How far can a budget smartphone in 2023 go? AGM push the boundaries with their Note N1 model, promising decent Samsung-backed AI camera, exceptional battery life and bunch of features which traditionally are present with a lot more expensive devices.
AGM Mobile exist since 2011, and they’ve been mostly focused on rugged smartphones through the years; Their 2023 attempt with Note N1 is to enter the market of budget smartphones and provide great software and hardware experience.
- Affordable Pricing
- Slim and Smart Design
- Long battery life
- Good build quality
- Lack of NFC
- Video Recording is Limited to 1080p
- Entry-level SoC
- Basic LCD display
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Note N1 is the first AGM smartphone that I thoroughly test, so I was not sure what exactly is to be expected. Arrives well packed, and AGM have decided to use the trendy recycled cardboard.
Since the only fact I knew upfront was the price, I was quite impressed with the initial look and feel of Note N1. The back is plastic made, but the silky-smooth texture feels great and at no point of time makes you feel like you’re going to miss a metal back cover. It is lightweight and won’t break, unlike glass. Besides the phone you will receive a power adapter (10-Watts) and a USB type-C cable.
AGM Note N1 is similar to many phones these days, but shapes of the display and the curves are particularly close to those we can find with some Blackview and Oukitel models. On the front it has a HD display begind slightly curved glass, with quite a modest screen-to-body ratio (just 82%) and has all buttons on its right side. At the bottom we see the speaker, the charging port and a 3.5mm audio jack. You also count on a dual-SIM tray with microSD card slot, on top of the available 128GB. Weight of the phone is 190g.
Adopting just HD resolution, the display is clearly not among the key strengths of Note N1. The 90-Hz IPS panel is rather pale, not vibrant enough and doesn’t shine with great peak brightness. The IPS technology is known for being somewhat limited when it comes to looking at the screen from a particular angle, so this is an area you may not be too happy with. On the other hand, this is among the most affordable panels, and it won’t cost you too much in case repairing of a broken display is necessary.
This is where things are getting a little odd: it deploys a not too popular chipset – namely the model T606 by Unisoc. The Chinese-made brand used to operate under the name “spreadtrum” in the past and is producing entry-level SoCs with the main focus being the affordable price. In this case we talk about a 12-nm manufacturing process with a total of 8 cores with 8GB RAM and a score of approx.. 200 000 in the popular Antutu benchmark. In regular day-to-day performance this converts into good capacity to handle most apps and productivity tasks, slightly sluggish browsing, play-ish gaming and lack of capacity when it comes to intensive apps which need more AI and CPU resources. This is nothing unexpected, of course.
If you plan to primarily use the phone for phone calls, web browsing, messaging and similar – it’s a perfect match! If social media with more graphics is topping your priority list, then you may expect to struggle in certain scenarios.
The limited performance pays off with spectacular battery life. The standby time is phenomenal, so is the overall power consumption. AGM have deployed a 4900mAh battery, which can last a lot, mostly thanks to the bloatware-free software and the not too power-hungry components. The fact that this is not a gaming-oriented smartphone is yet another bonus here, because you will rarely be tempted to play games, which traditionally are among the top-consumers of the battery.
Surprisingly, AGM N1 doesn’t disappoint with this category either if you can live with the clunky camera app. The main camera image sensor is quite popular (Samsung S5KJN1) and used by other models from Samsung, Xiaomi, Vivo and others. AGM managed to extract a lot out of it, and combined with the bright optics you will be able to make some good photos in daytime and count on satisfactory shots at night. Good contrast, nice colors, somewhat unsteady white balance and sometimes lack of sharpness are typical for most taken photos. The attached samples seem to have a fair amount of details and very good exposure. The camera lacks some handy features that other brands like Samsung and Xiaomi would provide, but well covers the essentials and even more than just that.
As for video – due to the lack of Optical Image Stabilization it may look a little shaky and you may notice focus breathing in certain conditions.
AGM Note N1 is a 4G capable smartphone and supports VoLTE calls. There’s Dual-band Wi-Fi implementation as well as Bluetooth 5.0. Sadly, no NFC is present.
In terms of software we have some good and some bad news.
Positive is that it’s almost stock Android (it arrives with Android 13 at launch)! Yes, the so famous “Pixel Experience” is not that much different to what is present with AGM Note 1, but of course it is all on a different level. There are a couple of apps on top of the clean Android – one called “Clear” and another one called “Safety”. Throughout the testing I found only one worrying app, which is installed as a system app and is called “statistics_out”. Didn’t finf an easy way to uninstall or remove it.
I wish I could say that regular updates are to be expected – there’s no clarity about the longevity of the software support, but you at least can count on Google Play Protect and all the Google Services available. It uses most google stock apps, and there have been barely notable bugs or issues; Still – be prepared for somewhat limited Android experience in terms of customization and features.
AGM Note N1 is well-priced and well-balanced smartphone which will reward you with excellent battery life and pleasing almost stock Android-like software experience at a fraction of the price of the big brands. Yes, there are certain limitations and corners cut, but if your priority is to get a great value smartphone – AGM Note N1 definitely ticks most boxes! You can grab the best deal here: AGM Note N1