At the international MWC 2019 exhibition in Barcelona, AGM company — the manufacturer of smartphones with military protection standards — had a very large and pleasant stand. Guests could not only hold the world’s most full-featured and technologically advanced protected smartphones in their hands, but also carry out a crash test — throw them on the ground, sink them in the water and so on.
We managed to ask some questions to Robert Pryke, who is the founder and CEO of the AGM Europe company with headquarter in the UK.
— Robert, you have such a large and informative stand at MWC, you have serious plans to enter the European market, judging by the stand?
— Yes, now we’re actively developing business infrastructure in Europe. In particular, we’re carrying on negotiations with European distributors. In Europe, we’ll open two warehouses at once, from where we’ll supply products directly to dealer networks and buyers having made online orders. One warehouse will be in the UK (for online orders), the second – in the Netherlands (for wholesale shipments).
MWC is one of the largest exhibitions of mobile technology in the world. Our participation in this event is the best way to emphasize the seriousness of AGM’s intentions to enter the European market.
— What about the Russian market?
Every interested person can buy AGM smartphones in our official store on AliExpress with delivery to any city in Russia for several years. Meanwhile, we have a Russian-language support service, plus AGM smartphones in Russia have an official one-year warranty. In Europe, the situation is somewhat different: the popularity of AliExpress is frankly low, buyers prefer to overpay and buy the device in a local retail network. That’s why, we open our own warehouses in Europe and develop offline infrastructure. But, alas, because of all this, AGM smartphones will cost Europeans rather more than Russians.
— What are the new AGM models we’ll see in 2019?
— We released the European version of our AGM X3 flagman in February 2019, which is just presented at our stands in Barcelona. This is largely a unique smartphone – it is based on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 top chipset and has a plenty of unusual features for a protected model. The Snapdragon 845 itself is already the most important feature: this chipset has never been used in ‘off-road’ smartphones before. AGM was the first company having presented a protected model on this top-end technology platform.
X3 is also fitted with JBL audio system, diamond nano-coating that protects the screen from scratches, 4100 mAh battery with fast and wireless charging… Well, on the whole, this device is radically different from the typical protected smartphones. It’s enough to take it in hands — and it becomes immediately clear that it’s a product of completely other, higher level.
We have high hopes for the A9 smartphone, which belongs to the middle class. Like the X3, it’s endowed with a upscale JBL audio system. Moreover, the speakers are no longer two, but four – this combination allows to create a stereophonic music scene of full value. The battery has a capacity of 5400 mAh, thus we managed to keep the dimensions of AGM A9 at the level of conventional smartphones. This is a light and quite elegant model, which is only a little thicker than X3.
Our new product — AGM M5 protected push-button phone on Android Go platform with 4G support will be for sale in May-June. This is a unique product, because Android push-button devices are vanishingly small on the market. As for protected ones, they are almost absent at all. AGM M5 will be just like that — with LTE support, case protection, Android OS and 4-core processor.
Well, at the end of the third — beginning of the fourth quarter of 2019, we’re planning to start selling another touch smartphone. In the hierarchy of the AGM it stands on a step lower than the A9, and will therefore cost cheaper. We’ll tell about its features later, closer to the start of sales.
— It’s no secret that JBL is owned by Samsung, but even in some Galaxy S10 JBL speakers aren’t used. How the AGM company was able to make an agreement with them? Will all your new products receive speakers from JBL in the future?
— We managed to find a common language with JBL without any difficulty. The guys from JBL appreciated our smartphones and came to the conclusion that this is a high-tech and high-quality product, and also unique to the market — so why not cooperate on a mutually beneficial basis?
We plan to continue to work thoroughly with JBL acoustics and install these speakers in most of our novelties. If you look at the box with this special version of AGM X3, you’ll see a window where the wireless and protected from moisture JBL headphones are placed — this is a peculiar a kind of joint branding. Such projects are planned to be implemented in the future.
And, by the way, as I said, inexpensive AGM A9 smartphone has also received speakers from JBL. Moreover, there are four speakers at once – to ensure a sound scene of full value.
— You use American Qualcomm’s chips in your smartphones. This company works exclusively with market leaders, and their products are expensive. Do you have any plans for models with cheaper and low-priced MediaTek chips?
— AGM intends to work exclusively with Qualcomm, and we don’t even have thoughts about switching to MediaTek. Why? Because Qualcomm offers objectively the best solutions for smartphones on the market, and AGM traditionally collects only advanced accessory parts in its models. Without any exceptions and variants. Due to the most powerful Snapdragon 845, which is used in the X3 model, we were able to achieve high speed, improve indexes of energy saving, provide support for LTE networks around the world and guarantee the highest stability of satellite navigation. AGM X3 works under load without recharging for up to three days and allows to run almost any application and the most modern games with 3D-graphics. In the same AnTuTu performance test X3 model scores about 300 thousand points — a record for a protected smartphone. X3 turned out to be unique thanks to Snapdragon 845 in many ways — and none of MediaTek’s solutions would allow even to come close to creating a product of such a high technological level.
— This year’s MWC exhibition is dedicated to 5G networks. How far have you moved forward in this direction?
— At the moment we are testing a new chipset from Qualcomm, which supports the 5G standard, but it’s too early to talk about designing some new smartphones based on it. There are practically no appropriate networks yet, they’ll become relatively massive in a year or two. Then the time for protected ‘off-road’ AGM smartphone with 5G support will come.
— The second key theme of the exhibition is the use of flexible and foldable displays in smartphones, do you plan to produce gadgets with a similar screen?
— From the point of view of AGM, such smartphones are still very imperfect and are at risk of failure in case of a fall. That, in its turn, contradicts our concept of production of the maximally shockproof devices. Devices with flexible screens are rather a step back in the sphere of protected models. That’s why, today we don’t conduct any developments in this direction.
— There is information that AGM uses the technology of ‘floating screen’, which is able to extinguish the force of impact at the moment of collision of the smartphone, for example, with asphalt. Can you tell about it? Do other smartphone manufacturers use something similar?
— Actually, such technology is embodied in the AGM X3 model, and it’s our own development. If the smartphone is protected by durable plastics and a metal frame from the outside, then inside we use a special gel. The display is seeming to lie on a layer of gel that absorbs the force of impact and significantly reduces the possibility of breaking the screen. It’s possible, that other companies also use some of their own technologies for additional active screen protection, but in AGM smartphones our unique secret development is used exclusively.
— Thank you for interview!
— Thank you! See you at the next MWC in 2020. In the end, I’ll recommend the Russians to buy AGM smartphones exclusively in our brand store on AliExpress. Only there devices of the European versions are available with the original firmware and warranty. Exactly these versions of smartphones are 100% consistent with our vision of quality and reliability.
Video version of the interview
This record contains only a small fragment of the interview, which formed the basis of this article.