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Samsung Galaxy S4 Active Review

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active 8.5

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Call quality:

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active Review
Whoa! The earpiece on the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active surely has to be one of the loudest we've tested recently. Even with its volume turned down, it delivers clear and natural voice tones. Sadly, the microphone isn't as good. On the other side of the line, our voice is loud, but sounds noticeably artificial.

Battery life:

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Active comes with a 2600mAh battery that can be swapped with a fresh one when exhausted. The manufacturer has not yet provided official ratings as to how long the handset lasts on a single charge, but given the battery's capacity, the S4 Active should last through at least a day of moderate usage.


No matter how we look at it, the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is a pretty awesome smartphone. It is one of the very few devices that are tough enough to resist some serious dust and water damage, yet good-looking and extremely capable at the same time. To top it all off, Samsung has sprinkled a ton of goodies, packed as part of the TouchWiz UI. Even on a hardware level, the smartphone does not lag far behind the Galaxy S4 flagship, so it is quite worthy of bearing an “S4” in its title. Simply put, the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is an impressive high-end phone that shouldn't be underestimated.

Perhaps the 8-megapixel main camera is the only thing we aren't entirely happy with. Sure, it gets the job done in most cases, but it just isn't quite as good as the snappers that are outfitted on today's top-of-the-line Android smartphones. It would have also been nice if the screen was usable when wet. The Sony Xperia Z, for example, has that feature, so we know that it wasn't impossible to implement.

An alternative to the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active – with such impressive characteristics and top-of-the-line hardware specs – is pretty hard to find. As of this review, the Sony Xperia Z is the only capable competitor to Samsung's tough handset as it is also water-resistant and with high-end hardware specifications. Those who don't really need a water-tight phone may go check out the Galaxy S4, The LG Optimus G Pro, or the HTC One, all of which are well-made smartphones that are powerful enough to handle any task.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active Video Review:


  • Water and dust resistant
  • High-resolution display
  • Fast processor
  • Screen can be used with gloves


  • Screen does not work when wet
  • Other high-ends have better cameras
PhoneArena rating:
8.5 Excellent
User rating:
8.9 12 Reviews

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posted on 19 Jun 2013, 09:10 17

1. Diego! (Posts: 573; Member since: 15 Jun 2009)

Nice review! I prefer the design of S4 Active over the regular S4.

I'm looking forward to reading Samsung Galaxy S4 Active vs Sony Xperia Z! :D

posted on 19 Jun 2013, 19:33 7

23. KINGJUAN27 (Posts: 210; Member since: 02 Jul 2012)

This GS4 is just a Sony Xperia Z wannabe! LOL. No doubt the SXZ is faaar more premium-looking and gorgeous than this one! :D

posted on 21 Jun 2013, 04:41 9

32. taikucing (unregistered)

yeah, with horrible viewing angles.

posted on 22 Jun 2013, 10:15 5

37. moroninc (Posts: 193; Member since: 14 Jul 2012)

and a so so camera

posted on 20 Jun 2013, 18:16

31. RiseAgainst94 (Posts: 281; Member since: 03 Mar 2012)

I would as well if the camera were the same. it's not horrible, but why not keep the old camera?! I guess they have to give people reason to buy the original.

posted on 23 Jun 2013, 10:53

45. Taters (banned) (Posts: 6474; Member since: 28 Jan 2013)

In theory, this camera should be better because less pixels on a tiny sensor should equal less noise. 4mp is too little and 13mp is too much. This should be the sweet spot. They might have attempted to make this better and failed or maybe 13mp is too noisy underwater. Or they could be just making sure this doesn't cost more to produce than the GS4.

posted on 23 Jun 2013, 04:26

41. Hassan420i (Posts: 24; Member since: 23 Jun 2013)

the only thing i prefer in Samsung Galaxy is their Super AMOLED displays, since this have TFT display I can say my luxury-looking phone (Xperia Z) is much better than the tough- or metal-looking phone maybe?!

posted on 19 Jun 2013, 09:14 16

2. chunk1x (Posts: 248; Member since: 25 Jun 2011)

Why is Phone Arena keeps complain that there are no rubber protection on S4 Active. I have some rubber in my wallet that I can share to you. :P

posted on 19 Jun 2013, 09:38 4

3. Diego! (Posts: 573; Member since: 15 Jun 2009)

LOL xD I think they need som jelly too! LOL once more! xD

posted on 19 Jun 2013, 09:39 16

4. whoyton2 (banned) (Posts: 142; Member since: 19 Jun 2013)

Lol the s4 active beats lumia 925.....poor poor Nokia.....

posted on 19 Jun 2013, 09:56 3

5. roldefol (Posts: 4242; Member since: 28 Jan 2011)

