Doogee Turbo and Doogee Pixels – full review

May 20, 2014
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While Chinese companies like Xiaomi, Oppo, and OnePlus are making waves at the high-end of the Android smartphone market, some of the lesser known Chinese brands are tackling the low to medium end. One brand which I have often seen for sale is Doogee, but I have never had a chance to test one. However I have managed to get my hands on two devices and I have been playing with them for a few days to see what Doogee can bring to the table.

Both are budget devices: the first is the 5 inch Doogee Turbo DG2014, which costs $155; the second is the 4.7 inch Doogee Pixels DG350, which costs just $112. They both use the same MediaTek processor and both feature 720p HD screens (1280 x 720).

Both phones are dual-SIM and have all the standard connectivity options you would expect on budget devices. There is Wi-Fi ( 802.11 b/g/n), Bluetooth, 2G GSM and 3G. Both support 3G on 850 and 2100MHz. The latter of the two frequencies is the most common 3G frequency and should work in most places around the world, however a lot of carriers also use a secondary 3G frequency range. In Asia and South America this is often 850MHz, but in Europe it tends to be 900MHz. Unfortunately the 3G won’t work in the USA, however standard GSM calls should work. You need to check with your carrier to ensure compatibility or if you trust Wikipedia then the List of UMTS networks page could have the information you need.

Doogee Turbo DG2014

Display5-inch IPS OGS 720p HD (1280 x 720)
Processor1.3GHz MT6582 Quad Core
RAM1GB
Storage8GB, microSD card slot, up to 32GB
Camera8 Megapixel Rear Camera (13MP Interpolation) & 2 Megapixel Front-Facing Camera (5MP Interpolation)
Battery1,750 mAh
ConnectivityGPS, microUSB 2.0, Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth
Networks3G/WCDMA: 850/2100 MHz
SoftwareAndroid 4.2 with Google Play
Dimensions143 x 71 x 8 mm
142 grams
ColorsBlack, White, Blue, Yellow

Design

When it comes to design the two phones are quite different. The Pixels isn’t just a smaller version of the Turbo. The Turbo is thinner and lighter than the Pixels even though it sports the 5 inch display. The front of the phone is black with a bar at the bottom for the soft keys and room at the top for the front facing camera and the earpiece speaker grill. The top and the bottom edges continue in black while the sides are a metal-grey. The micro USB port and the headphone jack are on the top, on the left side is the power button and on the right are the volume controls. The bottom edge only has a small hole for the microphone.

The back cover is a dimpled plastic (which comes in a variety of colors). Although it is a shiny plastic, the coloring and the dimples make it look at lot more up market, also it doesn’t easily slip from the hand. The back cover starts to curve towards the edges but the middle part is flat.  The right-angled corners combined with the devices straight lines give the phone a tech look and feel, it shouts functional. But overall the design works because it looks like a “smart” device.

Performance

The MediaTek MT6582 is one of MediaTek’s popular Cortex-A7 quad-core processors. It is clocked at 1.3GHz and includes the ARM Mali-400 MP2 GPU running at 500 MHz. The Doogee Turbo scores 17064 on AnTuTu, just slightly slower than a Samsung Galaxy S3. Not bad for a budget device. My experience while using the device reflected the benchmark scores, it was fast, fluid and never suffered any noticeable lags during normal usage.

Doogee-Turbo-Epic-Citadel

In Epic Citadel the device managed a frame rate of 48.6 fps at 1280 x 720 in high performance mode, and 47.1 in high quality mode.

Battery

Although the Turbo has the bigger screen it actually has a smaller battery than the Pixels, probably because the designers wanted to keep the phone relatively thin. At 1750mAh it could be thought of as being slightly on the smaller side, especially since it needs to power the 5 inch 720p HD display. 3D gaming is unfortunately the weakest aspect of the batteries performance. Running a test with Epic Citadel shows that the phone can really only handle about 2 hours of intensive 3D gaming. The battery also gets quite warm during 3D gameplay, so much so that the phone actually displayed a warning message about the battery heat!

Thankfully the situation isn’t so bad for other types of usage. You can watch a movie, stored on the phone, for around four hours. The phone can stream YouTube videos for around three hours. You will be able to listen to locally stored MP3 files for around 12 hours on one charge and the device has a 3G talk time of around 6.5 hours, the 2G talk time is likely to be longer.

Camera

The rear-camera has an 8MP sensor and uses software interpolation to generate 13MP pictures. The pictures are quite remarkable for the price of this device. The camera takes vibrant pictures and works well for quasi-macro shots, I was able to get a good focus lock on objects even when quite close. The flower picture below demonstrates this the best. The built-in camera app includes features like face detection, HDR, continuous shooting and panorama. Overall I was impressed.

Here are a few shots from the camera:

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Software

The phone runs Android 4.2, but oddly the device (and in fact the packing) report it is running Android 4.2.9. That version of Android doesn’t exist in either an official or unofficial capacity, so my only guess is that this is a custom build for these devices and to differentiate it from other builds the software engineers at Doogee (or maybe at MediaTek) bumped the minor version number up to 9. In terms of functionality the phone is certainly Android 4.2 and I didn’t find any compatibility issues during testing.

