For those of us needing the extra advantage of thermal imaging for security, work, hunting, search and rescue, or law enforcement surveillance, this secret weapon seems purpose-built for us.
As an avid outdoorsman who spent nearly a decade in the US Army Special Forces, owned a private security firm, and has two children for whom I spend a lot of time considering every possible way to protect, I had to see for myself if the long-range thermal monocular, night vision, and other tactical features of the AGM G2 Guardian smartphone could possibly live up to my standards. If so, this phone will be an extremely useful high-tech multi-tool that I will never leave home without.
The main question is whether the AGM G2 Guardian smartphone can replace the need for other thermal imaging devices or night vision. Let’s break down the quality and features of this compact device to find out.
Table of Contents
- 1 Who is the AGM G2 Guardian Designed for?
- 2 Handheld Thermal Monocular in the AGM G2 Guardian
- 3 Is the AGM G2 Guardian Capable as a Phone?
- 4 The AGM G2 Guardian Display
- 5 What Chip Powers the AGM G2 Guardian?
- 6 Optical Devices in the AGM G2 Guardian
- 7 The External Soundsystem
- 8 Use it for Work or Hunting Trips Anywhere in the World
- 9 Rugged and Waterproof
- 10 Drawbacks and Issues for the AGM G2 Guardian Phone with Thermal Imaging Technology
- 11 Conclusion
Who is the AGM G2 Guardian Designed for?
There is a feeling that one gets when holding this phone in their hand for the first time: hearty.
The device is heavier than the standard smartphone, but between the features and performance, it’s not hard to see why. With its high-quality long-distance thermal imaging monocular, night vision, long-lasting battery life, rugged and waterproof build,100-lumen torch built into the top (so that it can be carried like a flashlight unlike the uncomfortable placement on most phones), built-in compass, and camera, it’s pretty easy to figure out who the AGM G2 Guardian phone was purpose-built for, and it’s definitely not people who spend their days inside protected from the elements within easy reach of a wall outlet.
This was built for those of us who spend every possible moment outdoors, either for work, pleasure, or sanity, and who have plenty of bumps, bruises, and scars because we know a well-lived life is not one spent worrying about getting a little dirt on our shoes. and need something a little more rugged than a standard iPhone.
Handheld Thermal Monocular in the AGM G2 Guardian
One of the biggest tests for thermal imaging monoculars is whether they can “go the distance” and give you a dependable range for recognition and ID. Whether it’s being used for hunting, search and rescue missions, the military, or surveillance, the ability to detect humans or pick up a heat signature at a distance can be the difference between success and failure.
The detection range for the thermal vision of the AGM G2 Guardian is listed at 1000m for a vehicle or 500m for a human, so I decided to put it to the test. Taking this phone to a place that I know to be frequented by helicopters (there is a military training base nearby) and birds, I wanted to test not only the distance abilities but also whether the thermal monocular could track something moving quickly without any lag.
I was able to acquire both birds and helicopters as they flew overhead, although I found different thermal vision profiles were better at close range and distance than others (more on that below). Once I acquired the objects the refresh rate kept up with their immense speed, and my estimation is that I was able to keep the heat signature for the helo up to a mile out, and the birds for at least a quarter mile. Both are phenomenal for a thermal monocular that’s built into a phone.
Thermal imaging monocular detection of a helo over a mile away.
Thermal radiation signature of birds a quarter mile away.
The ID range isn’t too shabby, either. With this phone, you can comfortably ID a human or animal out to 100 or 200m, depending on the size.
Without getting too geeky, this ability comes from the pairing of both a high-quality camera and an astounding level of processing power that allows the thermal imaging monocular to keep up at fast speeds, even at a distance.
Specs for the thermal monocular in the AGM Mobile G2 Guardian Smartphone.
Temperature Profile Options for Thermal Vision
The first time I picked up and started using the AGM G2 Guardian phone I thought that ten different temperature profiles for the thermal monocular was overkill, but I was wrong. I found distinct effectiveness differences between the temperature profiles in different situations and distances, with some being far better than others in certain scenarios.
Within the thermal imaging device app, the ten different visual profiles (accessed through the “ribbon” option in the app) are:
- White hot
- Fulgurite (red and black hot)
- Iron red (black hot, purple, red, yellow)
- Hot iron (black hot, blue, green)
- Rainbow 1 (everything)
- Black hot (white, gray, black)
- Reddening (black and gray) hot
- Blue heat (black hot, blue, yellow-green)
- Green hot (black hot and green)
- Custom (you can build your own visual profile)
I took the phone to my son’s swim practice to give it a difficult test: how well could it differentiate between cold (water) and hot (active bodies)? Here are a few of the results, which also show the difference between the visual modes:
In Rainbow 1 you can hardly see the features of the kids in the pool.
In White Hot you can see the kids quite clearly as differentiated from the pool.
