Samsung Galaxy S6 Active ReviewSamsung Galaxy S6 Active 9.2
Galaxy S6 saw a major redesign, one that’s highly acclaimed and showed to all of us that the South Korean company knows how to design premium smartphones. While the new, premium nature of the Galaxy S6 is a new direction, it sheds one of the key design qualities offered by its predecessor – a water-resistant construction. For a moment there, we thought that water-resistant designs would become a staple feature for Sammy’s flagship line, but alas, that’s not the case.
Since the S4, however, we’ve seen Sammy introducing its Active line, which manifests in the form of ruggedized variants of its flagship phones. So, if you were bummed by the S6 forgoing a water resistant construction, then you’ll undoubtedly be pleased to find it here once again with the Samsung Galaxy S6 Active. Not only that, but the phone is built like a tank – so fear not if you drop it!
There are some advantages with the Active, naturally, as well as some compromises too, which we’ll check out in detail through the review. Internally, the Active shares many of the specs of the S6, but superficially on the outside, it’s a totally different phone.
The package contains:
- Galaxy S6 Active
- Wall charger
- microUSB cable
- Quick start guide
- Health & Safety and Warranty Guide
Hello water and drop resistant construction, the S6 Active is designed to handle life.
At a glance, the Samsung Galaxy S6 Active looks very much like last year’s model, one that shares the same tough construction. Comparing it to the S6, though, there’s no arguing that the S6 Active is meant to withstand serious punishment – whereas with the S6, its premium construction kind of makes it fragile.
Sporting that all too predictable rugged design, it’s clearly within what we’d expect out of a tough smartphone. Most of the body is comprised out of tough plastic, broken down to a rubbery textured camo back pattern and a sturdier matte frame outlining the sides. Superficially, it looks almost like an exact facsimile to last year’s Active, but this one is a closed design – so there’s no removable back cover to access its battery. Accentuating its rugged form are the screws found near the corners of the phone.
Thanks to its IP68 rating, it means that this bad boy is meant to handle nearly anything that everyday life has to throw at us. Therefore, that means it’s shock resistant, dust proof, and water resistant up to 1.5 meters for up to 30 minutes – the essential ingredients in giving it that sturdier protection than the S6. One less thing to remember: you'll be pleased to know that Samsung has improved the design, because there’s no longer need to cover the microUSB port with a flap. Instead, you’ll notice that the port is wide open, but there’s no fear in dipping it in water because the port has been treated to be water resistant.
During our review, we dropped it onto concrete pavement by accident, resulting in some noticeable scuffs along the plastic sidings of the phone. True to its claim, it survived the fall, but the downside in this is that being pristine looking isn’t going to be on the top of the list for this one.
Aesthetically, though, it’s just a very ordinary ‘ruggedized’ looking phone just like everything else out there. Sure, Sony has perfected the recipe for designing a premium looking phone that’s water resistant, but Sammy’s stance is more form than function – and to that degree, they succeed. It won’t win any awards for design, obviously, but nevertheless, its solid construction endows it with structural integrity to withstand all the unpredicatablities of life.
Were you not a fan of those capacitive Android buttons on S6? Well, the S6 Active now employs nothing but physical Android buttons for that true, tactile response. Sadly, there’s no finger print sensor whatsoever with this, so not only is there no option for unlocking the phone via fingerprint, but it won’t benefit from Samsung Pay either. Other minor changes include a nanoSIM slot (no SIM removal tool necessary), 3.5mm headphone jack repositioned to the top edge, and the speaker placed on the back side of the phone.
At the same time, too, the S6 Active continues to offer some of the S6’s staple features – like its heart rate sensor to measure our pulse, rapid charging microUSB 2.0 port, and wireless charging. Even though there’s still no expandable storage with this, it gets greeted to an even heftier sized 3500 mAh battery. While the power button and volume controls are in their usual locations on the sides of the phone, there’s another button found above the volume controls – it’s the Active key. More on that later!
