AGM H5 Pro Review: Is The World's Loudest Phone Tough Enough?

EDITORS' RATING: 6/10
Pros
  • Amazing battery life
  • Good specs for a mid-range phone
  • Speakers are very loud
  • Infrared camera
Cons
  • Limited to network compatibility
  • No expandable storage
  • Absurdly heavy
  • Camera quality is baseline at best

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Back in 2007, the original iPhone revolutionized the world of personal communications. Ever since that game-changing smartphone hit the shelves, most other phones have emulated it to some degree. A touchscreen interface has become the norm, and the phones themselves are as much fashion accessories as they are life-changing personal computers. This leads to issues when you're looking at something a bit more specialist, as comparing it to an iPhone — or any number of smartphones built to work in a city, rather than the rugged wilderness — is a bit unfair.

The AGM H5 Pro is one of those specialist phones. This phone is for hunters, hikers, and folks that work on construction sites. As such, I've tested how the H5 Pro responds in harsh environments — along with a few basic, everyday drops from pocket height. The H5 Pro also has a fairly impressive party trick — according to AGM, it has the loudest built-in speaker of any commercial smartphone. While trying it out, I got a good idea of just how loud the H5 pro actually is, and the quality of audio AGM's speaker system can provide

The specs are pretty impressive

Given its price — which is around $300 if you're not too bothered about the charging stand — the AGM H5 Pro actually boasts some fairly decent specs. Powering the phone is a Helio G85 CPU, which is a mid-range processor designed with gaming in mind. Then you have 8GB RAM, which again is impressive for a lower-mid-range smartphone and finally, you have 128GB Storage (which is unfortunately not expandable in any way). Instead of a spot for a microSD card, this device has an extra SIM card slot — one nano and micro SIM are available at once.

Visually, you have a 6.517-inch HD+ display in 1600 by 720-pixel resolution. With a mid-range phone, you're going to see compromises somewhere and on paper, the display might have been an area where AGM cut costs. Although it is far from the norm, you do get mid-range devices packing OLED displays these days, though you do have to look at what the phone is intended for. 

A lot of mid-range phones lack dust and waterproofing, while the H5 Pro has both IP68 and IP69K ratings. Being able to survive under five feet of water for over an hour is probably more important than making movies and photos look pretty if you're designing a phone for the great outdoors. It also weighs about 13 ounces, which is about double the weight of an iPhone 12 Pro.

It's like a tank in your pocket

There's a chunk of the smartphone market that buys a slim, exquisitely designed flagship device and immediately slaps it in the most durable looking Otterbox they can find, turning their aluminum masterpiece into a plastic brick. The H5 Pro cuts out the middleman and incorporates a very durable case into the body of the phone. 

The corners are raised to give the device's insides a bit of extra padding. The screen itself is recessed, with the edges of the case providing a small amount of protection against flat surfaces. Like a lot of extra cases, both the charging port and the SIM card slot have their own plastic flaps — minimizing any risk of water getting into the device itself.

The back of the device has a sort of Kevlar-like pattern, which gives the phone a bulletproof appearance. It's worth pointing out this is just a pattern, the phone's case isn't made of kevlar or any other ballistic weave — it's made of plastic. The back of the phone's case has four pogo-pin contact points, which allow it to charge with its included charging dock. This is a nice feature and means you don't have to pry open the charging port cover every time you want to top the device up. 

The AGM H5 Pro gets the basic functions right

The basic functionality of this smartphone is of reasonable quality, for the price. The touchscreen is responsive and can recognize as many as five different points of contact. As the specs suggest, you do get a fair amount of power and a lot of battery life to back it up. It isn't the most powerful device on the market, but the H5 pro has enough about it to handle every basic task you use a smartphone for.

Call quality is pretty clear too, both in general and while using a speaker phone. Aside from one odd moment when I first booted the phone and was greeted by a menu consisting of a bunch of Chinese words I couldn't read, there were no reliability problems during the testing period. In terms of mobile gaming, I had absolutely no problems — though admittedly the most intensive thing I threw at it was either "Knights of the Old Republic" or "Old School Runescape."

