The DOOGEE Turbo2 DG900 is an affordable 5 inch Android smartphone from lesser known Mainland Chinese manufacturer DOOGEE. It is available from our pals at eFox for just 169Euros (approx $200 USD), which on the surface is a very competitive price for a device that offers an impressive Full HD IPS display, an Octa-core processor plus an 18MP rear camera. On paper this sounds like a great value offering, but as you will see in the pages ahead, the Turbo2 has both good and bad points with battery life falling into the latter category.
Who are these DOOGEE People?
We actually do not know too much about the company known as DOOGEE except that only came into existence in early 2013, sprung as a brand under parent company Shenzhen KVD Communication Equipment Limited. KVD have been major OEM in China put their considerable experience and manufacturing muscle to task building pretty unique, exclusive designs. The Turbo2 (DG900) is an example of what they are capable of.
The name DOOGEE itself has an interesting origin with the initial ‘D’ representing the first letter of the word ‘Do’ which is followed by a double OO which represents the Omega symbol for infinity. Finally we have GEE – which is similar to the sound one might make when horse riding. To quote the company:
“DOOGEE symbolizes the attitude toward life, allowing users and dealers to feel that there is a kind of infinite strength to guide them to accomplish their goals in life, bringing them positive energy”
I think it’s fair to observe that marketing is a very cultural issue, and just as many Western brands struggle to resonate with Chinese consumers, it is clear that Chinese brand creation and marketing don’t always translate so well, especially when seemingly translated verbatim to English. Some of you out there may even have been tempted to snigger at a name which is actually very close to the word ‘dodgy’ – at least that was my first instinct upon encountering the brand on the streets of Shenzhen, coupled with look of incredulity as I recall.
As with many OEM-turned brand names in China, the marketing can raise a few eye-brows and at times even a wry smile. We can forgive any marketing failure if it is backed by a solid product, so let’s push on and get down to the details of what DOOGEE are capable of producing.
The DOOGEE Turbo2 (DG900): Hardware Overview
The first thing that struck me out of the blue upon first picking up the Turbo2 was the quality of the manufacturing. I’m familiar with the really low-end handset device segment and the Turbo2 just doesn’t feel that way. Not one bit. The build feels pretty classy. The IPS LCD display too is impressive, packing 1920 x 1080 pixels into a 5 inch screen; this is much the same as the majority of today’s higher-end devices.
The internals of the Turbo2 are a much more familiar Shenzhen flavor with a MediaTek MT6592 Octa-Core processor that has plenty of leg room thanks to its 2GB of RAM. There’s a much more standard 16GB of storage, but thankfully there is also microSD card support. In terms of cameras, the Turbo2 packs a substantial 18MP sensor on the rear side, while the front gets a generous 8MP.
Other features include 2G and 3G connectivity (but sadly and alas expectedly, no 4G/LTE support), b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 plus GPS. All standard stuff but lacking more advanced and cutting edge features such as NFC and Wireless charging. Here’s the full spec list:
DOOGEE Turbo2 (DG900): Full Specifications
- 5.0 Inch Display
- 1920 x 1080 w/Multi-touch
- MediaTek MT6592T processor
- Octa-core @ 2.0GHz
- Mali 450 GPU
- 2GB RAM
- 16GB Storage
- MicroSD up to 64GB
- Dual Micro SIM
- 18MP Rear Camera plus Dual Flash
- 8MP Front Camera
- Wi-Fi b/g/n
- Bluetooth 4.0
- 153mm x 76mm 6.9mm
- 134 grams
- 2,500mAh Battery
- Android 4.4.2
The specs above are actually very similar to what we recently saw one the UMI Zero (also available for around the 160Euro/$200 mark), the exception being the 18MP rear camera that overshadows the 13MP camera on the Zero. The design and look of the Zero of course is quite different, but certainly both phones are representative examples of what is going on at the top of China’s 2nd tier handset manufacturing scene. We were largely impressed with the Zero. Do we have the same confidence with the Turbo2?
