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Is the Doogee V20 Smartphone the Ultimate Survivor?

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If you want the sort of smartphone that won’t care if you accidentally drop it 40 times a day, then the Doogee V20 is probably the phone for you. If you’re looking for an elegant phone that you can actually fit into a stand or case, then not so much.

Key Features

  • IP69K Rating
  • Secondary Screen
  • Programming Button
  • Power Button Thumbprint Sensor
Specifications

  • Brand: Doogee
  • Storage: 256GB ROM
  • CPU: MediaTek Dimensity 700
  • Memory: 8GB RAM
  • Operating System: Android 11
  • Battery: 6000 mAh
  • Ports: USB-C
  • Display (Size, Resolution): 6.43″ 2400 x 1080 AMOLED
  • Cameras (Rear): 64MP main, 20MP night vision, 8MP wide-angle
  • Price: $399
  • Weight: 10.44oz (296g)
Pros

  • Incredibly hard-wearing
  • Decent camera for the price
  • No stuttering or major performance dips
Cons

  • Worse battery life than the last model
  • Difficult to find cases, stands, and grips that fit
Buy This Product

If you’re an incredibly clumsy person like me then the modern class of rugged smartphones is probably quite useful to you, and if there’s one word that could describe the Doogee V20, it is “rugged.” Every inch of the phone is designed with durability in mind, and it comes packed with a suite of features that give it favorable comparisons with the previous v10 model in almost every area. Does this mean that the V20 is Doogee’s ultimate smartphone?

To celebrate the launch of the V20, Doogee is running a giveaway, but entries close on the 18th of February so be quick! (Note, this giveaway is not affiliated with MakeUseOf.com)


The Doogee V20’s Design

Doogee v20 on table with box while the screen is turned on

It’s very clear that Doogee has leaned heavily into the rugged design philosophy. During my time with the phone, I had several people asking why they couldn’t remove the case, before learning that there was no case, and this is just what the phone is like naturally. That should give you an idea of just how thick and weighty this phone is. Moving back to an iPhone 12 felt ridiculous like I was holding something more akin to a piece of paper than a smartphone. To some, myself included, the weight and size of the phone are a plus. It feels like it would take a tactical nuclear strike to damage this thing. However, those with smaller hands may suffer.

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The v20 also features a 2400 x 1080 px (FHD+) AMOLED display on the front, as well as a 1.05-inch mini-display on the back. There’s wireless charging up to 15W, and superfast charging up to 33W with a port protected by a cover that will stop debris from getting into the charging port even when it’s underwater or buried in mud. As you might expect, this gives the phone the much-coveted IP69K rating, meaning it’s completely protected from dust and debris, as well as protected against even high pressure and high-temperature liquids up close.

Other key features include the thumbprint sensor that is built into the power button, a feature carried over from the v10. This sensor works relatively well and responds well even if you have it set up to respond to a fingerprint at a strange angle, such as using your index finger when holding the phone naturally. There’s also a programmable button on the opposite side that can be customized to open apps, turn on the torch, or even take screenshots. You may also have noticed the three lenses on the back, which is part of the AI-assisted camera setup.


An Impressive Array of Cameras

Doogee v20 camera array with box in backgorund

The main lens is a 64MP main camera, a considerable upgrade over the one features on the original V10. There’s also a 20MP night vision camera, in case you feel like reenacting the Blair Witch Project, and an 8MP wide-angle camera to squeeze more into your shots, though it should be made clear that the wide-angle lens does not support video capture. It also seems like a few features are missing from this version of the phone over the last one.

For instance, there is no macro mode, so it’s not really possible to take hyper close-up photos and expect them to be in focus. On the plus side, the camera features that are there do work incredibly well. It’s possible to take high-quality photos if you know what you’re doing, but the AI assistance is confusing. It doesn’t seem to make a lot of difference whether you have it on or not, but there’s every chance that under the right circumstances it could be helpful, such as low-light or with sudden changes in exposure.


One sort of strange thing to note here is the fact that the V20 can only record in 1080p when it comes to video. That’s not a huge issue, as HD still offers plenty of quality, but with 4K seemingly the modern standard for smartphones, it seems strange not to chase that high resolution that everyone else is going for.

