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Doogee S40 review: Affordable ruggedness, but not much else

Doogee S40 rugged smartphone

If you need a rugged device and don’t care too much about performance, screen quality, or camera, the Doogee S40 is definitely a super affordable and viable option.

7.8/10 average rating

In North America, there are a few brands that everyone thinks of when it comes to Android smartphones. However, around the world, and especially in Europe and Asia, there are plenty of other brands that are recognizable as well. While most phones are sleek and thin, there is a market for more rugged smartphones. Our Doogee S40 review takes a look at a rugged smartphone from over the pond which, unfortunately, is pretty lacking aside from its ruggedness and great battery.

Specifications

The Doogee S40 Rugged Smartphone has the following features and specifications:

  • Display: 5.5″ 480×950 FWVGA IPS Multi-touch/Corning Gorilla Glass 4
  • Processor: MT6739 4X Cortex-A53 up to 1.5GHz
  • GPU: IMG GE8100
  • RAM+ROM: 2GB+16GB, 3GB+32GB
  • External Storage: Micro SD Card (T-Flash Card) up to 32GB
  • Rear Cameras: 8.0MP+5.0MP f/2.2 80° Wide-angle LED Flash
  • Front Camera: 5.0MP f/2.2 80° Wide-angle
  • SIM Card: Dual SIM Cards Standby Nano-SIM + Nano-SIM/ Nano-SIM+ TF Card
  • Frequency: GSM: 2/3/5/8, WCDMA: 1/8, FDD: B1/3/7/8/20
  • Network: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
  • Sensors: Rear fingerprint unlock, face unlock, NFC, GPS, G-sensor, Proximity Sensor, Ambient Light Sensor, Compass, Geomagnetism, Gyroscope, GLONASS
  • Battery: 4650mAh Built-in Polymer Battery 5V/2A
  • Operating System: Android™ 9.0 Pie
  • Certification: IP68 / IP69K / MIL-STD-810G
  • Color: Mineral Black, Fire Orange
  • Dimension: 158.20 x 79.40 x 14.10mm
  • Weight: 238g

What’s in the box

  • Doogee S40 Rugged Smartphone
  • Charger (5V/2A)
  • USB Cable
  • Packing Box, Manual, Warranty Card
  • Protective Screen Film
What's included with the Doogee S40 rugged smartphone
What’s included with the Doogee S40 rugged smartphone.

Design

For a rugged smartphone, the Doogee S40 sure looks the part. Our orange and black review unit features a fairly hard black back with an orange trim around the outside edge. The materials used seem to be a mix of hard plastic and rubber. The dual-camera array sits vertically near the top with the LED flash to the right and a fingerprint scanner beneath it. Down near the bottom is a speaker grille on the left side and a faux-grille on the right side. The Doogee logo is centered in the middle towards the lower quarter of the back of the phone.

Back of the Doogee S40 rugged smartphone
Back of the Doogee S40 rugged smartphone.

The left and right edge of the device is constructed of metal. The left edge houses the SIM/CF card slot (or dual-SIM if you opt for that model) and an emergency SOS button. The right side is where you’ll find your volume rocker and power button.

The top and bottom of the phone are covered with the same black hard rubber as the back. The top houses the 3.5mm audio jack while the bottom is where you’ll find the Micro-USB charging and data port. The four corners of the device have a little bit of extra protection and extrude out a bit more than the edges do.

The volume and power buttons on the Doogee S40 rugged smartphone
The volume and power buttons on the Doogee S40 rugged smartphone.

The front of the Doogee S40 rugged smartphone is framed with the orange plastic along most of the long edges and the black rubber along the top and bottom edges. The top of the screen is where you’ll find the front-facing camera, top speaker, and sensor array. The sensor array allows for limited gesture control such as switching music tracks or screens on the dashboard. The Doogee logo is printed in silver across the bottom bezel of the screen. The screen is also covered with a protective film.

The SIM card slot, Micro-USB port, and headphone jack are all covered with waterproof plugs. The plugs do fit in rather tight and can be a bit of a pain to remove and I had to use a thin piece of metal like the tip of a sharp knife a few times to get the card slot cover open. While not necessarily a bad thing as it speaks to how sealed the ports are, it can be a bit of a pain in the butt when needing to access the ports.

The external ports are covered by rubber plugs for to prevent water and dust from entering
The external ports are covered by rubber plugs to prevent water and dust from entering.

As mentioned above, our review unit came in black and orange but it is also available in just black. The smartphone itself is fairly comfortable to hold and can definitely be used with one hand when it comes to navigating around and typing text in the email or other applications.

The Doogee S40 is marketed as a rugged smartphone. On that note, this device features IP68, IP69K, and MIL-STD-810G ratings. In layman’s terms, this means you can expect it to resist water up to 1.5m, is 99% dustproof, can withstand 100 Bar high water pressure, withstand 1.2m drops, and withstand temperatures as low as -30°C/-22°F for 24 hours and up to 60°C/140°F for 4 hours.

During our testing, and given the rugged design, we were able to confirm that it does indeed survive drops rather well, as well as regular water splashes or submersion. While we couldn’t test the higher temperatures, we did leave the phone outside in -18°C/0°F overnight and it worked just fine when we retrieved it in the morning. The included screen protector also keeps the front screen free of scratches and didn’t interfere with the touch performance at all.

Display

The Doogee S40 rugged smartphone has a 5.5-inch IPS Multi-touch/Corning Gorilla Glass 4 display. While that might sound decent enough, unfortunately, it only sports a 480×950 FWVGA (195 PPI) resolution and it really shows.

While the screen on the Doogee S40 is a nice size, it has a fairly low resolution
While the screen on the Doogee S40 is a nice size, it has a fairly low resolution.

