Samsung Galaxy S5 Active Review
When Sammy introduced the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active last year, it seemed as though many owners of the beloved Galaxy S4 were suddenly shocked by the revelation – a waterproof version of their existing handset. Naturally, the nature of the phone’s arrival would’ve been less shocking if Galaxy S4 owners were somehow prepped ahead of time about the Galaxy S4 Active’s impending arrival, but they weren’t. Instead, the handset came out of nowhere taking everyone by surprise. Who wouldn’t be a bit pissed, especially when it bears nearly the same hardware specs of the flagship?
The feeling is less intense this time, thankfully. Even before its official announcement, we all knew that we were going to see variants of the Galaxy S5 in due time – with one of them being an even more ruggedized version. Enter the Samsung Galaxy S5 Active, which like before, bears many of the elements and specs of its esteemed cousin. As we already know all too well, the Galaxy S5 now has a water-resistant element, so why even bother with the Active? Read on and we’ll clear things up more regarding it.
The package contains:
- microUSB cable
- Wall charger
- Stereo headphones
- Quick start guide
Looks and beauty isn’t what the Galaxy S5 Active is after, but instead, it offers superior protection.
If you weren’t terribly sold with the Galaxy S5’s design, then you won’t find anything astounding here with the Galaxy S5 Active. Just like last year’s Active, this one sports a more ruggedized design – one that doesn’t care for a fanciful looks. Rather, it’s comprised out of sturdier plastic materials that seem light years more solid than the one used by the Galaxy S5, so it’s able to withstand serious punishment. Naturally, the design language of the phone makes perfect, especially when it meets military specification 810g and is IP67 certified.
No doubt a solidly constructed thing, it can really take a beating like no other. Whereas the Galaxy S5 might flex and bend when abused, the Galaxy S5 Active is unfazed by any sort of destructive handling. Topping it off, its built-like-a-tank chassis makes it dust proof, drop proof, shock proof, and water resistant in up to 1 meter of water for 30 minutes. You can have fun using the phone in a pool with no worries, but if you drop it on rough terrain, its body is obviously prone to scratches. Despite having an unsavory design, Samsung is kind enough to offer it in three colors – titanium grey, camo green, and ruby red. Our only complaint is just the slippery feel of the handset.
Looking around the body of the Galaxy S5 Active, it packs many of the same familiar ports and buttons already found on the Galaxy S5. Specifically, they include the power button, volume control, 3.5mm headset jack, IR blaster, microUSB 2.0 port, and yes, even a heart rate sensor in the back of the phone to measure our heart rate. Indeed, health fanatics will appreciate the heart rate sensor, but in all fairness, it merely adds only to its geek cred.
However, Sammy has opted to omit the finger print sensor, and swapped the usual capacitive Android buttons with the physical set here. We don’t mind the latter change, seeing that a physical response is something we’d prefer with a ruggedized phone, but some folks might be turned off by the fact they removed the finger print sensor. Needless to say, it would’ve been nice to see, but nevertheless, we can live without it.
In the past, the battery compartments of most ruggedized phones would employ a latch mechanism to keep the battery compartment tightly closed. Well, the times are changing because the Galaxy S5 Active, much like its cousin, only relies on a snap-on plastic rear cover to keep it firmly protected against submersion. Luckily, the battery continues to be accessible on this one – plus, there’s a microSD slot here as well.
145 x 73 x 9 mm
6 oz (170 g)
142 x 72.5 x 8.1 mm
5.11 oz (145 g)
146.8 x 73.3 x 8.2 mm
5.75 oz (163 g)
122 x 60 x 11 mm
4.51 oz (128 g)
With this years’ Active, Sammy didn’t make any compromise with the display – it’s the same potent one found in the Galaxy S5.
Would you look at that? Sammy manages to retain the same exact display featured on the Galaxy S5, a 5.1-inch 1080 x 1920 Super AMOLED display with Gorilla Glass 3. Not surprisingly, since it delivers a darling pixel density figure of 432 ppi, it’s never a problem trying to distinguish fine details. It’s so crisp and clear to the eye, so it’s super easy to make out even the miniscule text in the web browser.
When it comes to color reproduction, it varies depending on the screen mode we select. Amongst the available ones, we find “cinema mode” to produce the most accurate colors – with very few discrepancies between color gradients. Before testing it out, standard mode would’ve been the presumed choice, but it tends to be a bit greener than we’d like. All told, the panel itself continues to be over-saturated, which isn’t a bad thing per se because of the attractive glow it emits.
Better yet, we have no difficulty making out the display under sunny conditions thanks to its maximum brightness output of 491 nits – plus, it jumps into this high-contrast mode outdoors to increase its visibility. Just like the Galaxy S5 before it, the Active’s Air View feature allows it to track our finger while it’s hovering over the display.
