The Doogee S96 Pro earned a recommendation from us here at Android Authority as a well-rounded rugged phone built to last. Well, Doogee has done it again with the S97 Pro as it aims to one-up its previous success by providing a few extra features that just might place the device above the competition. Learn about this and more in Android Authority’s Doogee S97 Pro review.
What you need to know about the Doogee S97 Pro
- Doogee S97 Pro (8GB/128GB): $399 / £339 / €369
Sitting just shy of $400, the Doogee S97 Pro sits in the middle bracket compared to other rugged Android offerings. Just like the S96 Pro, the base 128GB storage is expandable up to 256GB via a microSD card. This is a 4G-only phone, so if 5G is a necessity then you’ll want to look elsewhere. It’s available in three colors: Orange Tiger, Red Lava, and Silver Black.
The device I tested arrived running Android 11 with Doogee’s custom launcher on top. As of right now, there is no documentation as to whether or not Doogee will update this device to the upcoming Android 12. Considering the S96 Pro is still running Android 10 with no upgrade to Android 11 in sight, it’s fair to go in with low expectations on platform upgrades.
See also: The best rugged phones
The Doogee S97 Pro runs on the MediaTek Helio G95, ships with a massive 8,500mAh battery, and a 6.39-inch 720p display. This year there is no 3.5mm headphone jack, but there is a USB-C port and two customizable smart keys on the left side, as well as a side-mounted fingerprint reader.
In the box, you get a USB-C charger, a plastic pry tool for the watertight SIM card slot, two screen protectors, a wrist strap.
Weighing in at 352g, the Doogee S97 Pro is a hefty piece of kit. As a result, the device can be fatiguing to use for long periods. On the other hand, due to the weight and rubber/metal build, the phone can take more than enough abuse. I threw the device a few times, dunked it several times underwater, and dropped it from about 5ft, and it came away with nary a scratch or dent. The device is also certified for both IP68 and IP69K waterproof and dust resistant ratings, and it ships with the MIL-STG-810G certification for drop protection.
The Doogee S97 Pro is built like a tank.
The S97 Pro ships with a few unique rugged features. Instead of a night vision camera like its predecessor, the S97 Pro comes with a laser rangefinder. This feature allows you to use the infrared laser to calculate measurements such as volume and area. It was very accurate in my testing. A feature like this would be very useful for those who work in carpentry or occupations involving frequent measuring. Personally, I think this feature is a step above the night vision camera featured in the Doogee S96 Pro as it has more varied uses.
Probably the best thing about the Doogee S97 Pro is its insanely large, 8,500mAh battery. To be frank, I had a hard time killing this phone. In my day-to-day testing, consisting of heavy social media usage, photography, and an hour or so of gaming, the device averaged about 10-11 hours of screen-on time, sometimes more. Furthermore, the standby battery performance on the S97 Pro is stellar, averaging less than a 1% drain per hour. The S97 Pro charges at a decently fast 33W, which resulted in charge times of around 75 minutes from zero to full. The device also supports wireless charging up to 10W, a feature not typically included in more affordable rugged phones.
The processing power on the S97 Pro is a slight step above other cheap rugged phones on the market, but not by a lot. The phone ships with the Mediatek G95 chipset but the real advantage is the 8GB of RAM for improved multitasking. Day-to-day use saw the device easily handling common tasks, and gaming was also surprisingly adequate with only a few lags and stutters in high-action scenes in heavier 3D titles.
Lastly, the camera system performs as well as you might expect compared to other rugged offerings. The main sensor takes good images with a decent amount of detail, contrast, and color saturation. The other lenses are softer and produce lower quality images than the main sensor, but are still comparable to other phones in this space.
What’s not so good?
At a glance, there are not a lot of downsides to the S97 Pro when you factor in the price, but there are still some things that hold it back.
A 720p display isn’t uncommon in this category, and Doogee fixed the color and quality control issues we encountered with the S96 Pro, but it’s still not the sharpest around.
There’s also some notable lag and lack of smoothness when moving in and around the UI. At first, I thought the display might be locked to 30Hz, but that wasn’t the case. I was able to resolve most of this issue by downloading a third-party launcher, so this may be an issue with Doogee’s software.
The S97 Pro's official protection ratings aren't quite at the cutting-edge.
While the Doogee S97 Pro is one of the most durable feeling phones we’ve tested, we would’ve liked to see at least Gorilla Glass 6 for display protection. Doogee instead opted for a Gorilla Glass 5 screen, which is two generations behind the top grade at this point. This is an area that hasn’t been upgraded over the previous model. You can expect the display to hold up for more than a few direct drops, though. Unfortunately, Doogee also did not upgrade to the latest MIL-STD-810H rating that you’ll find on some rugged phones. Nevertheless, the device is still protected against extreme shock, vibration, heat, cold, humidity, and more.
The Doogee S97 Pro ships with a large front earpiece, it doesn’t play audio, meaning users are limited to the single firing mono speaker towards the bottom of the phone. This speaker will not get very loud and sounds tinny at times.
Finally, due to the large footprint and weight of this phone, it’s not a device that is comfortable to use for long periods of time, nor is it easily pocketable. That’s to be expected for a phone like this, but it’s still a consideration to keep in mind if you’d prefer a rugged phone with a more svelte design.
Doogee S97 Pro camera samples
You can find high-resolution versions of the camera samples here.
Doogee S97 Pro Specs
|Doogee S97 Pro|
1,520 x 720 pixels
19:9 aspect ratio
|Processor||MediaTek Helio G95|
|Storage||128GB / expandable up to 256GB|
- 48MP main
- 8MP ultra-wide
- 2MP macro
- 2MP depth
33W fast charging
10W wireless charging
|IP Rating||IP68 / IP69K, MIL-STD-810G|
|Dimensions||170.2 x 83.6 x 16.2 mm|
|Connectivity||GSM: B2 /B3 /B5 /B8|
WCDMA: B1 /B2 /B4 /B5 B/8
Dual SIM: nano-SIM + nano-SIM / nano-SIM + TF Card
|Security||Side-mounted fingerprint scanner|
Doogee S97 Pro review: Should I buy it?
For $399, the Doogee S97 Pro offers a great value proposition compared to many more expensive competitors such as the Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro ($499), the Ulefone Armor 11 ($580), and the Kyocera Duraforce Ultra ($899).
The Doogee S97 Pro’s biggest competition comes from the indomitable yet slightly more expensive Cat S62 Pro ($649) and, for those that prefer a more slender device, the Nokia XR20 ($549). There’s also a curveball option — its predecessor, the Doogee S96 Pro ($389). It’s still a great budget rugged phone with a cheaper price tag and, for those that want it, a night vision camera. Then again, the S96 Pro doesn’t have as large of a battery and has some quality control issues that might scare away some buyers.
Doogee offers a great value proposition in the S97 Pro, especially for those budget-conscious buyers who work in tough environmental conditions.
Not every rugged phone will stand harsh environmental conditions or last for multiple days on a single charge, but the S97 Pro won’t have trouble with either. Because of its rubber and metal design, in addition to its laser rangefinder, the Doogee S97 Pro is a solid companion for anyone working in harsher climates.
Really the only big downside is the sheer size and weight of this device, but I have a feeling for most buyers this won’t be much of a concern. As a result, the S97 Pro packs a lot of power and performance into an affordable package and is sure to be a hit for rugged phone users.