DOOGEE N30 Review: Just A Bit Too Budget?

The race to the bottom is a never-ending competition; everybody is at it! It’s less of a race now than it is a plateaued horde, gentle pacing. DOOGEE aren’t new to this game at all with a variety of mobile devices in their back catalogue, but with the DOGEE N30, they move away from their ruggedised industrial design to provide something that looks a little more premium. The proof of the pudding is, as they say, in the eating though.

DOOGEE N30
+ FOR
  • Affordable price
  • Lightweight UI
  • Decent battery
- AGAINST
  • Worthless Fingerprint scanner
  • Lacklustre display
  • No NFC

Buy on Amazon – £145 (UK)

Disclaimer

The DOOGEE N30 was provided by DOOGEE in exchange for a full and fair review. Neither DOOGEE or any associated party received draft visibility of the review copy, and nor did they have any editorial input into the final, published article. The review was completed after a 2-week review period with the device.

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Overview & Unboxing

DOOGEE (pronounced ‘do-jee’) have been dropping smartphones into the market since 2013, with my personal first experience coming in 2017 courtesy of the DOOGEE BL12000 Pro. What caught my eye on this device you might ask? The name is derived from the sheer size of the battery in tow; a 12,000 mAh beast!

Now, with the DOOGEE N30, there is nothing that grandiose for the marketing team to get all worked up over. In fact, one of the main selling points of the N30 is that it now looks like many other Asian-inspired smartphones. Their other recent notable successes have been in the ruggedised space.

The DOOGEE N30 is available in Dreamy Blue, Elegant Green (being reviewed), Magic Black and Misty White colour options, and has a glossy plastic construction. The 6.55-inch display maxes out at 720p, with 2.5D curved glass in place. All that disrupts the display is a hole punch selfie camera.

Along the right edge sits the volume buttons and a power button. On the left, only the SIM card tray interrupts the glossy chassis. Up top, there is a 3.5mm headphone jack, and along the bottom edge, there is the Type-C charging port and speaker grille. Strangely, there does not seem to be a pinhole microphone anywhere.

Around back, the DOOGEE N30 displays its quad-camera setup, subtle branding, and rear-facing fingerprint scanner.

Spec Sheet

  • Display: 6.55-inch IPS 720 x 1600 pixels, 24 bit
  • Processor: octa-core MediaTek Helio A25 (MT6762V) – 8x 1.8 GHz ARM Cortex-A53
  • GPU: IMG PowerVR GE8320, 650 MHz
  • Rear Camera(s)
    • 16-megapixel f/2.2 lens (4608 x 3456 pixels)
    • 8-megapixel ultrawide lens
    • 2-megapixel macro lens
    • 2-megapixel portrait lens
    • Maximum video recording at 1080p 30fps
  • Front Camera(s): 8-megapixel
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Storage: 128GB (expansion available: microSD, microSDHC, microSDXC)
  • Battery: 4500 mAh
  • OS: Android 10
  • SIM card: Nano-SIM
  • Features: Dual-band Wi-Fi, 2.0 USB Type-C, Bluetooth 5.0, A-GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, Galileo, rear-facing fingerprint scanner, face unlock

In The Box

  • 5V/2A (10W) charger
  • USB Type-C cable
  • TPU clear case
  • SIM-tray pin
  • Manual
  • Warranty card

Performance & Use

If you’ve made it through the DOOGEE N30 YouTube video, and the specs, it’s only fair I cut to the chase here; this is not a fast/performant device. It’s also fair to note that it isn’t supposed to be the all-singing, all-dancing king of the East either. Where this sits is very much in the lower-mid-range of devices, especially factoring in the price.

To more keenly express this, the multi-core performance is on-par with the Google Pixel. Not the Pixel 5, the original Google Pixel from 2016. Even then, the Pixel doubles the Helio A25’s single-core performance.

DOOGEE N30

Daily tasks such as YouTube/media consumption, browsing sites, and social media are all acceptable in speed and responsiveness, however, animations are sometimes rather slow in general. Switching these off in developer options did actually make a bit of a difference in the user experience. At 1.8 GHz, the core clock of the Helio A25 doesn’t help matters. The Honor 9X Lite, at around the same price, sports a similar octa-core setup, but makes use of the 2.2 Ghz A73 Cortex cores, which would provide a noticeable speed improvement. The included 128GB is a nice touch at this price point though. 4GB RAM is just enough on Android these days to deal with multi-tasking, albeit switching between those apps falls foul of the same speed limitations of the Helio A25.

