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Galaxy S4 Active Tested: Samsung made a better S4.

Loie Favre (translation)
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Samsung presented quite a few new devices during its event yesterday in London: the Galaxy S4 Mini, the S4 Zoom and the S4 Active. These three are different variations of the Galaxy S4 flagship, the most interesting device of which is without a doubt the Galaxy S4 Active. We had already predicted that the Active would be much better than the flagship itself and after having tested it out, our assumptions have been ultimately confirmed.

S4 active 7
© AndroidPIT

The S4 Active is the water-resistant and dust-proof outdoor version for the S4 and has many similarities to the original as well as some deciding improvements. Like the motto explains: ''same same, but different''.

S4 active 4
Yet not so different: the S4 and the S4 Active (in front) are much more similar than we had thought. / © AndroidPIT

Design

On the front side of the device, the hardware buttons are the only clear visual differences between the two models. Then on the back-facing side, the huge rivets placed in all four corners is the first noticeable new elements. The battery cover is made of the same shinny plastic as the original. It’s too bad: a more matte back-side would have gone better with that outdoorsy feel. The dimensions are close to being the same, though the S4 Active is slightly bigger. Not only that, the border surrounding the display appears to be deeper as well.

Display

When comparing the two side-by-side, the differences can be seen instantly. The LCD panel belonging to the S4 Active is better than the AMOLED display of the S4. The debate between these two type of displays has been a long-lasting feud, though when you hold the two together, the winner can be quickly seen in the light in an inside hallway as well in the outdoors: the S4 Active's LCD display is truly better.

S4 active 1
LCD vs. AMOLED: the S4 Active (left) has a better display. / © AndroidPIT

Camera

Samsung was a big sparing in this category when it only gave the S4 Active 8 MP instead of 13 MP. Pixels aren’t everything though, my short test showed almost no difference in picture quality. The S4 Active also has a new trick up its sleeve: its camera can also shoot under water and the volume button serves a second trigger button purpose.

S4 active 6
The S4 Active camera also can take picture under water. / © AndroidPIT

Hardware

Both smartphones have a 1.9 GHZ processor with 2 GB RAM as well as a battery of 2600 mAh. The three buttons in the front-facing side appear to be a little clunky at first and didn't seem to fit with the overall design of its chassis. However, once I started using the S4 Active and played around with it a bit, I actually started to prefer the three button solution rather than the home and soft keys as seen on the S4. The IP67 certificate makes the S4 Active resistant to water and dust: another plus!

S4 active 2
Three buttons vs. one button the S4 Active is easier to use. / © AndroidPIT

Technical data in comparison

  Galaxy S4 Galaxy S4 Active
Processor 1.9 GHz, Quad-Core 1.9 GHz, Quad-Core
RAM 2 GB 2 GB
Display 5-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 pixel, Super AMOLED 5-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 Pixel, LCD
Internal Memory 16/32/64 GB, extendable with microSD card 16 GB, extendable with microSD card
Camera 13 MP (back-facing), 2 MP (front-facing) 8 MP (back-facing), 2 MP (front-facing)
System Android 4.2.2 with TouchWiz Android 4.2.2 with TouchWiz
Dimensions 5.37 x 2.74 x 0.3 inches 5.5 x 2.8 x 0.35 inches
Weight 4.18 oz 5.32 oz
Battery 2600 mAh 2600 mAh

Bottom Line:

It's now easy to say that the S4 Active is better than the first S4 model: it really has come leaps and bounds in certain important areas. It can definitely be debated whether a certificate of IP67 is really necessary, however Samsung has in truth come up with a device with some genuine added value. It was really worth it for the manufacturer to combine a high-end smartphone with some elements for the outdoors. Not only that, the device doesn't appear to look too clumsy and big like other outdoor phones that exist. As of August, the S4 Active will come in orange, a nice new ''summery'' twist for Samsung. At the moment, the headset is available in blue and gray and the price is set at about 649 Euros (around 854 US dollars), according to what the Samsung representative I spoke with while at the event.

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Comments

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  • Sterling Keys Jun 21, 2013 Link

    The moment this phone hits the North American shores, I'm jumping on the Samsung bandwagon.

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    Loie Favre Jun 21, 2013 Link

    Sterling, I think this would match your rugged lifestyle in the bushes for sure!

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  • Scott Cushing Jun 21, 2013 Link

    I have to wait until August to get the orange one! Argh! I want it TODAY!

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    Admin
    Loie Favre Jun 21, 2013 Link

    I know! I'm glad Samsung is coming out with some cooler colors.

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