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Doogee is a brand you might be familiar with for its ultra-durable phones. Indeed, the S88 Pro is the latest addition to the S Series, renowned for its near-unbreakable devices.
The S88 Pro has a similar design to previous models, but adds a key feature that will capture the attention of many people. The colossal 10,000mAh battery means that even with regular usage you can get a full week on a single charge.
I’ve been testing the Doogee S88 Pro for almost as long to tell you what I think about it. Is it really worth buying? Read on to find out.
Design and screen
From first glance, you’ll realise the S88 Pro doesn’t have a conventional smartphone design. That’s a clear choice – Doogee has a clear, defined target audience which isn’t mainstream consumers.
The phone, like many the company produces, is designed to be used by people who spend a lot of time outdoors – think hikers, mountaineers, divers and people who regularly enjoy camping.
It’s a device that’s designed to be used outdoors and so is able to withstand extreme conditions. That explains its robust, heavy yet compact design. When you use the device, that’s precisely the feeling you get – it feels extremely durable. As you might expect, there’s also IP68 certification for water and dust resistance.
From further inspection of the back of the exterior, it can’t be denied: the design of this phone will attract your attention. Whether that’s in a positive or negative light will depend on your personal tastes and needs. It’s almost like a hybrid between an external battery and a gaming phone, albeit heavier and more robust.
The corners of the device are covered with rubber, while the whole exterior of the phone has a rough non-slip surface. The one exception is the camera module, comprised of three lenses and a flash and located in an upper central position on the back of the phone.
Below the cameras is what Doogee is describing as an ‘Iron Man Eye Design’, given the slight resemblance to Tony Stark’s Marvel Superhero. This is made out of tempered glass, and displays different colours according to the type of notification received.
In all honesty, I didn’t find this notification system to be of much use, although the same can be said for any phone which uses LED notification lights. It does, however, give the back of the phone a pretty cool aesthetic.
For the full experience, adding the Soldier Armor case makes it look even more like Iron Man when you flip the phone over!
The phone has also been designed to withstand extreme temperature conditions, while it’s also reinforced to be protected from drops or strong impacts. In fact, that’s guaranteed with its military certification, for which the S88 Pro needed to pass 29 tests.
However, the phone is a hefty 372g, and when combined with its size it can be difficult to use, especially if you have small hands. I’m sure that you could increase the size of your biceps after extended usage!
As you’d expect, many of the physical buttons are located on the side of the device. On the right, it’s the volume rocker, power button and fingerprint sensor, although the latter two are separate.
However, on the left side is something we haven’t seen on a phone before – two buttons that are completely customisable. The lower of the two, which has a different texture to the other physical buttons, can also be used to call emergency numbers. It’s worth reiterating that this phone is designed to be used by climbers, mountaineers or people who regularly go on outdoor expeditions. In these scenarios, the emergency button can be extremely useful.
On the bottom, the USB-C charging port is covered by a rubber cap in order to prevent any dust and water from entering.
The screen itself doesn’t particularly stand out, although that doesn’t mean it’s low quality by any means. It’s a 6.3in LCD display with a Full HD resolution, something we’ve seen on many phones in the past.
From my experience, the screen offers vibrant, sharp colours and decent contrast. It has fairly wide viewing angle and outdoor visibility is good, although the London climate meant I wasn’t able to fully test this.
Another main compromise is the relatively thick bezels by 2020 standards, but that feels like an acceptable trade-off here. The annoying thing is that Doogee has added a completely unnecessary teardrop notch, which houses the 16Mp selfie camera.
Of course, the S88 Pro isn’t designed to be a thin and light phone, hence the rather dated-looking design.
In general, performance on the phone is solid, especially when you consider the price. It’s powered by MediaTek’s Helio P70, a mid-range processor from 2019 that can be found in devices such as the Motorola One Macro and Elephone U2.
It’s far from the most powerful mobile chipset, but performance is solid, especially for a sub-£300 phone. This combines with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, although the latter can be expanded up to 512GB via the microSD card slot.
As such, my overall experience of the phone’s performance has been relatively positive. There were no app crashes, it responded quickly to my commands and moving through the UI is relatively fluid.
I’d say my usage of the S88 Pro was fairly typical – calls, surfing the web, social media and the occasional game. It’s definitely not designed to be used as a gaming phone though, although it can handle titles that aren’t too demanding. There are plenty of other options if that’s a priority for you.
That’s highlighted in its benchmark performance, which can be seen below:
Key takeaways include the S88 Pro’s Geekbench 5 score being slightly lower than Doogee own S95 Pro but higher than what you’ll find on the CAT S62 Pro, another rugged phone. That’s surprising considering the S62 Pro is almost double the price of the S88 Pro.
The battery is undoubtedly the area where the S88 Pro stands out from the competition. It comes with a mammoth 10,000mAh cell, which Doogee claims is capable of a staggering 8 days of use on a single charge. In my testing, which included Netflix and YouTube in addition to the everyday tasks listed above, I was able to get 6.5 days before reaching for the charger (equivalent to 25 hours of screen time). While it’s slightly short of the claims, that is truly remarkable.
Of course, as I mentioned above, in order to achieve this the phone is relatively thick and heavy. For its intended purpose, though, this is a sacrifice I’d be willing to make.