While the screen is readable, the text is definitely a tad on the pixelated side when compared to higher resolution screens. The backlighting also gives off a slightly bluish hue which, after extended use and, in particular, evening use became uncomfortable to look at. I found that enabling Night Light (the blue light reduction mode) 24/7 did help with this to some extent.

Watching videos wasn’t much better, they were watchable but definitely lower resolution based on the screen.

Software

The version of Android running on devices from smaller companies is hit and miss. Fortunately, the Doogee S40 ships with Android 9.0 and the June 5, 2019 security patch. While it isn’t up to date with Android 10 and recent patches, the fact that it is running Android 9 is pretty decent all things considered.

The smartphone does have a custom layer over it and includes some additional apps which some may find useful. These include a SecurityLocker, Sound Recorder, SIM Toolkit, and ToolBag with some fun tools including a Compass, SoundMeter, Pic Hanging, Gradient, HeighMeasure, Magnifier, Protractor, and Plumb Bob. I did test a few of these and they seemed to work fairly well and might be useful for those in the construction industry in a pinch.

Performance

On paper, the Doogee S40 rugged smartphone doesn’t sound too bad. Our review unit has 3GB of RAM with 32GB of storage. While a bit on the low side, the device also supports SD cards (up to 32GB). With the quad-core MediaTek MTK6739, however, the phone is pretty slow when it comes to booting up and multi-tasking. When using the device for a single app, it runs o.k. but definitely slows down and gets pretty sluggish if the phone starts updating apps from the Google Play store while in use. The phone also has a DuraSpeed option, which we assume makes the phone run faster but we did have this enabled the entire time we were testing the device.

As for daily use, there is easily a 2 or 3-second delay when opening some apps or switching between apps. While it’s not the end of the world, it definitely can test your patience at times. Basic games did run o.k. but trying to play something a bit more intense like Call of Duty: Mobile was a hard pass due to the laggy performance.

The fingerprint scanner seemed pretty bang on while the face unlock feature was acceptable as well for ways of signing into the device if you want to bypass a pin or password.

In addition to face unlock, the Doogee S40 has a rear fingerprint scanner
In addition to face unlock, the Doogee S40 has a rear fingerprint scanner.

Another annoyance that I encountered was that my photos wouldn’t back up automatically to Google Photos no matter my settings. The only way to backup my photos was to manually upload each one by scrolling through.

Sound Quality

Given the Doogee S40 only has a single, rear-firing speaker, the sound isn’t that great, especially if you are holding the phone in your hand while watching a video. While the volume isn’t too bad, it does sound pretty tinny and, when held, can be muffled somewhat as well.

Camera

On the camera front, this smartphone features a dual rear camera and a single front camera. The rear camera has an 8.0MP+5.0MP f/2.2 80° Wide-angle with LED flash shooter, while the front is a 5.0MP f/2.2 80° Wide-angle. Unfortunately, the resolutions of the sensors on both the back and front cameras are pretty low given today’s standards and the resulting images reflect that. Not only are they pretty pixelated but the final resolution is relatively small and some colours get washed out depending on the environment.

One of the better pictures taken with the Doogee S40
One of the better pictures taken with the Doogee S40.

In addition, the camera app is pretty slow to fire up and when running, the live view lags and when moving the phone around does display a blurred view that takes time to catch up and focus when the phone movement stops.

A 100% crop of an image taken with the Doogee S40 rugged smartphone
A 100% crop of an image taken with the Doogee S40 rugged smartphone.

Reception/Call Quality

The Doogee S40 does have limited bands, as seen in the specifications section above. You’ll definitely want to confirm your carrier supports one of the bands before picking this device up. On that note, we were able to get 4G with no problems using a Telus SIM card up here in Canada. Reception was fine where we tested it and call quality during our test calls was as expected as well.

The Doogee S40 features has a dual SIM card/microSD card slot tray
The Doogee S40 features has a dual SIM card/microSD card slot tray.

Battery Life

Beside the ruggedness, the Doogee S40 has decent battery life going for it as well. With its low specifications and display resolution, we were able to get a couple of days, if not very close to, between charges.

While it has a decent battery life, there is no fast charging on board and the phone takes at least 7 to 8 hours to charge from dead. In fact, it took nearly 3 hours to charge from 0 to 50% so it’ll definitely be a device you’ll want to charge overnight while you are sleeping.

Price/Value

The Doogee S40 rugged smartphone has an MSRP between US$99.99 and $157 at the time of this review. The price is dependant on the model you get, whether it be the 2GB/16GB, 3GB/32GB, or S40 Lite version. While the price may seem tempting, given the specs and level of protection the device has, if you need a rugged device and don’t care too much about performance, screen quality, or camera, the Doogee S40 is definitely a super affordable and viable option.

The Doogee S40 rugged smartphone wins for ruggedness but not much else
The Doogee S40 rugged smartphone wins for ruggedness but not much else.

To be honest, I’d only consider this device if I worked in the construction or other industry that may be tough on devices as an actual phone without relying too much on the smart aspect of a smartphone.

Wrap-up

While the Doogee S40 is indeed a rugged smartphone that offers great physical device protection and battery life, it is definitely lacking in overall performance and camera quality.

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Doogee S40

USD$99.99+

Design

9.5/10

Display

6.5/10

Software

9.0/10

Performance

7.5/10

Sound Quality

6.0/10

Camera

6.0/10

Reception/Call Quality

9.0/10

Battery Life

9.5/10

Price/Value

7.0/10

Nailed it

  • Rugged design
  • Great battery
  • Very affordably priced
  • Fingerprint and face unlock

Needs work

  • Mediocre performance
  • Sub-par display
  • Poor camera
  • Takes a long time to fully recharge
  • Automatic photo backup buggy

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