Samsung Galaxy S8 Active Review

Introduction


Samsung’s Galaxy Active series, and increasingly ruggedized wearables, have helped establish the company’s prowess as the only true champion for more active (or careless) mobile consumers. Starting with the Galaxy S4 Active, Samsung began offering IP67 waterproofing – years before it was a flagship standard – and rugged design, which has now expanded to military standard certifications in drop tests, extreme temperatures, and IP68 waterproofing. Year after year these Active variants have been released shortly after Samsung’s Galaxy flagship, often tweaking small aspects of inner hardware to match the outer theme. This year we see arguably the Android phone of the year – the Galaxy S8 – step up 1000 milliamps in battery size, and gain all the rugged military-grade hardware to produce the Galaxy S8 Active. But in a world where IP67 is the norm for flagship phones – some even offer “shatterproof” displays – is the Active series still needed? Let’s examine what it brings to the table.

In the box:
  • Galaxy S8 Active
  • USB-A to USB-C adapter (female to male)
  • Micro-USB to USB-C adapter (female to male)
  • USB-C to USB-A charging cable
  • Adaptive fast-charging wall plug
  • Warranty and Getting Started guide

Design


The Galaxy S8 Active is the first Active device released since Galaxy flagships have crossed over entirely to curved, “bezel-less” designs; no longer are the “Edge” variants alone in this style. As one might anticipate, though, the S8 Active can’t afford to expose that much glass in its edges if it endeavors to survive 5-foot drops, as stated in the Active features. Gorilla Glass 5 encases the display, which is then covered by a “shatter-resistant” shield. Unfortunately, early reports seem to indicate that this shield is very soft and prone to scratches, much like the Moto Z2 Force’s “shatterproof” screen, which garnered similar criticism. Dense metal comprises the sides of the phone, while the corners are reinforced with a hard, rubberized plastic. Bixby still has a dedicated and clicky button underneath the similarly clicky volume buttons, while the power button on our unit had a slightly mushier, and less satisfying click than the other three. Gone is the home button from the S7 Active, continuing in the trend of the S8. We’ll see how this strikes users who may need more rugged, tactile buttons more often than the average user might.

Samsung Galaxy S8 Active Review
Samsung Galaxy S8 Active Review
Samsung Galaxy S8 Active Review

Meeting military specification’s (MIL-STD-810G) for enduring drops, extreme temperatures, and much more, as well as IP68 water and dust proofing, the S8 Active is a phone of solid constitution. The thicker edges of the device not only add durability, but also space for a 1000-milliamp increase in battery capacity. Altogether, the added thickness and weight still leave the device with a good feel in-hand. While of course not as light as the svelte S8 (50 grams heavier to be exact) the S8 Active is only about 20 grams heavier than the S7 Active, with the same thickness and width, while only being about a tenth of an inch taller. Once again, Samsung achieves a sturdy design that leaves no worries in the most fearless outdoor warriors heart, while still making a pocketable device that feels substantial, but not like a brick in the hand (or pocket).

Samsung Galaxy S8 Active

Samsung Galaxy S8 Active

Dimensions

5.99 x 2.95 x 0.39 inches

152.1 x 74.9 x 9.9 mm

Weight

7.34 oz (208 g)

Samsung Galaxy S8

Samsung Galaxy S8

Dimensions

5.86 x 2.68 x 0.31 inches

148.9 x 68.1 x 8.0 mm

Weight

5.47 oz (155 g)

Samsung Galaxy S7 Active

Samsung Galaxy S7 Active

Dimensions

5.86 x 2.95 x 0.39 inches

148.8 x 75.0 x 9.9 mm

Weight

6.53 oz (185 g)

LG G6

LG G6

Dimensions

5.86 x 2.83 x 0.31 inches

148.9 x 71.9 x 7.9 mm

Weight

5.75 oz (163 g)

Samsung Galaxy S8 Active

Samsung Galaxy S8 Active

Dimensions

5.99 x 2.95 x 0.39 inches

152.1 x 74.9 x 9.9 mm

Weight

7.34 oz (208 g)

Samsung Galaxy S8

Samsung Galaxy S8

Dimensions

5.86 x 2.68 x 0.31 inches

148.9 x 68.1 x 8.0 mm

Weight

5.47 oz (155 g)

Samsung Galaxy S7 Active

Samsung Galaxy S7 Active

Dimensions

5.86 x 2.95 x 0.39 inches

148.8 x 75.0 x 9.9 mm

Weight

6.53 oz (185 g)

LG G6

LG G6

Dimensions

5.86 x 2.83 x 0.31 inches

148.9 x 71.9 x 7.9 mm

Weight

5.75 oz (163 g)

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



Display


Samsung Galaxy S8 Active Review

Though the infinity display isn’t in full effect here, with its typically curved design and near-bezel-less edges, you’ll still find the rounded corners and high screen-to-body ratio (75%) which buyers so loved on the regular S8. Though the 5.8-inch screen size is the same for the two, the metal/plastic casing that comprises the Active’s protective bulk brings that ratio down some from the original S8’s 84% ratio.

Samsung’s trademark Super AMOLED technology looks just as good on the Active as on the S8 before it, even without the curved edges. Capable of brightness that can stare back undaunted at the sun’s rays, but also lower far enough for comfortable night reading, we have little to complain about here, although it’s still susceptible to the ills of any AMOLED display. Colors are pleasing to look at, albeit super saturated with less-than-perfect viewing angles which produce a bluish hue as the phone is tilted. Color accuracy can be tweaked to an extent by utilizing various color modes and sliders found in the display settings, though we found most tweaks to affect red balances more than anything, never quite giving us proper color representation. Although somewhat bluish, we found the default Adaptive Display mode to be the most pleasing to look at.

