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Doogee S98 rugged smartphone review

A second screen is pitched as being the main attraction of this rugged handset

Doogee S98 Review Hero
(Image: © Future)

TechRadar Verdict

Doogee delivered a safe product with the S98 and the jury is still out as to the usefulness of a dual screen of that size on a rugged smartphone. On the other hand, it is a stupidly cheap, fast smartphone that packs more memory and storage than anything at this price point. So you may consider the secondary display to be an added free bonus.

Pros

  • +

    Ridiculously good value for money

  • +

    Latest version of Android

  • +

    Corning Gorilla glass

Cons

  • -

    Secondary display is gimmicky at best

  • -

    Separate fingerprint reader

60 second review

This is the second smartphone with a secondary display that we are reviewing. The first one was the Unihertz TickTock 5G smartphone (opens in new tab) which was launched on Kickstarter late 2021 and still has some supply issues. Doogee is dipping its toes with the secondary display feature with a second rugged phone, the S98. Truth be told, we prefer the implementation on the V20, a superior - but also more expensive - smartphone from the same vendor. Given the price tag of the S98 however, we’re pleasantly surprised by the hardware spec sheet which anchors it solidly in the midrange basket: 8GB RAM, 256GB storage and  three cameras at the rear including a 64-megapixel shooter.

Doogee S98 : Pricing and availability

The Doogee S98 (opens in new tab) is available direct from the manufacturer’s site for $340 (about £270/AU$480), that’s $160 saving off its suggested retail price. At the time of writing, there was a couple of weeks delay from the three global warehouses currently stocking the smartphone. It is available in wine red, classic black and phantom gray colors. AliExpress (opens in new tab) sold it for as little as $260 (about £210/AU$370) on special so it might be worth shopping around. Remember that these prices exclude local taxes and handling fees that may be levied by third parties.

Doogee Logo on Rear

(Image credit: Future)

Doogee S98 : Design

There’s not a lot to write about the design of the S98. It is a tried and trusted template with an industrial design that uses a metal framework covered with rubber for shock protection.

Design

(Image credit: Future)

Given the size of its display (6.3-inch) and its large battery capacity, it doesn’t come as a surprise that this is a big phone - 172 x 82 x 15.5mm for a weight of 320g which is about the size of two other rivals, the Oukitel WP17 and the Ulefone Armor 10 5G (opens in new tab). The main attraction is at the rear; a circular 30mm display lodged between four sensors and the LED flash, more on that later. 

Display and Front Camera

(Image credit: Future)

The front screen is a 6.3-inch display with a full HD+ resolution, a pinhole selfie camera sensor and a Corning Gorilla glass overlay (the rear display also gets it).

Buttons Right Side

(Image credit: Future)

On the left is the SIM card slot and a customizable button while the right has a volume rocker, a power button and a separate fingerprint reader (we’d prefer to have both combined).

USB-C Port

(Image credit: Future)

A flap hides a USB Type-C connector on the bottom edge. As expected, the S98 adheres to IP68/IP69 and MIL-STD 810G guidelines.

Power Button and SIM

(Image credit: Future)

Doogee S98 : Hardware

Spec Sheet

The Doogee S98 comes with the following hardware:

CPU: Helio G96

GPU: Arm Mali-G57

RAM: 8GB

Storage: 256GB

Screen size: 6.3-inch 

Resolution: 2340x1080

Weight: 320g

Dimensions: 172 x 82 x 15.5mm

Rear camera: 64MP, 20MP, 8MP

Front camera: 16MP

OS: Android 12

Battery: 6Ah

The S98 features a Mediatek Helio G96 system-on-chip which is similar to the Dimensity 700, only slightly slower, using a more mature manufacturing node and without 5G. It is supported by 8GB of LPDDR4x RAM and 256GB UFS 2.2 storage. 

Doogee used a 64-megapixel Samsung camera sensor for the main snapper, a 20-megapixel Sony IMX350 night vision camera, an 8-megapixel Samsung wide-angle camera and a 16-megapixel Samsung camera for the front-facing one. Other than a charger and a cable, you get a warranty card, a screen protector and a user manual. The 6Ah battery supports fast charging (33W) and wireless charging (18W).

In Use

(Image credit: Future)

Doogee S98: Performance and in use

Benchmarks

This is how the Doogee S98 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

PCMark (Work 2.0): 9524

Passmark: 6686

Passmark CPU: 3188

Geekbench: 501 (single); 1729 (multi)

3DMark  Wild Life: 1168 (Vulkan); 329 (Extreme)

We didn’t have high hopes for the S98 as it is based on a mid range processor. Benchmark results show that it is slightly faster than devices powered by the G95 and a bit slower than handsets based on the Dimensity 700. So expect it to be good enough for most tasks with a bit of gaming on the side.

Other than the stock Android 12 build, the S98 comes with the standard set of apps usually found on Mediatek-powered smartphones: the ubiquitous toolbox (with a pedometer, compass etc), the Easy Launcher (for senior users), GameSpace and Children Space; these create virtual environments for the targeted users with various levels of lockdown capabilities (e.g access to apps or mobile network).

Rear Display

(Image credit: Future)

You can configure the rear display at the back and even switch it off. In terms of features, you can pick up calls and control the music player and that’s about it. We leveled the same sort of criticism against the TickTock 5G; there’s no compelling reason to use the rear screen as it is not a power saving e-ink display (like the Hisense A5 (opens in new tab)) and doesn’t have a killer app.

Should I buy the Doogee S98?

Buy it if:

You are after a fast rugged smartphone with night vision capabilities or a relatively futureproof one. It is one of the few rugged Android 12 handsets with IP68/MIL-STD 810G rating. On top of that it has a fast enough processor and enough system memory and storage to see through several Android iterations (assuming of course that Doogee gets them).

Don’t buy it if:

You expect to be wowed by the rear circular display. You won’t. We found little practical use for the secondary display. That doesn’t change our views on the S98’s sheer value for money.

Also consider

The dual-screen TickTock from Unihertz (opens in new tab) which is more expensive and has half the system memory. On the other hand, it has 5G connectivity thanks to the Mediatek Dimensity 700. The TickTock also misses out on wireless charging, a new Android 12 OS and the night vision camera.

Alternatively, the Doogee V20 (opens in new tab) is a worthy alternative to the S98 at a higher price. It keeps all the good bits (256GB storage, 8GB RAM, 64-megapixel camera, night vision) and adds 5G capabilities and a design that is less industrial and more intune with a consumer audience.

First reviewed April 2022

  • Need a smartphone that can take a beating and doesn't require a case? Check out our full list of the best rugged smartphones (opens in new tab)
Desire Athow
Desire Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.