The good news is that it's cheap
Rugged smartphones have limited appeal, but that’s the point—they’re not for everyone. If you’re working in a hard-hitting environment like construction, or you like to work out or travel to dangerous areas, you’re going to need a durable smartphone that can handle any unfortunate falls, crashes, and smashes that occur.
If that’s the case, the DOOGEE S40 Pro could be the Android smartphone you need, but don’t expect perfection. It isn’t the best Android smartphone in the world, but it does have some redeeming features.
We’ll be putting the DOOGEE S40 Pro to the test to help you decide if it’s the right choice for you in this extensive review.
DOOGEE S40 Pro: Design and Specifications
The DOOGEE S40 Pro is an Android smartphone with all the features and functionality you’d expect from any mid-tier Android phone, crossed with a super-tough casing and Gorilla Glass 4 display that make it an appealing choice for dangerous or physically demanding environments.
The design of the phone is pretty much what you’d expect from a phone with a “rock-solid” tagline on the box, with a casing that combines metal and rubber to keep itself safe and secure from damage. It’s clunky, but that’s the point—it’s designed to feel durable, so don’t expect a slim-style phone here.
It meets the U.S. military’s MIL-STD-810G durability rating for equipment, ensuring that it should withstand hard usage in heavy-duty environments over a longer period. The DOOGEE S40 Pro is also waterproof, with an IP68 rating that ensures that it can stay under 1.5 meters of water for around half an hour without damage.
As far as the tech specs are concerned, however, it’s nothing to write home about. The review model we tested came with 4GB of RAM, 64GB of internal storage, a 5.5 inch IPS display, and a pretty impressive 4650 mAh battery, which should last a full day with heavy usage (and lasted around 8 hours in heavy usage during our test).
Processing power is pretty limited, however, with the MediaTek Helio A25 system-on-a-chip containing an octa-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU running at around 1.5 Ghz. Sounds impressive, but this is pretty old tech compared to what competitors like the Ulefone Armor 6E can offer. It does have a few tricks up its sleeve, however.
The DOOGEE S40 Pro comes with a fingerprint scanner, placed on the back for easy access, which is an unusual find at this price range. It also offers a standard 3.55mm headphone jack, dual-sim card slot for nano SIMs (or a SIM and micro SD card), and a customizable quick-launch button on the side.
It also comes with two rear cameras (13 megapixel and 2 megapixel) and 5 megapixel front camera. Video quality might be pretty poor, but you should be able to get a reasonable shot or two with the rear camera. Just don’t expect anything high-end from these snaps.
DOOGEE S40 Pro: Apps, Performance and Battery Life
As a Chinese-manufactured smartphone, there are obvious concerns about the availability of the Google Play store (and other Google services) on phones like the DOOGEE S40 Pro. Thankfully, these concerns aren’t valid, as the Google Play and other Google apps like Gmail are included with the phone as standard.
The S40 Pro’s interface is stock Android, with no real customization other than a custom background. If you’re used to Android, you shouldn’t expect switching to the S40 Pro to be difficult, although iPhone users switching to Android may find it harder.
The DOOGEE S40 Pro comes with a few additional apps to help its target audience, with a “tool bag” app folder that includes a compass, height measuring tool, plumb bob app, and more, taking advantage of its built-in sensors and camera. All worked well during testing, but there’s nothing that you can’t find in the Google Play store.
Whether you’re using the built-in apps or installed your own, performance really depends on what you’re using the phone for. It isn’t high-end, so don’t expect high-end performance, as the S40 Pro doesn’t respond very well under pressure. We’d argue that lag is this phone’s biggest problem, especially after a day’s usage.
After a couple of hours, the lag and lack of responsiveness started to become noticeable enough that it needed a restart to fix the problem. This could explain why the phone comes with an app called Basic Service, which helps to “optimize” the phone by “boosting speed” and clearing running apps from active memory.
Thankfully, battery life during usage is pretty solid. With a number of running apps, a little bit of video playback, and a display set to switch off after 10 minutes across a day’s usage, battery life lasted around 8 hours under what we’d consider to be heavy usage. With a huge 4650 mAh battery, this is probably as good as it gets.
Charging could do with some improvements, however. With a large battery and charging capped at 10W (with a supplied 5W/2A charger), you’re left waiting a pretty long time for a full charge. The S40 Pro also comes with an older micro-USB charging port although, given the retail price, this can probably be forgiven.
DOOGEE S40 Pro: Display and Camera Quality
The DOOGEE S40 Pro isn’t a high-end smartphone, and that’s pretty obvious as soon as you switch the phone on. Brightness under normal lighting is fine, but take the phone outside and you’re going to run into trouble.
Set to maximum brightness, the screen just isn’t able to handle bright, outdoor environments. As a phone touted for outdoor use, this is problematic to say the least. With a 720p IPS screen with a 295 PPI pixel density, the screen quality itself is towards the bottom end of the market, before we even consider the brightness issue.
The overall design of the display and screen casing is pretty standard, although it comes with an oversized bezel that takes into account the rubberized protection built-in to the case to help limit the damage if the phone is dropped. There are certainly better displays, but you should be fine with what you see in normal lighting.
It’s a similar story for the camera which, despite having a 15 megapixel Sony camera lens as the primary back camera, doesn’t do much with it. The quality is reasonable, but it won’t replace your digital SLR camera any time soon. Lighting is bad and the colors seem washed out, so don’t expect to be taking many shots at night, either.
That said, the DOOGEE S40 Pro is rated for hard environments, not photoshoots. In that respect, it does the job perfectly well, acting as a reasonable portable camera for situations that need it.
DOOGEE S40 Pro: Is It the Android Smartphone for You?
The model name might take inspiration from a certain South Korean manufacturer of high-end smartphones, but the DOOGEE S40 Pro isn’t aimed at the high-end. If you need a cheap, rugged smartphone that you can take outdoors, a phone that you’re not afraid to drop or even lose, then this smartphone is an obvious choice.
Unfortunately, the DOOGEE S40 Pro is a little lacking in some key areas. Screen resolution and brightness (especially in direct sunlight) is pretty poor, while overall performance and the included specs put it at the lower end of the Android smartphone market, although it certainly isn’t unusable.
The upside, however, is the cost. Retailing at less than $200, you’ll be hard pressed to find a 4G-capable, Android 10 smartphone for less, but don’t expect perfection, or you’ll walk away disappointed.