DOOGEE N30

A Big Boi

The DOOGEE N30 feels nice in the hand, mainly due to the curved display and chassis configuration. However, being wider than the most recent Samsung Galaxy Note device, it’s certainly a big boy! One-handed use is possible, but the glossy finish makes the N30 quite slippery, so it might be best for most users to use both hands. Luckily, the TPU case included provides some extra grip. I highly recommend using it.

Reaching for buttons isn’t too much of a stretch, and those buttons are clicky and tactile. Reaching for the rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, whilst just as intuitive, does not yield the same positive experience. From the time I started counting my fingerprint unlock attempts, I worked out a 0.4% success rate. In raw numbers, I managed to get the fingerprint scanner to work once out of 253 attempts. I tried many times before that but I wasn’t counting. It’s an atrocious implementation. I reached out to some fellow reviewers who had touched the N30 and they all confirmed the same experience. I tried removing, re-adding, adding multiple fingers – nada. Nothing seemed to work. Thankfully face unlock works reasonably well and you can always fall back a pin to secure your device. Here’s hoping this is a software issue that DOOGEE can fix with an update.

The 720p IPS display is adequate enough. It gets bright and dim enough to handle most scenarios (especially in the winter here in the UK) albeit in direct sunlight it would be a bit of an issue. consumption on the 9:20 aspect ratio N30 was actually quite pleasant. It’s no world-beater of a display but on this device, it does the job.

Beastly Or Need A Bigger Battery?

The battery life on the DOOGEE N30 surprised me a little. Yes, 4,500 mAh is a big ol’ battery. It should, and does get through a day of use without needing to charge it up again. The surprise came in the fact that even with a number of applications in use, standby time was still pretty good. For me, Huawei stands head and shoulders about the competition when it comes to the management of their battery life. Their combination of light sipping of juice in standby and excellent in-use battery management is yet to be beaten in my testing. The DOOGEE N30 seems to do a little of this. It’s hampered a little by the inefficiency of the processor in use, but it does well. An area I thought was going to be a low point here was significantly better than expected.

5G-TFO

Finally, rounding off the use of the device is the audio. It’s par-for-the-course frankly. A mono speaker setup isn’t great but we’ve seen this even on flagships so I can’t get down on the N30 too much for delivering that here. Calls were crisp enough, but there is distortion on calls and media consumption if you whack the volume up. Bass is largely non-existent though.

You’re also not going to be receiving any of those calls over a 5G network. I didn’t expect to see 5G modems included on this device, and I wasn’t disappointed. 4G is still more than enough bandwidth for most people and the N30 should work just find on most UK carriers.

Camera & Samples

The DOOGEE N30 has a quad-camera array, consisting of a main 16-megapixel shooter with an 8-megapixel ultrawide lens and dual 2-megapixel shooters rounding off the optics. These 2-megapixel options are where we’re going to start.

The macro and portrait cameras are as pointless on this device as they are on any they are deployed in. The macro shooter gives nowhere near enough detail to be worthwhile. Those wishing to get a slightly better result will use the main camera as close to the subject as possible and then crop in. You’ll lose detail, but it will still be better than the dedicated macro lens.

The portrait camera is, once again, not great. At 2-megapixels there’s no detail and the edges are still very, well, edgy. Stick to editing the file artificially if you really want to blur our your backgrounds.

 

The main camera, however, is noteworthy. A 16-megapixel main shooter doesn’t seem incredibly detailed by flagship standards but on a device like this, it’s a really good option, on paper.

The colours on both the 16 and 8-megapixel shooters differ significantly, and both appear muted and lacking any real range with the ultrawide washing out more. Reds are blown out of all control, as you can see on the snowman’s boots and even his orange nose! The DOOGEE N30 camera array does not do well with warmer colours. That said, a lot of people prefer a more muted output than the Samsung-esque vibrancy filter.

Only the main 16-megapixel camera has auto-focus which is a major draw back. I was unable to alter focus on any of the three remaining options, with a fixed-focus shot all that was open to me. For me, this eradicates the ability to use anything but the main 16-megapixel camera.

