Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean comes running out of the box on the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active – the latest Android version available as of this writing. As is always the case with Samsung smartphones, the interface has been customized heavily with a layer of TouchWiz Nature UX, bringing along plenty of extra functionality and visual flare.

Notification bar toggle buttons, lock screen shortcuts and widgets – all of these are present on the Galaxy S4 Active, along with a handful of Samsung's exclusive features. These include Smart Stay, which does not turn off the screen as long as the user is still looking at it, and Multi Window support, allowing one to use two apps side by side. Contact-less gesture controls are also enabled, meaning that one can flip through a photo album, change songs, or answer calls by waving their hand above the screen. The volume up button can be set to activate the LED light on the phone's back for the times when a proper flashlight isn't around.

On the software side, Samsung has loaded goodies like S Translator, which can interpret foreign languages, the S Travel guide to plan your next holiday with, S Health for tracking your workout progress, Group Play for instant content sharing between Samsung devices, and more. Since an IR blaster is available on the smartphone, it can be used to remotely control your TV or home theater system.

Since the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active comes with a pretty large display, the on-screen keyboard is pretty comfortable to type on, especially when used with two thumbs. There's even enough space to add an extra row for all the digits instead of placing them in a separate screen. Typos were rare once we got used to the keyboard's layout, and the auto-complete feature often comes in handy.

Processor and memory:

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is a powerful device. It comes with a 1.9GHz, quad-core Snapdragon 600 SoC and 2GB of RAM, so performance is not an issue no matter what you throw at the handset. Anything runs flawlessly, from 3D games and heavy web pages, to any CPU- or GPU-intensive application you can think of. Yet for some reason, the benchmark results aren't as good as those from, let's say, the Samsung Galaxy S4, which is powered by more or less the same hardware. Nevertheless, the Active's real-life performance is great, and that's what truly matters.

Quadrant StandardAnTuTuGLBenchmark 2.5 (Egypt HD)Vellamo
(HTML5 / Metal)
Samsung Galaxy S4 Active11854168963538 / 31 fps1406 / 692
Samsung Galaxy S412078247014437 / 39 fps1702/704
Sony Xperia Z82212083533822198/626
LG Optimus G76699565

We can't complain about the storage space present on the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active – about 11GB are available out of the 16GB on board. It is far from plenty, of course, but it should be good enough, at least at first. Users who need additional space, be it for carrying music, photos, or videos, can get it by installing a microSD card.

Web browser and connectivity:

Browsing the web using the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is a joy since it is equipped with a large, high-res display. The web browser is fast and functional, with support for multiple windows, embedded YouTube videos, along other gimmicks like smart scroll for panning by tilting the phone and air gestures for navigating without having to touch the screen.

Connectivity-wise, the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active has you covered. It comes with Bluetooth 4.0, GPS with GLONASS support, NFC, HSPA+ at 42Mbps, and LTE. The FM radio, however, has been omitted.

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