A mobile phone with versatile long-range thermal capabilities? That’s too good to be true, I thought, when AGM Mobile first reached out to us to review their new G2 Guardian thermal phone. But it turned out to be a real trailblazer of a device.
As a lifelong hunter and self-confessed gear nerd, thermal devices have been a game-changing technology. They allow me to hunt hogs and coyotes with pinpoint accuracy in low-light conditions, and help me track wounded game that I might never have found otherwise.
I’ve tested a number of handheld thermal devices, including viewers, monoculars, drones, and rifle scopes. Most turned out to be great standalone devices for hunters, but none were all-in-one solutions. However, the G2 Guardian from AGM Mobile claimed to integrate a lot of thermal functions in a single handheld device. Could they deliver on that claim?
Why I Wanted to Review The G2 Guardian
I was excited at the prospect of carrying a true all-in-one thermal solution, so I jumped at the chance to review the G2 Guardian. It would greatly simplify my life to carry just one device that replaced several pieces of gear I normally bring on backcountry hunting trips.
If you’re a run-and-gun backcountry hunter like me, you understand that every ounce in your pack matters. Ounces become pounds, and pounds become pain.
If the G2 Guardian proved to be a suitable replacement for my iPhone, thermal monocular, camera, and wireless speaker, that would save a ton of room in my pack this fall. So let’s dive in and suss out if this phone is the real deal or just another gimmicky gadget trying to capitalize on the thermal craze.
AGM G2 Guardian Specifications
- Processor: Qualcomm QCM6490
- Screen: 6.58” FHD @ 120 Hz
- RAM: 8 or 12 GB
- Storage: 256 GB, upgradeable to 512 GB w/ a TF card
- Weight: 14.3 oz
It’s 2023, and everyone has a cell phone, even the Amish. (I’ve guided for some) So here’s the question I want to answer: Can the G2 Guardian reasonably replace your current Samsung, iPhone, or other name-brand mobile phone?
I tested the G2’s connectivity in the mountains, using the T-Mobile network side-by-side with my iPhone 14 Pro. There was no discernible difference between the two in terms of signal strength or overall performance. I could switch between 5G and LTE modes with no problems.
The AGM Guardian uses a high-end 2.7 Ghz 8-core processor — the Qualcomm QCM6490 — so you shouldn’t have any issues with multi-gigabit performance. Even 60 FPS gaming was smooth across the entire IoT 5G ecosystem. (if you’re into that sort of thing)
Qualcomm designed this powerful chipset with AI and industrial device applications in mind. Combine that with 8 or 12 GB of RAM and you’ll have smooth & reliable performance while running multiple apps.
The G2 Guardian’s connectivity makes it a worthy replacement for most modern cell phones. True, it doesn’t threaten the iPhone 14’s ultra-fast benchmark scores, but 90% of users will never notice the difference.
A much more important consideration is getting used to humping this phone around on a regular basis. It’s significantly bigger and heavier than my iPhone, so it’s a tight fit in traditional pants pockets. For extended use, roomy cargo-style pockets are best.
Long-Range Thermal Monocular Capabilities
- Thermal Lens: 10 mm
- Thermal Sensor: 12 Micron
- Thermal Resolution: 256 x 192 px
- Magnification: 5.6x w/ auto and manual focus
Of course, being able to play Fortnite on this phone isn’t your primary consideration. You’re here because you want the additional features, especially the long-range thermal capabilities.
And while AGM Mobile’s previous flagship G2 phone had a thermal camera, its capabilities paled alongside this new Guardian model. In a side-by-side comparison, you can see how much better the brightness and clarity are with the Guardian.
(Insert a screenshot of AGM’s video containing a side-by-side comparison)
One intriguing feature I experimented with was the temperature measurement tool. You can aim the phone at a nearby object and measure its surface temperature. Based on the material, you can fine-tune the temperature display.
I personally don’t have much need for this feature, but I can see how it might be an excellent tool for industrial and construction use.
The G2 Guardian’s ease of use is probably my favorite aspect of this device. Other monoculars I’ve used are inherently challenging to use because they only have rudimentary operating systems and often lack a touchscreen interface.
The G2 Guardian makes it fast and easy to switch between pre-defined thermal sensing templates. I especially like the auto-focus feature, where you can simply tap on the screen or manually adjust it using the volume keys. Once you get this down, focusing on targets is effortless.
Will The G2 Guardian’s Thermals Help Me As a Hunter?
You just shot that bull elk of a lifetime right before dusk, and you aren’t too keen to leave him out there overnight. AGM’s phone will allow you to see blood trails or bedding areas that are still warm and let you know if you should keep up the pursuit or pull back until morning.
Or, let’s say you’re running night vision, and you want to see if that critter running your fenceline is actually a coyote and not Mrs. Smith’s cocker spaniel fiddlin’ around in the bushes again. You could pop this phone out and get a better confirmation of the target before taking a shot.
As an Army veteran and former medic, I can see a lot of use for this device from a safety or search & rescue perspective. A gadget like this could help me find lost hunters or check out that strange noise in the dark woods… was that a bear I heard? I don’t know. Let’s see.
In my tests, I could detect two- or three-pixel animal heat signatures out to 500 meters, depending on the mode used. I chalk this up to the G2 Guardian’s excellent 10 mm objective lens.