The speakers are indeed loud

One of the key selling points of the H5 Pro is its speaker. AGM claims it is the loudest phone speaker on the market, capable of belting out a whopping 109 decibels. To put that in perspective, HEARsmart says it's as loud as an ambulance siren and may damage your hearing if you listen to it without protection for more than two minutes. The speaker is also fairly noticeable. It's not a couple of holes AGM has poked into the bottom of the device, it's a huge bulging disc protruding from the back.

As a dedicated tech journalist committed to testing things out so you don't have to bother, I put my body on the line and listened to a four-minute-long song on full volume. I can confirm it is unpleasantly loud and made my eardrums quite uncomfortable. It's the least fun I've ever had listening to David Bowie. I don't think my hearing health was actually at risk though, as while it may be 109 Db at the point it leaves the speakers, the noise level has dropped a bit by the time it hits my ear, several feet away at least. 

In terms of audio quality, it's a bit tinny, especially with the volume cranked up. I've heard worse, but it's nowhere near as good as your average portable Bluetooth speaker or a decent set of headphones.

The battery lasts a long time

If I had to guess, the main reason the AGM H5 Pro weighs an absolute ton is its battery. You get a staggering 7,000 mAh juice box in this bad boy. To put that into context, the top-of-the-line Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra has what is objectively a large battery, and that's only 5,000 mAh. 

Draining the 60% or so charge the phone came with so I could test the charger took a genuine effort. The H5 Pro's battery is one of its best features and should be enough to see you through a camping weekend or hunting trip, even with heavy use. AGM itself promises "400 hours of standby, 150 hours of non-stop music, and 32 hours of video," and in my experience, they aren't exaggerating. Even if you're giving the phone's processor a solid workout and using the device for gaming, you should get close to a day's use out of it before you need to reach for a charging cable.

Charging times aren't super fast but aren't unreasonable either. The phone I was sent charged from around 10% to full in a little over three hours with a USB-C cable and fast charger, so you should be able to charge from dead to full in well under three and a half. The charging dock charges at 10W, which is notably less than the 18W the phone can pull when charging with a USB-C cord and its included charging block. As a result, maxing out the battery in the dock is more of an overnight affair.

The cameras aren't bad, but aren't great either

Attached to the AGM H5 Pro is a 48 Megapixel main camera, a two Megapixel macro camera, and a 20 Megapixel selfie camera, all of which are perfectly adequate for most situations. You aren't going to be taking the professional-looking snaps a modern iPhone or Google Pixel phone is capable of, but you're not going to be taking grainy, low-res, shots either. The lack of an optical zoom is a notable omission, so expect image quality to decline rapidly the further you are from your intended photo subject.

For your viewing pleasure, I've included a picture of a supermarket's fall display to illustrate the camera's color range and level of detail. If you look above, you'll see a slightly grainier shot of a pair of little pigs I encountered on a roadside. If you look closely, you'll see the second one is far less detailed, and that's due to the limitations that come with digital zoom. Had this photo been captured with a device with any sort of substantial optical zoom, those snouts would have been picked out perfectly.

Night vision camera testing

This phone's "night vision" camera actually takes some pretty detailed photos in extremely low light environments. However, this camera is not without its own issues. As you can see from the photos above and below, the quality is on par with a low-priced $40 trail cam. That's not knocking the phone at all, I'm surprised the camera worked this well and it is one of the more useful features. If you have gotten this camera for hunting, camping, or general wildlife spotting, it might be handy when the sun goes down.

It isn't all good though, even in close to pitch black darkness, it seems to pick up a kind of lens flare type effect. This effect seemed to be more noticeable after I'd lobbed the phone in a stream — but it did seem to be there before so I don't think it's due to the phone taking on any moisture. Then again, it didn't go away after the lens had been thoroughly wiped, so who knows?

Network choice is somewhat limited

This is a fairly significant flaw — or maybe an oversight — on AGM's part. According to the phone's Amazon page, you can buy the H5 Pro "unlocked" but the "unlocked" version still limits you to two networks. If your plan isn't with AT&T or T-Mobile then you're going to need to find another phone. AT&T customers also need to activate their SIM cards on another phone before popping it into the H5 Pro, which again seems like a huge inconvenience. We tested this model with a T-Mobile SIM.