The first issue I want to tackle here is battery life – an issue that would usually be dealt with further down in our review process, but one that I feel I must take precedence with the Turbo2.
Unimpressive Battery Life
One of the main criticisms I have had with the cheaper Shenzhen built phones in previous years was that at times you could pretty much expect seriously poor battery life. To be fair it is something that has improved considerably in recent years with better quality batteries powering devices that are better optimized at the processor and memory level. Unfortunately, the DOOGEE Turbo2 is dragging us back into the bad old days.
Using the LapTop Mag Battery informant app, with brightness at around 70% and WiFi turned on, the Turbo2 managed to last a mere 3 hours 35 mins. Compare this to the UMI Zero which managed to eek out a good 6 hours plus – it’s clear to me that the Turbo2 is way off the mark compared to its peers. Let’s not even remark on how it would compare to a true Flagship like the Sony Xperia Z3 which will keep going for more than 11 hours on the same test.
The Turbo2 has several settings that deal with power saving, the first can be found in ‘Battery settings’ (see image below) where you can enable or disable ‘CPU power saving mode’. I ran the LapTop Mag test with and without it enabled and got pretty much the same results both times. Having this function enabled did not affect benchmark scores either so I can only conclude that it actually does very little at all.
Just to gauge how much juice was being pulled by the fairly bright (and attractive) IPS screen, I ran the test again with the display brightness at its lowest settings. The result was better at 4 hours 15 mins, but I was still left feeling more than disappointed.
DOOGEE also include a specific ‘Power Saving’ app that offers three more extreme ways to conserve power; Power Saving Mode which introduces a vast array of customizable options that include turning off pretty much everything from Mobile Data, Ringtone volume, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, Tactile feedback and much more. Then there’s Automatic saving power mode which allows you to set the above Power Saving mode to kick in at a certain power level.
In everyday testing the Turbo2 struggled to get a full day’s use on one charge. With only light usage you may see a whole day’s battery life, but in general for most users I think this is would become an issue. This is quite a shame because, as you will soon see, many of the other aspects of the device show real potential.
DOOGEE Turbo2 – Solid Manufacturing
The DOOGEE Turbo2 kind of reminds me of the Xioami Mi3 in respects to the aluminum frame that is squared off at the top edges in contrast to the curved longer edges of its sides. The frame on our sample was Champagne Gold, but the device is also available in all white and all black.
The Gorilla Glass that adorns the front face appears to be sitting or perhaps floating on top of the aluminum frame. We have seen this before, again the Mi3, but here the floating experience is more pronounced than ever. The glass seems to actually raise the thickness of the Turbo 2 by a millimeter or so, whereas on the Mi3 design for example the glass just peeked above the surface just ever so slightly. The effect is not wholly unattractive but it does make the display look a little like it has just been glued on to the front. The good news is that DOOGEE are still giving you hardware capacitive buttons on the front, a feature that I am always happy to see from a personal preference perspective.
The power button and volume rocker are located on the left edge of the design, a current trend that I have ranted on about before. – suffice it to say I am no fan. We have recently seen the Gionee Elife S5.1 and the UMI Zero follow this same trend, so perhaps I should be used to it by now. Thus far however, I still find myself reaching for the right hand edge with my thumb.
The back of the Turbo2 is also fitted with Corning Gorilla Glass, offering a clean, white and shiny finish that adds to the classy feel in the hand. In the top left corner we can see the 18MP camera which seems to show off its high Mega-pixel count by being thicker than the rest of the phone, popping out an additional 1mm from the surface. Within the raised area you will find a small Turbo2 logo and the LED flash module.
Further down the rear side there is a small single speaker, visible by a short black line which is where the sound escapes from. The DOOGEE logo is just above in the center, printed beneath the Glass finish in reflective gold. The effect is not gaudy or remotely kitsch and has enough understatement to make it look pretty good.
