I’m sure a lot of us have seen the recent Batman movie and, to an extent, got inspired by the quirky scriptwriting and Robert Pattinson’s great acting. But do you know who else got inspired? The team working on the next big rugged series device at DOOGEE sent us their next rugged, Batman-inspired phone, the S89 Pro, and… It’s something else.
Now, design is not the only USP of this device, and it gets a lot of other things right for a rugged device. Here’s our review of the DOOGEE S89 Pro.
DOOGEE S89 Pro: Box Contents
- DOOGEE S89 Pro smartphone
- 65W GaN fast charger
- Type-C to Type-C cable
- Extra Screen protector
- SIM tray removal tool
Build quality & Design
The first thing you feel after picking it up is how ginormous the device is. It feels like an absolute unit, brick in hand, thanks to its rugged features. The front houses a 6.3-inch FHD+ LCD with a waterdrop notch, but the real beauty lies on the back of the device.
The black plastics combined with what looks like Batman’s lower face, and dark grey trims at the sides, make this device one of the best-looking rugged devices I’ve ever used. Heck, even the ends of the camera lens have pointed ear-shaped cutouts that resemble Batman’s spiky ears.
Below that rests the DOOGEE logo and an orange plastic piece, which adds more character to the device. The right side houses the power button that also doubles as a fingerprint sensor—love to see that. The volume rockers are placed above the power button, and while it’s easier to reach the volume down button, you’d need to re-adjust the phone to reach the volume up button. Removing the back cover makes the device a lot easier to hold. The SIM tray is on the left side alongside a custom remappable button.
You’d say, “how’s any of this exciting? It’s just a regular boring rugged smartphone.” And that’s until you connect the charger or receive calls. There are two eyes-like LEDs at the back that light up and complete the Batman aesthetic.
The top and bottom of the device house the headphone jack and the USB Type-C port, respectively. Both are covered with rubber flaps for water sealing. While the device looks and feels great, one-handed use is almost impossible, and longer usage might strain your hands.
The display is a 6.3-inch IPS LCD unit with a 60Hz refresh rate and 19:9 aspect ratio. Now, it’s not the best LCD display I’ve ever used, but it’s good enough for regular usage. The bezels surrounding the display are thick, which is expected on a rugged device.
The viewing angles are pretty good, and the colors are also punchy. However, the major complaint that I have with the display is that it’s still 60Hz, and that’s because I’m used to 90Hz on my Pixel 6. For the vast majority, I’m sure refresh rate isn’t something most consider while buying a rugged smartphone.
Unlike the strong appeal of the device from the outside, the insides are pretty mediocre. The phone’s powered by MediaTek’s Helio P90, which is a three-year-old SoC. While the day-to-day performance is fine for the most part, with fewer to no hiccups, the phone doesn’t perform well on the gaming front. While it should play casual games fine, heavier games like Genshin Impact, COD mobile, and Apex Legends aren’t very playable.
I don’t compare phones on the basis of benchmarks as I believe that doesn’t determine how they’re going to perform in real life. After recalling the AnTuTu fiasco on the last DOOGEE device that I reviewed, the S98, I was convinced to give it a go. To my surprise, the MediaTek P90 in the S89 Pro was underperforming a little (190,000)compared to other P90-powered phones like the OPPO Reno 2Z (220,000). Overall though, the processor serves its purpose, and it’s more than enough for regular usage.
The triple-rear cameras leave much to be desired. First up, the 64MP main camera lacks sharpness. The dynamic range is alright, and the images that come out of it have a much cooler tone. Close-up shots come out nice and crisp, but landscapes are a little too oversaturated, and there’s a lot of visible sharpening. The 8MP wide-angle lens isn’t very great and hardly produces good results. Here’s the S89 Pro against the Pixel 6. The Pixel, as we all know, has a warmer tone.
The 20.1MP night vision Sony camera is the main highlight of this device. The feature could prove helpful when going on hiking trips. The focus and sharpness of this shooter are spot on. However, we noticed that the area around the IR lights became concerningly hot after using it for just over a minute. The selfie camera is average at best.
DOOGEE, on its website, claims that the phone comes with an 8MP macro camera, which is not true. The 8MP macro is non-existent. We found a few other errors on the product page, like mentioning a 48MP primary shooter when the device ships with a 64MP primary camera.
The battery is a mammoth 12,000 mAh cell, and you can expect the same to last for four-five days at least, with moderate to heavy usage. Abnormally huge batteries like these are pretty uncommon these days. The phone charges at 65W with the provided power adapter and takes around three hours to fully charge.
That’s pretty fast, considering the huge battery. We suspect the charger is a GaN unit, but DOOGEE hasn’t mentioned the same anywhere. Judging by the overall size of the adapter, the two ports (Type-C and USB, also capable of delivering 45W via PD), and a supplier listing that we found online, it could be a GaN charger. If that’s indeed the case, DOOGEE missed a great marketing opportunity.
When a device comes with a huge battery and wireless charging, it’s usually expected that it also supports reverse wireless charging to help charge other gadgets on the go. Unfortunately, the S89 Pro misses out on the same, which is a bummer. It can charge wirelessly at 15W.
The 4G connectivity and Wi-Fi reception were solid, but due to the three-year-old processor, the device misses out on 5G support. Speaking of 4G, the SIM tray of the S89 Pro is a non-hybrid one, meaning it can hold two SIM cards and a Micro SD card at the same time. Take that, Apple!
The sound is nowhere near the AGM Glory Pro territory, which had one of the loudest speakers we ever tested. The speakers sound terrible, and the output is muffled and unclear even at max volume. The headphone jack is decent and gets the job done.
The software experience has been decent. Although some bloatware can be found, the overall usability and UI smoothness make up for it. Speaking of smoothness, there is a slight bit of stuttering when pulling down the quick settings panel. The phone comes with Android 12, and while there are hints of Material You, the UI skin doesn’t fully embrace the same.
The skin is a mixture of Color OS, MIUI, and Samsung’s TouchWiz UI. Overall, the user experience is mediocre at best.
What’s not mediocre, though, is the LED customization options. The Light Effect app allows you to customize the LED for incoming calls when the screen is off, during charging, and while consuming multimedia. You can change the speed, color, and pattern in which the light blinks. Now, I’m not the person who puts his phone facing down on the table, but I know a lot of people do, and this could be a great feature for them.
In a few weeks of testing the device, DOOGEE pushed two minor updates, one of which was a security patch that mostly fixed issues with LEDs, Bluetooth, and other bugs.
DOOGEE S89 Pro: Summing up
It all boils down to price, and that’s where the S89 Pro more than makes up for its cons. Leaving aside the underwhelming camera and the lower refresh rate, for an asking price of $360 for the base 8+256GB variant, the S89 Pro is a stellar deal for anyone who needs a stylish rugged phone.
DOOGEE S89 Pro