In a market dominated by sleek and slim smartphones, there’s a growing niche market for rugged devices that can withstand the harshest conditions. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast who loves camping, hiking, or rock climbing, or you work in an industry where your phone is exposed to extreme environments, having a rugged smartphone is becoming more of a necessity. The primary issue with most rugged smartphones is that they tend to be bulky, heavy, and sometimes unwieldy. However, DOOGEE, a Chinese manufacturer, has introduced the DOOGEE SMini, a compact and affordable rugged smartphone that defies the usual norms.
DOOGEE Smini Features
- Rugged Body & Palm-size Design
- IP68, IP69K, STD-810H
- Helio G99 Octa-Core SoC
- 4.5” HD IPS Display & Rear Display
- 50MP camera & 8MP Front camera
- Up to 15GB RAM (8GB+7GB) + 256GB ROM
- Android 13 OS
- 3000mAh Large battery + 18W fast charging
- Dual 4G LTE, Dual-Band Wi-FI, NFC & GPS
Before delving into the specifics of this unique smartphone, let’s start with the unboxing experience. As with most smartphones these days, the contents of the DOOGEE S Mini box are relatively minimal. Inside the box, you’ll find the DOOGEE S Mini itself, a Type-C USB cable, a charging brick, a protective film for the screen, and a basic user manual. It’s clear that the focus here is on the device itself rather than an abundance of accessories.
Design and Build Quality
Let’s begin by drawing a comparison between the DOOGEE Smini and some iconic names in the mobile phone industry – the classic Nokia 105 and the DOOGEE V31 GT, alongside a selection of flagship smartphones. The SMini immediately sets itself apart, being notably smaller and thinner than the V31 GT and other flagship devices. In fact, its size is nearly identical to that of the Nokia 105, invoking fond memories of the early 2000s when mobile phones were compact and user-friendly. The S Mini’s design is a charming nod to the days when phones were comfortably cradled in your palm, enabling effortless one-handed operation.
The DOOGEE S Mini boasts a distinctive design that sets it apart from the crowded smartphone market. While the front display frames and overall form factor may appear bulky, several unique features make it an appealing device. Notably, it features a dual-camera setup on the rear and an additional secondary display that provides information such as temperature, humidity, time, date, battery level, and charging status. This secondary display offers quick access to essential information without the need to unlock your phone or navigate through menus. You can customize the information displayed and control how long it stays active, giving you the freedom to tailor it to your specific needs.
The device is incredibly pocketable, measuring just 133mm in height, 60mm in width, and 11.5mm in thickness. It weighs a mere 155 grams, making it a comfortable fit in your hand or pocket. This compact and lightweight design sets it apart from most rugged smartphones on the market.
The device’s design is optimized for durability, featuring a type-C charging connector, a power button that houses a built-in fingerprint scanner, and a programmable key with three different press functions. The absence of an IR port or a headphone jack is worth noting, but the mono speaker delivers sound quality that meets expectations.
The phone’s fingerprint reader, located on the side, is both fast and efficient for unlocking the device and enhancing its security. Thanks to its ergonomic design, the fingerprint sensor is easily accessible, allowing you to unlock your phone quickly without needing to adjust your finger’s position. This is particularly useful for one-handed use.
Durability – DOOGEE Smini
Rugged smartphones, one of the first things that comes to mind is durability. These robust devices are built to withstand the harshest conditions and unexpected mishaps. The DOOGEE Smini is not just tough on the outside but also fortified against the elements. With an IP68 and IP69K rating, it offers an impressive level of water and dust resistance. This means the device can survive submersion in water up to a certain depth without any adverse effects. It can operate seamlessly in temperatures ranging from -35°C to 75°C. Such resilience makes it an ideal companion for adventurers and professionals.
To protect against accidental drops and impacts, the Smini is equipped with reinforced corners that absorb shocks and provide additional protection to the device. This engineering design ensures that the smartphone can withstand accidental falls and rough handling. It also, boasts MIL-STD-810H certification, a military-grade standard that assesses the device’s ability to withstand various environmental stressors, including vibrations, shocks, humidity, and high altitude. This certification guarantees that the smartphone can endure the rigors of daily life.
The DOOGEE Smini boasts a 4.5-inch HD display that offers commendable clarity and responsiveness. However, its small size may not make it the ideal platform for intensive gaming. The display has a resolution of 1170×480 pixels, providing excellent picture clarity for most everyday tasks. However, this screen size and pixel resolution have limitations when it comes to HD video playback. If you’re looking for crystal-clear video playback, especially in bright outdoor conditions, the screen’s limited pixel resolution with 281 PPI and brightness of 500 nits can make it a bit challenging. But it’s worth noting that this limitation is not unique to the DOOGEE S Mini; it’s a common drawback in phones within this price range.
The Rear Display
One of the standout features of the SMini is its rear display. This secondary screen is not only eye-catching but incredibly practical. It provides a wealth of essential information, including the current temperature, humidity, time, date, battery level, and charging status. This means you can quickly access the information you need without unlocking your phone or navigating menus. You can enable or disable the display as needed and adjust the duration for which it remains active. This level of customization ensures you have the information you need at your fingertips, enhancing your overall user experience.
Playing the content on YouTube, was very smooth. You can play videos at a maximum of 480p at 30 FPS without any problems or lag, And this is the highest quality you can get. My major issue however is the lack of Widevine L1 certification which restricts the video resolution on most streaming services to a mere 480p. While this does not become an immediate deal breaker, if you like watching your content on your smartphone, this might be an issue. This level may be difficult to find in many Chinese smartphones without exaggeration.