Meeting the same resolution as the S8 and S7 Active, the S8 Active produces 1440 x 2960 pixels. It’s a quite pleasing screen to view pictures and video, or consume content of any kind. But of course, its 18.5:9 ratio still lends itself to cropping or letterboxing in most video-watching scenarios. So, as always, pick your poison.

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62 Comments

3. black.inco unregistered

It's a heavier phone than the normal S8? I mean......

13. Carlitos

Posts: 621; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

Lmaoo right, is it not its purpose? It's suppose to be rugged so being heavier that the regular s8 is a given. What kind of petty con is that?

21. black.inco unregistered

That's my thought exactly. That gave me a little laugh because I feel like the reviewer is a little sissy.

34. PhoneCritic

Posts: 1337; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

PA's Review system is flaw I am glad I was not they only one to see that. "its a heavier phone.." Duh!!11 as you stated it's a rugged version it has to have heft. So now being heavy is a con for a rugged model? I cant comprehend PA's reviews at all. There is no objectivity they need to establish a grading system that treats and grades all features and non features the same then they could be honest fair reviews. I mean you cant call one thing a "con" for one vendor but a "pro" for another vendor and vise versa.

60. LiveFaith

Posts: 324; Member since: Jul 04, 2015

Good point. The next review will say "This phone is heavier than it's predecessor giving it that solid and premium feel". LOL. I personally prefer phones lighter the better. But, it's hilarious to me how reviewers come up with these arbitrary "quality" factors. Especially "premium" materials like aluminum and glass. Crap, has anyone every thought about how ancient both of those materials are for use on modern technology? Jewelry, well that's different.

26. DoggyDangerous

Posts: 1028; Member since: Aug 28, 2015

Lg v30 has waterproofing and military grade certification without being active. I wonder if people are still purchasing active series.

33. Rampage_Taco

Posts: 968; Member since: Jan 17, 2017

Yes because Samsung > LG.

61. LiveFaith

Posts: 324; Member since: Jul 04, 2015

Gosh, I couldn't bear to have to carry around all that "active" if I didn't have to? LOL! Are you saying that offering LESS choices for customers is a better thing?

4. haruken

Posts: 303; Member since: Nov 06, 2013

'and viola' It's voilà. Might want to stick to english next time.

5. PhoneInQuestion

Posts: 496; Member since: Aug 20, 2017

I got to play with the S8 Active at a Sprint store (walking distance #notmycarrier), boy is it light but oh so satisfying. This is how a premium smartphone should feel.

10. Landon

Posts: 1219; Member since: May 07, 2015

This is music to my ears. Hopefully it will be coming to Verizon.

6. sissy246

Posts: 6823; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

My son just got the new active, can't wait for his thoughts on it. He has had every active.

7. dnomadic

Posts: 346; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

I think you all should come with a standard scoring system... Have your customers, we that view your site daily to comment on the standard then finalize it. Standards that aren't skewed towards a Manufacturer and apply across the board... Rate each section then average the scores... The scores are applied with no methodology other than what I feel. I know it doesn't matter, but it concerns me....

11. ahmadkun

Posts: 490; Member since: May 02, 2016

IPHONE 8 GOT 9.2 LOL .. THIS IS REALLY FUNNY JOKE

19. dmomintz

Posts: 66; Member since: Jan 21, 2016

A little disappointing to see the battery life go down since my Active S6, but that screen and camera are unmatched, not to mention I can't not take my phone in the shower now lol (spoiled), so I would never get anything less than IP68. The very fact that iphones still run basically the same iOS from 2008 with a focus on emoticons (seriously apple smh) means they should never get rated better than an 8 out of 10 in my opinion, regardless of the design or build quality. There is just zero innovation and they are overpriced children's toys compared to this beauty. The Active is a real man's product with top notch quality, and hopefully the AT&T exclusivity ends soon so more people can see for themselves.

20. sleepypandaeyes

Posts: 315; Member since: Apr 12, 2015

Shocked a non samsung flagship received such a high score

40. g2a5b0e unregistered

I don't see how you can say it's not a flagship. That's literally exactly what it is. Don't let the "active" moniker confuse you.

24. LiveFaith

Posts: 324; Member since: Jul 04, 2015

Wish my Note 8 came ruggedized like this. Great phone.

50. MrShazam

Posts: 987; Member since: Jun 22, 2017

Simply grab this Beyond Cell trishield case and you're set: https://sck.pm/rN

62. LiveFaith

Posts: 324; Member since: Jul 04, 2015

Dayadgum, that's a beast.

28. sleepypandaeyes

Posts: 315; Member since: Apr 12, 2015

design wise it looks really good. Ideal for those that want a flat screen S8 with big battery life.

31. gamehead unregistered

If it gets android oreo and a price reduction like the regular s8 count me interested

36. cnour

Posts: 2305; Member since: Sep 11, 2014

Over 100, no?

42. killer7D

Posts: 550; Member since: Sep 18, 2014

The backdated S8 active is better than the Note 8 ????????

54. kakudiego

Posts: 116; Member since: May 21, 2014

If the S8 has a 9, S8 Active deserve a 9.5

56. Modest_Moze

Posts: 184; Member since: Mar 23, 2015

IT IS HEAVIER THAN THE S8, HEAVIER THAN S8, HEAVIER THAN S8... Come on... LIKE IT OR NOT this is not a very good CON and LIKE IT OR NOT it is heavier, because it is RUGGED, RUGGED!!!!!!! RUGGED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

63. LiveFaith

Posts: 324; Member since: Jul 04, 2015

Heavier is baaad. Heavier on an iPhone is premium! :-D

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

Galaxy S8 Active
  • Display 5.8" 1440 x 2960 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, Octa-core, 2350 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 4000 mAh

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