Review: The Doogee Mix 2 trims the bezels for $260 (and it doesn’t suck)

Review: The Doogee Mix 2 trims the bezels for $260 (and it doesn’t suck)

In July last year, Chinese phone company Doogee released the Mix — an intriguing, if not flawed, stab at a bezelless smartphone. Not long after, it released its successor, the Mix 2. This handset feels vastly more premium than its predecessor, and it does this while improving on many of the flaws of the original. I got the opportunity to spend a few weeks playing around with it, and quickly became a fan.

Design

Over the past year, every phone manufacturer (and their aunt) has jumped onto the bezelless bandwagon, and Doogee is no exception. As mentioned, early in 2017 it released the original Doogee Mix, which offered an almost borderless experience by making some pretty drastic compromises (namely placing the front-facing camera at the bottom of the screen, thereby forcing you to rotate your phone every time you take a selfie).

You’ll be glad to hear there’s no such insanity here. Doogee has come to its senses, and placed the front-facing camera back where it should be, at the top-left of the device. This return to a more conventional form-factor pays off. Although the Mix 2 is less visually intriguing than its predecessor, it doesn’t force you to change how you use a phone in order to accommodate its quirks.

Doogee isn’t a premium brand. It’s but one of a legion of manufacturers pumping out phones by the truckload from factories in Shenzhen. Despite that, the Mix 2 feels weirdly premium. It’s solidly built, and not even remotely plasticky. Both the front and back of the device are covered in glass, meaning that when you place it on a solid surface, it makes a satisfying clunk (although it is a fingerprint magnet, as discerning readers have probably noticed from the photographs.)

On the back of the device is a delightfully responsive fingerprint reader. Placing it here makes it easier to reach, but it also means that the front of the device has more space for the display. Even though the Mix 2 isn’t really a bezelless phone, I was really satisfied with the screen-to-body ratio.

Features

Although the Doogee Mix 2 sits in the low-to-medium price bracket, you’d be hard pressed to find any immediately obvious compromises. The 6-inch, 18:9 screen boasts a 2160 x 1080 resolution. It’s bright, and the colors aren’t dull or washed-out.

The Doogee Mix ships with Android 7.1 Nougat. Although at this point it’s a little long-in-the-tooth, it still doesn’t feel dated to use. I was pleasantly surprised by how little crapware came with the device. Chinese manufacturers have a propensity to bundle bloat, and historically Doogee has been no exception. I’m not sure if this is just a one-off, or Doogee has actually turned a leaf.

One of the most endearing features of the Doogee Mix 2 is that it comes backed with a ginormous battery. Under its glass and aluminium shell is a 4060mAh cell. For context, the Samsung S9 comes with just 3000mAh of juice, and the iPhone 8 mere 1821mAh.

While this isn’t as big as other phones in the Doogee stable (namely the pocket-friendly Doogee BL5000 and the industrial Doogee S60), it’s still pretty damn impressive.

Camera

Quad-camera phones are all the rage now, and the Doogee Mix 2 jumps on that particular bandwagon with abandon. Both its rear-facing and selfie snappers are in a dual-camera setup.

Quality during the daytime was perfectly acceptable, and there’s scarcely any shutter lag, which is great for candid shots. I went outside into my garden with my photo-phobic dog, and I was able to capture some pretty decent pictures. As an added bonus, the dual-camera setup lets you zoom to a resolution of 2x without relying on any software chicanery.

Sadly, this is where the good news stops, as the Mix 2 is massively hamstrung by a particularly woeful camera app. From what I can tell, it’s the exact same one that appeared on the first generation Doogee Mix.

There’s a lot I don’t particularly like about the camera app. I guess because it’s not really good at the basic functionalities, while loading you up with stuff that doesn’t really work, or doesn’t really serve a purpose. For instance, there’s a ‘blur’ mode which (in theory) creates photographs with a subject in focus and a background that’s blurry.

The problem is, it doesn’t really work. Rather than using the phone’s two cameras to create this effect (as most dual-camera phones do), the legwork is done through software chicanery. This feels (and let’s face it, looks) really artificial.

Performance

As a phone, the Doogee Mix is solid. Underneath the hood, it packs an octa-core MediaTek Helio P25 SoC, with four cores running at 2.5GHz and four running at 1.6 GHz. As for RAM, there’s an insane 6GB, which feels like (and is) overkill.

The end result is that apps simply fly. Browsing doesn’t feel sluggish, and you can accumulate “tab debt” with abandon. The Doogee Mix 2 effortlessly withstood anything I threw at it.

Another major strength of the Doogee Mix 2 is its battery. We already mentioned this 4060mAh monster. Suffice to say that if you’re the type of person who forgets to charge your phone overnight, this is for you. You can easily get two day’s worth of usage out of a single charge.

Who is the Doogee Mix 2 for?

The Doogee Mix 2 is a great phone. Although its camera is pretty ‘meh,’ it more than makes up for it in its beefy performance, enduring battery life, and premium build qualty. Seriously, this device is a treat in the hand, and I rather enjoyed reviewing it.

I also appreciated the fact that with the Mix 2, Doogee has attempted to preserve as much of the stock Android experience as possible. I know stock Android isn’t to everyone’s tastes, but I really liked using it.

If you’re looking for a premium-feeling phone, but don’t want to spend more than $300, the Mix 2 is for you. Similarly, if you’re looking for something that can survive a couple of commutes, this is certainly a phone to consider.

The Doogee Mix 2 is from a lesser-known manufacturer. If you’re the type of person who approaches obscure Chinese brands with an air of trepidation, you might want to consider the gorgeous Huawei Honor 9 Lite. I’m actually in the middle of reviewing this right now, and I’m a big fan. Like the Mix 2, this boasts a quad-camera setup, and actually does it right.

The Doogee Mix 2 can be found across the Internet for circa £200/$230. Amazon UK currently sells it for roughly £230. Those outside the UK can pick it up on the perennial bazaars for random Chinese gadgets, Gearbest and Banggood, for roughly the same amount of cash (about $260).

Read next: Researchers dish the dirt on their AIs outsmarting them