Trending December 2023 # Freetrain V1 Vest Review: Phone Harness For Runners # Suggested January 2024 # Top 12 Popular

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Snug fit

Good protection for phone


Difficult to put on

May not suit very large phones

Affected by sweat

Our Verdict

While it has limitations, the V1 Vest looks smart, feels robust and breathable, and is the most convenient solution I’ve so far found to the problem of using a phone while running.

The secret to running – which is fundamentally a disagreeable way to spend one’s time – is distraction. And once you leave the TV-filled gym, you’re heavily dependent on your phone and a set of running headphones to keep the bad thoughts at bay.

Freetrain V1 Vest.

Design and fit

The V1 comprises a flexible V of perforated material on your back, and another on your front with a pouch for your phone, all connected together by two straps over your shoulders and a stretchy belt. The shoulder straps contain two very small pockets for keys and similar, one sealed with velcro and the other with a zip.

I tested the black model, but the harness is also available in ultra-reflective silver (that version is called the VR Vest). That might be better for road safety when running in urban environments, although the black version does have some reflective patches too.

The first challenge is getting inside. Over prolonged use I’ve found that the best approach is arms first, with head to follow, but some undignified tugging and wriggling is generally required. Once the harness is on it’s pleasingly snug and barely moves; there is virtually no bouncing around and precisely zero danger of it falling off.

(The makers claim the V1 is unisex, but fit and comfort will to a large extent depend on body shape. The harness’s position is not well suited to people with large breasts.)

The V1 sits quite high on the torso – or at least, it did on mine – with the belt around the bottom of the ribcage rather than sitting lower on the waist. I quite like the way that looks (it faintly evokes those mini training tops you sometimes see worn by sportspeople before a big game), but it brings the phone a little closer to your face than is perhaps desirable; more on ease of use in the next section.

Talking of aesthetics, my wife screwed up her face when she first saw the V1 in action, and informed me that there are better-looking alternatives out there. So it may divide opinion.

Last of all, removal. The first time I took the V1 off (with the straps in a tight position, remember) I almost threw out my shoulder trying to reach across at an awkward angle. I’ve since found that it’s very important to reach directly over your head with both arms, straight backwards, grab the back section, and pull it forwards over your head. This will make your glasses fall off if you forgot to remove them first, but it’s otherwise painless and effective.

How well does the V1 work?

The idea is that you slip your phone into the pouch at the front, which protects it from the elements but still allows you to use it normally. This works to a degree.

First of all, I found it unexpectedly difficult to get the phone in. The makers boast that they “can confidently say that the pouch will fit 99% of modern phones”, but my iPhone 12 Pro was a tight fit even after removing its silicone case, and I am not convinced that a 12 Pro Max, or one of the larger Android phones, would make it inside at all. I would suggest contacting the company to ask about your specific model if it’s on the large size. An insert is included for smaller devices.

The pouch is stitched to the harness at the bottom, and attaches via a popper at the top. When the popper is attached the pouch sits flat against your chest and the phone is invisible to passers-by; when you detach it the pouch hinges downwards and you can access the screen through a transparent plasticky sheet on the interior.

Whatever they’ve made this sheet from, it works well, and I had no trouble using the iPhone’s touchscreen. Oddly enough the hardware buttons were considerably more of an issue, because the black-and-grey pouch surround conceals them and makes it difficult to get tactile feedback.

Simply turning up the volume on a podcast was far more of a hassle than usual (I recommend controlling this via an Apple Watch or similar if you can), and at one point I got confused and hit the power button so many times that I contacted emergency services by mistake. That one’s probably on me.

It’s not easy to control the phone and keep running at the same time, because you have to crook your neck and look quite sharply downwards; it would make sense to at least slow down significantly while selecting your next podcast to avoid bumping into someone or something. I also found the choice of a popper less than optimal, because it takes a fairly strong tug to get it loose and then is difficult to close up again afterwards. Maybe velcro, which is used in other parts of the V1 (including the opening of the pouch) would have been easier, but then again it might not be able to reliably take the weight of the phone.

The sweat problem

When I originally tested and reviewed the Freetrain V1, across a number of weeks in the winter, I was unaware of a problem that’s since become striking during summer use: sweat.

In hot weather, the pouch covering gets damp from sweat, and this moisture can cause bumps against the runner’s chest to be interpreted as taps on the screen. I’ve found that songs and podcasts occasionally jump unexpectedly, which is annoying, but far more seriously my iPhone has locked up on more than one occasion because it thought I was trying (and failing) to put in the passcode.

