Samsung Galaxy S4 Active Review
Introduction:

Water-resistant Android smartphones are anything but new. The Motorola DEFY – released back in 2010 – was one of the first notable members of the species, followed by handsets like the Sony Ericsson Xperia Active and the Samsung Galaxy Xcover, to name a few. These, however, were mid-range handsets at the time of their release, and it took a while before someone managed to deliver a water-resistant Android smartphone that was actually good on a hardware level.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is one such smartphone. Being IP67 certified, it doesn't mind getting a little wet every once in a while. In fact, it should be able to survive a dive into water down to a meter for up to 30 minutes. The handset is dust-tight as well. At the same time, it has the hardware specs needed to rank among today's best Android smartphones: 1080p screen, Snapdragon 600 silicon, 2GB of RAM, 2600mAh battery, with Android 4.2 running the parade.

All in all, the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is a remarkable Android smartphone – packed with features that we rarely get to see incorporated into a single device. Read on in case we've sparked your interest already!

Design:

Samsung is known for rehashing the same design over and over with each newly launched smartphone. The Samsung Galaxy S4 Active, however, doesn't look like your typical Galaxy handset. It has an elegant, yet adventurous appearance, and that's something we surely like.

We are reviewing the grey version of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active, with a body made of glossy plastic. The material is suitable for a smartphone meant to be tougher than the rest as it is more durable than glass or metal. Thankfully, the handset doesn't slip easily out of the user's hand, although its orange variant provides even better grip with its textured matte surface. Samsung has a blue Galaxy S4 Active version as well, in case grey or orange aren't among your favorite colors.


Compared to one of its rivals – the Sony Xperia Z – the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is noticeably thicker, but still well within the acceptable range. It is also very close to Sony's flagship in terms of size and weight. Single-handed use of the Galaxy S4 Active may be a challenge, depending on the size of the user's hands, although we were mostly comfortable with its proportions.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active

Dimensions

5.5 x 2.81 x 0.36 inches

139.7 x 71.3 x 9.1 mm

Weight

5.33 oz (151 g)

Samsung Galaxy S4

Samsung Galaxy S4

Dimensions

5.38 x 2.75 x 0.31 inches

136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm

Weight

4.59 oz (130 g)

Sony Xperia Z

Sony Xperia Z

Dimensions

5.47 x 2.8 x 0.31 inches

139 x 71 x 7.9 mm

Weight

5.15 oz (146 g)

LG Optimus G

LG Optimus G

Dimensions

5.19 x 2.71 x 0.33 inches

131.9 x 68.9 x 8.45 mm

Weight

5.11 oz (145 g)

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active

Dimensions

5.5 x 2.81 x 0.36 inches

139.7 x 71.3 x 9.1 mm

Weight

5.33 oz (151 g)

Samsung Galaxy S4

Samsung Galaxy S4

Dimensions

5.38 x 2.75 x 0.31 inches

136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm

Weight

4.59 oz (130 g)

Sony Xperia Z

Sony Xperia Z

Dimensions

5.47 x 2.8 x 0.31 inches

139 x 71 x 7.9 mm

Weight

5.15 oz (146 g)

LG Optimus G

LG Optimus G

Dimensions

5.19 x 2.71 x 0.33 inches

131.9 x 68.9 x 8.45 mm

Weight

5.11 oz (145 g)

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page



Taking off the back cover of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active reveals what gives it its water-resistant properties. There is a rubber band around the sides, preventing water from penetrating into the housing and damaging the phone's internals. However, we must note that while the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is protected against dust and water damage, it can't be regarded as shock-proof. There are no rubber elements on its sides to absorb the energy of shock and vibrations, not to mention that the 5-inch screen on its front is still vulnerable to cracks or scratching. Simply, one must avoid dropping it on hard surfaces.


There is an excellent set of physical buttons present on the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active. They are all textured and respond with an audible click when pressed. Since they are all raised well, one can operate them comfortably even while wearing mittens.