Just about every Android is beating the Lumia line these days. Except the 720 for whatever value reasons PA came up with. The 92x series is getting stale.

posted on 19 Jun 2013, 09:59

6. zuckerboy (banned) (Posts: 898; Member since: 22 Dec 2011)

you cant compare 720 with highend devices. 720 gets high score as a midranger.

posted on 19 Jun 2013, 10:06 2

8. roldefol (Posts: 4242; Member since: 28 Jan 2011)

True, but when is the last time a midrange Android got a 9+ here?

posted on 19 Jun 2013, 14:49

16. zuckerboy (banned) (Posts: 898; Member since: 22 Dec 2011)

which one ?

posted on 19 Jun 2013, 19:52 7

24. KINGJUAN27 (Posts: 210; Member since: 02 Jul 2012)

I agree! Most handsomely-specd midrange Androids only get an average of 8. The Sony Xperia SP only got an 8, the LG Optimus F7 an 8 too, the Optimus L9 a 7.5, the GS4 mini got an 8.5 and the Samsung Galaxy Grand an 8 too. It seems that WP doesn't need very huge processors, gpu and ram to run buttery smooth, and the cameras are also great. Windows Phones are indeed very well optimised!

posted on 22 Jun 2013, 10:19 2

38. moroninc (Posts: 193; Member since: 14 Jul 2012)

actually Android AOSP doesnt need much to be buttery smooth... even at 1 GHZ processor and 500MB ram you could still run Android 4.2.2 ... its only when the touchwiz and other skins on top that slow the system down along with all that bloatware they just love to spoon feed us.

posted on 19 Jun 2013, 10:17

9. samystic (Posts: 230; Member since: 25 Mar 2012)

'Screen does not work when wet'... yes it beats Nokia hands down... LOL... kids these days!

posted on 19 Jun 2013, 10:46 5

12. Commentator (Posts: 3684; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)

What Nokia phone works when wet?

posted on 19 Jun 2013, 10:23 8

10. SleepingOz (unregistered)

What did you expect? Better hardware, screen, CPU, battery etc.. and it runs on Android 4.2 on top! But cm'on, you don't say it out loud, dude.. You'll make the nokia fanboys even more butthurt than they were yesterday.

posted on 19 Jun 2013, 11:08 1

14. SleepingOz (unregistered)

*don't have to say it

posted on 19 Jun 2013, 10:04 9

7. Jason2k13 (Posts: 1214; Member since: 28 Mar 2013)

I prefer the front of the original S4, but the back of the active, i really dont like the looks of the physical buttons.

posted on 19 Jun 2013, 10:29 7

11. SleepingOz (unregistered)

Same here, I like the Active's overall design but not its front buttons.
I also don't like TFT screens even if this one seems to be an excellent display, I still prefer amoled.

posted on 19 Jun 2013, 18:21 4

20. thelukewarm (Posts: 18; Member since: 18 Dec 2012)

I agree, the s4 wasn't actually designed to be waterproof........ I think that's why xperia z looks better than this device.

posted on 20 Jun 2013, 00:51

25. mottykels (Posts: 383; Member since: 15 May 2013)

Me too i dont like the design of the physical button

posted on 19 Jun 2013, 10:59 6

13. _Bone_ (Posts: 2154; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)

How is a stronger built, better looking S4 goes below 9.0? Feels a bit like PA didn't dare giving it the same score in the fear of the anti-Samsung scum predictably calling for bias.

I'm very much interested in this phone, more so than in the S4, which's glossy fingerprint plastic is not my thing. The only setback I see here is the lack of 13MP cam, but it still deserves a 9.0 if everything else is there AND water & dust resistance.

posted on 19 Jun 2013, 14:53 1

17. Nick_T (Posts: 169; Member since: 27 May 2011)

Had the camera been a bit better I would have gladly given it a 9.

posted on 19 Jun 2013, 15:52 2

18. roldefol (Posts: 4242; Member since: 28 Jan 2011)

The camera of the 928 was an improvement over the 920, but the 928 got an 8 and the 920 a 9. I thought time/competitiveness was a bigger factor than camera.

posted on 19 Jun 2013, 17:32

19. roldefol (Posts: 4242; Member since: 28 Jan 2011)

Wow dude. Way to stay on topic.

I did expect a higher score for the S4 Active. But like other devices like the Razr HD the camera pulled it down.

posted on 23 Jun 2013, 13:05

47. SleepingOz (unregistered)

You forgot to switch account before posting this comment! LMAO!

posted on 20 Jun 2013, 17:49

30. Berzerk000 (Posts: 4275; Member since: 26 Jun 2011)

The 928 and 920 were way too similar to be scored the same when they were so far apart in release.

posted on 23 Jun 2013, 09:24

44. Taters (banned) (Posts: 6474; Member since: 28 Jan 2013)

Better looking is not true for everyone. I personally think that the active is too big and how compact and light the GS4 is, especially for a phone with a 5 inch 1080p screen, makes the GS4 desirable.