I’ve come up with a workaround that solves this problem: you need to go into Settings before you start the run and disable both Tap To Wake and Raise To Wake. That way screen contact will be ignored unless you first press the power button. (I’m not an Android expert but there will be similar functions on non-Apple devices.) The makers of the vest were unable to offer any fixes beyond this.

The fix largely solves the problem, although it remains a mild faff having to turn those two features off before every run and back on again afterwards, and makes the phone itself slightly more awkward to use while you’re out. It’s certainly not a deal-breaker, but this issue resulted in a drop from a score of 3.5 (when originally reviewed) to 3.


I’ve carried on using the V1 Vest long after completing enough testing for this review, which is a reliable sign that it’s a solid product overall.

The phone’s hardware controls can be difficult to access on the go, and opening up the pouch to do any kind of navigation is more of a hassle than I’d like. You’ll also need to disable Tap To Wake and Raise To Wake (or the equivalent on Android) to avoid accidental screen inputs in sweaty conditions.

But it looks smart (in a slightly dorky sort of way), feels robust and breathable, and is the most convenient solution I’ve so far found to the problem of using a phone while running.

The sticking point may be that £29.99/$39.99 price tag. Running armbands are available for around a fifth of that, and while this is certainly a better option, you’ll need to be a pretty serious runner to justify the extra cost.

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Razer Phone 2 Review: Still The Best Gaming Phone

The Razer Phone 2 is a gaming powerhouse. Under the hood it’s running the latest hardware, features a giant battery, and offers a viewing/listening experience that is unmatched—on top of a near-stock version of Android. But in Razer’s efforts to add flagship features like wireless charging and RGB, it feels like the company lost some of what made the first gaming phone’s design so unique—and such a good fit within the Razer ecosystem.

Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Razer Phone 2 and the Razer Blade

Upgraded and redesigned internals

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (2.8GHz)

System memory: 8GB (LPDDR4X)

Storage: Internal 64GB V4 UFS / External SIM + micro SD slot (up to 2TB)

Display: 5.72-inch IGZO LCD 1440×2560

120Hz, Wide Color Gamut

UltraMotion Technology

Corning Gorilla Glass 5

645 nits (typ.) 470 nits (min.)

Power: 4000 mAh Li-Po battery

Qualcomm QuickCharge 4.0+

Wireless Qi inductive fast charging

Size: 158.5 x 78.99 x 8.5 mm

When it launched last year, the Razer Phone was the first ‘gaming phone’ with impressive features like a 120Hz screen, loud-ass front firing speakers, and custom cooling. This year’s phone refines all those features—amazing considering Razer is still very new to the phone business—and keeps the price locked at $800.

Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

The Razer Phone 2 offers upgrades in almost every department over the previous version.

Even though the size of the battery remains the same, there is a considerable hit to how long it lasts on the new phone due to a key feature: RGB. For the first few days of using the Razer Phone 2, I kept the RGB logo on at all times with a static green color (branding!). I saw as much as a 30-percent extra hit to the battery by the end of the day. I was down in single digits right before bed, and that’s a bummer for me. I like giant phones that have giant batteries so I can tax it all day and never have to worry about losing steam. Having the RGB on 24/7 elevated my battery anxiety, so luckily it’s a feature I can fine-tune to my needs.

Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

In both gaming and daily use the Razer Phone 2 is a smooth experience.

Razer has also continued to keep a clean version of Android, modifiying upon stock only in smart ways. Its game software organizer, Cortex, has been refined, so it’s easier than ever to fine-tune performance per game. Razer’s Chroma app has shrunken and is a fun and simple way to control lighting. The Theme Store continues to get new and unique themes from both Razer and its users. All in all using the phone is still a great experience, and fans of stock Android will feel right at home. As of right now, however, it’s stuck on 8.1 Oreo and the October security patch, so it’d better get updated soon.

While the camera in the Razer Phone 2 has also been upgraded, it’s still very basic in its functionality and results. This year Razer went with Sony image sensors (the industry-standard provider), replacing the Samsung ones from last year. Add the improvements to the Snapdragon 845’s image signal processor, optical image stabilization on the main lens, and a new camera app, and you have a potentially winning formula. Unfortunately the captured images still lack the high-level processing that we find in other flagship phones. So much of what makes a smartphone camera good is processing—Razer has a long way to catch up in this area.

