Doogee Mix 2 review: Life is full of compromises…

While Xiaomi and Huawei are two of the more recognizable Chinese smartphone manufacturers, there are a bunch of others that are attempting to make a name for themselves outside of their home territory. One such brand is Doogee, which recently launched a phone that draws inspiration from Xiaomi’s Mix 2 handset with its minimal bezels. The phone is called the Mix 2, which Doogee claims is the result of mashing together of the words ‘Mini’ and ‘Max.’

With a 6-inch 18:9 display, MediaTek’s Helio P25 chipset, 6GB RAM, a massive 4,060mAh battery, and dual camera setups both front and back, the Mix 2 is available for $249, a fraction of what you would pay for Samsung’s Galaxy S9. As you might expect with the low price though, there are compromises; the question is whether the Doogee Mix 2 can rise above its limitations? Join us after the break to find out.

Design

When you take the Doogee Mix 2 out of the box for the first time, you’ll immediately notice that this phone has some serious heft. Weighing in at 210g, the Mix 2 certainly is no lightweight. Some of that weight is down to the big 4,060mAh battery, the rest is probably caused by the metal and glass design. The Mix 2 has chamfered edges on the front and rear sides of its aluminum frame, and surprisingly isn’t comfortable to hold, perhaps because the frame is also shiny and slippery like the rest of the handset. To its credit, Doogee has equipped both the front and back panels with Gorilla Glass protection.

I received the Ocean Blue color to review, and it’s a gleaming finish that catches the eye. Build quality is surprisingly good and there’s no flexing or bending to be noticed, nor any unnecessary gaps where the frame meets the glass panels. The ultra shiny finish of the rear glass panel snares every fingerprint, which means you’ll be wiping the Mix 2 every time you think of touching it, despite the pre-installed screen protector on front and rear.

Something else you may notice is that the Mix 2 looks a little different from how it is advertised on the Doogee website which gives you the impression that it is a bezel-less smartphone. This is not quite the case, unfortunately. Although the metal edges on the side of the display are indeed quite thin, the screen has a black border around it. Is it a train smash? No, this is where you have to take the phone’s price point into consideration and understand that this is one of the compromises. I mean, what $249 phone is genuinely bezel-less?

Hardware

 Doogee Mix 2
AnnouncedSeptember 2017
ReleaseOctober 2017
Display6-inch LCD with 2160 x 1080 resolution, 18:9 aspect ratio, 403ppi
ProcessorMediaTek Helio P25 octa-core processor with Mali T880 GPU
RAM6GB
Storage64GB of internal storage, expandable with MicroSD card via Hybrid SIM tray
Rear Camera16.0MP+13.0MP, f/2.0, PDAF, Blur Mode, LED flash
Front Camera8MP 130-degree wide-angle + 8MP 88-degree wide-angle, 1080p video
Battery4,060mAh (non-removable)
ChargingUSB Type-C
SoundSingle downward firing speaker, no 3.5mm audio jack
SoftwareAndroid 7.1.1 Nougat,
DoogeeOS v2.0
ConnectivityDual nano-SIM (Hybrid SIM tray), Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS
Network bands2G:GSM: 850/900/1800/1900MHz3G:WCDMA: 900/2100MHz4G:FDD_LTE B1/B3/B7/B8/B20
SensorsRear fingerprint reader,
Measurements159.1 x 74.7 x 8.6mm
Weight210g
ColorsBlack, Blue, Gold

Performance

The 6-inch FHD+ display on the Mix 2 uses the trendy 18:9 aspect ratio seen on most other smartphones these days, and while it does the job, no one is going to say it’s the brightest panel they’ve ever used, and the iffy automatic settings will cause some angst. Viewing the display when in sunlight is not the easiest thing to do. That being said, it does the job it’s supposed to, and colors stand out well with a good amount of contrast; 1000:1, according to Doogee. Viewing angles aren’t fantastic, but again, this is one of the compromises one gets with a $249 handset.

The Mix 2 is surprisingly nippy, and the combination of the MediaTek Helio P25 octa-core processor and the generous helping of 6GB RAM makes for a decent user experience. As for gaming, the Mix 2 takes care of Plants v Zombies 2 with ease, and perhaps, more importantly, PUBG Mobile plays perfectly well on the handset at both the Lower and Balanced Graphic thresholds.

