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It's easy to feel that the smartphone market is dominated by brands such as Apple, Samsung, Google, and Xiaomi, but look beyond these big names and you'll find some fantastic smartphones out there packed with features that you won't see on the big names, and for fraction of the price.
Also: Why you need a smartphone with a thermal and IR camera
One maker that I've featured quite a lot here is Doogee. I've featured this brand a lot because it's a company that's proven itself capable of delivering a quality product time and time again. And its handsets always feature a twist or two that makes them particularly interesting to me.
Its latest creation -- the Doogee S100 -- is no different.
Doogee is a smartphone manufacturer best known for making ruggedized smartphones. I've been impressed by its hardware for quite some time It makes smartphones that can take weeks, months, and even years of rough handling.
Rain, mud, rocks, bumps, drops, and scrapes -- none of that bothers a ruggedized Doogee smartphone.
It's hard to find something new to say about smartphones. They're slabs made of glass and plastic. They all mostly look the same, work the same, and pretty much perform the same tasks.
As far as basic smartphone features go, the S100 performs well. The display is bright, crisp, and detailed (with the Corning Gorilla Glass 5 glass and the application of a screen protector meaning that the display is going to look good for a long time), the CPU and RAM keep the smartphone running snappily, and the cameras deliver photos that are of a quality that is more than enough for most users.
The 10,800mAh battery is also a monster, good for a whopping 1,268 hours of standby or 72 hours of music playback or 47 hours of calling, or 35 hours of video. The bundled 66W fast charger can take this battery from flat to 50% charged in just 30 minutes, and for those of us who have gone wire-free, the S100 supports 15W wireless charging.
These cameras are good. No, not as good as what you get from flagship smartphones from Apple or Samsung or the like, but they're still very good.
Also: The 7 best phones you can buy
This is another one of Doogee's handsets that features night vision (I'd have preferred a thermal camera). If you want to see what's around you in the dark, then now you can. The downside is that you have to stare at an ultra-bright screen while in the darkness, which, for me, both kills my night vision and blinds everyone around me.
I wish manufacturers using this feature would come out with a "night mode" for the display that tones down the brightness and uses night vision that preserves the red colors. This would make the feature much more useful.
Something that strikes me about the S100 is the little stylistic flairs. The "eco" leather on the back and the smooth curved lines of the metal, yet this is not a super-thin, super-light phone, but one that can take bangs and drops. It can also sustain through the harshest elements. Make no mistake, this is a rugged smartphone.
Priced at $440 (at the time of writing, there's an on Amazon), the Doogee S100 is not cheap, but you're getting a decent smartphone package for your money. It's rugged enough to survive a tough outdoor life, and yet stylish enough to not look out of place when you're back in civilization.