Iron Red was clear in some respects, but muddled in others
One important aspect that takes some getting used to is that there is no manual zoom for the thermal imaging, but there is an automatic tap zoom. Once you acquire the visual field, you can tap the screen and it automatically focuses on what you want to look at. You can also use the volume buttons for fine-tuned image enhancement, but I still haven’t gotten the hang of that!
Temperature Analysis Mode
Within the thermal monocular app, there are two modes: night vision and temperature analysis. This mode provides a hefty number of analyses that can help you determine the overall temperature range for an area, midpoint temperature (to help determine where the heart and head are for an animal), and average temperature.
The temperature analysis can be a bit tricky, and this requires more work than simply pointing at the object. For these temperatures to read correctly (both at close range and distance), you need to select the material that the target is made of (there are a lot of options).
This can be done by going into the “settings” menu and selecting the “Emiss table.” There are a lot of options to choose from, but the only mammal-based option is “human skin.” I wouldn’t count on this being able to give you an exact temperature reading when hunting, but it still can be helpful to determine where the warmest part of an animal is.
Temperature analysis of my friend’s dog in low light conditions (a dark kitchen).
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Infrared (IR) Night Vision and Detection Capabilities
One really cool function within the standard camera app (which is separate from thermal imaging, that has its own pre-installed app) is Infrared (IR). This provides night vision for both camera and video footage, and as a guy who spent a lot of time using Night Observation Devices (NODs) during my time in the Army, I’m pretty amazed that a phone can do it so well.
This function allows you to take photos and video footage in complete darkness and offers other abilities. I spend a lot of time thinking about tools to have on hand in case of emergencies, due to my experience in war-torn parts of the world and having seen firsthand just how bad things can get when the lights go out. Having a pair of NODs in your pocket could be a Godsend if things get bad.
Judging by the political temperature in this country at the moment, being prepared for the worst-case scenario is a wise decision, in my personal opinion.
It also offers a dual function for surveillance or counter-surveillance, with both night vision and IR detection capabilities. Hidden cameras give off an IR signature that can’t be seen by the naked eye but can with certain devices. The standard camera in the AGM G2 Guardian phone has such an IR detection device, which you can use to scan any room, in full daylight or total darkness, to alert you if hidden recording devices are present.
I used to own a security firm and spent a lot of money on standalone devices just for those capabilities, so I think this is pretty amazing. You may not think that there is a need for these tools but do a quick online search for how many times hidden cameras have been found in hotel and changing rooms, placed there by high-tech peeping toms.
Curious about the difference between thermal imaging and night vision? Read this.
Is the AGM G2 Guardian Capable as a Phone?
I have to admit that I was surprised at how well the actual phone portion of the AGM G2 Guardian works, but every element of this phone seems to have been built for optimal performance. I’d expected the only defining features of this phone to be centered around the thermal imaging monocular, but I was dead wrong.
The placement of components within a phone has a lot to do with how well it works, as putting the antennae in the wrong place can have drastic effects on things like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi connectivity, and even phone calls. I live in an area with horrible phone reception for my carrier and had trouble with my old phone every time I’d get too far away from my router or when it would make the switch from Wi-Fi to LTE or 5G.
The transitions from one method of connection to another while on the AGM G2 Guardian are seamless. The distances that I can travel and still remain on Wi-Fi or keep my Bluetooth connection with no skipping or degrading is over twice that of my Samsung Galaxy phone.
The AGM G2 Guardian Display
I tested the display on this phone in a lot of different ways. The width is the same as my previous phone but it’s a tad longer. While my last Samsung phone required me to buy a 3rd-party protective case for the screen, the AGM G2 Guardian comes with a Gorilla Glass screen protector that you can install if you want. If you’re like me and your phone is accustomed to drops, bumps, and accidentally falling out of the car, I’d highly suggest that you put it on.
Despite being larger and having a Gorilla Glass protector, every aspect of the display on this phone is brighter and more vibrant than my previous phone. It makes the app icons easier to see and read, YouTube video footage easier to watch, and even makes watching the images from the thermal monocular clearer. The thing that amazes me most is that despite the high-performance display, the battery life on this phone is far better than my previous Samsung Galaxy phone.
What Chip Powers the AGM G2 Guardian?
It takes a lot of power to drive a phone with night vision, a thermal monocular, an IR detector, powerful speakers, and of course the traditional smartphone with global band accessibility.
The AGM G2 Guardian phone does this by using a Qualcomm QCM 6490 industrial processor. If you know the technical aspects of the chips used to power standard phones or other rugged phones, you understand why this thing moves at lightning speed and can carry a heavy technical workload compared to others.
If you aren’t a techie or chip geek, let’s just say this is the chip equivalent to the 5.2L supercharged Predator V8 engine that comes in the Ford Raptor R vs the 4-cylinder found in a quarter-ton Ford pickup. Long story short, it’s built for heavy (and fast) work.
