. Alternatively, a bullet-proof screen protector for the front can be purchased.
AGM X2 scope of delivery
- Charger with Quick Charge 3.0, USB-C cable
- In-Ears with different sized plugs, very mediocre sound
- Comprehensive instructions
- Replacement covers and screws
- Loop for fastening
Another special feature is the so-called floating case. You put it over the AGM X2 like a hard case, which makes it unbelievably clumsy, but it can drift on the water:
What good is it if my outdoor smartphone falls into the water and it may even survive, but I never find it again at the bottom of the lake, river or sea? A life saver on a boat trip or the next fishing trip.
Outdoor features of AGM X2
AGM X2 is a full-blooded outdoor smartphone from the outside: the many protection spots have not been concealed and the outdoor look is illustrated with clearly visible screws. However, we also had smartphones in the test that had an even clearer outdoor look. AGM X2 also has very nice spots that make the phone look noble.
The glass is protected on both sides by Gorilla Glass 5. A small frame encloses the glass so that the phone does not fall directly on the sensitive area. Also small elevations above and below as well as clear bumpers help additionally! As it should be the case with an outdoor smartphone, it is IP 68 certified: highest protection against dust and dirt as well as waterproof up to 1.5 m depth. The technology should withstand temperatures of -30 to 60 degrees – staying for some time in the freezer was no problem. It also has the MIL-STD-810 standard, a US military form. The latter is a deceptive package: the device could be tested for the various influences, but it never was. In practice, we were not squeamish with the device. It was no problem if it fell down – we could easily clean it in the sink. It is still intact, only a screwdriver could leave its mark on the case and on the attached foil.
In addition, AGM X2 offers certain outdoor features that distinguish it as such. First, the AGM app, which we already know from the X1, contains gimmicks that might come in handy. The flash of X2 has definitely improved: The light is warmer, but shines much better and further. It can also remain active for a long time without an error message.
What makes AGM X2 really special are the countless sensors that have been installed. For instance you can analyze the air with your X2: Temperature, air pressure and particle meter. This is of course less helpful in Europe than in Asia, where a face mask is sometimes recommended outdoors.
Live-saver in terms of “bad” particles
The VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) sensor is protected by a tab. This allows the determination of the quality of the air by measuring the volatile organic compounds in the air (including CO2). We could only really get the most out of our VOC sensor in X2 with the help of smoke, which was blown directly into it.
In the end, one question remains open: Why? Am I even gonna use all this, or am I just paying for a gimmick? To be fair, it’s pretty cool – the VOC sensor was THE feature which could excite inexperienced people for AGM X2. They haven’t seen anything like this before.
An AMOLED display is used in AGM X2. It measures 5.5 inches diagonally and has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. This results in sharp 400 PPI. The screen is still in 16:9 format, but is limited by virtual keys:
The lack of sensor buttons on the casing is ridiculous: they are shown everywhere, on every promo picture and even in the shop pictures. But they’re not there! Instead, virtual Android keys are used. Even on the promo videos on AGM’s official YouTube channel you can see that virtual keys are used.
But we really like the AMOLED panel – unless you hate AMOLED in general. Colors are beautifully strong, and with 560 Lux the display shines brightly and is better suited for outdoor use than an IPS display. The adaptive brightness control works fast. The colour representation is kept quite neutral, white is also white – only the colours offer the typical AMOLED contrast.
The touch screen itself is good, but unfortunately the screen protector above it is not. If you pull it up a bit, you will notice how much scrolling and typing improves – maybe the glass film brings an improvement. But AGM X2 can also be operated well with the applied film: Typing worked well as usual, only the operation with one hand is almost impossible. The screen recognizes 10 fingers at the same time and the front is also partly protected against fingerprints.