Adam Patrick Murray/IDG Adam Patrick Murray/IDG Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Glass back woes

Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get the glass back clean enough for this photo…

Reason number one is very much personal preference: I don’t like glass-backed phones. The brushed black aluminum skin on the first Razer Phone made it look tough and yet beautiful. I want to show off a phone design like that, rather than hide it under the extra bulk of a case.

Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

I do prefer the look and feel of the Razer Phone 1 with it’s solid piece of aluminum.

Where is the headphone jack?

And then there is the lack of the headphone jack. I know it’s a tired topic, but in a device like this that goes above and beyond to push amazing visuals, killer speaker quality, and a custom cooling solution, I’m baffled by the omission of a headphone jack. In my mind it’s a pro option in a pro phone, and it should be there.

Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Razer’s Hammerhead USB-C ANC headphones can’t make up for the loss of the headphone jack.


Despite the lack of headphone jack and a switch to the glass back I can still say that the Razer Phone 2 is the best ‘gaming phone’ out there. It couples hardcore specs with gamer-focused features and a super-clean version of Android—a combination that isn’t matched by competitors like Asus’s ROG Phone. If you must have the ultimate gaming experience in your pocket, the Razer Phone 2 is the best option. 

Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

The Razer Phone 2 is the best gaming phone of 2023.

Bush Spira E3X Argos Phone Review

Our Verdict

If you want to buy a smartphone outright for less than £200 the Bush Spira E3X from Argos is an excellent choice. It isn’t the most stylish, but it’s not ugly. And it is built to last. Performance is the biggest weakness, but it is okay. And the software, battery life and camera options are about as good as you get these days, without shelling out for a £700 phone. A good, cheap smartphone.

The hunt is on for the best cheap phone you can buy. A smartphone that offers premium experience without forcing you to take out a loan. This phone – made by Bush and sold by Argos – has the look of a winner. But can the Bush Spira E3X live up to the promise? Read our Argos phone review to find out.

Bush Spira E3X 5.5″ Argos phone review: Price, value and availability

The Bush Spira E3X 5.5″ phone is interesting because in the UK you can pick it up from Argos for £199.95. That may sound like a lot of cash, but for a high-calbre spec such as this it looks like a total bargain. Argos had the Bush Spira E3X 5.5″ Argos phone in store in both the shop nearest our office and 35 miles away near my house, so it would appear to be widely available. But it is an Argos exclusive, so don’t expect to buy it anywhere else.

As far as we can tell the Bush Spira E3X 5.5″ Argos phone is not available outside the UK, either. But at this price UK users should be interested: it is a serious competitor to the Vodafone Smart Ultra 7 as the best budget phone around. Let’s see if that apparent bargain is actually worth your money. (Also see: best Android phones.)

Bush Spira E3X 5.5″ Argos phone review: Design and build

The Bush Spira E3X 5.5″ Argos phone smartphone feels sturdy and well built. Is not a dainty phone, but it feels like it will withstand the slings and arrows of smartphone life. Thick, chunky, robust. But stylish enough if you don’t have tiny hands. Next to our Galaxy S7 Edge it looks like a beast, but we are not talking Samsung money here, and the effect is certainly not all bad.

The front consists of a 2.5D toughened Dragontrail Glass slab, with a polished metal frame around the edge. There is a bezel, but it’s not huge: you get plenty of screen real estate for your gadget. Inside that metal edge you will find the SIM tray on the left: this accepts either two microSIM cards or one microSIM and a microSD card of up to 32GB. Good, high-end, options both. Although do bear in mind that if you are buying this as a dual-SIM phone, you won’t be able to expand the storage.

Around the back is a plastic panel with a rough sandstone effect that reminded me of the OnePlus One. This is non-removable, so you get one battery and one battery only. It offers grip and texture, without being particularly stylish or even pleasant to hold. It’s practical. The back panel is broken up by the camera lens and fingerprint sensor. We found the fingerprint sensor as easy to use as any: reasonably so, but I personally still prefer an unlock PIN.

The Bush Spira E3X 5.5″ Argos phone is not small: its dimensions of 148.5x74x8.8mm are on the hefty side, and you will feel every one of those 8.8mm.

For the money then? Well built without being iconic. Ergonomic without being especially comfortable: especially for anyone with smaller than average hands. (Also see: 

Bush Spira E3X 5.5″ Argos phone review: Display

Let’s deal with the display, first. The 5.5 inch TFT screen has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, which gives it a pixel density of 400ppi. It’s not the brightest nor the sharpest display we have seen, even when we turned up to 100 percent the screen brightness option. Again, laid next to the Galaxy S7 Edge and its colour-bomb of an OLED, it looks pale and wan, but it competes well with the most recent Moto G.