In fact, that is probably why Samsung is such a big success. They make sleek, thin, compact for their dimensions products and still manage to fit in huge batteries. Everybody sees this, it is just the Nokia, Apple, and HTC fans that can't see this.

The GS4 Active ignores those strengths and go after the light plastic haters, which are just jealous HTC and Nokia fans. I would rate the GS4 higher than this easily. I don't need water, dust proofing, and a heavier phone. Light and thin as long as it is durable and has a decent sized battery is the way to go.

posted on 19 Jun 2013, 12:22

15. viisign (Posts: 10; Member since: 19 Sep 2012)

I have the galaxy s3 and the galaxy rugby pro (waterproof cell).im really interested in this samsung galaxy s4 active. But I bet they will come out with a samsung galaxy s4 active pro...I would like to see some comparisons to see if I should upgrade either of my phone to this.be nice to see a red active.

posted on 19 Jun 2013, 18:32

21. lukasound (Posts: 152; Member since: 16 Nov 2011)

water resistance and being dust proof is so not important to me...

if you want underwater pictures you can get a cheap underwater bag or case on ebay.

what i expect from an "active" phone is to be shockproof! unbreakable screen is so simple to make but it's not profitable. plus rubber sides and this would be a perfect phone.

posted on 19 Jun 2013, 19:28

22. KINGJUAN27 (Posts: 210; Member since: 02 Jul 2012)

Nice back! Ugly front with all those retro physical buttons! Pfft.

posted on 20 Jun 2013, 02:06

26. alltopfive (Posts: 1; Member since: 20 Jun 2013)

Interesting phone and launched at an interesting time when S4 was gaining ground. The physical buttons are tacky and the phone would have done with capacitive buttons. Design wise don't think it can get better than the glass wrap of Sony.

posted on 20 Jun 2013, 04:04 1

27. shotunz (Posts: 2; Member since: 29 Jun 2012)

why use a screen when its wet? clean the damn water off with your shirt!!!

posted on 22 Jun 2013, 15:32

39. yudi.nemesis (Posts: 1127; Member since: 14 Mar 2013)

because its waterproof phone

posted on 20 Jun 2013, 06:59 1

28. kabhijeet.16 (Posts: 805; Member since: 05 Dec 2012)

BEST phone out there

posted on 20 Jun 2013, 16:39

29. trawiarz (Posts: 3; Member since: 25 Apr 2013)

HDR Video rec?

posted on 21 Jun 2013, 04:53

33. taikucing (unregistered)

this one is supposed to come out first, not the ugly looking cheap plastic version

posted on 21 Jun 2013, 12:50 1

34. glentomas123 (Posts: 70; Member since: 01 Jun 2011)

Good review. Two points:

- Would have purchased if camera was improved.
- Also, how does one use the features of the fancy underwater camera mode if the screen is non-responsive underwater?

Sticking with my S3 and still waiting for the Moto X before making my decision.

posted on 21 Jun 2013, 23:24

35. Saamic (Posts: 119; Member since: 20 Feb 2012)

If this phone had the same camera as the standard S4, I would have bought it.

posted on 22 Jun 2013, 04:45

36. Necromancer (Posts: 10; Member since: 27 Jan 2013)

Since there's no Exynos in this, it is also heat-proof and a little bug-resistant! :D

posted on 23 Jun 2013, 02:17

40. runbo (Posts: 1; Member since: 19 Jun 2013)

it's true waterproof?

posted on 02 Jul 2013, 13:04

57. DrElena (Posts: 4; Member since: 24 Jun 2013)

not all of them ;( the first phone we got leaked around the two bottom bolts. The replacement is doing better, but we are very hesitant to use it more than a few min (up to 3) at a time.

posted on 23 Jun 2013, 04:30

42. yudi.nemesis (Posts: 1127; Member since: 14 Mar 2013)

A waterproof phone without wet finger tracking technology like you gotta be kidding me.
better wait Xperia ZR or even Honami

posted on 23 Jun 2013, 08:34 1

43. SleepingOz (unregistered)

But it's definitely better than the XZ and XZL, which it's supposed to compete with. Better screen even if it's TFT, camera, CPU/GPU, battery etc..

posted on 23 Jun 2013, 12:35

46. yudi.nemesis (Posts: 1127; Member since: 14 Mar 2013)

better display and hardware yes, but im not agree with camera because Sony have fix the camera problem in the latest update.