The hardware used in AGM X2 makes the outdoor smartphone very special! The manufacturer benefits from the popular Qualcomm Snapdragon processors due to the high sales figures. The X2 basically works with the same hardware as the Nubia Z17 Lite. A Snapdragon 653 with an Adreno 510 GPU and 6 GB of RAM ensures that AGM X2 performs smoothly. The SD653 consists of 4 x A74 at 1.95 GHz and 4 x A53 at 1.4 GHz.
It’s only a Snapdragon 653, but it’s quite potent, which is what the benchmark results show: The numbers are always well above those of Nubia Z17 Lite. You have a very pleasant and fast speed in everyday life. The memory could be faster with 185 MB/s reading speed and 120 MB/s writing speed, yet apps load fast. Multitasking works well with the 6 GB large and almost 9 GB/s fast main memory. The automatic “Memory Clean-Up”, which can be found in the settings under “Security”, does not help multitasking. You simply have to manually exclude your apps from automatic cleaning – it helps to optimize battery life. If 64GB ROM is not enough for you, you can use the 128GB version or expand the memory via micro-SD card.
Why should an outdoor smartphone be suitable for gaming? To pass the time, e.g. when camping, it is not a bad thing. The Adreno 510 GPU plays the latest 3D games smoothly and the details can stay at the highest level. But you can already feel a difference to the top processors. Our X2 didn’t get particularly warm while gaming.Antutu Result Geekbench Multi Result 3D Mark Result
AGM X2 proves that an outdoor smartphone doesn’t have to be slow – it can even provide a decent performance if you use a powerful Snapdragon processor. This is also possible with the Helio P25 CPU, but AGM X2 simply runs a bit smoother. However, it is also quite expensive.
The outdoor smartphone by AGM houses a relatively unchanged Android OS: our phone had the version 7.1.2 pre-installed, only the security patch from November 2017 was a bit outdated. Bloatware, viruses or malware could not be found.
The Play Store is pre-installed and you can also find the AGM Air and AGM Tools mentioned above. An explorer for files and “system update” can be found separately. The installed operating system runs very smoothly and does not pose any problems in normal operation – everyone should find their way around here quickly. If you don’t like the classic Android look, you can use another launcher.
Android 7.1 is still reasonably up-to-date, but AGM finally has to prove that promised updates will come. With AGM X1 this didn’t work – luckily the community can help: Since Snapdragon processors are used, Lineage OS made it to AGM X1. This would also be possible with AGM X2.
After the year in which every smartphone was equipped with a (fake) dual cam, the real dual camera is now slowly making its way into smartphones by small Chinese manufacturers. AGM X2 is equipped with two Sony IMX386 sensors – the miracle weapon Xiaomi trusts in with Mi6, Mi Mix 2 and Mi Note 3. AGM X2’s he camera has a resolution of 12 MP, an aperture of f/2.0 and is supported by a dual LED flash. The flash radiates a much more yellowish light than we are used to. But its range is outstanding. A 16 MP sensor by Samsung (S5K3P3) was placed on the front. This is also used as main sensor for example in Ulefone Power 3, Vernee Apollo Lite or Ulefone T1. AGM X2 uses it only for selfies.
As always: Good weather, sun and sufficient light help the smartphone cameras immensely. The two IMX386 sensors in the outdoor smartphone work reliably, the sharpness is very good for landscape shots or macro motifs. The contrast is a little weak, it should be higher. The HDR mode works quite well, and depending on the subject, it gets a lot out of the scenery. Selfies should be clearer, it almost seems as if “Face Beauty” always works in the background. Nonetheless, selfies are quite nice.
Surprise: you get real bokeh shots. The effect is fully present in the pictures and makes a visual impact. The blur effect can be adjusted in the app, depending on whether you like it in the style of Nubia Neovision or whether the background can still be recognized. Only about 60% of the bokeh shots turn out well – so it’s a good idea to take one picture more to be on the safe side. In good weather or good light conditions, the bokeh shots turn out better. Nevertheless we don’t want to keep the failed pictures from you.
Compared to One Plus 5, the differences in the details become clear: the big manufacturers simply have the better know-how and bokeh shots succeed right away. If you zoom in a bit, AGM X2 lacks sharpness and the brightness is too high – contrasts however look better.
