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Doogee S98 Review: Rugged Phone That's Built For The Masses
What's the first thing you do when you buy a new smartphone? Possibly get a good protective case and cover the screen with a good quality protector (tempered glass) to ensure the longevity of the device. The premium Apples and Samsungs won't do any good to you if you are an industrial worker or someone with a rough use case. A rugged phone is what you need to handle that extreme torture.
- Rugged Body Is Built To Last (IP68 & MIL-STD-810G)
- Smooth Performance & Stock Android Software
- Long-Lasting Battery
- Nifty Dual Screen
- Thermal Imaging Support
- No 5G
- No 3.5mm Audio Jack
- Not Officially Available In India
The Doogee S98 could be one such handset. It's a modern Android rugged phone with features of a mainstream device. Among the features are wireless charging, a big and bright HD screen, near-stock Android UI, and a night vision camera. We tested the S98 as our daily driver to test its durability standards and other performance aspects. Here's what we found.
Doogee S98 Design & Durability Standards
The S98 is built like a tank and looks nothing short of a limited edition smartphone. Some may even mistake it for a gaming handset since it has distinctive carvings on the back panel and a unique camera module with a second 1:1 touch screen. The fit and finish are top class and the choice of materials ensures that the device easily withstands a beating.
The phone has an aluminum-alloy frame, which gives it much-needed rigidity. The outer shell of the device is constructed from high-quality aluminum and covered with hard synthetic rubber that extends towards the edges and corners to make the device drop-proof. The S98 can easily survive a five feet (1.5m) drop on a hard surface.
Doogee S98 Is IP68 & IP69K Certified
Also certified under MIL-STD-810G, the handset can withstand extreme climatic conditions, making it an ideal choice for industrial workers in hot and cold climates. The S98 is also waterproof (depth- 1.5m) and dustproof, thanks to IP68 and IP69K certifications. The phone's display is protected by a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass.
Doogee S98 Ergonomics
It's unfair to expect good ergonomics from a rugged device. You cannot have extreme durability characteristics without compromising on ergonomics. That said, the S98 feels like a brick and makes you feel its heft both in hands and pockets. The device weighs 320g and has a thickness of 15.5mm. It's like stacking two midrange devices on top of each other. The big 6,000mAh battery cell is another reason for the excess weight.
Doogee S98 Buttons & Ports
As far as buttons and ports are concerned, the S98 has a side-mounted biometric sensor, which isn't embedded in the power button. The power button is separately positioned on the right side. The phone also has a custom button, which is programmable and serves as a shortcut to your favorite app. You can set it to activate a torch, compass, GPS, or contact an emergency contact.
A metal SIM card tray is located to the left and requires a little effort to remove. The Type-C charging port sits at the bottom and is protected by a rubber flap.
Doogee S98 Display Specs & Performance
The Doogee S98 features a 6.3-inch Full HD waterdrop notch display in a 19:9 aspect ratio. It's an LCD panel with the standard 60Hz refresh rate and a peak brightness of 480nits. These are certainly not high-end numbers for a phone in 2022 but serve quite well for a device that focuses on durability and practicality. In fact, the Doogee S98 probably has the best display on a rugged handset.
The screen has a good touch response and produces vibrant colors. Viewing angles are good for an LCD and videos look decent if not super immersive. Sadly, the phone couldn't stream HD videos on Netflix. Moving on, the outdoor visibility is also average at its best. If your job demands you to be outdoors, you might face slight visibility issues with the LCD panel as it feels somewhat dull under bright sunlight.
Apart from this, I don't think there are any other problems with the S98's primary display. It's an excellent overall screen for a mid-range rugged device.
Doogee S98 Secondary Display
The S98 has a secondary display, which is highly useful in day-to-day use. The circular screen is positioned on the back panel in a unique placement with the camera module. It has a 1:1 aspect ratio and displays useful information such as a clock, music player controls, notifications, and battery information. A dedicated section in the settings menu lets you customize the theme and basic settings.
Doogee S98 Hardware & Specifications
The Doogee S98 employs the MediaTek Helio G96 chipset, which we have tested on the Redmi 11 Note 11 Pro. Fabricated on the 12nm FinFET manufacturing process from TSMC, the Helio G96 features an octa-core CPU with two high-performance Cortex-A76 cores clocked at 2.05GHz and six energy-efficient Corext-A55 cores working at 2.0GHz. For graphics, the handset has a dual-core Mali-G57 GPU. We tested the 8GB LPDDR4x RAM + 256GB UFS 2.2 storage variant running on Android 12.
Doogee S98 Performance
Although the processor underneath isn't very powerful, thanks to a near-stock Android skin and plenty of RAM, the device is smooth and lag-free overall. The S98 won't disappoint you with day-to-day tasks, be it web browsing, social media, camera usage, basic calling/texting, and with the use of productivity apps and essentials such as notes, compass, torch, etc.
The handset can even handle some popular game titles without losing out on performance. But don't think of it as a gaming device. The phone has a mid-range CPU and it performs like one.
Doogee S98 Cameras Specs
From a rugged phone perspective, the S98 features a promising triple-lens camera. The camera system comprises a 64MP primary sensor with an F/1.8 aperture that captures crisp pictures in daylight. The colors are a bit too vibrant and don't accurately depict the scenes, but overall, the results are satisfactory for a phone at this price.
Doogee S98 Camera Performance
The primary sensor is accompanied by an 8MP 130-degree FOV wide-angle camera that captures above-average wide-angle pictures. The wide-angle images look sharp and clean but lack the required dynamic range.
Doogee S98 Has A Nightvision Camera
The third camera in the setup is unique as it's a night vision sensor from Sony. The 20MP Sony IMX350 sensor (F/1.8) supports two infrared night vision lights and captures black and white pictures. For a mid-range device, the picture output is impressive. Images aren't noisy and show good clarity even in absence of light. It's a good addition to a rugged device.
Doogee S98 Battery Life & Connectivity
The S98 is backed by a beefier 6,000mAh battery cell that easily lasts for two days on a single charge with moderate use. In addition to the bigger battery cell, the stock Android UI and standard 60Hz refresh rate LCD are also two factors behind such solid battery life. The phone supports 33W wired fast-charging and even gets 15W wireless charging support, which is a bonus feature at this price point. It takes around two hours for a full refuel.
The Doogee S98 is not a 5G phone, which comes as a disappointment in 2022. You can use two 4G nano-SIM cards at the same time or can use one SIM card and a microSD card to expand the storage. The handset supports 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.1. Besides, you also get NFC for wireless mobile payments.
The Doogee S98 is easily the most feature-packed rugged phone out there. It aces durability standards and also performs amazingly well as a mainstream phone. The secondary display is useful but could have been more functional. The lack of 5G is surely a bummer since the market is now ready for future connectivity. Nevertheless, the dual-SIM 4G still makes all the sense for the target audience.
Moving on, the camera performance is good and you also get night vision mode, which can come in extremely handy at times, especially for industrial use. The Stock Android software and ample RAM make the device run smoothly all day long. Overall, it is tough to find a rugged phone as good as the Doogee S98 in the sub-30K price bracket. In India, you would have to spend Rs. 45,000 (Nokia XR20) for a phone of this caliber.
You can order the Doogee S98 from the company's official website or Aliexpress.com. The 8GB + 256GB variant costs $360 on doogeemall.com, which translates to Rs. 28,000 in the Indian currency. This is an excellent deal for anyone looking for a rugged device with a good mix of mainstream features.