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Featured Review: Doogee Ibiza F2

July 16, 2015 - Written By Nick Sutrich

Doogee has been working to differentiate itself from the sea of Chinese manufacturers for some time now, and it looks like it’s going to continue to fight on the price front.  Offering devices for a lower pricepoint than other manufacturers isn’t a new trick, but it’s one that almost always works so long as the product you’re selling is up to snuff.  We’ve seen with previous Doogee devices that Doogee can pack some significant value into the box even at a $100 price point, so for $120 we’re expecting quite a bit out of the Doogee Ibiza F2.  That wouldn’t have normally been said at this price point, one that was almost unthinkable before last January when Xiaomi begun launching some of its more popular entry-level devices, but now it’s become sort of the norm.  Does the Ibiza F2 have what it takes to stand out from the pack?  Let’s take a look.

Specs

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Packing a newer version of MediaTek’s entry-level SoC’s than the Valencia 2, the Ibiza F2 is still running Android KitKat so there’s no official 64-bit support on the operating system level.  The rest of the specs meet or exceed what’s expected for this price point now and continue to impress where Doogee has in the past.

  • 5-inch qHD (960 x 540) IPS OGS Display
  • MediaTek MT6732 1.5GHz Quad-Core 64-bit Processor
  • Mali T760 MP2 GPU
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 8GB internal storage, microSD card support
  • 2,500mAh battery
  • Android 4.4.2
  • 13MP rear-facing camera, LED flash
  • 5MP front-facing camera
  • 140.6mm tall x 70.6mm wide x 7.9mm thick
  • 150g
  • Dual-SIM card support

In the Box

You’ll of course find the phone, a wall charger and a microUSB cable inside the box, all things that should always be included when you buy a phone.  Doogee has also included a free case, which actually came pre-attached with my phone.  This is a simple clear plastic shell type case that protects the sides and back but offers little protector for the protruding lens on back or the giant screen up front.  Still if may make you feel better to use it over keeping the phone naked.  Check out the photos below to see what the clear case looks like and how it fits the phone.

 

Display

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Right off the bat you might be surprised by how crisp the display looks for being a qHD display.  That’s not the same QHD that’s packed on phones like the LG G4 and Samsung Galaxy S6, that’s a 960 x 540 display that you might have found on flagships 5-6 years ago, so we’re talking pretty low resolution even for a “mere” 5-inch screen.  Regardless of this Doogee has chosen a relatively high-quality panel which manages to skirt around some of the problems a low-resolution screen can have.  White balance could use a little work as it’s a bit on the cool side, but nothing that’s going to distract you unless you’re looking at multiple displays right next to each other.  Colors are quite accurate and feel natural, not too over or undersaturated, and outdoor viewability is fantastic thanks to a very bright panel.

Viewing angles are a mixed bag, as looking at the phone from the right and left side are OK, but if turned landscape that description doesn’t quite fit anymore.  You’ll find that looking from what’s technically the top and bottom eschews a significant drop in black levels and some color changing, so showing games or videos to a friend or family member might result in them saying they can’t see the screen very well.  On the bright side the refresh rate is good and there’s little to no noticeable ghosting, and best of all the digitizer is wicked fast and kept up with even the speediest typing and multiple touches.

Hardware and Build

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At first it seemed like the built might be all plastic thanks to the included clear case, but once this was removed it was more obvious that Doogee has fitted a plastic body onto a metal frame.  The edges around the entire phone are made of metal as are the power button and volume rocker.  The back of the phone is plastic and has a semi-rough texture to it, so while it’s not quite as grippy as a soft-touch plastic would be it’s not slippery like a shiny plastic either.  Overall the built feels high quality and doesn’t have any obvious give to the plastic or hollow feeling areas, and the weight is just right; not too heavy or light.

The rear of the device features a protruding camera lens that offers zero protection for the lens itself, and after only two days usage I found the lens getting scratched up.  I’m extremely gentle with my devices and never buy cases for this reason, so scratching up the lens is a big deal for me and something that worries me in the long run with the lens.  Below it is a single LED flash while on near the bottom of the back is a sound bar.  Around the front you’ll find three capacitive buttons under the display, from left to right a menu, home and back button.  Bezels around the display are very small and keep the overall device size down quite a bit.  This is an easy one-handed device and was a breath of fresh air from using a phablet all the time because of it.  The volume rocker is found on the left, power button on the right and both the 3.5mm headset jack and microUSB port are on the top for added convenience.

Performance and Memory

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Nary a phone in this price range feels this blazing fast, and the Doogee Ibiza F2 easily competed with phones 3 times its price in terms of overall performance.  Pressing home instantly brings you back to your home launcher, launching apps leads to near instant load times for many, although apps that are larger will take a few seconds to load up.  One odd thing I found during my testing period were the memory speeds, which according to the memory benchmarks we run came in at around 150MB/s read and 250MB/s write when the device was turned on for the first time, dropping down to a paltry 12MB/s read and 31MB/s write.  Oddly enough I didn’t notice this in every day performance and it’s possible that there’s just some sort of error in the readings from the benchmark app, but I tried all the normal things to clear this assumed error out without luck.  Check all the benchmarks run below.

8GB is almost unusable with a modern OS and app sizes, and I found myself running out of usable space for apps after just a few of my regular tools were installed.  This led to frustration but could be rectified by adding a microSD card as a longer term solution, moving apps to it when needed.  Multi-tasking was incredibly fast despite having to hold down the home button to get to the menu.  Doogee seems to have sped up all the animations of the system out of the box and with the quick processing this seems to have really helped multi-tasking a lot.  The Ibiza F2 only has 1GB of RAM so larger apps like Chrome and games may find themselves reloading if switched between too often, but overall loading times were more than acceptable and weren’t annoying by any means.

