The Doogee S98 Pro is one of the latest smartphone offerings from Chinese manufacturer, and world-leading rugged phone brand, Doogee Hengtong Technology Co. Ltd, launched in 2014.
This powerful new smartphone is undoubtedly one of the best rugged phones currently available on the market right now, and is perfect for those who work in areas of trade and construction, or if you're a bit of a thrill-seeker who climbs mountains and wrestles with sharks.
Aside from being ultra-rugged, this smartphone is drop-proof (tested to MIL-STD-810H) and waterproof up to 1.5 meters, PM 2.5 dust-proof, and comes equipped with night vision as well as advanced thermal imaging cameras. What more could you want in a rugged smartphone?
Its sister phone, the confusingly similar-named Doogee S89 Pro, has also been recently released and boasts a slightly better 64MP main camera, with double the battery power, although it lacks a thermal imaging camera and weighs over twice as much as the S98 Pro, at 757g.
The Doogee S98 Pro's design is heavily influenced by outer space, with an alien-inspired design. Many of the features of this ultra-rugged phone are pretty alien too, with an advanced professional-grade InfiRay 256x192 resolution thermal imaging sensor, in addition to the 20MP infrared night vision camera, and a 48MP Sony main camera to deliver an unusual and versatile experience for all outdoor scenes.
Other out-of-this-world specifications of this device include an impressive 8GB LPDDR4x RAM to support multitasking when combined with the very capable Helio G96 processor for uninterrupted mobile gaming. High-level performance is also guaranteed with the Mali-G57 MC2 GPU, and super long-lasting battery life.
Doogee S98 Pro: Specifications
Rear cameras: 48 MP, f/1.8, (wide), 20 MP, f/1.8, (night vision) with 2 infrared night vision lights, Thermal imaging camera.
Front camera: 16 MP, f/2.0, (wide)
Display: 6.3 inches IPS LCD, 1080 x 2340 pixels at 409 PPI density.
Operating System: Android 12
Chip: Mediatek MT6781 Helio G96, Octa-core CPU, Mali-G57 MC2 GPU
Max video resolution: 1440p (2K @30fps)
Touch ID: Yes
Face ID: Yes
Resistance: IP68/IP69K dust/water resistant (up to 1.5 meters for 30 min), MIL-STD-810G compliant, Drop-to-concrete resistance from up to 1.5 meters.
Capacity: 128GB / 256GB
RAM: 8GB / 12GB
Dimensions: 17.2 x 8.2 x 1.55 cm
Charger: USB Type-C 2.0 (included)
3.5mm Headphone port: No
Whats in the box?: Type-C to Type-C Cable and charger, anti-explosion film, protective back case, card slot opener, user manual, warranty card.
Doogee S98 Pro: Key features
You know that being primarily a photography and digital technology website that we gotta mention the cameras first, and the Doogee S98 Pro features a pretty powerful AI 3-in-1 camera setup that includes a 48MP main camera with a Sony IMX582 sensor, a 20MP Sony IMX350 night vision camera with 2 infrared lights, and let's not forget the powerful InfiRay® 256x192 resolution thermal imaging sensor. The front camera is Samsung-powered this time, with a 16MP S5K3P9SP Sensor chip.
The main camera on the Doogee S98 Pro is situated on the right side of the phone when turned over on its back, with the night vision camera on the left, forming two pairs of alien eyes almost. The thermal imaging camera is positioned in the middle, centered between the other two cameras, with additional infrared night vision lights and a rear flash placed underneath these cameras.
Photos captured using the main 48-megapixel camera can reach a maximum resolution of 8000x6000 and are supposed to be sharper and clearer that the other two cameras, with a lot more detail. The night vision HD camera, using its two infrared lights, can capture sharp monochrome images in the daylight as well as in the pitch darkness, able to record black and white 2K videos at 30fps.
As for the thermal imaging camera, it operates using a professional-grade thermal imaging sensor, which allows for a huge 2.5x increase in the number of thermal pixels than other competitor thermal cameras.
Combined with a 25Hz higher frame rate, this specialist camera can be used for home inspections, fire fighting, farming, electronics manufacturing, archaeology, and other potential hobby and business purposes where accurate temperature readings might be required.