146.8 x 73.4 x 8.6 mm
5.29 oz (150 g)
143.4 x 70.5 x 6.8 mm
4.87 oz (138 g)
145 x 73 x 9 mm
6 oz (170 g)
146.3 x 71.9 x 6.9 mm
5.08 oz (144 g)
Samsung has perfected the art of making gorgeous displays, and the S6 Active has so many impressive qualities about it.
Samsung hit it out of the park with the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge, proving to the naysayers that AMOLED displays can deliver top-quality results in all fronts. For the Galaxy S6 Active, they’ve outfitted it with the same 5.1-inch 1440 x 2560 (QHD) Super AMOLED panel. By now, we know that details are astoundingly sharp with such a high pixel density count, but the top-notch qualities extend to other areas.
In particular, it follows the S6 with its true-to-life colors, spot-on color temperature, and sheer brilliance in all sorts of lighting conditions. They really didn’t mess around with the recipe, evident by its 6521K color temperature, which is only a couple steps off that ideal reference value of 6500K. Bearing that in mind, it essentially means that the display exhibits a neutral tone – neither cold nor warm. Not stopping there, it bears the quintessential qualities that are typical AMOLED, such as its wide viewing angles and perfect black color reproduction.
Speaking of color reproduction, it’s identical to the Galaxy S6, making it impressively accurate in replicating various shades. Besting its siblings, the display here in the S6 Active produces a blinding 570 nit luminance, thanks in part to its high-contrast mode kicking in when it’s used in direct sun. Overall, we have very few complaints about it, plus, its basic display mode shows it’s perfectly calibrated too – while adaptive mode adds some punchiness to the mix.
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 S6 Active||570
|Samsung Galaxy S6||563
|Samsung Galaxy S5 Active||491
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 S6||56.1%
|Samsung Galaxy S6 Active||74.4%
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.
21. waddup121 (unregistered)
Based Samsung has done it again.
36. BobbyBoster (banned) (Posts: 43; Member since: 16 Jun 2015)
One of the best smartphones available now.
But of course I'm going to deny that and say that it's trash because I'm butthurt by Android.
40. coldspring22 (Posts: 305; Member since: 28 Feb 2015)
No, real isheeps are never butt hurt by superiority of android phones. They are totally blinded by magnificence of apple, regardless of what crap comes out of cupertino.
37. Clars123 (Posts: 615; Member since: 16 Mar 2015)
with that supposed 4100mAh battery..i sure hope soo
2. Wiencon (Posts: 1818; Member since: 06 Aug 2014)
Now tell me again, that having thin phone has any advantages.
23. spiderpig2894 (Posts: 584; Member since: 10 Jan 2012)
But remember when people always pushed manufacturers to produce thinner devices? The time when the Galaxy S2 was around. Yeah, people learn mistakes when we abuse desires.
44. TechieXP1969 (Posts: 8939; Member since: 25 Sep 2013)
Because rugged variants are as pretty as their non-rugged siblings?
5. SamsungEU (Posts: 147; Member since: 29 Dec 2014)
at 8.6 mm the s6 active 5.1'' has 3500mAH battery while Lg G4 at 5.5'' 9.8mm has 3000mAh
,can't wait for the note 5
6. bur60 (Posts: 838; Member since: 07 Jul 2014)
G4 has a subtle curve in it, most of the hardware can't curve yet. The battery has to fit in with the hardware so that's the limitation
9. Wiencon (Posts: 1818; Member since: 06 Aug 2014)
Again, nobody asked them to make curved phone, I am sure bigger battery makes more sense than curved body...
Innovation should be practical, not just for the sake of being innovative
20. jmonteiro829 (Posts: 181; Member since: 13 Feb 2012)
Although I agree with you .... the G4 feels awesome to hold in the hand. Especially with the leather back. Considering it still has 3,000mah is a good trade off.
39. Clars123 (Posts: 615; Member since: 16 Mar 2015)
Actually some models of the G4 have a 2900mAh battery..