Overall the design and build of the DOOGEE Turbo2 is solid. The aluminum frame with its combination of squared off and curved edges feels strong and the glass finish looks good.
DOOGEE Turbo2 (DG900): Gallery
An Impressively Bright Full HD Display
The Turbo2 is fitted with yet another display that has me totally bowled over (Brit speak for impressed…) . The lower price points have, until recently at least, presented some truly horrendous screens. For the betterment of all humanity, it looks like the older TFT panels of yesteryear are gone for good and we can enjoy reasonably good quality IPS technology at even the most affordable price points. The DOOGEE Turbo2 is not the cheapest of the cheap by any means, but for $200 you are getting a good looking Full HD IPS display.
At a pixel resolution of 1920 x 1080, detail and clarity are here in bounds. The viewing angles too are really good with black levels and color reproduction that I cannot fault.
That is not to say that the Turbo2 is flawless however. The touchscreen experience is frankly not up to par with other devices. I found that I often had to tap an icon more than once and swiping at times could be a little inconsistent. This can at times also be the case with the capacitive front face navigation buttons which can take a nap once in a while, needing a tap or two to really register. It’s not a huge flaw, and I know I can be a clumsy sod now and again, but compared to most device that I have used in the last year or so it’s just not as responsive as I am used to. The culprit could well that thick piece of glass on the front which perhaps does not help the overall touch screen response speed.
Capable MediaTek Octa-core Performance
The MediaTek MT6592 must surely be one of the most used mobile processors of 2014 and can be found in more handset designs in Shenzhen than you could shake a stick at. Recent reviews of the UMI Zero and Gionee Elife S5.1 reveal performance to be good enough for almost all potential tasks with decent gaming capabilities despite poor GPU scoring compared to high-end chips from Qualcomm.
The MT6592 mobile SoC on the Turbo2 is actually clocked at 1.66GHz which is a touch lower than many other implementations we have seen which can reach the 2GHz mark. Take a look at the benchmark scores below where we see a comparison of the UMI Zero, Gionee Elife S5.1 and also the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 (Sony Xperia Z2) and the Intel Atom Z2580 (ASUS Zenfone 6).
DOOGEE Turbo2 (DG900): Benchmark Comparison
|DOOGEE Turbo2 (MT6592)||UMI Zero (MT6592)||Gionee Elife S5.1 (MT6592)||Sony Xperia Z2 (Snapdragon 801)||ASUS Zenfone 6 (Intel Atom Z2580)|
|GFX Bench T-Rex||12.4fps||12.7fps||12.6fps||26.9fps||9.1fps|
|3DMark - Ice Storm||7083||7295||7152||18753||8041|
The scoring pretty much reflects what we expected to see, with scores actually quite close to other devices that use the MT6592. The 2.0GHz clocked UMI Zero succeeds in beating both the Turbo2 and the Elife S5.1 in most benchmarks, with that extra 300MHz of performance making the difference. As we have seen in the past the, the integrated Mali 450 graphics processor on the MT6592 is no match for the Adreno 330 graphics of the Qualcomm chip which pulls way out ahead in the GPU-bound scores. However this does not mean the Turbo2 is incapable of playing games. We found it ran most games we threw at it, with decent playable frame rates.
Running continuous benchmarks and playing games can of course push the MediaTek processor to its upper limits of performance and thus also create more heat. The upper rear of the chassis did get significantly warmer under these conditions but not disruptively or uncomfortably so. Overall the performance is here is more than adequate, getting the job done.
Better than Your Average Camera Array
The two cameras on the Turbo2 are potentially one of the highlights of the device. On paper, 18MP rear facing and 8MP front facing means you are getting some bang for your buck. The reality is that you are getting a little more bang than what you might expect from a $200 smartphone. DOOGEE claim to be using a Sony IMX135 Sensor plus a f/2.0 aperture lens on the rear with a wide angle 88 degree lens on the front.
The end result is pretty solid for a device in this price range, outdoing other devices we have looked at in this space.
