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Doogee S98

With a watch on the back and night vision

Doogee S98

Doogee S98
Today, a large dose of exoticism awaits us: the Doogee smartphone. It is a brand of durable smartphones from China, which in the past I had the opportunity to test - they weren't necessarily outstanding, but also not the worst. This model, however, intrigued me so much that I decided to take a closer look at it.

It's not hard to see why - Doogee S98 has an additional round watch display on the back!

Doogee S98 - video review
video: via YouTube

Exterior almost flawless

But one by one. On the outside, the phone looks very aesthetically. In the set, apart from the 33 W charger and USB cable, we also get a tool for opening the card slot (which is triple - we can use Dual SIM at the same time and expand the memory with a microSD card) and a spare protective foil for the display. It's good because the one we have on the starter wears out very quickly. The latter will probably last a little longer.

The phone itself, however, won't break easily - as befits an armored model, it has an IP68-certified housing, meets the military standard of resistance to falls and impacts MIL-STD810G, and also IP69K certificate - so it is resistant to water , dust, basically everything. In fact, I haven't been able to break or drown my phone so far.

Just remember to make sure that the sensitive parts, i.e. the plugs of the USB-C socket and card slots, adhere tightly before getting wet. The solidity and stiffness of the structure are ensured by metal reinforcements added on the sides (which, unfortunately, can be scratched), and the screen is protected by Gorilla Glass 5 combined with a fairly wide border.

It doesn't look particularly impressive, but in the event of a fall, there is a chance that the display will survive. Mine is holding up well so far, even though I had to peel off the already mentioned protective foil, which lost its transparency quite quickly, got scratched and started to peel off the display. The only thing that worries me is the additional display - it is one more element that can be broken, and although it is surrounded by a slightly protruding frame, it is made of a medium-hard material. If the phone falls on a stone or something, it could end badly.

Reader here, switch there

The ergonomics of Doogee S98 I have a few reservations. I don't mean that the phone is heavy and quite thick - this is an obvious feature for an off-road device. What I did not like the most was the position of the fingerprint reader - a bit too low, and in addition it was not integrated with the power button.

It makes some sense, because it is an outdoor phone, and when we have dirty or wet hands, we will not use the fingerprint reader anyway. Instead of it, we will have the face recognition system - it is simple, but it works quite decently in this phone. But anyway, I, unfortunately, all the time instinctively, first pressed the switch button, and only then did I look for a fingerprint reader located slightly below the fingerprint reader. Fortunately, the reader itself worked fine.

I also had no problem with the arrangement of the other elements - the volume buttons, speaker, microphone and everything else is where it needs to be. I was very pleased with the presence of an additional key - this one, in turn, is very easy to feel with your fingers, and is located on the left side, i.e. on the opposite side of the reader and other keys. Most importantly, we can assign it an action that is convenient for us. For example, I turn on the flashlight with it, which by the way works great - it's not big, but it illuminates the darkness very well.

You might be interested in how the rear display works... but first I will mention the main one. Unfortunately, it isn't particularly impressive. This is an IPS matrix with not too stunning angles of readability, but at least with a decent 6.3" diagonal and an equally decent Full HD+ resolution. The refresh rate is standard, not too fashionable 60 Hz.

When it comes to sharpness, legibility and colour reproduction, I have no terrible objections to them. Of course, there won't be such deep blacks or such dynamic colours as with AMOLEDs, but it's pretty good. However, I was disappointed by the maximum brightness of this display - it does not overwhelm either, and in my opinion it should be much higher in a phone dedicated to outdoor use.

And it could have been so beautiful...

As for the additional display on the back... I must honestly admit that I am a bit disappointed with it. On the one hand, it looks really interesting - a round dial like a smartwatch taken out alive is really eye-catching and impressive. Unfortunately, when I had this phone in my hand and started using it, I couldn't shake the impression that the manufacturer had wasted the potential of this solution a little.

This screen can display a clock available after a double click, it can also display a panel for controlling music playback, we can also answer or reject an incoming call, but we won't suspect notifications from social networks on it, we won't read SMS on it, and the worst thing is that we will not do using it for a selfie! Wouldn't it be great to be able to take a selfie with the main camera while previewing the image on the rear screen?

You can only hope that the manufacturer will add some new features here over time, but so far the only update I had on this phone was just about security fixes. It's a pity, because the display itself is quite large and legible. In the roles that I have mentioned so quickly here, it would work quite well - I have the impression that even better than a similar (but rectangular) display in the smartphone I have recently used Xiaomi 11 Ultra. However, due to the lack of functions, the element that was probably supposed to be the greatest advantage of this smartphone left me a bit unsatisfied.