49. mrmessma (Posts: 174; Member since: 28 Mar 2012)
While I don't care, a lot of people like the feel and how much easier it is to hold a phone with a curved back on it.
7. bur60 (Posts: 838; Member since: 07 Jul 2014)
I don't understand why the benchmarks are so scattered? Explanation? And I hope there will be a 128 gb version or it will be kinda useless..
16. ph00ny (Posts: 1197; Member since: 26 May 2011)
Bad testing procedures, different versions of the benchmark, more mature rom
29. raky_b (Posts: 102; Member since: 02 Jul 2014)
funny, 3 samsungs phones with SAME HW, and showing so big differences.
i think they are chiting with Edgeat tests, as usually
31. ph00ny (Posts: 1197; Member since: 26 May 2011)
Let's take it back. How were they cheating last time? They had the device running at max spec same way some of their software features run at max speed. Same was being applied to the benchmark apps.
They certainly weren't running the hardware beyond what it was advertised as.
I've said this in many of PA's articles that benchmarks should be run multiple times and discard the high and low and provide the average result of the rest
8. vuyonc (Posts: 992; Member since: 24 Feb 2014)
If they somehow managed to fit a microSD card slot with UFS 2.0, I'd be all over this beast. I'm still throwing my credit card at the screen but nothing's happening!
10. Wiencon (Posts: 1818; Member since: 06 Aug 2014)
You can throw your card at me but I cannot guarantee you will enjoy the result
15. bur60 (Posts: 838; Member since: 07 Jul 2014)
Indeed, sdcards are already waterproof, shockproof and radioactivity proof or whatever u call that. Double protection = tru rugged phone (protecting data is important right?)
11. redmd (Posts: 1250; Member since: 26 Oct 2011)
I think this should have been given a higher score. It's an S6 with a permanent Otterbox / extended battery. The cons are not that big of an issue.
13. anleoflippy (Posts: 595; Member since: 03 Jan 2013)
Am I the only who wants this more than the S6 and S6 Edge?
This smartphone, in my honest opinion, is a God Sent. If my current phone were to be unusable, I have no doubt of buying this phone.
14. jellmoo (Posts: 1525; Member since: 31 Oct 2011)
Um... How can you have benchmarks like Sunspider and AnTuTu be so radically different from what's shown on the S6, and not actually address these in the review itself?
18. ph00ny (Posts: 1197; Member since: 26 May 2011)
Bad testing procedures, different versions of the apps, etc
Also samsung browser is smoother than chrome and sunspider is heavily browser dependent
19. jellmoo (Posts: 1525; Member since: 31 Oct 2011)
I get that (though I don't understand why on earth you would test Chrome on one and the Samsung Browser on the other), I just don't get how you could have wildly different benchmarks on a chart, but not even mention the fact in the core of the review.
32. ph00ny (Posts: 1197; Member since: 26 May 2011)
I'm not saying that they did or they didn't but those are the possible causes for the results to vary that much
22. Symon_Fleece (Posts: 335; Member since: 30 May 2014)
great phone, especially the battery life, 12 hrs is incredible!. It beats the z3 compact. If the regular s6 has 3000 mAh battery. . .
24. godwhomismike (Posts: 22; Member since: 01 Nov 2013)
I want this phone so bad, but what is killing it for me is the storage. I would not mind coughing up another $100-$150 for 64-128GB of storage. It is the only flaw this phone has, and a major reason why my old 64GB iPhone 5S has not been retired yet.
25. godwhomismike (Posts: 22; Member since: 01 Nov 2013)
I hate the battery on the iPhone. I am at 76% battery left in less than 2 hours of very light usage with the screen brightness set to a very very low setting that makes it super hard to even see the screen.
41. coldspring22 (Posts: 305; Member since: 28 Feb 2015)
Battery will degrade with use in any phone, whether it's iphone or samsung. Having sealed in battery, iphone used to be poster child of poor battery life, but now S6 is also in the same boat. Nothing beats a smart phone with replaceable battery, where you can pop in a spare and be back at 100% charge in seconds.