Advancements in this technology can accurately detect draught, dampness, leaks, electric shortages, and blockages, and can identify hidden problems with electrical, HVAC, automotive, energy efficiency, or moisture issues by detecting elevated temperatures
The Doogee S98 selfie front camera is nothing special in comparison with the device's rear cameras, using a 16MP Samsung S5K3P9SP sensor with included features and filters such as optimization for portraits, with options to slim the face, enlarge the eyes, and "auto beauty" mode.
The Doogee S98 Pro also runs the latest Android 12 operating system, with built-in NFC with support for Google Pay and wireless connectivity. The interface has a system-wide dark theme which is very fitting with the aesthetic of the device itself, with plenty of customizable features and widget options that Android users will already be undoubtedly familiar with and accustomed to.
What is different though is that the phone comes pre-installed with a Virtual Toolkit, containing things like a compass, protractor, magnifier, pedometer, alarm bell, and noise test - making it abundantly clear the type of target market the device manufacturer is aiming at.
Also interesting was a designated "game space" and "children space" app that limits the phone to only operating specifically chosen apps suitable for children and accelerated functions for gaming.
We've already mentioned how the beefy specs of this smartphone could make it a contender as one of the best phones for gamers, but to learn how it held up with running multiple tasks and gaming on the go, then take a look at the performance section of this review where we go into greater detail.
Doogee S98 Pro: Build & handling
The Doogee S98 Pro boasts a 6.3-inch Full HD+ waterdrop display, with an aspect ratio of 19:9 and a 15000:1 contrast ratio, and protection from a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass and already fitted anti-explosion film.
This perfect balance of high performance and security allows for a great streaming and browsing experience knowing that your device is protected while gaming or watching your favorite movie in the event of accidentally dropping it or having a pet bump into you.
The phone feels very nice to hold and handle, and the vibrations when typing are pleasant and not too overpowering. The phone feels substantial and a little bulky but still pretty lightweight especially once you get used to holding it. The screen is bright and vibrant and is almost the exact size as my Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra.
Speaking of protection, this ultra-rugged phone seems to be virtually indestructible with an IP68 rating, said to withstand water and fine dust that is 1.5m deep, as well as being certified drop-proof at 1.5m following compliance with military-grade standards, and having undergone extreme weather testing during its manufacture.
The phone is constructed with TPU material and built from an aluminum-alloy frame for sturdy construction. Extra attention has been paid to the joints of the device to create a complete edge seal, to prevent fine particles and water from entering the smartphone when submerged. The charging port of the phone is also protected by a sealable cover that can be easily accessed when needed.
An alien aesthetic case is included in the box with the Doogee S98 Pro, and aids as additional protection to the exterior of the device. The phone truly looks otherworldly when this back case is applied, with the camera bump serving as the alien's head, and the two adjacent cameras as the alien's eyes, with the lines on the case rounding out the creepy alien ensemble.
The S98 Pro is also conveniently designed with a side-mounted fingerprint scanner, as well as a custom side button that can become extremely useful for actions that may require only one hand or button, such as taking a screenshot or essentially speed-buttoning access to a specific feature or app. Actions such as long pressing, double-tapping, and a single tap can all have different actions assigned to them.
Three card slots feature on this device, supporting two slots for a Nano SIM and another for a TF Card with the potential to reach 512GB for mass extra storage. The phone itself is not too heavy at all, weighing 320g, and is pretty reasonable in size for an indestructible rugged phone, not much more brick-like than an original Nokia.
The hardware of this phone was clearly built and designed to be tough, while the software contains the necessary tools to accomplish a variety of tasks with apps that a trade worker may rely on, and specifications making it a workhouse phone for those who edit or multitask, perfect for gamers.
Doogee S98 Pro: Performance
Overall I was pretty impressed by the unique features and cameras on the Doogee S98 Pro, though I have to admit that the main 48MP camera was a bit of a letdown. Often the image quality from this camera was pretty poor, and unsharp, and even using HDR mode couldn't save the images when using the optical zoom.
With that said, it was by no means the worst smartphone camera I've ever used and is perfectly fine for everyday use if quality images aren't a necessity. The AI feature is a nice touch, although when detecting plants and landscapes, it massively oversaturates the colors.
Admittedly, the portrait mode on the phone's selfie camera was pretty great, probably even better than the main camera despite being only a 16-megapixel. The features to adjust the aperture level actually created some nice bokeh and great sharp focus on the face, without too much distorted smoothing of random areas.