Given that the phone has some pretty significant outdoors applications — and AGM bills it as a rugged phone perfect for camping, hiking, and various other kinds of adventures — a more powerful antenna would be a pretty obvious addition. If you could pick up a signal where normal phones couldn't, the AGM H5 Pro could become a literal lifesaver. 

So naturally, I wandered into the middle of nowhere and watched the signal on my Galaxy S21 peter away to nothing. Then I pulled out the SIM card and worked the fiddly little piece of plastic (the SIM card tray's protective cover) into the H5 Pro without dropping it into a puddle. This was the H5 Pro's chance to shine, but unfortunately, it couldn't get a signal either. It's worth highlighting this isn't an extensive test, and numerous factors go into a phone getting a signal. But it plainly isn't a satellite phone, or a phone with an emergency satellite feature — nor was it claiming to be.

It's a leader in personal safety terms

While it's designed for the building site — an area where safety is paramount — the H5 Pro might keep you away from danger outside of work as well. The AGM isn't going to win any fashion awards. Put it next to a pretty little iPhone or a blinged-out Samsung Galaxy, and the difference is immediately apparent. However, while it might not be the prettiest phone on your shelf, AGM's effort could actually save your life. 

It's a hard, heavy, blunt object that could potentially be used as a weapon if one were so inclined. The phone's point of balance is evenly distributed, similar to a house brick. The screen is almost certainly a weak point on this absolute tank of a device, but if that's facing your palm when you're fending off an assailant, then you should have no worries. The AGM H5 Pro will survive, but the unfortunate individual who comes into contact with it may not.

If violent cellphone dueling ever becomes a serious sport, don't bother with anything else. This absolute heavyweight will undoubtedly be the choice of champions.

How durable is it really?

The H5 Pro comes with a built-in protective case with a kevlar-like pattern. The ports are shielded from moisture by a set of plastic flaps, and the corners have a lot of extra padding. But appearances can be deceiving, so this wouldn't be a thorough review unless the phone was subjected to a bit of abuse.

As far as waterproofing goes, I lobbed the H5 Pro into a stream — and got it wet more than a few times — and it still functions perfectly well. A small amount of moisture seemed to work its way into the infrared camera's lens, but the overall function of the phone was not impacted in any way. 

AGM has a picture of the phone being lobbed into a fire on their website, but we're not about to test fate. We all know what happens with most plastics when fire gets involved. 

The real test is how it responds to knocks and drops. AGM claims their phone can survive repeated drops from just under five feet. So I spent a bit of time dropping it onto a variety of surfaces and recorded the results. The first test didn't bode well, a couple of drops from shoulder height onto relatively smooth concrete saw a small chip appear on the screen and a corner get scuffed. However, further drops onto gravel and asphalt didn't result in any catastrophic damage. The phone's screen did not crack beyond the chip, and it still functions just fine. The large protruding speaker was dented by the gravel, but the audio it produces isn't any worse than it was before the damage.

The AGM H5 Pro is good at what it does, but not for everyone

If you take care of your phones as if they were your children, and want something light and aesthetically pleasing, just save yourself some time and look elsewhere. If you don't really care about superficial details and want something you can throw in a river then there's a chance the H5 Pro is the ideal device for you – provided you're on a phone plan from T-Mobile or AT&T. 

This phone is durable but not indestructible, as the drop test proves it will take some scuffs when it receives a bit of abuse — and that kevlar pattern certainly starts to look a tad silly when it gets a few scratches and scuffs on it. However, the function-over-form appearance of the H5 may be a plus point. It is a phone designed for abuse, and while getting a scratch on a pristine iPhone 14 Pro might make you die a bit inside, you can put the H5 Pro through a surprising amount of punishment without making it look any worse than it already does. 

The basic Android-based functionality of this device is decent enough for use on a long outdoor trip. The unique features make for a bonus that might push you over the edge — the night vision might come in handy if you need a detailed view of something without flicking a torch on, and the speaker is probably loud enough to overpower general background noise on something like a construction site. 

Even if you ignore aesthetics, this isn't a phone I would use every day. Looking at it practically, it's large, bulky, and surprisingly heavy. It's not something you just slip into your pocket and forget about. But if you're looking for something to use while camping or working outside, it's definitely one to consider.