Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review – Samsung’s submersive phone

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Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review

Samsung has sent us two phones to review. One is a Samsung Galaxy Ace 3, and the other was a Galaxy S4 Active, of which this is the review.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active Review:

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Active was released just two months after the flagship S4. Built with users who may have a more rugged lifestyle than the average business user, the S4 Active has a number of features which make it the perfect companion to an active lifestyle.

Design/Display:

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review, picture of the back of the device
Back, case on

Identical to the S4 in almost every way other than the size, weight (which are slightly larger and heavier) and the difference in navigation buttons on the bottom of the screen (the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active actually has physical buttons for all three buttons, unlike the ‘basic’ model), the design of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is notable, whilst not taking away any of the beauty of the company’s flagship design. Built to withstand shocks and falls and water and dust proof to 1 metre, which is known as IP67 (and a feature of the recently announced Galaxy S5), the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active will be perfectly at home on the beach or at the pool with you.

With a Gorilla glass 5 inch full HD TFT screen, with 443 PPI, you will be able to read texts, take pictures and watch films in beautiful clarity. You can even see the screen underwater, allowing you to take pictures (more on that later). You can even operate the screen with gloves on, allowing you to keep you hands warm.

Beautifully clear display
Beautifully clear display

The design of the case has high impact rubber on the top and bottom, meaning should the phone fall, it will be kept safe from scratches. Even the thin plastic back has a rubber seal inside to stop water and dust getting into the battery compartment.

Hardware:

The entire unit is run by a 1.9 Quad-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 Processor, assisted by 2GB of Ram. When it comes to calls, the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active allows you to make calls over 4G LTE, just like it’s ‘basic’ model.

Like most Samsung phones, the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is able to take a Micro SD Card up to 64 GB, and takes a Micro SIM card, both of which are found in the battery compartment.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review, picture of the sd card and sim slot
Close up of the SIM and Micro SD Card slot.

As always with new devices, we ran the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active through a set of benchmark tests to see how it scores. With its impressive hardware, we weren’t too disappointed.

Antutu 4 results:

As you can see from the following screenshots, the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active performed admirably, scoring on par with the ‘basic’ model. With a total score of 27550, the S4 Active held up well, being beaten only by Samsung’s own Galaxy Note 3 and a couple of others, most of which are newer devices.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review benchmark results
Antutu Benchmark Results

With its Qualcomm Adreno 320 graphics processor capable of running OpenGL ES2.0 and some fast 3D graphics, the graphics test fared well also.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review 3D benchmark results
OpenGL ES2.0 3D Benchmark result.

Quadrant Standard Edition results:

Finally, we ran the S4 Active through the Standard Quadrant benchmark tests. As this is an older test, the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active came out well ahead of the others, with a total score of 11792.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review Quadrant SE Benchmark results
Quadrant Standard Edition Benchmark Result

Software:

As well as these impressive hardware features, in this Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review, we show the device has some impressive software to back it up. Apps like Samsung’s own S-Health, which will turn your phone into a pedometer and food tracker in an attempt to help you lose weight. To my surprise, the food database on the S-Health app even had UK shops such as Sainsbury’s, Asda and Waitrose with their products you can search for and allow you to track with their nutritional value.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active S Health app
The S Health food database has most of the UK shops, making the entry of food easy

If you’re a traveler, then the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active also comes pre-loaded with S-Travel, an app to help you in your journey with travel assistance, information services and city guides for your destination. This is followed up with S-Translate, Samsung’s own version of a verbal and written translation.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review S Translate
S Translate, your translater whilst on holiday.

When it comes time to relax, the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active can still be of use, allowing you to use your device as remote control, with an in-built InfraRed port, allowing you to control your TV, Blu Ray player, Hi Fi and Air Conditioning. Of course, it helps if your media devices are Samsung, but you can set up WatchOn to control other makes of TV’s. WatchOn will also show you your Electronic Schedule and remind you when your favourite shows are on.

Underlying all this, the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active runs Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2. There is no word as to when (or if) the device will be upgraded to other OS’s.

Camera:

SAMSUNG CSC

Despite the standard S4 having a 13MP camera, the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active comes with a 8 MP camera which allows you to take pictures underwater. With a special setting on the camera options called Aqua Mode, the software will increase quality and clarity of the pictures and videos taken underwater. The Camera chip is clearly very good, as seen from the sample photo’s taken both outside into the setting sun, and inside. The picture inside was taken on the normal setting, without using the LED flash.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review outside test image
A test of the 8MP Camera
Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review inside test image
Inside shot with the normal settings picks out the shadows well

Battery:

The battery for the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is surprisingly small at only 2,600 mAh considering the high-powered processor and RAM. Charging took about two hours and lasted most of the day of testing with average use and benchmarking.

Conclusion:

So how can I conclude this Samsung Galaxy S4 Active Review? Depending on where you shop, and if you’re upgrading or buying outright, the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active can often be bought cheaper than the ‘basic’ S4. I would suggest this is a good buy, but with the approach of Samsung’s next flagship phone arriving, the Samsung Galaxy S5, and bearing in mind that the S5 has most of the features of the S4 Active with the new design and better camera, I would suggest holding off and getting the S5. However, if you’ve seen the S5 and know you can’t afford it, then the S4 Active will be a good substitute and could drop in price once the S5 is released. It’s our hope that we will be allowed to test an S5 when they are, but till then, I would recommend the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Active can be bought from via Samsung or most UK Network operators. 

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