Optical Devices in the AGM G2 Guardian
The main draw for the AGM G2 Guardian is the thermal monocular, but the amount of effort that was put into the whole suite of cameras in this phone is astounding. The entire top half of the rear of the phone is filled with cameras and thermal sensors that seem like overkill at first sight, but are appreciated once you start using them.
The main camera is a 108MP Samsung lens that offers quite a bit as far as cameras go. While this is a great camera and lens, its abilities are held back by the app that controls the camera itself. Hopefully, the app will get developer updates. The power of the chips and the quality of the lens means it can do a lot more than currently allowed in the realm of standard daylight photos.
It currently does a great job, but it could be excellent.
The External Soundsystem
Guys like me aren’t the type to buy a phone (or thermal imaging monoculars for that matter) because of the sound system. The external speakers that are built into the AGM G2 Guardian phone are so outstanding, however, that I have to mention them.
Many of “our type” of guys like working with our hands because it allows us to relax our minds and check out mentally for a while. I consider menial handiwork as my form of meditation, where I can put my mind at ease during the day and work up a little sweat while accomplishing a task requiring zero brainpower.
To aid this process, I like to put on some music, a podcast, or even an audiobook to help pass the time and give my brain a little rest from the craziness of the world around us. There are always two main issues that can get in the way: a phone speaker that doesn’t quite cut it, or a Bluetooth connection to my headphones that gets laggy when I have to step out of the room or across the yard.
The AGM G2 Guardian phone has nipped both in the bud, with Bluetooth that goes twice as far as my previous Samsung Galaxy and an external speaker that provides 109dB of external sound. The crazy thing is that playing music doesn’t put a dent in the battery life of this phone, and even at max volume the sound quality doesn’t degrade. I don’t know how they did it, but they did and it’s amazing.
Use it for Work or Hunting Trips Anywhere in the World
Some of us only hunt domestically, while others may go on safari or other hunting trips abroad. If you stick to the US-only this may not matter to you, but the fact that this phone is equipped to be useable anywhere in the world is great for those who travel.
While many standard phones will require leaving them at home and getting a new one in your target country, this one can travel with you anywhere and will only need a new SIM card.
Rugged and Waterproof
Rated at IP68/IP69k waterproof (can withstand up to 30 minutes in 1.5 meters of water), getting rained on during a multi-day elk stalk or drenched on a deep-sea fishing trip is no issue with the AGM G2 Guardian. Thick rubber plugs come installed in every port to keep all of the vital features dry.
Drawbacks and Issues for the AGM G2 Guardian Phone with Thermal Imaging Technology
While there are some amazing benefits of having a phone with an affordable thermal monocular built into it, there are a few drawbacks. I’d say these are minor for those who understand the price of buying (and carrying) thermal vision monoculars, NODs, a flashlight, and a phone separately, but they are drawbacks nonetheless.
The price tag on the AGM G2 Guardian is on the high side (around $900) for a phone. When you consider the average price of buying comparative thermal monoculars on their own plus a phone that price tag makes a lot more sense, but it still deserves a mention.
While I consider myself a “thrifty” person (see: cheap), as an amazing tool for outdoor enthusiasts, the security or preparedness-minded, or hunters, it’s certainly worth the price when you consider all of the features packed into one package.
Size and Weight
Weighing in at 405g (14.3 oz) and with dimensions of 3.358 x 6.988 x 0.996 in, this phone is both large and heavy. Again, when you consider that it is combining multiple pieces of gear (and a phone) into one (thermal monocular, NODs, 100-lumen torch) it is actually lightening the load and reducing the amount of gear that needs to be carried.
Additionally, as we all typically have our phones with us all of the time now, it has the benefit of ensuring that you will have multiple tools on-hand should you find yourself in an emergency scenario.
The downside of this size & weight, albeit a small one, is that this phone doesn’t fit into most vehicle mounting kits or charging docks.
First world problems, amirite?
Main Camera App
As I mentioned above the total potential of the main camera is being held back by the app. This is something that the developers could work on and update seamlessly, but it’s anybody’s guess as to whether that will happen or not. The main camera certainly works and can take good pictures as it is, but it’s not currently being used to its fullest.
Many people like me exist in this strange predicament as both gear nerds but also minimalists. We prefer to carry multi-tools that perform as many functions (well) as possible rather than needing a handful of different items. This can be a necessity to lower weight when going off-grid for long movements, but also so that I don’t forget critical gear in stressful or emergency situations.
Because a phone is something that we typically have on us all the time as second nature, the ability to pack so many useful and vital tools into one package makes the AGM G2 Guardian phone a slam dunk for me. Some functions that may seem unnecessary or frivolous now could turn out to be extremely beneficial in unforeseen ways.
As someone focused on outdoor activities, personal security, and being prepared for potential emergencies, I highly recommend the AGM G2 Guardian smartphone. The fact that it’s a great phone in and of itself is just icing on the cake.