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Why you need an Android smartphone with a thermal and IR camera

These are powerful tools in the hands of engineers and technicians.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

While there's no doubt that the iPhone is seen by many as the ultimate smartphone, there are plenty of smartphones out there that have features Apple users can only dream of having. Think thermal cameras and IR night vision, and even laser pointers.

Need a smartphone that has all this and more, all built into a ruggedized shell capable of handling tough situations with ease?

The AGM Glory G1S might be the smartphone you've been waiting for.

AGM Glory G1S

From the front, the AGM Glory G1S looks like a standard ruggedized handset.


Externally, the Glory G1S is like a lot of other ruggedized smartphones. A huge slab of a smartphone wrapped in protective rubber armor, with little flaps covering all the ports to prevent water ingress.

The smartphone claims it's rated waterproof and dustproof to IP68/IP69K and drop tested from 1.5m to conform to MIL-STD-810H.

This is a tough handset.

More: Best rugged phones for outdoor adventures

The display is a huge 6.53-inch display, and it comes straight out of the factory with a screen protector applied.   

On the inside, it features an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 5G CPU with Qualcomm's Adreno 619 GPU. This is backed up by 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM and 128GB of storage, expandable by adding a 512GB microSD card.

This is quite a substantial smartphone.

It has all the stuff you'd expect an Android smartphone to have, like Bluetooth and NFC, and a fingerprint sensor.

It's also loaded with cameras, a front-facing 48-megapixel camera, a 2-megapixel macro camera, and a 16-megapixel front-facing camera.

It's even got a 3.5mm headphone jack -- remember those? -- and the earbuds also act as an antenna for the FM radio.

But there's more.

AGM Glory G1S rear camera array

AGM Glory G1S's rear camera array is uniquely polarizing.


Packed into the rear camera array is a 256×192 thermal imaging camera with a temperature range of -20°C to 550°C, and a 20-megapixel night vision IR camera with IR LED illumination.

Yes, this has both a thermal camera and an IR night vision camera.

Oh, there's also a laser pointer.

So why might you want a smartphone that has a built-in thermal camera or an IR camera?

Because they are super useful, not just as a fun-to-play-with gizmo, but also because they're really useful tools in the hands of a technician or engineer.

More: ZDNet's full review of the AGM Glory G1S

Thermal camera

I got my first thermal camera -- a standalone FLIR unit -- a few years ago and I've found it to be super useful. You can do so much with it.

Here's just a few things you can do with a thermal camera:

  • Find overheating electrical components (faulty components usually run hotter)
  • Diagnose all sorts of HVAC problems, from windows that leak heat to radiators that aren't warming up properly to A\C units that aren't cooling
  • Finding dangerously overheating rechargeable batteries
  • Finding radiator pipes underneath floorboards
  • Find overheating power cables
  • Find problems with cooling systems on desktop and laptop systems
  • Spot binding brakes on cars

My tip for learning to use a thermal camera is to use it to look at things when they aren't faulty -- your radiators, car brakes, electrical stuff, anything -- and that way you get to know how things should look so you can tell when things aren't working right.

It's got to the point where I find the thermal camera so useful that I turn to it without thinking about it. Just now I wanted to know if an electrical appliance was getting power, and instead of reaching for a multimeter, I used my thermal camera to see if anything was warming up on the inside. Once I saw components heating up, that eliminated a load of possible problems.

Also: The best smartphone cameras

Thermal camera examining a car engine

Thermal camera examining a car engine

The thermal app is particularly useful and easy to use

The thermal app is particularly useful and easy to use

Night vision

Night vision

Night vision

But what about night vision? Surely that's one of those niche things? 

You'd be wrong.

The number of times I've found myself in some room that doesn't have any light (usually an attic or a basement). Or maybe it's nighttime and I don't want to blast light around the place to look for something (as a photographer that does a bit of night photography, I find this is something I do often).

Another cool trick that you can use the night vision camera for is to check if infrared LEDs are working. You find these on all sorts of devices, from TV remote controls to the IR floodlights built into security cameras. 

And, it's also a fun tool for seeing what goes on after the sun sets. It's quite amazing the animals that come out when they think they can't be seen!

This is a truly handy feature to have packed into a smartphone.

I thought that the laser pointer would be something I'd never use, but I do. 

For pointing!

I know, obvious right? But if you're trying to point at something out of reach, something hot, or something buried in a live electrical appliance, then using the laser pointer is a heck of a lot better than using a finger!

Bottom line

The AGM Glory G1S is not cheap -- coming in at $699 -- but for those who can make use of thermal and night vision cameras, this is a solid handset that's worth taking a look at. For more general coverage (and thermal images) of the AGM Glory G1S, check out my colleague Jack Wallen's full review here.

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