In addition to the incredible battery life, the S88 Pro also offers reverse wireless charging. It’s only 5W, but does mean you can share some of that juice with devices that support the Qi standard. Wireless charging of the device itself is at 10W, while the charger in the box bumps this up to 24W for wired.
Doogee has made a big effort with the cameras on the S88 Pro. The triple rear setup includes a main 21Mp lens, 8MP wide angle (130-degree FOV) and an 8Mp depth sensor. On the front, there’s a single 16Mp selfie camera.
The main lens is a Sony IMX230 sensor with an f/2.4 aperture. Doogee claims that it’s capable of capturing fast-moving subjects in more detail. As you’ll see from the photos, the three lenses and a flash are arranged in a square module on the back of the phone.
Unfortunately, the quality of photos you’ll get from the S88 Pro falls well below what you’d expect from a modern smartphone, regardless of the fact that it’s a mid-range phone. Doogee has improved the specs compared to previous generations, but shots from the device are still a bit underwhelming.
The camera app itself is fairly standard, with quick access to ‘Mono’, ‘Video’, ‘Image’, ‘Wide angle’, ‘Beauty’, ‘Bokeh’, ‘Professional’ and ‘Night’ modes from below the viewfinder. Mono produces black and white photos and Bokeh is for your portrait style shots, with the rest being mostly self-explanatory.
If done right, black and white photos can look very classy, but when it’s so easy to edit in post-production, having a dedicated mode feels a bit unnecessary.
You can get some nice shots with the main lens, provided you’re in good lighting conditions. As you can see below, without much backlighting, photos can lose a lot of detail and sharpness.
Compare that to better lighting conditions:
The zoom isn’t particularly impressive, with one preset 2x setting for digital magnification. The first image below is without zoom the second with:
More success can be had with the wide-angle, although the way the edges of the shot are warped makes it look more like it was taken with a fisheye lens.
Selfies are pretty good, although can be a bit lacking on sharpness when viewed on a larger screen. Nonetheless, I was fairly satisfied with what the 16Mp sensor could produce.
The portrait-style ‘bokeh’ effect can be customised from within the camera app, giving you the option to select which part of the image you want to remain in focus. As you can see from the image below, you can get a convincing shot, but be prepared to play around with it for a bit.
There’s also a semi-professional mode which was surprisingly easy to use. It allows you to control various settings which are usually set by default, something which could provide value to people who are serious about photography.
Unfortunately, the night mode was another disappointment. With the flash off shots are unusable, while even with it on there’s some noticeable noise in the less illuminated parts of the photo.
Compared to natural lighting, you can see what I mean.
As you can probably tell, cameras are not the Doogee S88 Pro’s strong suit. However, this is likely not a dealbreaker for its target market – hikers, mountaineers and people who do lots of physical outdoor activities.
However, we’d love to see a rugged phone in the future with a camera that can truly rival more conventional handsets.
Software and features
Doogee has designed the software of the S88 Pro in such a way that it is suited towards that target market. It offers a version of Android 10 that’s relatively close to stock, including all the standard Google apps.
The main addition is an called ‘Tool Bag’. This offers a selection of practical tools that you might turn to when out and about:
Compass – tells you which direction you’re facing after calibration
SoundMeter – measures the ambient noise level (in dB)
Pic Hanging – allows you to hang straight pictures
Gradienter – works like a spirit level
Height measure – measure length or height of objects
Magnifier – works like a magnifying glass, although not always the most effective
Protractor – helps measure angles
Plumb bob – measure angle of inclination
Warning – emits flash, multi-colour screen or sound signals to alert people
Without any option for navigation buttons, you’re encouraged to use gestures instead. There’s a noticeable learning curve, even coming from other phones with gestures, but I was soon able to get used to it.
It’s also worth mentioning that the S88 Pro has an FM radio, an increasingly rare feature on modern handsets. As always, you’ll need a pair of wired headphones to act as the antenna.
In terms of biometrics, the phone can be unlocked with both facial recognition and fingerprint. The former is a little unreliable, particularly in less than perfect lighting conditions, but the latter works well.
Price and value for money
The Doogee S88 Pro is available in just one configuration, with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage (expandable). The one choice you do have is the colour of the edging (black, army green or orange), but the phone will remain a combination of black and silver regardless.
You can buy the device from Amazon for £249.99, putting it just in budget phone territory according to our criteria. However, in reality it’s going up against those in our best rugged phone chart, including the Cat S62 Pro and Doogee’s own S95 Pro.
The S88 Pro is the most expensive phone in the company’s S series, but it remains relatively affordable when you compare it to devices with similar specs.
The Doogee S88 Pro will not suit you unless you’re looking for a very specific type of phone – something that’s resistant to the elements and designed to be used outdoors in extreme conditions. If that describes you, you’ll no doubt be impressed with what the S88 Pro has to offer. It combines solid performance with some useful software tweaks and one of the best batteries we’ve ever seen in a phone.
The big downside is the cameras, which fall short of the competition at this price point, while at 372g it is noticeably heavy. However, you get extras in return: NFC, reverse wireless charging and IP68 water and dust resistance are extremely impressive for a sub-£250 phone.
As such, I’d say the Doogee S88 Pro offers good value for money, so long as you spend more time outside than in an office.
This review was originally published in Spanish on our sister site, PC World Spain. Translation by Anyron Copeman.