The single speaker on the bottom of the handset, next to the USB Type-C charging port, is loud enough to do the job, nothing more, nothing less. Something that audiophiles will have noticed is that Doogee has followed the trend of omitting the 3.5mm audio jack. There is, however, a USB Type-C to 3.5mm audio jack adapter in the box if you don’t want to switch over to a Bluetooth headset.

Battery

As you might expect, the Doogee Mix 2 is a beast when it comes to battery life; you can expect to get to midnight with around 40% left in the tank, even after heavy use. Thanks to its stamina you can expect to easily make it through a long-haul flight watching content stored on the phone with a bit to spare, which is quite impressive. On the downside, despite having a USB Type-C port, the Mix 2 doesn’t have any fast-charging technology built-in, so topping up the 4,060mAh battery will take a couple of hours.

Software

Besides running Android 7.1.1 Nougat as the base OS, the Mix 2 features a custom overlay made by MediaTek, for better or worse. With a stock Android appearance, the Mix 2 would have been more appealing. Instead, the MediaTek skin detracts value from the user experience. You are restricted to just four rows of icons on the home screen while the dock beneath allows for five app icons and the unnecessary animations that slow the phone down a little. When you install the Google Now Launcher though, there’s a noticeable improvement. As for software updates, it’s unlikely that the Doogee Mix 2 will be updated to Android Oreo anytime soon.

Camera

With a dual camera setup front and back, you may have set your expectations sky-high, if so, I’m sorry to burst your bubble. It’s important to remember that this is a $249 smartphone and not a Pixel 2, so while Doogee has endowed the Mix 2 with four cameras, the software’s ability to bring the best out of the hardware is often lacking. Focusing on a subject is not the easiest thing to do at close range, and even pics taken in good lighting conditions tend to show a level of noise that you just wouldn’t expect.

The camera app has a fair few options that include HDR, Mono, Blur, Panorama, FaceBeauty, and Pro mode, but you’ll probably want to stick to the standard HDR and Photo modes.

The Mix 2 is capable of taking some excellent selfies with its front cameras, especially with the 130-degree sensor, showing a reasonable level of detail, perhaps too much in my case. Despite this, I have included a couple of selfies below for your dubious interest.

Closing

A $249 phone that doesn’t match up to a Pixel 2 or Galaxy S9, it’s hardly a surprise, is it? Well, hold on to your horses because that’s a simplistic opinion. Sure, the cameras aren’t a match, neither is the display nor the software experience. But, the Doogee Mix 2 costs $249, not $800, and so expectations have to be dampened. The question is not whether the Mix 2 has $800 of value, but whether it can hold its own against its similarly priced rivals such as the Honor 7X or the Moto G5S Plus. In the Doogee Mix 2’s favor are its big 6-inch display, monster battery life, a good amount of storage, and reassuring build quality and stunning finish. On the downside, the screen just isn’t bright enough, the dual rear camera setup is a little flaky at times, a sucky custom overlay, and its a tad heavy to sit in your trouser pocket comfortably.

The truth is that if you have $250 to spend on a new smartphone, you could be better off coughing up another $20 and buying the Moto G5S Plus (in the US) at $279, a phone that boasts NFC, TurboPower charging, almost stock Android software, and a somewhat decent rear camera setup. But, if you want something a little out of the ordinary with a shiny-shiny finish and amazing battery life, the Doogee Mix 2 could be what you are looking for.

It isn’t all negative for Doogee, because the smartphone maker shows ambition to improve with every new phone it releases. Perhaps a possible move to using Qualcomm processors in the company’s next flagship will result in the demise of the poor MediaTek skin, improved software optimization, and better use of the camera sensors.

Buy it now: Doogee


About the Author: Peter Holden

He's been an Android fan ever since owning an HTC Hero, with the Dell Streak being his first phablet. He currently carries a Pixel 2 XL, Huawei P20 Pro, and a Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 around in his pockets. When not immersed in the world of Android and gadgets, he's an avid sports fan, and like all South Africans, he loves a good Braai (BBQ).