In general, it is a large, clear and decently sharp display. Perfectly adept at showing documents and images, without blowing you away. Viewing angles are good, the touchscreen responsive, and the screen itself tough. We dragged it around for weeks without putting a dint in it. This is a well-made device, with a screen to match.

Bush Spira E3X 5.5″ Argos phone review: Hardware, specs and performance

Let’s turn to the internal components, and the only area in which the Bush Spira E3X 5.5″ Argos phone’s spec sheet is at all less than stellar. That is not the 64GB of storage, which is standard but high end: we found 53GB of that storage was readable, and only 3.6GB taken up out of the box. This is all good. Nor is it the 4GB RAM. The very best smartphones may pack in more, but this is a very respectable amount of memory that should power good performance (more in a bit).

No, the only thing that at all concerns us about this £200 phone is the octa-core chip. A central processor with eight cores should be a great performer, but this a MediaTek chipset we don’t know (which can be the only way Bush got the price down this low). An ARM MT6755 clocked at 1.95GHz, to be clear. That doesn’t mean it is bad, just an unknown quantity. And that is why we test!

Let’s get to those performance tests. These are synthetic benchmarks, that measure real-world performance in an entirely theoretical way. So they should be considered a guide only and taken with a pinch of salt.

In the GeekBench 4 performance benchmark measuring CPU performance, the Bush Spira E3X 5.5″ Argos phone returned an average score of 724 single core and 2450 multi core. That puts it roughly in the same space as the Galaxy Note 4, a quad-core product from two years ago. But it’s considerably faster than the most recent Moto G, and in the same ballpark as the OnePlus One with which it is compared – both in terms of price and build. In general use we found the Bush Spira E3X 5.5″ Argos phone responsive and fast. Smartphones have mostly been this way for a year or two now. You don’t need the absolute best CPU/RAM performance unless you regularly run multiple intensive processes at the same time.

To test graphical performance, we use the GFXBench GPU tests, Manhatten and T-Rex. In Manhatten 3.1 the Bush Spira E3X 5.5″ Argos phone turned in an average score of 5.1fps, with 18fps in T-Rex. These are fairly lowly, but competent scores – nothing like the performance of a flagship such as the Galaxy S7 or a recent iPhone. The Bush Spira E3X 5.5″ Argos phone is not a graphical powerhouse, but in general we had no problems playing casual games or watching video.

We also ran the Antutu performance benchmark, which tests… well pretty much everything. Graphics, RAM, CPU and user experience. In this test the Bush phone scored an average of 51283, which is actually pretty good. Nowhere near the Galaxy S7 or Huawei P9, but ahead of – say – the Samsung Galaxy Ace, and definitely the best of the mid- to budget phones.

Overall then, we find the Bush Spira E3X 5.5″ Argos phone to be a decent middle of the road performer, both in terms of benchmarks and subjective real-world performance. It would have been a flagship two or three years ago, so there are no problems here unless you absolutely have to have the fastest phone. (And you really don’t.)

Bush Spira E3X 5.5″ Argos phone review: Battery life

The Argos phone is a big handset with a large, rich display and a lot of processing power. Which means that battery life is a concern. This is offset with a a 3,000 mAh battery. How does it perform?

In general, and subjectively, we were impressed. On charge but not in use the Bush lasted for days and days. And in moderate use we could string it out for two days. The critical test is when used as our only phone, and there we comfortably got a day’s use out of it.

Let’s use a benchmark to test comparitively. GFX’s lifetime Mahatten 3.1 test returned an average score of 237 minutes, which is roughly the same as the Galaxy S7 edge, or the Honor 8. Pretty good company to keep. In the T-Rex battery lifetime test the Bush Spira E3X gave us an average score of 229 minutes, similar to the results of the iPad Air 2 or the Moto G.

None of these tests is cast iron, but the comparitive results suggest that although the Bush Spira E3X isn’t a great step forward in smartphone battery life, you should have no problem getting a day’s use out of it. And that is our subjective experience, too.

Bush Spira E3X 5.5″ Argos phone review: Cameras and photography

Phone cameras have a come a long when a budget smartphone like the Argos phone features a 21.5-megapixel rear camera with Sony IMX sensors and a front-facing one with a resolution of 8-megapixels. Both cameras can take videos in Full HD resolution at 30 frames per second. This is not your father’s budget phone camera.

