The Doogee S40 is a rugged phone you’ll want to break (cause it’s crap)

I think the one moment that summed up the overall naffness of the Doogee S40 was when I tried to take some product shots on a bright summer’s day. My brother-in-law was holding the phone with his arm outstretched, the screen showing TNW’s homepage. I stood behind him clutching a Nikon DSLR.

“Mate,” I said. “You need to turn the screen brightness to max. I can’t see anything; just your reflection.”

“It is,” he replied.

Using this phone was such a frustrating ordeal. I’m not just talking about day-to-day usage; its utterly crap hardware even conspired to prevent me from finishing this article. But nonetheless, I’m here. Let’s talk about one of the worst phones that ever crossed my desk.

Meet the Doogee S40

The Doogee S40 is a curious beast. It’s outwardly a rugged phone designed for those working in physically demanding occupations, like mechanics and builders. It comes with a thick external chassis that promises to protect the device from drops and tumbles.

And it also costs £100 (about $125). I can’t understate how unusual that is; even the most barebones rugged handsets from no-name Chinese manufacturers cost several times that amount.

And the thing is, even with the gimmick of it being an ultra-rugged phone, you can tell this is a cheap handset. Everything about it screams “cheap,” from the absolutely horrendous display, to the fact that it wheezes when confronted with day-to-day tasks, a bit like a 60-a-day smoker trying to take on an Ironman triathlon.

There’s something a bit weird about building a phone that’s pants in literally every way, but that’s also really hard to destroy. In that respect, the Doogee S40 is a bit like a cockroach; unwanted and utterly unpleasant, but it’d definitely survive a nuclear fallout.

Specs wise, there’s nothing really to write home about. It comes with the following:

  • A wheezy quad-core MediaTek MT6739 processor
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 16GB of internal storage
  • A 5.5-inch display (480 x 960, 195 PPI)
  • A 4,650mAh battery
  • An 8MP+5MP rear-facing camera
  • A 5MP front-facing camera
  • Android 9.0 Pie

In short, this is an unambiguously low-end setup. The Doogee S40, however, wins points on its battery capacity, which is reassuringly enduring. Also to its credit is the addition of a rear fingerprint scanner, which was responsive and fast (and isn’t even a guaranteed feature on a phone within its price range).

The rest, however? Oh boy.


The problem with reviewing an unrelentingly bad phone is that you don’t really know where to start. Is it the screen, which feels like it was cribbed from a knock-off iPhone 3G? Should I talk about the lacklustre performance, or the terrible camera quality?

Sod it, let’s start with the screen. Any phone with a sub-HD screen is unlikely to win points, but the display on the Doogee S40 is uniquely bad.


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