The pictures look great in regular, reasonably well-lit environments and certainly benefit from having a larger 18MP sensor which pumps out fairly bright and clear photos at a 16:9 ratio and 5632 x 3168 pixel resolution.
At times we found that strong light behind the subject could produce some kind of washed out pictures but if you avoid that and the usual hazards that low light can also present, you will be surprisingly happy. The auto-focus does a pretty good job (more so if you have a little patience) and HDR really helps to add vibrancy and brightness in slightly low light environments without being overly aggressive.
The camera app itself is a very basic affair and similar to what we have seen from MediaTek-based devices in the past. There are basic onscreen options for HDR, Flash settings and front to rear cam switching, plus basic shoot mode options that include Auto, Live, Motion Tracking, Beauty, Panorama and Multi-angle modes. A settings button allows some fine adjustments of ISO and White balance levels etc, again nothing too revolutionary, but still handy when you want to tweak the software for a particular shot.
The front facing camera uses its widescreen lens to offer pics of a 16:9 ratio with a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. The auto beatification modes work quite well, especially on an old man like me. Video shooting goes up to 1080p resolution movies that look OK, if not absolutely fantastic. Plus there is an EIS option which helps keeping things less blurry, at least just a bit less.
In general the camera experience of the Turbo2 is better than the majority of smartphones at this price point and clearly an area where DOOGEE have made the extra effort.
Android 4.4 the DOOGEE Way
The DOOGEE Android experience is a very simplistic and minimal UI that in no way even approaches bloatware levels of app bundling – a personal pet peeve. It’s not quite as vanilla as several other Chinese developed Android UIs, but then again it is in no way as heavily customized as Xiaomi are capable of with their MIUI for example. The UI has some very Zen-like icons that use today’s flatter design philosophy as well as some modern pastel shades. The end product is a more polished Android UI than most.
In terms of apps you are getting most of what you need straight from the off. It’s good see a File Manager installed along with Documents to Go for your productivity needs. There’s also a sound recorder, a backup and restore app, plus all the more standard calendar, compass, music, video player, FM radio, torch, clock and calculator apps. In general there’s little missing although only a few Google apps are installed by default. Thankfully they have included the Google Play so you can install Google or any other apps you have purchased to your heart’s content.
The UI doesn’t offer a great level of customization compared to CyanogenMod or MIUI, with basic mostly standard Kit Kat widgets. There are a few wallpapers included and they mostly look good (not sure about the flowery one.. :/ ). This is a simple and practical Android UI that works well and keeps most of Google’s Kit Kat Android as it was originally designed to be. No complaints, but a touch more customization and more theme options would be welcome.
Another Single Speaker That Disappoints
The single speaker of the DOOGEE is not the best integrated audio solution we have every encountered. It’s not totally rubbish – I have heard worse – but there is virtually no bass and the overall output can sound a little distorted at the highest volume setting. It’s position also means that it can easily be hampered by your fingers when holding it horizontally, gaming or watching videos etc.
The volume is actually not so bad considering there is only one speaker, but it is tinny and not exactly clear at high volumes. If having great integrated speakers is your priority, this is not your gig folks.
The DOOGEE Turbo2 Verdict
The DOOGEE Turbo2 is a device that has lots of potential. A good Full HD display, a unique and well made handset deign with a camera that punches above its weight. The downside of course is the very disappointing battery life we find on all but the most extreme settings. 3-4 hours of web browsing only is pretty much unacceptable, and in late 2014 where we pretty demand an all day experience. The Turbo2 is apparently fitted with a 2,500mAh battery, which would make us question the quality of the battery itself.
We know from previous devices that MediaTek’s MT6592 can be capable of more efficient battery life than this. We know that vastly reducing the display brightness improves things only a fraction, so where else can we lay the blame? It can only really be that the device is using a lower quality battery.
Despite the negativity brought about by battery life issues, DOOGEE have to me, proven that they have the chops to make really good hardware married with solid good looking software. I look forward to checking out the next device from DOOGEE.