How do they work out in action? Well, some minor gripes first. In our tests we found that even swiping up on the lock screen camera icon seemed to take an age. In reality it was only a second or so for the camera app to open, but when trying to take action shots that seems like an age.

The feature set is good, with HDR, automatic or manual flash, panaroma mode, and multiple scene modes. You can also set specific settings for specific locations. You can capture RAW files, and use features such as face detection. And you can set the level of quality you want to capture with the main camera, as you can with video capture. It’s a full featured camera. But does it take good pictures? We’ll leave it to you to decide:

Bush Argos phone test video

Bush Spira E3X 5.5″ Argos phone review: Software and apps

The Bush Spira E3X 5.5″ Argos phone comes with Android 6.0 Marshmallow, and as recent is good in the Android world, this is pretty good. If you haven’t used Android before, don’t worry: it is as easy to use and full-featured as is the iPhone iOS. The only downside is that this phone is unlikely to ever be updated to Android 7.0 Nougat or beyond, but that is no real hardship.

What is good is that this is a fairly vanilla version of Android, with none of the uneccessary flourishes added by less respectful manufacturers. And it offers full access to the Google Play app- and media store.

Bush Spira E3X 5.5″ Argos phone review: Specification

Octa core ARM MT6755 CPU clocked at 1.95GHz


Android 6

Internal memory 64GB when using microSDHC card slot (53GB accessible, 3.6GB used in our test model)

Network provider: Sim free

2G, 3G and 4G network capability




Dual SIM card phone

SIM card type: micro SIM and micro SIM.

5.5 inch TFT display

Resolution 1920 x 1080 pixels

400 pixels per inch.

Touch screen

Toughened glass

H148.5, W74, D8.8mm


Rear camera 21.5MP

Front camera 8MP

Video capture in

3000mAh battery capacity

MP3 and MP4 player

Headphone port

Fast charge technology

Fingerprint scanner

2 year guarantee

EAN: 690590032378

Read next:  Cheapest 4G smartphones of 2023: The 20 best budget 4G phones.

Specs Bush Spira E3X: Specs

Octa core ARM MT6755 CPU clocked at 1.95GHz 4GB RAM Android 6 Internal memory 64GB when using microSDHC card slot (53GB accessible, 3.6GB used in our test model) Network provider: Sim free 2G, 3G and 4G network capability Wi-Fi Bluetooth GPS Dual SIM card phone SIM card type: micro SIM and micro SIM. 5.5 inch TFT display Resolution 1920 x 1080 pixels 400 pixels per inch. Touch screen Toughened glass H148.5, W74, D8.8mm 186g Rear camera 21.5MP Front camera 8MP Video capture in 3000mAh battery capacity MP3 and MP4 player Headphone port Fast charge technology Fingerprint scanner 2 year guarantee EAN: 690590032378

Agm X3 Review: Rugged Phone With Flagship Specs

Our Verdict

Comfortably the fastest rugged phone we’ve tested, the AGM X3 is also better-looking than most – but a little less tough as a result. It offers a decent middle-ground option for those who need something more durable than the average smartphone, but without entirely sacrificing performance and design. Do keep in mind that you can now find the 2023 flagships with which this phone competes for less money – as rugged phones go, the AGM X3 is still within the realms of affordability but it is not cheap.

None of the phones in our best rugged phones round-up have top-end specs. The logic – we presume – is that if you are so careless with your smartphone to need a tough phone you are unlikely to want to pay top-dollar for something fancy. But we just cannot get behind the idea that manual labourers, extreme sports fans and the general clumsy have no interest in also having top performance. There should be something that ticks all their boxes.

AGM does not force people to choose between durability, performance and design. It falls somewhere in the middle, revealing some durable design choices but toning down the rugged accents, and fitting a 2023 flagship-class processor. That might mean that ultimately it isn’t the best smartphone for either performance or durability, but we appreciate the compromise it offers.

Where to buy AGM X3

The X3 is available in two versions, both sold direct from AGM’s new

That’s a lot of money for a rugged phone, but this can be attributed to the phone’s higher specification. And when you compare it to the price of 2023 flagships, it doesn’t seem quite so extravagant.

How tough is the AGM X3?

In common with most rugged phones the X3 meets the necessary criteria for IP68 and MIL-STD-810G certification, which means it is waterproof, dustproof, drop-proof, shockproof and all the other -proofs. However, you’ll notice it omits IP69K, which is the highest standard in the current certification scale, and associated with high-pressure or high-temperature water ingress. Other rugged phones such as the Doogee S90 and Ulefone Armor 6 support this.

