Doogee F1 Turbo Mini review: The best budget 4G phone of 2015

Doogee is another new name to us, but popular outside the UK. Its F1 Turbo Mini smartphone is a super-sleek, super-budget sub-£100 4G phone. In fact, we'd say the Doogee F1 Turbo Mini is the best budget 4G phone of 2015. Read our Doogee F1 review. Also see: Cheapest 4G phones, Best phones 2015 and best new phones coming this year. 

Doogee F1 Turbo Mini review: Price and UK availability 

The Doogee F1 Turbo Mini is a grey market phone supplied to us by Coolicool.com. If you wish to buy it from China it will cost £82.49 but may incur Import VAT; we recommend you instead buy it from the European warehouse for £104.27. Read more about buying grey market tech in our article on the pros, cons and risks associated with buying from overseas. 

At this price the Doogee F1's closest UK rival is the EE Kestrel, a Huawei-made £99 (plus £10 EE top-up) phone that until now sat at the top of our best cheap 4G phones chart. Given that the Doogee is network-unlocked, you may find it a preferrable option - and for other reasons, too, as we'll outline below. 

Doogee F1 Turbo Mini review: The best budget 4G phone of 2015

Doogee F1 Turbo Mini review: Design and build 

Doogee's F1 Turbo Mini has a very nice design for such a budget handset. The screen bezels are virtually non-existent, and where we would normally expect to find a chunky chassis the F1 is just 8mm thick. With a 4.5in screen the Turbo Mini is very easy to hold and use in a single hand, and at 112g it's incredibly light, too. It's lighter, and a tad smaller, than the Kestrel. 

The slightly curved rear aids its fit in the hand, and the dimpled back panel - not unlike that seen in Samsung Galaxy phones - improves grip. It's much less plasticky in its appearance than the Kestrel, with a glass front, plastic rear and a metal chassis that's visible from the side. 

Doogee F1 Turbo Mini review: The best budget 4G phone of 2015

The F1 feels reasonably tough, but the removable rear does mean it rattles somewhat when handled. Prise off this panel and you'll find dual-SIM slots (one Mini, one Micro), plus a removable 2000mAh lithium-ion battery and a microSD card slot that supports up to 64GB. 

The screen is identical to that seen on the Kestrel: a 4.5in HD IPS panel with a 960x540 resolution that equates to 245ppi. Colours and viewing angles are good too, which is important when you consider that you're likely to want to stream video over 4G phone. It's not the best screen we've ever seen but it's more than acceptable, given the price. 

Doogee F1 Turbo Mini review: The best budget 4G phone of 2015

Doogee F1 Turbo Mini review: Hardware and performance 

Another area in which the Doogee improves on the Kestrel is in performance. The Doogee F1 is equipped with a 1.5GHz MediaTek MT6732 quad-core 64-bit processor and 1GB of RAM. This is not what we might consider a speed demon, but it's very capable when you consider how little it costs. 

In Geekbench 3 the Doogee F1 turned in 647 points single-core and 1947 multi-core. It recorded 1133ms in SunSpider, and 25- and 13fps in GFXBench 3.0's T-Rex and Manhattan tests respectively (onscreen, that is, for the F1 failed to complete the offscreen tests and reported that it was out of memory). You can see how this compares to the competition in our article What's the fastest smartphone. 

Storage is just 8GB, but that's already better than the 4GB we often see in budget phones. The Doogee F1 Turbo Mini also has a microSD card slot that accepts up to 64GB. 

Doogee F1 Turbo Mini review: Connectivity 

The fact this phone supports 4G is quite amazing, given the price. It's the cheapest 4G phone we've ever tested. If you're buying the F1 in the UK, though, ensure it is compatible with your network. The Doogee supports 850/900/1800/1900MHz 2G, 850/900/1900/2100MHz 3G, and LTE bands 1/3/7/20 800/2100/1800/2600MHz. With a 4G connection Doogee claims it can offer up to 150Mb/s. 

As we mentioned earlier, the F1 Turbo Mini is also a dual-SIM phone. This will appeal to many users who want to combine business and home SIMs in a single handset. Check out our round-up of the best dual-SIM phones. 

