ZDNET’s key takeaways
- The AGM H6 is the company’s latest rugged phone, priced at $299. There’s an early-bird deal that discounts it down to $219.
- The phone passes all rugged protection certifications, has a large capacity battery, and is much slimmer than its competitors.
- Being a mid-range device, there are some compromises, including no 5G support, only one rear camera, and the lack of long-term software support.
As flagship smartphone makers work to improve the durability of phones, I’m noticing that there are fewer and fewer bulky cases out in the wild. A few years ago, rugged phones were clunky, heavy, and compromised by design to offer a phone that could survive drops, water immersion, and the sandiest of beaches.
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But for the past couple of weeks, I have been using the AGM H6, and it’s hard for me to fathom just how “normal” this device feels compared to previous rugged phones. It’s also relatively affordable at under $300. Here’s the breakdown.
As we enter the fall and winter seasons, having a reliable rugged phone that can withstand the elements is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts.
Let’s get the basics down first. The AGM H6 has a large 6.56-inch display with a 90Hz refresh rate, Unisoc T606 processor, 16GB of RAM, 256GB internal storage with a microSD card slot, 3.5mm audio port, a 50MP main camera, NFC support, and 4,900mAh battery. The phone does not support 5G networks.
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At a weight of just 240 grams and thickness of just 10.75mm, you may not think this is a rugged phone designed to withstand fieldwork. But I’ve dropped it, submerged it, and went running in the rain with it and the device looks just about the same as when it came out of the box. Bizzare, right?
I often carry a phone with me when I run for safety and to be able to capture images on the go. As I enter the dark and rainy season in the Pacific Northwest, using an affordable phone like this for these sessions is perfect. It’s less risky than running around with a $1,000 flagship phone, but still reliable enough to stay connected with my family members and social network.
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Survival is the name of the game with the AGM H6, thanks to its IP68 waterproof rating, IP69K dustproof rating, and 1.8m shock-resistant test certification. The frame around the display is raised 0.4mm above the screen to help protect it while extra corner protection (with a lanyard opening in the top left) is provided for drops. The USB-C port and headset jack are sealed with covers, which is a thoughtful touch.
This is the first phone I have tested with the Unisoc Tiger processor and benchmark scores show it beating the Snapdragon 630 and 640 processors, a common chipset in this sub-$300 category. I was able to use the AGM flawlessly as my daily driver, although I don’t play intensive games on my phone either. The large 4,900mAh capacity battery got me through a day and a half fairly easily.
The cameras, 50MP main and 2MP macro performed well, and as expected, the low light performance simply can’t match flagship phones that cost five times the price. I was able to capture photos on my runs that my family enjoyed, and for under $300, the camera is perfectly acceptable. It’s also nice to see NFC inside so that Google Wallet can be used for contactless payments.
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Android 13 is installed on the phone and it runs a rather stock version of Android. I just wish AGM was more proactive with software updates, especially when other manufacturers are emphasizing that, even with lower-cost devices. After reading this AGM blog post on updates and checking past AGM phones that I have tested, it is unlikely that the AGM H6 will receive any of the major Android updates.
There is an additional yellow side key on the left side of the phone with settings for single press, double press, and press/hold. It’s similar to the iPhone 15 Pro’s Action Button but even more functional.
I love the side fingerprint sensor for a quick pick-up-and-unlock, the big screen for viewing spreadsheets and data, and the rugged build that lets me use it wherever and whenever without worrying about destroying it or paying a high fee for a protection service.
ZDNET’s buying advice
The AGM H6 is available now in a U.S. T-Mobile version, European version, and rest of the world version. I tested the U.S. T-Mobile version and it worked as intended. If you’re on a different carrier, I’d advise buying a different phone that’s officially compatible.
The new AGM H6 is perfect for those who plan to ski, hike, fish, and explore the outdoors in the upcoming cold seasons or even the warmer weather on beaches in the future. It’s especially sleek for the rugged phone that it is, and at the sub-$300 price, its durability features are totally worth it.