When faced with more ordinary water sources, the AGM is comfortable with submersion up to 1.5m. Pleasingly, it achieves this level of waterproofing without those horrible and fiddly rubber port covers typically found on rugged phones. An odd thing, though: there is a rubber port cover in the box.

AGM recommends using this to avoid water left inside the port causing the USB port to become oxidised or to short-circuit when charging. It’s so tiny we don’t think it will be long before it is misplaced, so we recommend ensuring the USB port is thoroughly dry before plugging in a charger. An alternative is to use the wireless charging feature, of course, although you’ll find it faster to charge the X3’s 4,100mAh battery over USB with Quick Charge 3.0 support promising a full charge in just over two hours.

The AGM X3 does not scream tough phone in the same way others do. It has an ‘Armored Madman’ design that has rubberised corners to protect it from drops, but around the edges of the case you can see the tough metal frame rather than masses of plastic packing. The rear cover is also plastic rather than glass, as you see in most flagships, but there’s good reason for this: glass is fragile.

Around the front AGM uses Gorilla Glass 5 to protect the screen, but it’s not infallible (it’s also not the latest version, which is Gorilla Glass 6). We would liked to have seen a slightly raised lip running around the edge of the display to protect it from drops face-down, though we acknowledge that this would have detracted from the sleeker design.

The display itself has reasonably chunky bezels top and bottom, since this is where most cracks begin. At the sides the bezels are reasonably thin, however, and AGM has adopted a tall 18:9 aspect ratio to make it look more modern and enable it to be used more easily in a single hand. It’s still on the large side for that, but the inclusion of dedicated buttons for calling up Google Assistant and launching the camera go some way to help.

A down side of the sleeker design is that it is less grippy than other rugged phones, so more likely to slip out your hands. But on the plus side, this is a rugged phone that weighs only 200g and is just 10.5mm thick, and that’s going to appeal to those who want a durable phone that doesn’t necessarily look like one.

Bizarrely, this is the first rugged phone we’ve ever seen to be compatible with a separate case (coming soon), the idea being that with most rugged phones you don’t need one. This one is a little different, though, in that it’s a ‘floating’ case. It also has been designed to allow audio to pass through unimpeded, with the AGM X3 fitted with JBL-tuned dual-speakers capable of volume up to 98dB. (For personal listening you’ll find a USB-C to 3.5mm headphone adaptor in the box.) Do note that the rear fingerprint sensor is inaccessible when the X3 is inside the case.

AGM X3 Hardware & Performance

Continuing with the idea that this is something between a flagship and a rugged phone, we were impressed by how clear and bright is the X3’s 5.99in Full-HD+ display, and that should help when using the phone outdoors in direct sunlight. It’s a nice screen overall, with strong viewing angles, but more importantly a large usable area. There is no notch in sight, with the 20Mp selfie camera and speaker instead found above the display.

That’s a pretty impressive specification for a selfie camera on a tough phone, and this extends to the 12Mp + 24Mp Sony dual-lens AI camera on the rear. Our test shots were reasonably good overall, but with some over-softening in the centre and visible grain toward the edges.

In low-light the AGM did a reasonable job of lighting the scene, but this same over-softening means the final image looks somewhat smudged. Text is reasonably well defined and the X3 was able to pick out the different shades of black and grey.

Inside the AGM runs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor with integrated Adreno 630 GPU, paired with either 6- or 8GB of RAM and 64- or 128GB of storage, expandable up to 128GB using microSD. This is last year’s flagship processor of choice, and makes the X3 comfortably the fastest tough phone we’ve ever tested. You should have no complaints with performance.

In our synthetic benchmark tests it blows all other rugged phones out the water, and can even stand up to the likes of Galaxy S9, LG G7 and OnePlus 6T. It recorded 8895 points in the multi-core component of Geekbench 6, and recorded playable framerates in GFXBench. We’ve charted the full results below.

You’ll also find support for dual-SIM dual-standby, 4G LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC and GPS.

The AGM X3 runs old Android 8.1, but this is a reasonably stock implementation with a few additions such as AGM Tools, which includes a Compass, Loupe, Protractor, Flashlight, Ruler, Gradienter, Plummet and Alignment tool.

AGM X3 Conclusion

Protected from the elements, but without shouting too loudly about its tough credentials, the AGM X3 is a great middle-ground for those who don’t want to go the whole way down the rugged phone route. It’s miles tougher than the average smartphone, and better-looking than most durable phones. 2023-flagship-level performance explains the higher price, but remember that you can now find those 2023 flagships with which it competes for less money.

