Mobile Technology

Doogee S88 Pro review: The super-tough survival phone

Doogee S88 Pro review: The sup...
The Doogee S88 Pro is a chunky, heavy phone that can survive almost anything
The Doogee S88 Pro is a chunky, heavy phone that can survive almost anything
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The Doogee S88 Pro is a chunky, heavy phone that can survive almost anything
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The Doogee S88 Pro is a chunky, heavy phone that can survive almost anything
The phone comes wrapped in hardened plastic
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The phone comes wrapped in hardened plastic
The Doogee S88 Pro comes with a 6.3-inch LCD display
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The Doogee S88 Pro comes with a 6.3-inch LCD display
This model is Army Green – the other options are Mineral Black and Fire Orange
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This model is Army Green – the other options are Mineral Black and Fire Orange
The phone can last a day submerged in shallow water
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The phone can last a day submerged in shallow water
The Doogee S88 Pro can resist water, sand, dust and anything else you want to throw at it
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The Doogee S88 Pro can resist water, sand, dust and anything else you want to throw at it
You can pick up the phone now for an affordable US$249.99
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You can pick up the phone now for an affordable US$249.99
Don't expect wonders from the triple-lens rear camera
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Don't expect wonders from the triple-lens rear camera
The ultrawide lens is handy but can lead to distortion around the edges of the frame
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The ultrawide lens is handy but can lead to distortion around the edges of the frame
If you're just taking snaps for social media, the Doogee S88 Pro is fine
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If you're just taking snaps for social media, the Doogee S88 Pro is fine
The camera can struggle at keeping details in darker and lighter areas of a shot
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The camera can struggle at keeping details in darker and lighter areas of a shot
Occasionally the camera doesn't handle colors or light properly
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Occasionally the camera doesn't handle colors or light properly
Again, color balance could be better, but most shots are satisfactory
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Again, color balance could be better, but most shots are satisfactory
This is the same field that was in the previous image, but at night – and the Doogee S88 Pro
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This is the same field that was in the previous image, but at night – and the Doogee S88 Pro struggles here
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What do you want from a phone? For some it's a big, vivid screen. For others it's a top-tier camera, or it might be lengthy battery life. However, if what you prioritize most is go-anywhere, do-anything toughness, then the Doogee S88 Pro has to appeal to you.

At a glance:

  • Excellent casing and protection
  • Really impressive battery life
  • Big, heavy and chunky design
  • Average power and camera quality

The phone, announced in June, is seriously committed to surviving: it's IP68-rated for dust and water protection of course, and should survive drops from 1.5 meters (that's nearly 5 feet) and submersion in water up to a depth of two meters (6-and-a-half feet). It's also been run through "brick pressure" and "sand immersion" tests – we're not sure what they are, but we don't think you'd ordinarily want to put your smartphone through them.

This is a handset that goes above and beyond in the toughness stakes though. It can last a whole day in a meter (a little over 3 feet) of water, and it's also built to handle high pressure water sprays, temperature extremes, and high humidity. No matter what you go through, the Doogee S88 Pro will go through it with you.

We don't have a phone stress testing lab available, but we have been using the Doogee S88 Pro for a couple of weeks – and on occasion we've forced ourselves to be very rough with it (for the purposes of this review), throwing it on to pavement and dunking it in washing up bowls. We're pleased to say the phone has come through fine, and with barely a scratch – just one or two marks on the thick casing.

Hold it in your hand and it feels built to take on as much punishment as you can give it, a phone wrapped in some seriously chunky rubberized plastic. We'd guess that you would need a significant piece of machinery to actually do some permanent damage to this handset, so unless you're working in a very hazardous environment, you shouldn't have to worry about the Doogee S88 Pro.

For some phone owners, toughness isn't important at all – but for others, it's essential. Outdoor workers and those involved in the construction industry will be very keen to see what the Doogee S88 Pro has to offer, even if it's not a handset most of us would consider. The rest of the phone has to be weighed up against that, so you shouldn't expect everything else to be flagship-level and premium quality.

The Doogee S88 Pro comes with a 6.3-inch LCD display
The Doogee S88 Pro comes with a 6.3-inch LCD display

One of the compromises is with the display: the 6.3-inch, 1,080 x 2,340 pixel IPS LCD screen isn't the brightest or the sharpest we've ever seen. It's fine for browsing the web and sending messages and watching videos, but this is one of the areas where you can tell you're not dealing with something like a Samsung flagship.

The specs are very much mid-range too – a MediaTek Helio P70 processor combined with 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of internal storage won't break any benchmarking records, but we found it fine for day-to-day use. Even with demanding games we found the phone coped OK, even if the loading screens took a little longer than normal, and there was the occasional stutter when the action got very fast-paced.

The triple-lens (21 MP + 8 MP + 8 MP) rear camera is another area where you shouldn't expect a top-tier experience: there is an ultrawide mode here for fitting more inside a shot, but that's about as good as it gets. Images can be affected by strange coloring and noise, though if all you're doing is snapping pictures for social media then it just about does the job (just don't expect to be able to shoot anything in very low light).

One spec we haven't mentioned so far is the absolute monster of a battery – it's packed with a capacity of 10,000 mAh, which is more than double most other phones on the market. Based on our time with the Doogee S88 Pro, this will get you through two or three days of use with no trouble at all, and maybe more if you're careful with screen brightness and app use. It's almost in a league of its own when it comes to battery life.

The Doogee S88 Pro is ideal then if you're going camping for a few nights and forget to take your charger with you. In our usual two-hour video streaming test, the smartphone battery dropped from 100 percent to 92 percent, which is one of the best results we've ever seen, unsurprisingly – that works out at around 25 hours of video streaming between battery charges.

The Doogee S88 Pro can resist water, sand, dust and anything else you want to throw at it
The Doogee S88 Pro can resist water, sand, dust and anything else you want to throw at it

All this battery capacity adds to the size and weight of the phone of course – it tips the scales at 370 grams (0.82 lb) and is difficult to slide into a pocket. You'll struggle to use it with one hand, and most of the time you'll have to hold it in both hands, which is something else to think about if you need a phone that goes everywhere with you.

Android 10 is on board, which is good to see, and we also like the collection of tools that Doogee has preinstalled: a compass, a sound meter, a magnifier, a plumb bob utility, a digital protractor, and more. They all add to the impression of a phone that's been put together for serious work. A mention too for the big and bold LED lights on the back (in a choice of three colors), that can let you know if you've got notifications or an incoming call even when the phone is lying face down.

It's difficult to judge the Doogee S88 Pro, because it's going to really appeal to some people, while at the same time looking like a waste of money to others. Speaking of money, it's actually very competitively priced – US$249.99 is budget phone level, and while the specs aren't fantastic, the amount of protection and extras you get are.

From our experiences with it, $250 seems like a good price for a phone that can take all sorts of damage and environmental hazards. Just make sure you know what you're getting: this is a handset with average internal components and performance, an average camera, and a screen that won't really wow you in any way.

On the plus side, it feels almost indestructible, and it has a battery that will enable it to run and run for several days straight. If those are two of your priorities for your next smartphone, then you won't be able to find anything better than the Doogee S88 Pro at this low price point.

Product page: Doogee S88 Pro

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1 comment
Simon Blake
I purchased one of these almost by accident (I clicked a link ...). It is worth mentioning that it takes two SIM cards so will be a useful travel phone as one isn't having to carry it too far. I have not started using it however as it has an emergency services dial button on the side and I have yet to work out how to either turn it off or to stop pushing it ...