Other connectivity options include 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS and something called HotKnot, which is a short-range wireless file-transfer protocol that is in essence MediaTek's answer to NFC. You can read more about HotKnot over on MediaTek's site. 

Doogee F1 Turbo Mini review: Cameras 

At the front of the Doogee F1 Turbo Mini is a 5Mp selfie or video-chat camera. Within the main Camera app there's a Beauty Face mode that offers a live preview with a slider, allowing you to reduce wrinkles or (oddly) whiten your face.  

Switch to CameraBox and you can trigger selfies with a smile or V sign. You can apply beautifying effects in real time, and there's also an age judge mode that examines your pose and tells you how old you look (I really liked it while it was telling me I looked 24, but not so much when it decided I was 34). After you've taken a selfie you can apply make up (saving you the job of doing it yourself - yay!), but some of the effects are understandably quite oriental-looking.

 Doogee D1 Turbo Mini selfie

At the rear is an 8Mp camera with an HDR mode, face detection, smile shot, a 40-picture burst mode and more. It supports panorama, picture-in-picture, motion-tracking, multiple-beauty face, multi-angle shots and more. 

As you can see from our test shot below (which was taken a few seconds after the test shot shown in our 16Mp Elephone P5000 review), the sky has been completely blown out and the photo is over-exposed. The image is sharp enough, though, and not at all bad for a superbudget phone. It's better than the 5Mp camera on the Kestrel, anyway.

Doogee F1 Turbo Mini camera test shot 

Doogee F1 Turbo Mini review: Software 

The Doogee phone runs the latest version of Android KitKat (4.4.4) and supports FOTA updates. The software is largely standard KitKat, with a few additions such as Music and Video apps and the aforementioned CameraBox. Go Keyboard is also preinstalled, and the Doogee supports some smart gestures. Examples include three-finger screenshots, two-finger volume and a double-tap of the Home button to lock the screen from any menu. You can also use gestures to take a photo, browse photos, skip a song and more. 

Privacy options include an app lock feature that lets you lock down specific parts of the phone from unwanted access, plus a Visitor mode, which hides away your pictures, texts and call logs so people can't snoop at your stuff while pretending to borrow your phone. 

Doogee F1 Turbo Mini review: Battery life 

The Doogee F1 Turbo Mini is fitted with a 2000mAh battery that, given the low-power screen and hardware, is more generous than it might sound. After a working day's typical use the battery had 60 percent remaining, suggesting it'll last at least a full day away from the mains and perhaps a little more depending on your usage. 

The F1 also has an Ultra power saving mode that can shut down non-essential apps to keep things going as long as possible. 

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Doogee F1 Turbo Mini: Specs

  • 4.5in (960x540, 245ppi) IPS display
  • 850/900/1800/1900MHz 2G, 850/900/1900/2100MHz 3G, 800/2100/1800/2600MHz 4G LTE
  • dual-SIM operation
  • Android 4.4
  • 1.5GHz MediaTek MT6732 quad-core 64-bit processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 8GB storage (plus microSD support up to 64GB)
  • 8Mp rear camera with LED flash
  • 5Mp front camera
  • 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • GPS
  • HotKnot
  • 2000mAh battery
  • 65x8x132mm
  • 112g
  • 4.5in (960x540, 245ppi) IPS display
  • 850/900/1800/1900MHz 2G, 850/900/1900/2100MHz 3G, 800/2100/1800/2600MHz 4G LTE
  • dual-SIM operation
  • Android 4.4
  • 1.5GHz MediaTek MT6732 quad-core 64-bit processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 8GB storage (plus microSD support up to 64GB)
  • 8Mp rear camera with LED flash
  • 5Mp front camera
  • 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • GPS
  • HotKnot
  • 2000mAh battery
  • 65x8x132mm
  • 112g

OUR VERDICT

We're really very impressed by the Doogee F1 Turbo Mini. At £82 or £104 (depending on how you buy it) this is the cheapest 4G phone we've ever seen. It's better-looking and more powerful than any budget phone has any right to be.

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