Display:

Just like the Galaxy S4, the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active comes with a 5-inch touchscreen. The resolution is also identical – 1080 by 1920 pixels, resulting in an outstanding pixel density of over 440 ppi. However, a TFT LCD screen has been used instead of a Super AMOLED panel – a solution that has both its positive and negative sides.

On one hand, the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is easier to use outdoors as its screen is slightly brighter than the S4's Super AMOLED display. Under the right angle, we had no troubles reading email, browsing through our contacts, using the camera interface, and even checking out a web page or two on a bright, sunny day. Also, the level of detail is nothing short of excellent due to the screen's high pixel count. Color reproduction is accurate and neutral, which is how it is supposed to be, although one can boost the saturation up a notch from the display settings menu. But on the other hand, The S4 Active's screen can't quite achieve the deep blacks seen on Super AMOLED panels.

Being a smartphone made for adventurous folks, it comes as no surprise that the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active can be operated even while wearing gloves. That is made possible by its super sensitive touchscreen. Oddly, using the phone with wet fingers is a no-go, which is shocking given the fact that Samsung is advertising the Galaxy S4 Active as capable of taking photos underwater.

Yet overall, we are more than content with the screen outfitted on the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active. It is big, bright, beautiful, and perfectly suitable for every task.


More content with (Galaxy S4 Active)

FEATURED VIDEO

61 Comments

62. mantylo

Posts: 4; Member since: Jul 06, 2013

thanks

60. Patrik69

Posts: 4; Member since: Dec 14, 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!!!!!

53. true1984

Posts: 871; Member since: May 23, 2012

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

54. DrElena

Posts: 4; Member since: Jun 24, 2013

Volume button ;)

55. yudi.nemesis unregistered

but the screen still useless if you fingers wet

56. DrElena

Posts: 4; Member since: Jun 24, 2013

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

58. yudi.nemesis unregistered

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

59. yudi.nemesis unregistered

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

52. 2020tsantini

Posts: 1; Member since: Jun 26, 2013

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

51. DrElena

Posts: 4; Member since: Jun 24, 2013

NOT SO WATERPROOF 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...

61. snowgator

Posts: 3629; Member since: Jan 19, 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.

42. yudi.nemesis unregistered

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

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..

46. yudi.nemesis unregistered

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

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.

49. yudi.nemesis unregistered

you can check here:http://www.gsmarena.com/sony_xperia_z_gets_firmware_update_improves_camera_quality-news-6041.php and this for the orginal samples normal mode:https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/29991727/Normal%20Mode.jpg busrt mode:https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/29991727/Burst%20Mode.JPG 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.

40. runbo

Posts: 1; Member since: Jun 19, 2013

it's true waterproof?

57. DrElena

Posts: 4; Member since: Jun 24, 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.

36. Necromancer

Posts: 10; Member since: Jan 27, 2013

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

35. Saamic

Posts: 119; Member since: Feb 20, 2012

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

34. glentomas123

Posts: 70; Member since: Jun 01, 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.

33. taikucing unregistered

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

29. trawiarz

Posts: 3; Member since: Apr 25, 2013

HDR Video rec?

28. kabhijeet.16

Posts: 895; Member since: Dec 05, 2012

BEST phone out there

27. shotunz

Posts: 2; Member since: Jun 29, 2012

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

39. yudi.nemesis unregistered

because its waterproof phone

26. alltopfive

Posts: 1; Member since: Jun 20, 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.

22. KINGJUAN27

Posts: 210; Member since: Jul 02, 2012

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

21. lukasound

Posts: 152; Member since: Nov 16, 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.

15. viisign

Posts: 12; Member since: Sep 19, 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.
Galaxy S4 Active
  • Display 5.0 inches
    1920 x 1080 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP (Single camera)
    2 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 600, 2GB RAM
  • Storage 16GB, microSDXC
  • Battery 2600 mAh
  • OS Android 4.4.2
    Samsung TouchWiz UI

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