The latest smartphone trend in 2017 is the bezel-less phone. Phone manufacturers like Samsung, LG and XiaoMi have all released their flagship “bezel-less” (or tiny bezels) phones, and they all look great. Not wanting to be left out of the party, Doogee (a Spain smartphone brand that was brought into China) released their latest Doogee Mix “bezel-less” phone and tout it as the “smallest full display smartphone in the world.” The best thing is that it costs less than $200. Is this the best deal ever or just a crap phone with a low price tag? Let’s check it out.
What’s in the box
Other than the phone, charging cable, warranty card and instruction manual, it also comes with a phone case and screen protector. This is particularly useful since you probably won’t be able to get a suitable case in your local phone shop.
If you have noticed a condom lookalike in the image above and are wondering what a condom is doing in the box, you are in for a surprise. A closer look at the packaging reveals that it is a phone ring holder.
“Stick in Hole. Feel the World” and “safe grip & always stand” it reads – nice attempt in trying to be funny.
Specifications and Design
- Helio P25 Octa-Core 2.5GHz CPU, Mali TM880 MP2 GPU
- 6GB RAM
- 64 GB storage, support external Micro SD/TF card up to 128GB
- 144 x 76.2 x 7.95mm, 193 g
- Dual SIM (Micro + Nano)
- 4G LTE, 3G HSPA+, 2G EDGE & GPRS Networks
- 5.5″ 720p display
- 16.0 + 8.0 Megapixels (dual camera), 5.0 Megapixels front camera
- 3380mAh Li-Po battery
- Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0.
- Fingerprint Sensor
- Available in black and blue
- US$189.99 from the Banggood store.
One of its unique selling points is “bezel-less,” but in actual fact, there is a tiny bezel of 2.5mm around it. The one that makes the difference is the tiny top bezel which extends the display all the way to the top, leaving just a small gap for the speaker.
The fingerprint sensor is located on the bottom-front. It doesn’t function as a Home button by default, though it can be configured to perform actions like Go Back, go to Home, or launch Recent list with a single tap or press and hold. It doesn’t have any capacitive buttons beside the fingerprint sensor, so there is some wasted space at the bottom area.
The front camera is also located at the bottom toward the right corner. This may be a weird location to place the front camera, but given the tiny bezel at the top, there isn’t any space left to place the camera at the top. To use the front camera you will have to rotate the phone 180 degrees and use it upside down. (The camera orientation will adjust accordingly.)
The Doogee Mix is 8mm thick, and the curved surface gives it an easy grip, though you can definitely feel its heaviness (193g) on your hand.
The back of the phone is applied with a reflective Gorilla Glass 5 (same as the front), and there are two cameras at the top.
The dual camera setup is pretty common in phones nowadays with the goal of helping you take better photos.
Doogee Mix still retains the old micro USB port for charging. The speaker grilles are also located at the bottom instead of the back.
Here are some of my thoughts after using the phone for a week.
One thing I really like about the phone is the fast and accurate fingerprint sensor. 8 out of 10 times I can easily and quickly unlock the phone/app with a quick tap. While it is not a button you can press, you can configure single-tap or long-press actions to it.
In terms of performance, the massive 6GB of RAM really makes a difference. I opened many apps, switched between them, watched videos, played a game (GT Racing 2) and the performance is buttery smooth. Nothing felt sluggish, and there was no lag at all.
The screen resolution is only 720p (1280x720px), which is rather poor considering that it comes with a big, extended screen. Display on the screen is clear but is not sharp. You can definitely see the pixels on the screen. If you have been using a phone with an FHD screen, this will feel like a downgrade.
The battery life is great. On normal usage (reading emails, watching videos, surfing the Web, listening to music), I can easily get a day and a half (a whopping thirty-six hours) of usage for each charge. For streaming videos at full brightness and volume, it can last for eight hours. Depending on your usage, it will have no problem lasting for a full day.
It comes with a quick-charge feature as well. It charged my battery from 20% to 60% in twenty minutes. A full charge will take about one hour.
One thing that is glaringly missing from the phone is the notification LED light. There is none, and it almost made my crazy. For all the phones that I have been using, I depend heavily on the notification LED to inform me of any reminders and incoming alerts and messages. This should be a must-have feature in any smartphone in 2017.
On paper, the 16MP + 8MP dual camera on the back of the camera seems like a great setup. The fact is it doesn’t translate to great photos. It can take decent photos, but they are generally whitewashed. Even with HDR mode, the quality of the photos is not any better. There is a Blur mode (Bokeh) that does provide decent quality. The following is a comparison of the photos taken on Doogee Mix and an iPhone 5.
The color of the photo taken by the Doogee Mix is less vibrant and is whitewashed.
The photo taken in HDR mode is not any better though.
The Blur (Bokeh) mode works well.
Photo taken in the low light setting and with flash.
Doogee Mix is running Android 7.0, which means you can access features like multi-windows, improved Doze, direct reply in the notification bar, quick settings menu and many more useful features of Android Nougat. There are a few custom apps pre-installed in the phone, like DG Xender for transferring files between devices without Internet connection and Parallel Space for you to connect two profile of the same app. They can be easily uninstalled if you have no intention of using them.
The custom launcher is pretty basic. It has a News section on the left of the screen that cannot be disabled. There is nothing special here, and it can be swapped out easily with your favorite launcher.
Other customization options include Float gesture, which is a floating ball that open a radical view for you to quickly access various modes. I don’t find this useful, as it doesn’t allow me to customize the control item in the list.
There is also the One Hand FloatView where you can swipe in from the bottom right corner to reveal a floating list. Once again, I don’t find this useful as it often takes a number of tries to bring up to the screen.
Overall, it tries to keep the software interface close to the stock Android interface, and there is no bloatware to slow the phone down.
For a phone that is less than $200, Doogee Mix does not disappoint. Other than the lack of notification LED and a 720p screen resolution, the build of the phone is surprisingly good, far exceeding my expectations. The performance is good, and it has a large screen and plenty of storage space. It’s a decent camera and a cheap price. You probably won’t find a better deal.
It is now available for sale at Banggood.com.
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