for waterproof smartphone i think overall Xperia ZR is better option than S4 active. i just hope Xperia ZR use some high quality LCD like Xperia TX display

posted on 23 Jun 2013, 13:07

48. SleepingOz (unregistered)

I haven't seen the new samples yet, any link?
Most probably but only time will tell, we'll wait and see.

posted on 23 Jun 2013, 13:43

49. yudi.nemesis (Posts: 1127; Member since: 14 Mar 2013)

you can check here:

and this for the orginal samples
normal mode:
busrt mode:

in the past burst mode had better quality but with the update even normal mode look better than burst mode

the update also include system performance improvements as well as re-calibrated screen colors and white balance settings. There's also a new Mini Apps icon, new keyboard skin, new design for some widgets, notification light on/off toggle, the soft. Finally the navigation keys background color has been changed to black from grey.

posted on 24 Jun 2013, 14:35 2

51. DrElena (Posts: 4; Member since: 24 Jun 2013)

and Samsung refuses to replace the leaking phone

Well, it could be a dream-come-true, as my husband was counting down days before the Galaxy S4 Active was released in stores. And it looked and felt just right and great, until we gave it a "dip test": in our community pool at depth ~10 inches we took two 1-min videos about 3 minutes apart.

The camera lenses got fogged, hardware buttons got disabled and the charger port stopped working. (yes, we did ensure the USB charger port was properly plugged at the time of submerging). The phone's camera was switched to "Aqua mode". Despite all the advised precautions, the phone had leaked water in.

The AT&T refused to exchange it claiming it was ***damaged by water*** (how unexpected for a phone advertised to take underwater pictures!!!).

Samsung customer and tech support first reaction was "WHO TOLD YOU THAT YOU COULD PUT IT IN WATER?

The two reps we spoke to so far made it sound as it was our fault the phone got water.

After a number of times "checking with managers" they requested us to bring the damaged phone for evaluation to repair services (who were notified in the ticket that "we accidentally dropped it in water")

What is most striking is that Samsung is refusing to admit the phone had a factory-originated problem and their customer service is pushing us around, making us to accept the fact we have to stick with a $700 "waterproof" phone that leaked the day we bought it..

Is this supposed to be fare? what a dream was ruined...

posted on 08 Jul 2013, 21:40 1

61. snowgator (Posts: 3583; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)

That is an awful, crap-like story. If you do not mind, I would love for you to post here what resolution you got.

This phone is part of a dream for me as well. A top end, durable phone. Would depress me if this ends up a swing and a miss. Something like this would move over to Android from WP, bit only if they stand behind it.

posted on 26 Jun 2013, 16:11

52. 2020tsantini (Posts: 1; Member since: 26 Jun 2013)

galaxy s4 has a 13 mp camera i phone 5 only has 8 mp nuff said..... duhh.. no brainer...

posted on 26 Jun 2013, 23:33

53. true1984 (Posts: 823; Member since: 23 May 2012)

wait, if you cant touch the screen while it wet, then how the hell do you take pictures underwater?

posted on 27 Jun 2013, 13:47

54. DrElena (Posts: 4; Member since: 24 Jun 2013)

Volume button ;)

posted on 01 Jul 2013, 17:18

55. yudi.nemesis (Posts: 1127; Member since: 14 Mar 2013)

but the screen still useless if you fingers wet

posted on 02 Jul 2013, 13:00

56. DrElena (Posts: 4; Member since: 24 Jun 2013)

in fact, no: the moment it comes to the surface, you can start using it with your wet fingers ;)

posted on 02 Jul 2013, 20:57

58. yudi.nemesis (Posts: 1127; Member since: 14 Mar 2013)

Oh yeah just show me the video if what you said is true,
because many reviewer has try it the screen is useless if wet

posted on 02 Jul 2013, 21:27

59. yudi.nemesis (Posts: 1127; Member since: 14 Mar 2013)

just watch S4 Active video review from pocketnow the video will show you that the screen is useless when wet and if you check Xperia V video review from androidauthority you will see even when the display and fingers wet the reviewer is able to play fruit ninja

posted on 08 Jul 2013, 19:09

60. Patrik69 (Posts: 4; Member since: 14 Dec 2012)

Why no underwater photo or video tests? It seems like that would be the most important part of a review. Instead you review it like every other cell phone. Just stupid. STUPID!!!!!

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Samsung Galaxy S4 Active

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active

OS: Android 4.4.2 4.2.2
view full specs
Display5.0 inches, 1080 x 1920 pixels (443 ppi) IPS LCD
Camera8 megapixels
Qualcomm Snapdragon 600, Quad-core, 1900 MHz, Krait 300 processor
Size5.50 x 2.81 x 0.36 inches
(139.7 x 71.3 x 9.1 mm)
5.33 oz  (151 g)
Battery2600 mAh, 17 hours talk time

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