Display measurements and quality
|Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better||Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better||Contrast Higher is better||Color temperature (Kelvins)||Gamma||Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better||Delta E grayscale Lower is better|
|Samsung Galaxy S5 Active||491
|Sony Xperia Z2||458
|Samsung Galaxy S5||442
The numbers below represent the amount of deviation in the respective property, observed when a display is viewed from a 45-degree angle as opposed to direct viewing.
|Maximum brightness Lower is better||Minimum brightness Lower is better||Contrast Lower is better||Color temperature Lower is better||Gamma Lower is better||Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better||Delta E grayscale Lower is better|
|Samsung Galaxy S5 Active||50.1%
|Samsung Galaxy S5||62.7%
|Sony Xperia Z2||90.4%
The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.
This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.
The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.
This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.
The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.
This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.
Samsung Galaxy S5 Active 360-Degrees View
Drag the picture or use the keyboard arrows to rotate the phone.
Double click or press keyboard Space to zoom in/out
1. zuckerboy (banned) (Posts: 898; Member since: 22 Dec 2011)
who cares about design ? important thing is build but this phone should have offered better battery life
2. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 4335; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)
Yes I agree, but this is the active model. To achieve what they achieved in the S5 Active in terms of ruggedness, you have to sacrafice some things.
To me the battery life is not as bad as you claim in such a rugged but insanely spec'ed phone.
You win some & you lose some. The S5 has the battery life but the S5 Active beats it in superior protection.
A 9.0 is an EXCELLENT review.
8. chunky1x (Posts: 254; Member since: 28 Mar 2010)
When it comes to shock proofing S5 may beat the S5. However, waterproofing is still questionable since both phones offer that silly back cover that may not seal well if one is careless. Sony Z2 may offer better since small flaps with almost idiot proof sealing. Still, I would not deliberately dunk them in water. It more like I could use them in a humid or rainy day in case of emergency.
12. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 4335; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)
To me the Sony Xperia Z2 overall is better than the S5 cause it has a better IP certification & totally trumps the S5 in terms of looks...
When the Sony Xperia Z2 comes out for Verizon Wireless the wife most certainly will be getting it.
As for me, I am getting the Note 4 or the LG G Pro 3, it all depends...
16. chunky1x (Posts: 254; Member since: 28 Mar 2010)
Z2 is definitely better than the regular S5 but in the rough stuff glass and aluminum will not mix with pavement and rocks. S5 Active is a class on its own and even the very first of the top of the line rugged smart phone ( S4 Active was a big joke).
17. TheNeighbor (Posts: 108; Member since: 15 Nov 2013)
Same thing with the Z2's flaps to cover the SIM card and micro SD card slots. I looked at how easy it was for the rubber gasket of the Z1 got worn out.
19. chunky1x (Posts: 254; Member since: 28 Mar 2010)
Already expected that since Xperia Z. Sony and Samsung use this type of O-ring in its flaps. This gasket is damage over time by friction and must be replaced. This is also the reason that I will never dunk them on water deliberately. I prefer waterproof flaps that are sealed with a latched like those found on Otterbox and Aquapak or in all diving electronic equipment. Or at least a spare O-ring would be nice.
24. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 4335; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)
Very true guys, everything wears out over time, but still the device shouldn't be used in water over long periods of time...
It's really just insurance for the phone in case it does fall in water from time to time. You definitely don't want to go diving with these phones.
26. billgates (banned) (Posts: 555; Member since: 29 May 2014)
I don't know guys but my s5 goes in the shower daily with me without a single issue, of course you should check everything before taking it in but this far it's solid in water
23. PunyPoop (Posts: 741; Member since: 18 Jan 2013)
I believe you should all look at this https://www.youtube.com/watch?
25. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 4335; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)
Yes Sir, I saw that. VERY tough is the Sony Xperia Z2.
22. kyan- (Posts: 39; Member since: 25 Apr 2012)
battery life is fine. I finish with about 40% after continuous use throughout the day.
30. andonia2 (Posts: 33; Member since: 26 Jul 2013)
Check out th camo green edition guys .. it looks gorgeous!!!!!
35. bob_monkeywarts (Posts: 196; Member since: 14 Apr 2014)
Yeah, if they make a phone designed for people who need a rugged phone, then a lot of them go outdoors a lot. And a lot of them might go camping or hiking, so they would probably need good battery life and a good camera. And if the people who buy this don't go outdoors a lot, they still would like good battery life and a good camera.
37. Nataliamolinaao (Posts: 2; Member since: 15 May 2014)
Design is so important. At least for me. If you want to make a better idea about how it will look like, this comparator allowes you to see the phone from every angle
4. chunky1x (Posts: 254; Member since: 28 Mar 2010)
I agree. This is much better than the colored band aid.
10. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 4335; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)
lol You know there are also other colors besides band aid gold right?
+1 for the sarcasm.
14. tech2 (Posts: 2333; Member since: 26 Oct 2012)
The thing is S5 is designed for a more wider demographic. So a 16 year old and a 60 year old would like the design.
However, Active's bolt on the back design won't really appeal to a 'granny'.
28. billgates (banned) (Posts: 555; Member since: 29 May 2014)
And tell me why a granny would need an active phone to begin with?
34. T.Law (Posts: 342; Member since: 10 May 2014)
Speak for yourself! Although I prefer the design of my Z2, I do like the blue S5. It's fresh.
5. NokiaFTW (Posts: 2056; Member since: 24 Oct 2012)
Is it me or does this phone actually look better than the original Galaxy S5?
7. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 4335; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)
I may have to agree. I also like it.
11. jaytai0106 (Posts: 1389; Member since: 30 Mar 2011)
I agree! This would be a phone I won't have to get a case for :D
13. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 4335; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)
So true, it looks like the phone comes with a case already. lol
21. kyan- (Posts: 39; Member since: 25 Apr 2012)
I like it a lot. I have the camo green, and coming from a korean guy, I never knew I actually grown to LIKE the design rofl!
6. chunky1x (Posts: 254; Member since: 28 Mar 2010)
Wow! Audio out put is even better than the S5. I'm willing to sacrifice some low light shots from is camera for a better 3.5 mm output since I spend most of my time listening to music on the trails.
20. kyan- (Posts: 39; Member since: 25 Apr 2012)
only when paired with headphones, unless that is what you were referring to. sound quality is superb paired with my backbeat go 2.
9. T.Law (Posts: 342; Member since: 10 May 2014)
If I haven't already bought Z2, I'd go with this phone.
18. kyan- (Posts: 39; Member since: 25 Apr 2012)
I have it (paired with gear fit), and it is very solid phone. I agree its a bit slippery, and I wish it were a tad lighter.
31. jellmoo (Posts: 700; Member since: 31 Oct 2011)
Whoa whoa whoa... What's with your Basemark score for the Z2? A previous article on this site gave it a 1225:
32. blackberry_Boy (Posts: 169; Member since: 27 May 2014)
Samsung needs to make a note active.
36. ıtalıan (Posts: 10; Member since: 25 May 2014)
when it will be selling at turkey or greek ??
38. 13daisy (Posts: 1; Member since: 17 Jun 2014)
Can you recommend a cover for the S5 Active? I have one and I love it but I find it slippery to hold (which is probably just me or the tempered glass screen protector the guy at the AT&T store put on it). I realize it doesn't really need one. So maybe just simple silicone?
39. mike8440 (Posts: 1; Member since: 19 Jun 2014)
handhelditems.Com has awesome cases for the galaxy s5 active for only $7.99 they come with holster and stand I bought one
41. joehavs (Posts: 1; Member since: 02 Jul 2014)
I would highly advise against purchasing this phone. I had the phone less than 3 hours when my son got some water on it. it wasn't submerged at 3 feet for 30 minutes or anything near their claims on the Samsung website, just a splash of water. Less than an hour later it started acting funny, the screen was flickering and everything acted like it was on a 5 second delay. I took it back to AT&T and they took a look under the back cover (which the AT&T employee put on) and there was water damage. AT&T at that point refused to take the phone back, stating that it was a damaged phone. They told me that I should speak with Samsung, as it was their issue. I called Samsung and they said that if there was any water damage that the warranty was void. I tried pointing out to both AT&T and Samsung that the sole reason I purchased this phone was the IP67 rating. Regardless, they refused to honor their water resistant to 3 meters for a half hour claim. I now have a brick sitting on my desk that worked for less than half a day. If you're even thinking of getting this phone for its water resistance, know that the water resistance failed for me when exposed to a single incident, and that neither Samsung nor AT&T would replace the phone.
42. dissatisfiedclient (Posts: 1; Member since: 15 Jul 2014)
horrible phone. I have had mine just under a month and the screen cracked on me today while it was in my pocket. the screen doesn't even power up now. I called Samsung and said it will be $250 to repair and 2 weeks turn around time. there is no one in texas that can even get the screen to repair it locally. you can only send it to Samsung for repairs. Samsung was very rude and wanted to give no assistance on a phone they say is so durable. my iphones lasted long and were more durable then this things. its junk going back to my iphone.
43. kyan- (Posts: 39; Member since: 25 Apr 2012)
that's your fault. Ive had mine since release and its been awesome. then again maybe you're just a newbie troll.