I like rugged phones. I’ve had the pleasure of having the Doogee s40 for several months now, and while I hate to spoil the ending of my review, I have to come right out and say that it’s nowhere near as good as I want it to be.
It’s a shame because Doogee makes lovely looking phones, and I’ve really wanted to review one for some time… but I doubt they’re ever going to let me near their phones again when they read this.
Let me begin by praising the S40. The phone is indeed rugged, tough, and waterproof. The price, a mere $99, is eye-catching and wallet grabbing, but day-to-day usability is sadly lacking.
I will also point out that the fingerprint scanner works pretty well and the 4,650mAh battery is impressive… but then I need to note that you’re going to be lucky if this works on your network. It worked on my T-Mobile SIM… but not my wife’s, and it will not work on Verizon at all.
The s40 was never going to be perfect. To create a budget rugged phone, you’re going to need to cut a ton of corners. In the S40’s case, these corners were screen, camera, and performance. That’s not a good blend.
It’s 2019, but the screen from the S40 is right out of 2010. Muddy color, poor viewing angles, and just plain meh. 195 pixels per inch on a 480×960 5.5” screen falls something short of terrible. It’s almost unusable in daylight. The MediaTek MT6739 processor is not just anemic, it’s insulting. The dual cameras look neat, but 8MP and 5MP don’t pair well and just… no. Everything is washed out and colors are dull.
The version of Android 9 on here works pretty well, if laggy. They don’t skin it too much (although they remove the app drawer, a conceit I hate), but it doesn’t matter if it lags, which it does. The pre-installed contractor apps work, but, again, slow. And the screenshot tool they’ve added actually gets in the way of actual screenshots. Hard pass.
It’s my hope that the next Doogee rugged phone updates the chip, camera, and screen. Even if it means paying more. Give us the same rugged body and big battery with even a 2017-era processor and I’d be happy.
Normally, I would suggest giving this to a clumsy child, but they’re going to think that this phone is a punishment. You’re better off getting any older phone and a rugged case.
Note: Doogee sent me the s40 for free and I’m trashing it. I’m an ungrateful child