Battery Life

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2,500mAh doesn’t sound like a lot for a modern Android smartphone’s battery, but with MediaTek’s low-power chipsets and the low resolution screen the battery size isn’t an issue at all.  In fact I was able to get through a full day’s use with no problem; streaming music, chatting on Hangouts, making phone calls, etc.  I got the usual 3 hours or so screen-on time that I get with any phone, which is normal for me almost no matter what size battery a phone packs.  Looking at Futuremark’s PCMark benchmark might give you a better idea of your usage scenario though, because at the end of the day I likely use my phone very differently than you might use yours.

Phone Calls and Network

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Dual-SIM capability is important to many people around the world, and the Doogee Ibiza F2 has what you’re looking for in that regard.  Full management of data, calls and texts on a per-SIM level is easy with the tools found in settings, and I found the phone to work perfectly on T-Mobile and AT&T’s 2G and 3G networks here in the US.  Surprisingly enough this phone features LTE support, something not often found in phones under the $150 price point, although support in your country may be limited due to only four bands being supported.  Network speeds were normal 3G HSPA speeds, so somewhere around 12-20Mbps download and 1-3Mbps upload were average for me on T-Mobile for instance.  Call quality was absolutely superb, loud and clear, and I never had an issue hearing the person on the other end via the handset speaker or the loudspeaker, even on the highway.  What’s not often noted is how quickly call handoffs are, so how long it takes to actually connect after pressing dial or disconnect after hitting end call.  Everything was nearly instant with the Ibiza F2, something not often seen on 3G networks.  Below is the list of fully supported network bands:

2G: 850/900/1800/1900MHz

3G: 850/900/1900/2100MHz

LTE: 800/1800/2100/2600MHz

Software

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Android 4.4 KitKat is bordering on ancient status at this point, pushing well past the year-and-a-half old mark and could be considered a negative factor on a spec list.  While there’s no public plans for a Lollipop release for the Ibiza F2 it’s possible that you might not be too concerned with this.  If that’s the case then great news, because this is one of the fastest phones you can buy at this price range, and that lends itself to a great UI experience.  Visually it looks like a mix of stock KitKat with a light theme, mainly just changing the icons and the settings menu.  There are a handful of features added to android including gesture support, visitor mode and a few other oddities.  Check out the video below for the full walkthrough of all the software features and a good look at how the phone feels and runs.

Sound

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Sound output was excellent, and like many aspects of the Ibiza F2 tend to eclipse many other phones in this price point.  Running audio through the 3.5mm headset jack up top or via Bluetooth produced a pleasant mix of highs, lows and mids, and didn’t require much fixing via the built-in equalizer in the system.  I found the mids needed the most adjustment and I had to bring them down a bit to get the best audio out of the device, but that’s hardly a lot of tweaking out of the box.  Sound through the speaker on the body of the device was loud and clear and didn’t exhibit any muffling or other undesirable traits.

Camera

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The camera on the Ibiza F2 is truly something special and absolutely smashes nearly every camera we’ve tested in this price range.  Everything from the white balance to color balance, level of detail and noise levels were fantastic.  Noise was impressively kept in check in even low light situations and where denoise was required it didn’t go into overdrive, keeping details present even at ISO levels well above 2,000.  HDR was usable in most situations I tested it in and while it requires a bit of processing time the shutter between exposures seems fast enough to make it worthwhile.  Many times at this price range HDR isn’t usable at all as the processors are too slow to adequately process the image in-between exposure brackets, leading to a double image.  Only one of the HDR shots below exhibited this behavior.

Software was the usual fare for a stock looking Android phone, and featured a number of modes that range from incredibly useful to gimmicky.  Object tracking and panorama are likely the most useful of all the additional modes, and object tracking in particular works really well for keeping moving objects in focus while taking picture or video.  A dedicated shutter and record button are always present on screen for quickly catching those important moments in life, and the mode switching bar on the left makes switching between shooting modes easy.  There are plenty of options in the settings menu of the camera app including the ability to adjust saturation, sharpness, white balance and plenty more.  It’s a familiar interface that offers a lot of options and is simple enough to use for even non-technical users.

Video was crystal clear and delivered fantastic results all around.  1080p is the default resolution and both the white and color balance were great in all lighting conditions.  Framerate was solid and details were sharp, making this an excellent replacement for any video recording hardware you may have previously had.  Overall I can give the Doogee Ibiza F2’s camera very high marks, especially for the price point, and can fully recommend its use as a daily shooter to capture all your important moments in life.

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Conclusion

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For $150 retail this phone is a deal without a doubt, but our friends over at GearBest have a deal for you as they’re selling the Doogee Ibiza F2 for $117.  Check it out by clicking here.  All in all this is one seriously well rounded phone, with a great built, awesome camera, great audio output and incredible performance.  The negatives include a low resolution screen and the fact that it’s still running Android 4.4 KitKat, but with all the speed optimizations Doogee put into place here with the latest MediaTek chipset and the list of features it’s hard not to recommend this one as a serious competitor for your hard-earned dollars.  Having this sort of quality at this price is hard to come by, but Doogee has done it again in the Ibiza F2.  Don’t forget to check out the video above if you haven’t already to see the phone in action!