Related stories for further reading Specs AGM X3: Specs

Rugged phone with IP68, MIL-STD-810G protection

5.99in Full-HD+ (2160×1080) 18:9 display, Gorilla Glass 5

Android 8.1 Oreo

Qualcomm Snapdragon 845

Adreno 630 GPU


64/128GB storage, MicroSD up to 128GB

Dual-SIM Dual-Standby (2x Nano-SIM)



Bluetooth 5.0



rear fingerprint sensor

USB-C (with 3.5mm adaptor)

12Mp + 24Mp Sony dual-lens AI camera

20Mp selfie camera

JBL-tuned stereo speakers

4,100mAh battery, Quick Charge 3.0

wireless charging



How To Add Trusted Phone Numbers For Two

If you haven’t enabled Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) protection for your Apple account yet, you’re wholeheartedly recommended to do so at your earliest convenience.

Just to be clear right from the start, Two-Factor Authentication is different from Two-Step Verification, which is the older, less secure method built directly into iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan.

Without 2FA active, a nefarious party that manages to get hold of your Apple ID password can access your contacts, calendars, notes, emails and other private information, see your synced photos, browse your iCloud files and so forth.

And believe me, those Apple ID security questions are not bullet-proof: a rogue user might be able to figure out your Apple ID password relatively easily through social engineering and by other means.

TUTORIAL: How to turn on and use 2FA

With 2FA, your Apple ID user name and password (something you know) are not enough to access Apple services: every login from a new device must be authorized further with the ephemeral six-digit code that gets automatically pushed and displayed on your trusted devices (something you own).

With 2FA enabled, your Apple ID account, iCloud data and other Apple services can only be accessed on devices you own and trust, like your iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV and so forth.

Because your password alone is no longer enough to access your account, 2FA dramatically improves the security of your Apple ID and all the personal information you store with Apple.

You can turn on 2FA on iOS 10.3 or later in Settings → [your name] → Password & Security → Turn On Two-Factor Authentication or in Settings → iCloud → your Apple ID → Password & Security → Turn On Two-Factor Authentication If you’re using iOS 10.2 or earlier.

To turn on 2FA on your Mac, go to System Preferences → iCloud → Account Details → Security → Turn on Two-Factor Authentication.

You might be asked to answer your Apple ID security questions.

2FA gives your Apple ID an extra layer of security

2FA requires that you provide your Apple ID user name, password and a verification code every time you log in to iCloud and other Apple services like iMessage on a new device or browser.

But what if  you no longer have access to any of your trusted devices and/or your 2FA Recovery Key? Wouldn’t that lock you out of your Apple ID forever? Not quite because 2FA can also authorize your identity with a verification code sent to a trusted phone number.

TROUBLESHOOTER: Unable to sign in or reset your Apple ID password when using 2FA

Using a trusted number, 2FA can verify your identity with a test message or phone call.

When setting up 2FA for the first time, you’ll need to verify at least one phone number to enroll in it. If you already use 2FA, you can easily verify additional phone numbers for 2FA.

Having a trusted phone number on your Apple ID gives you a fallback for those situations when all of your trusted devices might be temporarily offline (or, worse, stolen or destroyed).

How to add a trusted phone number for 2FA

You can easily manage your trusted phone numbers, as well as trusted devices for 2FA and other account information, right from the Apple ID account page.

To add a trusted phone number to your Apple ID for 2FA verification, do the following:

2) Sign in with your Apple ID user name and password.

5) Choose your country from a popup menu.

6) Type in the mobile phone number you’d like to use with 2FA.

Avoid prefixing your phone number with a country code because you already chose your country in the previous step. As an example, if your US phone number is (408) 974-2042, just type it in as-is without using the international variant +1 (408) 974-2042.

7) Choose how you’d like to be verified.

To avoid complications, you’re wholeheartedly recommended to avoid registering your Skype number or your Google number (as part of the Google Voice service) with 2FA.

2FA and SMS security

“SMS is just not the best way to do this,” warns security researcher and forensics expert Jonathan Zdziarski. “It’s depending on your mobile phone as a means of authentication in a way that can be socially engineered out of your control.”

— iDownloadBlog (@iDownloadBlog) April 26, 2023

SMS is the weakest link in two-step logins. For instance, a rogue party might call up your carrier and impersonate you to convince support to redirect your text messages to their SIM card.