Only useful apps

But I cannot complain about the surfeit. After a smartphone straight from China, I expected a lot of additional, completely useless junk applications in our region. And here's a surprise! The interface looks almost like pure Android, we will find at most a few typical personalization options - choosing between a flat and tray interface, changing the size/number of icons on the desktop, changing the wallpaper or theme.

There is also a gesture navigation option. I was also positively surprised by the Polish translation - I noticed a few minor mistakes, but nothing glaring. For a Chinese manufacturer's phone, which has no official representative office in our country, it is quite decent.

Useless apps in Doogee S98 won't be revealed, but we will find a set of small, typically usable apps located in a separate folder: we have a compass, an altimeter , a simple spirit level, a plumb line, a protractor, a step counter or even a noise sensor in our environment.

Good performance, great battery

When it comes to the performance of Doogee S98, there is nothing to be ashamed of. It isn't a speed demon designed for gaming, but it is decent for everyday basic tasks. The smartphone does not irritate you with slowness or cuts, you won't be bothered by throttling or heating too much - by the way, due to such an armored casing it would be difficult to feel the heat increase.

The battery is more than satisfactory - it has a full 6000 mAh and three days of operation is not a problem for him. The included charger charges the battery with 33 W in approximately one and a half hours. As if that were not enough, we also have inductive charging - this is a rare addition in exotic and not very expensive smartphones.

As you'd expect, there's no 5G here, and the audio and call quality is rather average. I have reservations in this regard mainly to the external speaker, which in my opinion is too quiet for an outdoor phone.

Average package with a twist

If you do not have too high expectations for cameras, you will be satisfied with the quality of the photos. We will not be surprised by the 64 Mpx main camera and 8 Mpx wide-angle lens - the quality of daytime photos is fine, in the dark, despite the presence of the night mode, it is worse, although it can be said that the photos are decent for mid-segment smartphones.

It is a pity that there was no additional macro mode using, for example, a wide-angle camera. What bothered me the most, however, was the large gap between the photos taken with the main camera and the wide-angle module.

The difference in quality is really noticeable, and I suggest taking wide-angle photos only during the day, in good light, and only if we really need to embrace a broader plan.

In terms of selfies, it is also correct, but not great. Portrait mode on both the front and rear is also bearable. Sometimes he is wrong, but these are not very obvious mistakes. Unfortunately, it is worse in terms of video quality - you can see clear flickering of the image, frame dropping out, smoothness is very arbitrary, and the sound is also not thrilling.

Doogee S98 - sample movies
video: via YouTube

Overall photographically the Doogee S98 is doing somehow, but nothing to brag about... except for one, notable exception. At the back, apart from the main and wide-angle lens, there is a third camera, and it isn't a telephoto lens or anything more typical - we are dealing here with an almost night vision camera.

It is a night lens that takes black and white photos even in complete darkness. Naturally, the range of visibility in this camera isn't very large, so you will take a rather close plan, but it will be perfect, for example, to suspect what is lurking in a dark basement. For an outdoor smartphone, a gadget as found - probably even more interesting than this additional round display with a slightly wasted potential.

It won't hurt to try!

So the exotic smartphone turned out to be not so scary. I would even risk saying that the manufacturer has tried a bit to tailor this smartphone to our European tastes. He cleaned the software from unnecessary rubbish, prepared a quite aesthetic and carefully refined set, packed everything together very nicely and avoided glaring errors in the interface translation.

The battery will certainly not disappoint us, and the performance is also decent. Pictures with normal cameras are rather average, and the filming possibilities are a failure, but the unique night vision lens will make it up for us. It is a pity that the potential of the additional screen has been wasted, and the main display could also be better.

The annoying details include a poorly positioned reader, but the presence of an additional programmable key, a set of outdoor micro-applications and a triple slot for Dual SIM and a microSD card should be praised. Even without a memory card, there is quite a lot - 256 GB of internal memory with 8 GB RAM. I must also admit that the phone does not disappoint with its resistance and tightness - but I am still afraid that the frame with the rear display will be damaged one day.

If you look hard enough for in Chinese stores, you will find this smartphone for the price of about $ 385. Is it worth it? If you need a tough guy and you feel that this dark-seeing camera can be useful to you, it will definitely not be a bad buy. Maybe you will be a bit disappointed with the display, photographic possibilities or sound, but the rest is quite functional. The only thing left to hope is that the manufacturer will add some extra features to this round screen by updating it.

Let me tell you one thing - bringing such an exotic smartphone from China with an unusual design is a really interesting experience. If you have some time and unnecessary money, I heartily recommend you Doogee S98 as a technological springboard from our ordinary European world.

Source; viewed: 327 times.

Monika Krasicka-Kulińska

Adam Łukowski

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