50. mrmessma (Posts: 174; Member since: 28 Mar 2012)
Heresy, don't speak such untruths to the form over function faithful! (#1 reason I have my S5, replaceable battery with IP rating)
27. AlexisR (Posts: 19; Member since: 07 Oct 2014)
Where is the DOG ??? His not here yet ? Bbuster ?
35. gaming64 (unregistered)
Don't bring that stupid person here, stupid.
30. legiloca (Posts: 1323; Member since: 11 Nov 2014)
32GB non-expandable storage? Knowing how apps nowadays consume memory :/
53. joaovictorop (Posts: 4; Member since: 19 May 2015)
The iPhone 16gb is a slap from Apple on the face of the customer!
38. gomulkaaa (Posts: 42; Member since: 02 Sep 2011)
Wow, I am impressed! I've been waiting for an all-around great phone to upgrade from my HTC One M7, and I think this is it. I'm really pleased by the battery life. What will the pricing be?
42. arch_angel (Posts: 1651; Member since: 20 Feb 2015)
holy s**t that battery life and recharge time is ridicules.
43. joaovictorop (Posts: 4; Member since: 19 May 2015)
The biggest downside is Samsung just releasing this phone with just 32gb and non-expandable storage! If it was at least 64gb I would give a try to this phone, but this small storage is not for me.
45. baldilocks (Posts: 739; Member since: 14 Dec 2008)
You guys are still using the wrong AnTuTu score for the Galaxy S6. Who fact checks your site?
48. Djz89 (Posts: 287; Member since: 25 Aug 2014)
Great phone, but omfg its ugly. The battery was a good suprise thou.
51. danishqureshi (Posts: 1; Member since: 07 Jul 2015)
nice phone i was buy this phone from whatsmobile.pk
54. ppoojavermaa (Posts: 45; Member since: 18 Mar 2015)
I hate brand SAMSUNG is, All Smartphones look same.
55. robocopvn (Posts: 404; Member since: 10 Mar 2010)
really don't understand why add about 50% battery capacity will increase mostly double battery life ???
56. dmh0284 (Posts: 42; Member since: 04 Apr 2014)
I had this phone for a week before returning it. It was a nice phone, and I was really looking forward to the great battery life, but I have to say, the issue I had with this phone is that the physical buttons at the bottom of the phone (back, home, loaded apps) are too hard to push. Every time I wanted to go to the home screen or simply go back a screen in an app, I would have to physically brace the phone in order to be able to push in one of the buttons. I didn't realize how tedious this was until I actually had to do it.
I guess I'm just used to the LG G2. But like the G2, pretty much all other phones have touch buttons, be it the regular s6 or phones with on-screen buttons. It makes it so much easier to navigate in a phone when you just have to lightly tough a button instead of having to physically push in a button. A button that, like I said before, is already stiff and takes effort to push in to begin with.
You wouldn't think that something so simple would annoy me enough to make me return such an otherwise nice phone, but it was.
57. jmfvugh (Posts: 1; Member since: 30 Jul 2015)
DON'T BE FOOLED - my S6 Active suffered a 3-foot drop onto pavement and shattered, inoperable. Dead. data lost, $250 in cost to replace (this is using ATTs so-called protection)..... now I like the phone, but the process of transitioning to a new handset is horrible (kudos to Apple here) and the delicate nature of the phone now requires me to put it in a case, and given that it is larger because it is 'active' now I have a very large device to carry around. SHAME ON SAMSUNG!!!!
|Display||5.1 inches, 1440 x 2560 pixels (577 ppi) Super AMOLED|
Samsung Exynos 7 Octa , Octa-core, 2100 MHz, ARM Cortex-A57 and ARM Cortex-A53 processor
3 GB RAM
|Size||5.78 x 2.89 x 0.34 inches|
(146.8 x 73.4 x 8.6 mm)
5.29 oz (150 g)
|Battery||3500 mAh, 24 hours talk time|