Zdziarski explains:

SMS has turned that ‘something you have’ into ‘something they sent you. If that transaction is happening, it can be intercepted. And that means you’re potentially at some level of risk.

Besides, various authoritarian governments might be tempted to hijack the SMS messages that a political dissident might need to verify their identity with Apple’s 2FA system.

Need help? Ask iDB!

I Stop Keeping My Phone For Better Life

When I could not sleep, I’d turn to my mobile to get a gateway to a different world. However there were definite drawbacks to scanning Instagram at the Wee Hours.

When I was a child, I believed that monsters came from the dark. Turns out, they come from this light. Much like you, I conduct my own life over the supercomputer in my pocket. At night I’d put it under the cushion and fight to place it out of thoughts, its glowing display a gateway into other worlds.

Sure, the majority of Twitter is bile, but social media matches my exhibitionist soul; I need to be front and center of whatever talks are occurring. As a journalist, I’m supposed to be. When I explained I wanted to receive my phone from my bedroom, then a colleague half-jokingly asked: “What if something happens?”

Related: – Social Media isn’t the Problem – The Side Effects of using more it are

I read if I must have slept. I read humorous takes on the most recent meme. I browse the takedowns of Donald Trump’s most recent outburst. I read folks I believed I wholeheartedly making explanations for cruelty as lightly as cruelty appears to be creeping into public life. I read somber upgrades on new tragedies. I didn’t find the connection between bingeing on terror rather than sleeping.

Your 30s are tough, together with increasing responsibilities. Everybody else copes with it, why can not you? These ideas whirred around my mind as I stared up at the ceiling, sensing my heartbeat rising the longer I wondered why I was awake. When heavy breathing did not do the job, I’d turn into the phone under my pillow. No new mails, barely any fresh tweets except for Americans. So I would go on Instagram, where I felt depressed because I followed the others living their lives without me.

My very first efforts to sleep meant keeping the phone near. I downloaded a program of calming sounds, listened to some crackling fire through cans and, even when this did not work, switched it to full volume, which your phone warns can harm hearing. It makes as much sense as determining which, as a campfire is not warm enough, you need to place your head on it.

I went to work and sensed that my eyes drooping at 11 am. I took caffeine pills and got on with it.

Shortly after, I had been sitting at a pub cafe together with my mother and sister, fearing a second year once I felt like I had not done a fantastic job of this previous one. I clarified that I wished to eliminate this phone but I wanted its one unarguably essential function: the alert. My sister vanished into”go to the restroom” and 2 weeks after I unwrapped a retro alarm clock in the gallery store.

In the home, I snapped from the AAA battery set the wound and time the alert hand around to 6 am. This was it. However, the difference was instant. That night I left the phone in my living room couch, wondering if I’d last the night without needing to receive it. I recall no matter what happened. I must have dropped asleep too fast.

Ever since that time, I’ve slept fine. The phone’s lack is calming. Despite feeling anxiety, I haven’t yet felt that I must get my mobile phone in the middle of the night and deliver the entire world running to stave off bad ideas. I’ve actually slept through my causes for not sleeping, such as going to bed than seven hours prior to when I need to get up, which was used to direct to me lying awake reflecting the way I could no more have seven hours’ sleep.

My weekly swim isn’t any more a desperate effort to drill out. I read a novel a week later studying 12 in seven weeks. The cushion next to mine is strewn with publications. I like the serendipity of finding something I wish to read inside something little someone else has curated. You can not curate the entire internet.

The alarm clock, with its purpose, has begun to feel like a neighbor who constantly helps with this 1 job you dread. It’s comfortable, secure — something which my phone never was. Pushing down the large button on the best to quiet the alert is much more satisfying than some of those countless occasions I’ve tweeted, either emailed or Googled. The clock moves. It simply sits there, offering me the tiniest gesture of stability and control.

I love my mobile phone. In the evenings, there’s more to catch up on after a rest and I expect, less chance of others by viewing their Instagram narrative within seconds of those submitting it. 1 night, Twitter users began joking about”feral hogs”. Seven hours later, they’re going, and that I doubt after it resides helped anybody understand why. I belatedly joined in and went to work.

The alarm clock enabled me to learn to accept the world continues to turn without me. It’s not a gateway to a different planet, it’s a reminder to awaken and reside within this one.

Here are 7 strategies I found useful to prevent phones from taking over our time and attention:

Use airplane mode, even when you’re not in the air.

Do a phone swap.

Designate a “distractions” device.

Make more social.

Create a “Mindless” folder.

Mind the gaps.

Think twice before adding a new device to your life.

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