DOOGEE S98 PRO, again (WHL #82F1)

Told ya I was busy – 404, no content found (not even canned one).

Since having no phone is not an option, and porting everything to LineageOS (and back…some day) is also surprisingly difficult, I sold the Samsung Galaxy A3 2016 backup phone with said LOS overhaul on eBay (for decent money!) and got another Doogee S98 Pro. Return on Amazon was painless, and delivery of the new one from a Chinese seller with German warehouse was also a breeze. Let’s just hope I never have to return anything to this “nanchangkuachuodianzishangwuyouxiangongsi” dude in “pengtangzhenyingbinzhongdadao399haoguang heyuanzhuzhaiqu 1dong1danyuan 1204shi 330200 nanchangjiangxisheng nanchangxian” – is that even real, or a running joke of Chinese sellers on eBay?

Anyway, the new S98 Pro also runs the same V3.02_20221209-1006 firmware, but presents a cannot-resolve-FOTA-update-server message when checking for newer versions. Contrary to the other one, it has no reboot loops – so this might have been a software or hardware issue, we’ll never know. I’ve been using this as my primary phone for the past two weeks and I’d actually buy it again, mainly for the thermal imaging camera. Of course there are some quirks and features, so here it goes:

  • The InfiRay camera has a larger offset than in the previous (defective) model. Just like the FLIR alignment tool in both the S60 and S61, the alignment feature of the InfiRay is either pointless or broken.
  • The main camera autofocus is pretty slow I have to say, especially with close objects. This is very noticeable when using for Euro banknote tracking (or Where’s George or what’s available for your local funny money).
  • The fingerprint reader can only save up to five finger prints. Not only do I (currently) have more fingers than that, but adding, removing or changing a fingerprint also invalidates app permissions, so e.g. banking applications require a full re-login which is hugely annoying.
  • I actually liked the button placement of the CAT phones better, since the thumb would rest over the power button, not the volume-up button.
  • Without the FLIR camera hump, I’m still lost in terms of orientation. I got a 50:50 chance of holding the darn thing upside down, it’s like it can rotate in my pocket.
  • Image files are huge. They aren’t far off from 20MB a piece, attachment limit per mail: One…
  • I’ve already dropped it once from knee height while sitting on the bed. There’s carpet underneath and I’ve kicked it to the side with my ankle. Good fucking Lord, that hurt. Strong Nokia 3210-cracks-the-pavement contender.
  • Not sure if a Doogee firmware or Android 12 thing, but not being able to expand notifications on the locked overview screen is another terribly annoying thing. Sure, I can unlock the phone (and then the notification goes away!), but what’s the point of a single-line notification, it doesn’t even fit the subject line of mails. Can this be changed with 3rd party software?
  • The USB-C port is deeply recessed, unnecessarily so I think. It needs the silicone protection plug to be moved upwards (it’s hinged slightly off-center) and a thinly encased and/or extra-long USB connector. Around half of my cables do not fit the phone, including the one with the built-in power meter.
  • Those quick access buttons on the swipe-down screen like aeroplane mode or hotspot functionality have grown needlessly in size since Android 9, so they occupy a second screen. Also, if I remove the flashlight button from there because I got it assigned to the physical button to the left, it does no longer work. The stupid quick access button needs to be there in order for the hardware button to activate the flashlight feature. Contrary to other somewhat current Android phones I’ve seen, the intensity cannot be adjusted from the menu. And I’d say the S61 was brighter from a single LED than this dual-LED setup is, but it’s still decent.
  • I think the hotspot also works as a WiFi repeater, since disabling regular (4G) data does not disable the hotspot.
  • I got random photos and screenshots in my library, it’s a bit like I’ve entered the “old person uses modern tech” stage of my life.

Other than that: Well, it’s a ~450€ Android phone that can last a full day with 5% battery drain. Pretty good!

Featured image, by the way, is my reflection in the drum of my washing machine. That’s a lot of pixels from a thermal camera, a far cry from the uniform orange blob the S61 creates in the same setting….

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