One difference from stock Android and Android 4.2.9 is the launcher. It isn’t clear if the launcher is the stock one from Android, however it looks different. But, it could just be a different icon pack. It is possible to install a replacement launcher from the Play Store so if you don’t like the launcher this isn’t really a problem.

The firmware also includes some extra gesture functionality. Called “Smart somatosensory” you can configure the gestures for the gallery, to move between pictures; for the music player, to move between songs; for the camera, to take pictures; for the launcher, to move to the next page; and for the unlock screen. The unlock screen gesture seemed to work reasonably well, but the other gestures were basically useless.

Google Play is pre-installed on the device and there is full access to all of Google’s apps including Gmail, YouTube and Google Keyboard etc.

Pricing and conclusion

Competition at the low-end of the smartphone market is certainly heating-up. Nokia’s range of Android-based phones start at just 89 Euros, which is about $120, and the newly announced Moto E costs just $130. At $155, the Doogee Turbo is more expensive than both Nokia’s and Motorola’s offering, but it is cheaper than the Moto G. With a 5 inch 720p HD display and a quad-core processor the Turbo is superior (in terms of specs) to the Nokia X or the Moto E, and the bigger display gives it an advantage over the Moto G. However the smallish battery could be a problem for some users. You can pick up a Doogee Turbo from Chinavasion.

Doogee Pixels DG350

Display4.7-inch IPS OGS 720p HD (1280 x 720)
Processor1.3GHz MT6582 Quad Core
RAM1GB
Storage4GB, microSD card slot, up to 32GB
Camera8 Megapixel Rear Camera & 2 Megapixel Front-Facing Camera
Battery2,200 mAh
ConnectivityGPS, microUSB 2.0, Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth
Networks3G/WCDMA: 850/2100 MHz
SoftwareAndroid 4.2 with Google Play
Dimensions137 x 67 x 8 mm
158 grams
ColorsBlack

Design

The design of the Doogee Pixels is quite different from the Turbo. First, it is thicker and it is also slightly heavier, most likley due to the larger battery. Secondly, the back cover uses a pixel effect plastic that also wraps around at the bottom of the phone and can be seen from the front just below the soft keys. The pixel effect is well executed and gives the phone a sense of glamour. Coupled with its rounded corners and use of curves the Pixels looks less mechanical and more fun.

The front of the phone is black with a bar at the bottom for the soft keys. The top of the phone houses the front facing camera and the earpiece speaker grill. The top, left and right edges are a metal-grey. The micro USB port and the headphone jack are on the top, on the right side is the power button and on the left are the volume controls.

Performance

The Doogee Pixels uses the same MediaTek MT6582 processor as the Doogee Turbo. It scores 17,145 on AnTuTu. Putting that into some context, it means that AnTuTu scores this handset as just slightly slower than a Samsung Galaxy S3. Not bad for a device which only costs $112. Overall the phone performed well and there was no lags or annoying pauses. It felt as fluid and usable as many of the Android devices I have tested.

Doogee-Pixels-AnTuTu

A quick test using Epic Citadel showed that the Doogee Pixels can manage an average of 49.7 frames per second at 1280 x 720 in High Performance mode. In High Quality mode it managed 48 fps.

Battery

The Doogee Pixels has a bigger battery than the Doogee Turbo. At 2200 mAh it should offer some great results, but like the Doogee Turbo this handset doesn’t handle 3D gaming too well. Running a test with Epic Citadel shows that the phone is capable of about 3 hours of intensive 3D gaming on a single charge.

For other tasks the phone does much better. You can watch movies, stored on the phone, for around six hours. The phone can stream YouTube videos for around four hours. You will be able to listen to locally stored MP3 files for around 20 hours on one charge, and the device has a 3G talk time of around 11 hours. The 2G talk time is likely to be longer.

Camera

The built-in camera app is the same as the one in the Doogee Turbo and includes features like face detection, HDR, continuous shooting and panorama. However the camera isn’t as good as the Doogee Turbo. In general the photos are over exposed and have a poor white balance. However the good news is that the camera app has a built-in editor which is able, in part, to correct the coloring. Since the phone only costs $112 then this is about as good as a camera as you could expect.

Here are a few shots from the camera:

Software

Like the Turbo, the Pixels is running Android 4.2.9, but the odd numbering scheme doesn’t seem to have a negative effect on the phones performance or compatibility. There are some minor changes in this version, there is a new icon set in the launcher, and the setting screen uses color icons. There is also some gestures which can be configured from within the settings. One interesting gesture is the “Flip mute” gesture which will mute the phone during a incoming call when you flip the phone. Like the Turbo, Google Play is pre-installed.

Pricing and conclusion

You can’t argue with the price of the Doogee Pixels. A quad-core processor, 1GB of memory, 8MP camera and a 4.7 inch 720p HD display for just $112 is amazing. There are some weaknesses, like the battery life and the camera quality, but for the money you couldn’t expect much more. Of course there is the old saying that “you get what you pay for” and I am sure this is true of both of these phones. However during my time using them they seemed well built, fully functional and a real bargain! You can get a Doogee Pixels from Chinavasion.

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