Identifying a target is more challenging, but the Guardian gave me decent images out to about 220 meters. Just to be safe, my personal guideline to 100% confirm a target with this device would be more like 150 meters, but that’s just me.
I was initially concerned that the Guardian’s 25 Hz refresh rate might limit my ability to pan the camera and reliably pick up moving objects. Not a problem — the G2 Guardian may not be as fast as a new Pulsar scope, but its latency was minimal to undetectable.
In summary, the G2 Guardian’s range and refresh rate are quite adequate for me to detect, identify, and track animals. For those tasks, the higher precision of a rifle night scope isn’t needed.
- Front Camera: 32 MP
- Rear Camera: 108 MP
- Rear Macro Camera: 2 MP
- Infrared Night Vision Camera: 20 MP
Of course, AGM Mobile wouldn’t put second-rate cameras in an otherwise tech-packed phone. In addition to the thermal camera, they’ve included several other fantastic cameras to provide extra versatility.
Tops for me is the 20-megapixel infrared night vision camera. Unlike the thermal camera, which senses heat, the night vision mode lets you see and record your surroundings using the dimmest of ambient light. Switching between night vision and thermal is an easy way to identify objects in the dark.
As an outdoor gear blogger, I need to snap a lot of regular photos when I’m in the field. The Guardian’s 108 MP rear camera handles all my professional needs as well as capturing great memories for the family album. The images are sharp, rich, and seldom need tweaking.
The front-facing and macro cameras are also versatile and high quality. Again, what stands out to me here is the night-vision lens.
I’ll still rely on my iPhone 14 Pro for my most demanding photography because it’s the best phone camera on the market. But for overall versatility and prosumer image quality, you can’t beat the many lens options on the G2 Guardian.
- Decibles: 109
The G2 Guardian’s speaker is loud enough, but not as rich or detailed as the Bose Micro speaker I normally listen to with my buddies (and whiskey) around the campfire. But let’s face it — the already chunky Guardian phone would definitely outgrow your pocket if it had to match the sound of a dedicated speaker.
Don’t get me wrong. The speaker is quite capable, but it’s the one area where AGM had to make a tradeoff for the sake of reduced weight and bulk. I’m not complaining. If I absolutely require high-end sound in the backcountry, I’ll break out my earbuds.
So while the G2 Guardian blasts music louder than any phone I’ve ever used, it’s only average in terms of sound quality. But it’s also waterproof, rugged, and saves weight overall. Those pluses certainly outweigh this slight negative.
- Storage: 7,000 mAh
I sometimes spend two weeks in the forest, backpacking, scouting, or hunting. I carry a 25000 mA charger to make sure my phone stays charged.
The G2 Guardian’s battery is beefy and up to the task of running all the tech on this phone. I’ll still carry a backup battery pack on my longer trips, but I’m comfortable that this battery will get me through my routine days.
Here’s the thing I’ve learned about cell phone batteries: they’re only as good as the phone’s operating system and how efficiently it uses power. iPhones are notoriously efficient because iOS makes power management a top priority.
The G2 Guardian is also quite efficient and up to the task of powering the plethora of features on this phone. I was impressed that even after 4 hours of constant use testing the thermal characteristics and speaker, the battery still had a 65% charge.
I’ll track battery performance on future backcountry hunts and update this post periodically.
Rugged & Durable Construction
- Drop Test: 1.5 meters
- Water Test: 1.5 meters for 30 seconds
To evaluate AGM’s durability claims, I put this bad boy to the test. First, I dropped the phone on a boulder, then submerged it in the river for 30 seconds.
The results were clear. It’s not fragile by any means; the G2 Guardian is one tough SOB.
By the way, when I dropped the phone on a big boulder, it landed screen-down, the kind of impact that makes you cringe. The sound told me it was a solid impact, yet when I picked up the phone, it was 100% unscathed. Wowzers.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a hunter more careless, airheaded, and abusive to gear than I am. When I’m in the zone on a hunt, the well-being of my gear fades from consciousness, and I’m likely to scar or smash it. That’s why I put a premium on quality gear that can withstand my assault.
Durability is where the G2 Guardian really kicks my iPhone’s @ss. AGM’s G2 Guardian is a backcountry tank whereas city slicker phones are, well, “Beautiful, Slippery, and Brittle,” as one commentator put it. With the G2 Guardian, I no longer worry about breaking my phone. Priceless.
Final Thoughts: Is The Guardian G2 Worth It?
I was chomping at the bit to unbox the AGM Mobile G2 Guardian. I had to know if AGM’s first-to-market concept of a long-range thermal monocular combined with a cell phone was truly The Next Great Thing.
Does it live up to the hype? Can it really be an all-in-one stalking tool? Is it rugged enough to withstand backcountry abuse? Well, the verdict is in and those questions are answered: AGM Mobile has delivered the goods and hit the ball out of the ballpark. (so many mixed metaphors!)
Around town, though, my iPhone will still be my EDC because the G2 Guardian is big enough to use as a club. But it’s definitely the gadget I’ll bring on future hunts or anytime I need low-light capabilities.
Was this review of the G2 Guardian useful? If you’re a rancher, hunter, or industrial/construction professional, I’d love to hear back about how you’d use this unique multi-function phone and thermal imager. Please share your thoughts in the Comments section, below. Thanks!
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Last Updated on July 24, 2023