Furthermore, the camera app has a mode “with moon and stars” – probably it should help at night. We couldn’t take pictures of stars, but the pictures are clearly more successful.
I really like the camera of AGM X2. Not only has it become a real dual cam, the pictures are also attractive. The camera app is easy to use, so, in combination with the quick focus and the additional button, you don’t miss the moment. Sharpness of detail, contrast, focus selection and colors are consistent – only the white balance is sometimes not that good. Here you can help manually or correct it afterwards. Unfortunately, there are some reflections when direct sunlight falls in at a certain angle. You can also film in 4K, but the electronic image stabilizer only helps at 1080p.
AGM X2 is a dual SIM smartphone, so you can use two Nano SIM cards at the same time. A micro-SD card does not fit into the slot at the same time for memory expansion: unfortunately, you have to decide here whether to go with the dual-function or the storage expansion. With AGM X2 you hardly ever have to worry about missing reception. The following frequencies are supported:
2G: GSM 2/3/5/8; CDMA BC0 800
3G: WCDMA B1/B2/B5/B8/B10; TD-SCDMA B34/B39
4G: FDD-LTE B1/B2/B3/B4/B5/B7/B8/B12/B17/B20, TDD-LTE B38/B39/B40/B41
We know a large supermarket, where you hardly ever get a mobile phone signal – AGM X2 does not provide reception everywhere in the supermarket, but in some places where the OnePlus 5 failed, the X2 showed at least one bar. Telephoning works perfectly and you can understand your partner clearly. Unfortunately, the built-in speaker is not convincing – although there would be enough space in AGM X2 for a decent speaker. It is very quiet and reaches only 76db at its peak (measured at 70cm distance). So I have to raise the volume of a video to half to be able to hear everything.
In terms of Wi-Fi, 2.4 & 5 GHz networks in the n standard are supported. Bluetooth is only installed in version 4.0, but in return NFC is available and Google Payments is also supported. An app to receive FM radio is also pre-installed.
As befits an outdoor smartphone, the location can be determined exactly. The smartphone supports GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS and Beidou, as well as a compass. AGM X2 determines the position very quickly. It takes less than 2 seconds until the location has been determined to an accuracy of 5 m. Navigation in the car is satisfactory, with announcements appearing sometimes a little later than from the car navigation system. When walking with AGM X2, the position and direction are determined precisely enough so that you can always find your way around.
The device houses a whole armada of sensors: light, position, proximity, accelerometer, gyroscope, e-compass, steps, ambient temperature, air pressure, humidity and the VOC sensor. I don’t think we’ve ever had so many sensors in one phone. In addition, there is the fingerprint sensor on the rear. It works extremely precisely and is a good method of unlocking. You get used to the position on the rear quickly, but it could be less reactive. So it often happened that I had already exceeded my maximum number of attempts when pulling it out from my pockets, and so I had to draw my unlocking pattern.
AGM X2 is powered by a 6000 mAh battery. In the PC Mark Akku benchmark the X2 could record 12:37 hours. This is a good value, but there are always ways of improvement (unless you have Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X in the test). A one hour-long YouTube video requires about 10-11% at half brightness and Full HD quality. The large battery provides a long battery life. In my test phase AGM X2 lasted for about 3 days with 10.5 hours of display-on time. If you can afford to switch to flight mode overnight, you save a lot of mAh – because the strong radio signal of the outdoor smartphone drains the battery.Battery lifetime Result Unit: hours
AGM X2 is charged via the USB-Type-C on the bottom: from 0 to 50% in 60 minutes, 80% are reached after 1:50 and the last 20% take just as long – to reach 100% it takes 3 hours and 10 minutes. All type-C cables fit into AGM X2 – the connection is not longer, as it is usually the case with outdoor smartphones. The X2 supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0, just as the included power supply. Loading via Power Delivery did not bring any significant improvements.