Thermal imaging camera
The thermal imaging camera was very cool and fun to experiment with. Activated by a different app already pre-installed on the phone called InfiRay, the camera mixes the thermal imaging part with an RGB mix, using the dual-spectrum fusion algorithm to incorporate details such as outline and texture that have been captured by the 48MP visible light camera, to create a sharper image, with temperature readings displayed from across all areas of the image.
Said to be the highest resolution thermal imaging camera available today, I was blown away by the capabilities of this camera, especially having never used or come across one before. While this feature was enjoyable to use and experiment with, and I could certainly see the benefits if used by someone in the trade, I don't think it has the potential to be used for serious photographic projects.
Night vision camera
The night vision camera had the same impression on me at first too, capturing extremely sharp black and white images when used in regular daylight, and functioning extremely well in areas that are pitch black.
There were, however, a few areas where the Night Vision camera struggled, and that included shakiness, zoom, and focus. You have to keep incredibly still to take a sharp image using this camera, and the focus will repeatedly shift back and forth into the back and foreground trying to detect a subject. The zoom was near enough impossible to use and created blurry and pixelated results.
Video sample shot with the Doogee S98 Pro at night
Also, the Night Vision camera was extremely sensitive to detecting air/water particles, and often when walking the dog a little later at night when it was colder, my breath fog could be seen on the images and through the camera.
The tiny IR lights are said to be known for causing fog distortion, but as a result, I would say the Night vision camera is okay for observing and detecting wildlife, and making dark paths visible when walking at night, but wasn't too practical for shooting due to stability, zoom, and focus issues.
As can be seen from the image gallery above, a lot of the night vision images are extremely blurry, with some even showing slight light trails and motion blur with fog and air particles. While this may have been my first time shooting with a night vision camera, I'm very capable of taking a clear photo, and the images after pressing the shutter using the feature tended to lag significantly so even the slightest movement would cause a blur.
One of the best non-camera features of the Doogee S98 Pro has to be its battery life, and after 6 days of intermittent use and various testing, the smartphone still had 40% of its battery remaining. I haven't had to charge this phone even ONCE during the time I've spent testing it, leaving it on and in sleep mode the entire time too, without shutting it down in between uses.
With a 6000mAh battery, the long-lasting battery life and multitasking capabilities of this phone are extremely impressive. 33W Fast Turbo Charging is an additional feature of this phone, meaning you may never need to carry around a portable power bank ever again. According to Doogee, the phone's battery can last for up to 3 days of active use on a single charge, and the turbo charging can charge the entire battery in under 2 hours.
As for gaming and apps, the phone handled everything I threw at it perfectly, whether it was outdoor GPS when playing Pokemon Go, to then streaming movies on Disney Plus and browsing through social media.
I deliberately left a lot of apps open and running simultaneously to give the DOOGEE a real challenge, and the refresh rate and processing speeds were flawless even while multiple apps were running in the background, like photo editing and playing Spotify at the same time.
Overall the performance of this phone is exactly what you'd expect from a newly released smartphone in 2022, and has features that put it way ahead of the game spec-wise such as its 8GB of RAM and hefty storage size, with an excellent CPU and processor chip making it a great companion for gamers.
While the main camera isn't the best at all, the other two cameras certainly make up for it if used frequently by someone who relies on them for specific work and a travel-oriented lifestyle.
Doogee S98 Pro: Sample video
Video Samples from the Doogee S98 Pro
Doogee S98 Pro: Verdict
Excellent for people who camp and the outdoorsy adventure-seeking types, the Doogee S98 Pro has great features to aid your lifestyle and work requirements if you happen to be a trader, but many of these features including the virtual toolkit and thermal imaging camera while handy - probably would not be used regularly by the average person to justify the purchase.
The S98 Pro would certainly be beneficial and warrant use in instances such as a student using the night vision camera to not wake up their uni housemates with a torch when heading to the bathroom at night, and the device will undoubtedly come in handy for the cost of living and electricity crisis that the UK and many countries worldwide are facing.
The main selling point of the Doogee S98 Pro is surely the unique cameras and sturdy build, being the first smartphone that combines thermal imaging sensors and infrared night vision into one device.
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