Performance and Gaming
In terms of performance, the phone is powered by the Helio G99 processor, the same one found in the IIIF150 B2 Ultra that I reviewed before a days, ensuring smooth and efficient performance for various tasks. This powerful processor propels this device forward with a 6nm modern process and eight high-performing cores. With a maximum frequency of 2.2GHz and a Mali-G57 graphics processor, the DOOGEE Smini is a robust workhorse, capable of handling a variety of tasks.
The device handles video playback and gaming with ease, with PUBG Mobile, among other titles, running smoothly. While gaming performance remains satisfactory, some users may experience occasional micro-freezes under the lowest graphics settings. However, when it comes to gaming, the device tends to overheat and throttle in resource-intensive titles. To avoid this, it’s recommended to set minimal graphics presets, but for basic games, it provides a decent gaming experience.
However, this does not significantly hinder the overall gaming experience. Its impressive AnTuTu score of over 410,000 reflects the device’s smooth and efficient performance. It’s a good processor, I consider it one of the most successful recently.
Also, Equipped with 8GB of LPDDR4 RAM, which ensures smooth multitasking and fast app switching. Also, offers an interesting feature known as “Virtual RAM Expansion” This feature allows the smartphone to allocate a portion of its storage space up to 15GB to act as additional virtual RAM, essentially increasing the available RAM for running apps and processes. This can lead to improved multitasking and smoother performance, especially when dealing with resource-intensive applications. Furthermore, the device comes with a generous 256GB of internal storage, allowing you to store all your favorite apps, games, and media files with ease. If that’s not enough, you have the option to expand the storage capacity using a MicroSD card.
Software and User Interface Experience
The software experience on the DOOGEE Smini is refreshingly straightforward clean and bloatware-free. This rugged smartphone runs on Stock Android 13, and that’s a significant advantage, especially in a market where many rugged devices come with heavily customized Android skins. The absence of bloatware or unnecessary pre-installed applications is a breath of fresh air. You won’t be bombarded with apps you never use, giving you the freedom to customize your device according to your preferences. One of the standout features of the Smini’s user interface is its responsiveness. The smartphone handles tasks smoothly, and app launches are swift. Android 13 brings several performance optimizations and privacy features, ensuring that your device runs efficiently while keeping your data secure.
However, equipped with 10 different digital tools, this device can aid you both outdoors and indoors. The built-in flashlight is useful for outdoor activities in the dark, while tools like the Hanging Painting tool can assist with home improvement projects. You can personalize the device’s color scheme, theme, language, and even themed app icons. Additionally, it offers enhanced privacy and control over notification permissions and other settings.
The SMini even retains the useful “smart key,” a customizable button that can be configured for various functions or apps. For people older than 70 or those who prefer a simplified interface, the “Easy Launcher” offers a straightforward and colorful alternative, making it accessible and user-friendly.
As with many affordable smartphones, the camera setup on the DOOGEE SMini may not meet the expectations of photography enthusiasts. The primary 50MP and 2MP photo modules are simple and may struggle to capture high-quality photos in low-light conditions. In such situations, the sensors can produce noise, blurriness, and color reproduction errors. However, in well-lit outdoor settings, the captured images are more than sufficient, offering enough clarity and sharpness to be shareable with friends.
Battery Life & Usage
The DOOGEE SMini is equipped with a 3,000mAh battery, which may not last for more than 5 to 6 hours of screen time, especially if you use your phone intensively throughout the day. However, if you intend to use it as a secondary phone for emergencies, it boasts a standby time of about 7 days. With 18W fast charging support, battery life shouldn’t be a primary concern when considering the SMini.
One of the key considerations for any smartphone, especially a rugged one like the DOOGEE Smini, is its connectivity options. The Smini provides the convenience of using dual SIM cards from different carriers simultaneously and covers an extensive range of 4G global LTE bands, Broad network support means you can stay connected to high-speed data networks and make HD-quality voice calls in various regions across the globe. Also, it supports the following satellite systems: GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and Beidou. And supports a variety of WLAN protocols, including 802.11 a/ac/b/g/n 2.5 & 5GHz Wi-Fi support, Bluetooth 5.2, and NFC, making it compatible with services like Google Pay.
Final Verdict and Price
In summary, the DOOGEE SMini is an impressive smartphone that showcases the latest advancements in technology while catering to those who need a rugged and compact design. Despite its modest screen and average battery life, it’s an excellent choice for individuals with active and adventurous lifestyles. With its durable build, high-end features, and affordability, the DOOGEE SMini is an appealing option for those who require a smartphone that can keep up with the demands of flagship models but comes in a compact design that can withstand water and drops.
The DOOGEE S Mini is a device that enables you to enjoy all the benefits of a smartphone without breaking the bank. Its unique combination of rugged features and a compact form factor makes it an ideal choice for outdoor enthusiasts, professionals in challenging environments, or anyone looking for an affordable and efficient smartphone.
The DOOGEE Smini is a rugged smartphone that enters the market with a promise of affordability without compromising performance. The price of the Smini phone is $234.98, but during the period from November 11 to 17 on AliExpress, it will be $140.99. And with some discounts, you can get one for only $124.99. Don’t miss this offer from DOOGEE.