If you are a smartphone filmmaker then there are some other features of the Doogee V20 that you might find more useful. For instance, there’s an anti-flicker setting that can be swapped between 50hz and 60hz to match the refresh rate of any screens you happen to point it at. So if you’re filming a scene where you need to be able to see a screen, it’ll be easier to do here. You can also disable the microphone and shutter noise which could both potentially be useful in a film-shoot scenario.


What About Performance?

Close up of doogee v20 with box reflected on screen

One aspect that many people prioritize with any smartphone is performance. The Doogee V20 comes with 8GB of high-speed RAM (similar to the v10) but comes with double the storage, with 256GB as standard which can be expanded with a microSD card if you need it.

While it’s fair to say that the V20 isn’t the most powerful smartphone on the market, it does pack enough of a punch for day-to-day use and a fair bit for gaming as well. Running 3DMark gave us scores mostly comparable with a Samsung A52 in terms of graphics, while it’s closer to the Galaxy M51 in terms of processor.

The performance shouldn’t be too much of a shock as this is running the exact same MediaTek Dimensity 700 SoC and 8GB of RAM that the v10 was using. There’s not been a big step up here (or any, in fact), but then again, it seems like high-performance wasn’t the aim of the game. In fact, during a non-gaming benchmark, the phone performs admirably, and in day-to-day use, I experienced no slow down or stuttering.

Gaming on the Doogee V20 Smartphone

Doogee v20 in box

If you are looking for a gaming experience on your phone, then you won’t have to miss out on too much with the Doogee V20. Obviously, it doesn’t struggle at all when it comes to streaming services like Google Stadia, or GeForce Now. In fact, the biggest struggle I found when it comes to gaming on this phone, is fitting its bulk securely into some third party controller grips.

Once you do have that sorted, gaming is pretty much a breeze. Anything from Genshin Impact to ARK: Survival Evolved will run smoothly, and obviously that means the same is true for more standard mobile games like Super Mario Run or Crossy Road. When it comes to emulation, the phone handles even GameCube emulation without much trouble, so you can play almost anything from the 6th console generation or earlier.

Phone Issues

Doogee v20 box on table

When it comes to using the actual phone part of the phone, there have been a few hiccups here and there. The mic quality is mostly acceptable but talk-time appears to have been several reduced thanks to a much smaller battery in the V20 over the v10, and I can’t figure out why that was particularly necessary. Sure, going from an 8500mah battery in the V10 to a 6000mah battery in the V20 has shaved off around 40g in weight, but is the trade-off actually worth it?

The strangest issue is that the phone seems to have trouble keeping a call connected over a long period of time, akin to what happened with the iPhone 12 and 13 late last year.

Beyond that, there is at least some comfort in that the phone does support 5G networks, and has been able to connect to 5G more often than a Samsung Galaxy S21 that is also on the same network in the same house. I’m not 100% sure what this mismatch between call strength and 5G signal strength is, but it’s important to know that it does exist. Another important factor here is that the phone is still running Android 11, with no plans in the foreseeable future to upgrade to Android 12, which is a shame, but not a deal-breaker in most cases.

The only other strange thing to talk about is the back screen. This is a much-touted feature of the phone, but in reality, it’s hard to see the purpose of it. Sure, it displays the clock if you have the phone face down, and you can use it to control your music, but I can’t imagine a scenario where that would be that much easier than just picking up the phone or using controls on your Bluetooth headphones. You’re more likely to just get annoyed when you turn the phone over at night only to have the back screen light up for 10 seconds and prevent the room from fully darkening.

Is The Doogee v20 Worth the Money?

Doogee v20 on table with box

Here comes the all-important question: is the Doogee V20 worth your money? The price point sits at around $400, which sits comfortably in the lower-middle of the mid-range when it comes to smartphone prices. For that cost, you get a phone that seems like it could straight up survive a nuclear blast and will stand up to the sort of abuse that can only come from absent-mindedly holding your phone while cooking or walking somewhere. The camera array on the back is pretty good quality for a mid-range smartphone but has a few key features that are lacking.

Overall, the Doogee V20 rugged smartphone feels like it’s designed for someone who is fed up with replacing their smartphone every month because they can’t stop dropping it. It provides average performance, but unless you’re chasing a high-end gaming experience, you probably won’t notice a stark difference between this and any other phone in the price range. In short, this is a phone with one key goal: to survive. All other bells and whistles may look nice in the advert, but they’re not the main reason you should be buying this phone.

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