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Samsung Galaxy S4 Active

Editor's rating (1-5): rating starrating starrating starrating starrating star
Carrier: AT&T
Manufacturer: Samsung
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What's Hot: Water and dust resistant, blue color option is striking, same great features as Galaxy S4 though the camera resolution is demoted.

What's Not: Has an 8MP camera rather than the 13MP camera on the Galaxy S4. LCD rather than Super AMOLED display (which could be a plus for some).


Reviewed July 11, 2013 by , Editor in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is available exclusively on AT&T for those of you who work and play in water and dust. At $199 with contract and $599 off contract, it's the same price as the standard Galaxy S4 and looks nearly identical: it's just a hair thicker but it has the same shape and the controls are in the same places. It gets a faux metallic back that's available in zingy blue or staid gray and it has rubber end caps to keep moisture out and give it a rugged look. The Android 4.2.2 smartphone is water and dust resistant. The IP67 rated phone can withstand immersion in up to 3 feet of water for up to 30 minutes (watch our video review to see it underwater). That doesn't mean crawling along the ocean floor in your scuba gear, but it's safe in the kiddie pool. It is not ruggedized to withstand drops and shocks, so it's for those of you who come into contact with water and dust but not those who drop or sit on their phones.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active

What's different from the Samsung Galaxy S4?

- The Galaxy S4 Active maintains the 5" full HD display, but it's a TFT LCD rather than Super AMOLED panel. That means more natural colors but blacks aren't as amazingly inky as with Super AMOLED and some Samsung smartphone fans might miss those better than life Super AMOLED hues. The good news is that it's more visible outdoors under direct sunlight and it keeps the gloves-friendly feature. Note that touch doesn't work when the phone is underwater (water is conductive and and it confuses capacitive sensors), so Samsung disables the touch sensors when you're using features like underwater photography mode. This is likely why the phone has mechanical rather than capacitive buttons on the front. This isn't a Samsung issue: Sony's waterproof Xperia Z smartphone and Xperia Tablet Z Android tablet's touch don't work when submerged or very wet.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active

- The rear camera is 8MP rather than 13MP, but you get all the same camera software and creative shooting modes. In fact, there's a new one called "aqua" for underwater shooting. Image and video quality is very similar to the Samsung Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note II, which is to say good but not as stunningly detailed as the S4.

- Lastly, the phone has physical front buttons rather than capacitive.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active


Deals and Shopping:


Samsung Galaxy S4 Active Video Review


Inside we're looking at the same class-leading 1.9GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad core CPU with Adreno 320 graphics, 2 gigs of RAM and 16 gigs of internal storage. As you'd thus expect, the Galaxy S4 Active benchmarks the same as the regular Galaxy S4. Samsung managed to make the phone water and dust resistant while keeping the removable back cover. Remove the back and you'll find the same 2600 mAh removable battery, micro SIM card slot and micro SDXC card slot. The door has a rubber seal, and you should make sure you've got it completely snapped in place before taking it and your rubber ducky into the bath. Note: it takes a bit more work to get the back snapped on compared to the Galaxy S4 because that rubber seal is tight. Likewise, the micro USB port on the bottom has a rubber cover that must be closed before you play in water. The headphone jack is open as are the mic holes, so Samsung has done some interior sealing for those. Call quality doesn't suffer due to waterproof membranes, and the Active sounds just as superb as the standard Galaxy S4. The phone has the same IR AV remote control for your home theatre gear as the standard GS4.

The OS and TouchWiz software with myriad Samsung apps and tweaks are exactly the same as the Galaxy S4, so we won't rehash those in detail (please read our Samsung Galaxy S4 review if you're unfamiliar with the GS4). The phone has split window multitasking, the floating video player, Smart Stay, Samsung's sharing features that play nicely with other recent Galaxy products and their usual highly customized UI. Android 4.2.2 is under the hood, and that's the most recent version of Android as of this writing, so you're getting a very current smartphone.


Quadrant: 12,557
AnTuTu: 24,468
Sunspider: 1121

  Quadrant GLBenchmark 2.7, 2.5 Egypt Offscreen AnTuTu Sunspider JavaScript Test
Samsung Galaxy S4 Active 12,557 41 fps 24,468 1121
Samsung Galaxy S4 12,276 41 fps 24,776 826
HTC One 12,252 37 fps 24,589 1155
Moto X 8357 43 fps 21,377 1097
Sony Xperia Z 7916 32 fps 20,403 1306
LG Optimus G Pro 11,994 28 fps 18,561 867
Samsung Galaxy Note II 6001 66 pfs (v.2.5 used) 14,056 1052
LG Optimus G 7235 59 pfs (v.2.5 used) 11,087 1289
Samsung Galaxy S III 5102 51 fps (v.2.5 used) 7011 1825


If you love the Samsung Galaxy S4, but work or play in harsh environments where the phone comes into contact with water and dust, then the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is for you. In order to keep the price the same as the regular GS4, Samsung dropped the camera quality down a notch, but you're still getting a very good shooter than can even photograph fishies underwater. Just keep in mind that this isn't a rugged phone and if bumps and drops are a part of your phone's daily life, you'll still need a rugged case.

Price: $199 with 2 year contract, $599 without contract



Samsung Galaxy S4 Active

The Samsung Galaxy S4 and Samsung Galaxy S4 Active.


Samsung Galaxy S4 Active


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Display: 5" LCD (441 ppi). Resolution: 1920 x 1080. Has ambient light sensor, accelerometer and proximity sensor. Works when wearing gloves using increased touchscreen sensitivity setting.

Battery: Lithium Ion Polymer rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable. 2600 mAh.

Performance: 1.9GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad core CPU with Adreno 320 graphics. 2 gigs DDR2 RAM. 16 or 32 gigs internal storage.

Size: 5.5 x 2.8 x 0.36 inches. Weight: 5.29 ounces.

Phone: GSM quad band world phone with LTE 4G and HSPA+.

Camera: 2 megapixel front video chat camera and 8 megapixel rear camera with LED flash, BSI and HDR for photos. Digital image stabilization, can use front and back camera simultaneously.

Audio: Built in speaker, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack.

Networking: Integrated dual band WiFi 802.11b/g/n/ac, NFC and Bluetooth 4.0. Not compatible with first generation Samsung TecTile NFC tags, must use the new TecTiles.

Software: Android OS 4.2.2 Jelly Bean with Samsung TouchWiz UI. Samsung apps and features including Air Gesture, Smart Scroll, Smart Stay, Watch On (AV remote with IR control), S Beam, Multi Windows, Air View, S Voice, S Translator and Buddy Share. Polaris Office (MS Office compatible suite that can view, edit and create Office docs), carrier applications and standard suite of Google apps.

Expansion: 1 SDXC microSD card slot, compatible with cards up to 64 gigs.


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