Alongside the main shooter, it’s always good to have an ultrawide camera, 8-megapixels notwithstanding. It does struggle to articulate contrast when compared to the main shooter, and that fisheye effect will be troubling for some.

There’s enough detail in these shots to use for social media, and throwing some of them into a simple editing app like Snapseed should provide a sufficient bump in “quality” for your social media audience.

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The selfie camera is acceptable too. Even in lower light than usual, it does a decent job of delivering enough quality for a video call, all the more pertinent in the World’s current plight. It isn’t that wide an angle, so you’ll have to make do, and the colours are, as with the rear camera, still muted. There’s enough to play with here in an editor, and for the average Joe, it should suffice.

DOOGEE N30

Video Recording – 1080p or Nothing!

Video recording is capped at 1080p 30fps on the DOOGEE N30, and whilst there is an anti-shake mode, there is no optical image stabilisation in tow. The detail in video isn’t the sharpest, but again is acceptable. What is a little irritating however is the stutter. This is most likely caused by the SoC in use struggling to deal with the 1080p recording. This is one of the downsides of using slightly aged, cheaper components.

Software

Cutting straight to the meat and bones, it looks old, and tired, despite being Android 10. All the dialogue boxes are blocky and very LG-esque, and there is limited functionality in terms of the skin in general. This is a very stock, but stripped Android experience. That tiered down UI might actually assist performance though. Yes I had to turn off animations to avoid any stutter, but there is very little in terms of added effects on this skin which does keep the day-to-day use performant.

Interestingly though, that scant UI may have a slightly more understandable origin when you dig into some of the settings. Some of the panels that are displayed in settings (which annoyingly render after going into settings every single time) suggest this launcher has been ripped from a Pixel device. Not sure how I feel about that, but hey, the Pixel UI is clean, so let’s go with it huh?

DOOGEE N30

Google Play Store Is A Must

Delivering Google Play Services is immediately a value-add for any Western consumers looking at the N30. We’ve seen Huawei take a bit of a hit on their latest devices, as a result.

The familiar setup screens and Google account sign-in boxes alleviate any concerns I might have had initially about such a device. Long gone are the days where English wasn’t even a selectable language on such smartphones. With devices such as these Google Play Services is not a given, albeit many Asian-based manufacturers have made strides towards it, and it’s good to see that trend continue here.

There is minimal bloatware installed out of the gate, with only a “System Manager” application which seeks to optimise RAM management and Storage more effectively, being of note.  Most other applications are pulled directly from Google, such as Files, etc. A large amount of the Google Apps stable is installed by default too.

The home screen has limited customisability with only notification options and wallpapers available to be tweaked along with the usual widget functionality. Unfortunately, there is not even an option to allow an app drawer. Those using the DOOGEE N30 will have to be content with the iOS style of icons dropping on to their desktops. Folders can, of course, be created but this is an entirely manual job. Minimalists might just have a bit of a breakdown.

Throwing on any third-party launcher will get around some of the idiosyncrasies of the DOOGEE N30’s bastardised-Pixel launcher, and general use of the device’s software is just, well, fine. This results in a lack of huge value adds, and no huge deal breakers for most either.

Final Thoughts

DOOGEE N30

The DOOGEE N30 has some acceptable-to-good value adds for those on a budget. A quad-camera setup, octa-core processor, 128GB of RAM and a clean look and feel, both in design and UI, should not be sniffed at.

The issues come when you scratch a little below the surface. Three of the four cameras are fixed focus. That octa-core processor is a couple of years old and has an all-core maximum 1.8Ghz clock speed. Many flagship devices use 1.8Ghz cores as their “little” cores for day to day tasks. Finally, whilst the software is clean, there is little value add and it does look dated.

The N30 flits between good and very poor in most scenarios (e.g. good battery life, awful fingerprint scanner), but the truth is, corners are cut at this price. £145 can get you a little more than the DOOGEE N30 can offer now, such is the ubiquity of cheaper devices. Shop around, but if you find an N30 on sale, it’s still worthy of a look for somebody looking to get into smartphones for the first time.

About Craig Bradshaw

Tech enthusiast and Editor-in-Chief of MobileTechTalk

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