The S98 Pro from Doogee (opens in new tab) is a variant of the S98 (opens in new tab) but it ended up being very close to the perfect embodiment of what a smartphone with a thermal camera should be. Only the lack of 5G connectivity prevents us from giving it a 5/5 score; a laughable omission in an era where 5G is now mainstream but likely to be remedied in the very near future.
Its USP remains the thermal camera feature which is an improvement on previous models; it also has an IR/Night vision camera sensor, the first handset to offer both. The rest of the handset is reasonably powerful and its launch price is affordable enough to make it a highly sought item for those looking for one of the best rugged smartphones (opens in new tab).
Doogee S98 Pro: Pricing and availability
At the time of writing, the S98 Pro was selling on Doogie’s official store on Aliexpress for a mere $324 (opens in new tab) (about AU$450, GBP260). The price includes free shipping to most territories worldwide but doesn’t include any import duties and taxes (or fees that may be levied by the courier for handling the product). Note that the S98 Pro is only available in one color unlike the S98.
Doogee S98 Pro: Design
The S98 Pro stirs up a sense of deja vu; not surprising given that we reviewed the S98 only a few weeks ago. Please refer to this review for more details about the chassis, dimension and weight. The former is essentially a variation of the latter with the second circular screen being replaced by an equally big thermal camera sensor. A more useful addition for most users and one that possibly helped it won the European Good Design Award.
The S98 Pro keeps the MIL-STD and IP68/69K ratings of its sibling, not a surprise given its generous use of TPU and polycarbonate plastic atop of the aluminum alloy frame that protects its innards. It also has the same separate fingerprint sensor, we’d prefer to have it combined with the power button, similar to say, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 (opens in new tab).
Doogee S98 Pro: Hardware
USP: IR camera
CPU: Helio G96
GPU: ARM Mali-G57
Screen size: 6.3″
Screen Resolution: 2400×1080
Dimensions in mm: 172x82x15.5
Rear camera (MP): 48,20,2,20
Front Camera (MP): 16
Battery Ah: 6
The S98 Pro uses the same hardware as the Doogee S98; Mediatek Helio G96 SoC, a slower, non-5G version of the Dimensity 700, 8GB of LPDDR4x memory and 256GB UFS 2.2 system storage.
Also on the spec sheet are a 6Ah battery that supports fast charging (33W) and wireless charging (15W), NFC, Bluetooth 5.1 and WiFi-5. The display is still a 6.3-inch 2340 ×1080 display with an oleophobic layer courtesy of Corning.
The biggest change happened with the camera sensors. The Samsung 64-megapixel camera on the S98 is replaced by a 48-megapixel one from Sony; this “downgrade” is mitigated by the introduction of the thermal imaging camera sensor from Infiray (rather than FLIR).
A quick search brings up standalone, Infiray-powered, thermal cameras that cost hundreds of dollars, which highlights what a bargain the S98 Pro is should you be looking for a camera with such capabilities. It works alongside the 20-megapixel Sony infrared camera that was present in the S98 Pro.
Other than the usual manuals and cable, Doogee also bundled a casing with the S98 Pro, which is a bit counterintuitive given the fact that this is a rugged smartphone and doesn’t/shouldn’t be protected by a case. There’s also a 33W charger, a screen protector and what Doogee calls an anti-explosion film.
Doogee S98 Pro: Performance and in use
It is the second rugged smartphone that we’ve reviewed that comes with Android 12 (the first being the S98) and it does not explain some discrepancies between the two handsets. We noticed these during benchmarking and that includes some significant variations, sometimes more than 20%, on Passmark.
Overall, like for the S98, the Helio G96 is one of the fastest non-5G systems-on-chip available for rugged smartphones. It is great for most tasks but will struggle with anything that is resource intensive. Speaking of software, there’s hardly any bloatware on the device; there’s some Mediatek specials like Duraspeed, Easy Launch, Security, Children Space and GameSpace as well as the usual assortment of outdoor/DIY/handyman apps. All are useful to a certain extent, are free and can easily be uninstalled.
The display is surprisingly bright with punchy colors and vibrant images, even in bright daylight, that’s thanks to the 500 nits brightness and 15000:1 contrast ratio. The images produced by the Infiray thermal camera are spectacular especially when combined with a picture generated by the “normal” Sony camera sensor.
Should I buy the Doogee S98 Pro?
Buy it if:
You want or need a thermal camera. The Infiray thermal camera on the S98 Pro sets it apart from the rest of the competition in this price range. It is truly remarkable that such a technology has been integrated into a smartphone.
Don’t buy it if:
You absolutely need super fast connectivity. The lack of 5G is a bummer but remains a minor dead fly in an otherwise enticing ointment. 4G should be more than enough for most use cases.