The rugged smartphones the next big thing in the smartphone business, and Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is the first high-end water and dust proof model of the South Korean company. Samsung already has the Galaxy Xcover and Galaxy Xcover 2 in its portfolio, but both are mid-range models. Samsung Galaxy S4 Active specs are almost identical to the ones of the Galaxy S4 flagship, but it comes with a more resistant case that is both water and dust proof.
Samsung claims that it developed the Galaxy S4 Active for the customers who prefer the outdoor activities and for those who want to explore the most difficult trails and tumultuous rivers.
Samsung Galaxy S4 Active comes with a series of improvements compared to the flagship devices, but, in the same time with some changes that might change the customer’s mind. After launching this model, Samsung has completed the Galaxy S4 line-up, which also integrates the Galaxy S4 mini, and it is now capable to compete against the high-end Sony Xperia models that are also water and dust proof.
According to Samsung, the Galaxy S4 is selling great, and the Active variant should enjoy a similar success, even though it aims at a smaller group of customers.
Let’s have a look at the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active technical specifications. The rugged smartphone comes with a quad-core processor clocked at 1.9 GHz, has a 5-inch full HD display, 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of internal storage, expandable using the microSD card slot. The primary camera has an 8 megapixel sensor, while the front-facing camera is a 2 megapixel unit.
The smartphone is IP67 certified, packs a 2,600 mAh battery and is running Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean with TouchWiz Nature UX out of the box.
At the first sight, it seems that Samsung has kept the hardware platform of the Galaxy S4 flagship, but there are some differences between the two.
The most important change is the water and dust resistant case. The IP67 certification guarantees that the smartphone is completely sealed up and it is water proof to up to 1 meter for 30 minutes. Samsung has equipped the Galaxy S4 Active with a water proof audio jack, in order to prevent eventual accidents or when it is used in environments with high humidity.
Anyway, because the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is water and dust proof, it is a bit bigger than the Galaxy S4 flagship, measuring 139.7 x 71.3 x 9.1 mm and weighing 151 grams, compared to the SGS4 which is sized 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm and has a weight of 130 grams.
Compared to the Galaxy S4, which has a single Home button and two capacitive buttons on the front panel, Active sports three physical buttons in order to make it easier to use underwater.
In terms of hardware platform, Samsung chose the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 chipset that is also fitted on the Galaxy S4 I9505. The Qualcomm platform includes a quad-core Krait CPU clocked at 1.9 GHz and an Adreno 320 GPU, next to support for 4G LTE connectivity and WiFi 802.11ac. Galaxy S4 Active sports 2 GB of RAM, and it should be among the most powerful smartphones on the market. It is also capable to record videos at 1080p.
Samsung Galaxy S4 Active will only be available with only 16 GB of internal storage, of which 11.25 GB are available for the user, but, fortunately, it has a microSD card slot that can expand the storage with up to 64 GB.
The display is sized 5 inches diagonally, it has full HD resolution, just like the base model, but Samsung changed the technology using a TFT LCD panel (with a pixel density of 433 ppi), replacing the Super AMOLED screen of the original Galaxy S4. The picture quality will not be as good, but Samsung Galaxy S4 can be used with gloves, which is also possible for the Galaxy S4 flagship.
Another important change regards the primary camera. Samsung has ditched the 13 megapixel sensor of the Galaxy S4, replacing it with an 8 megapixel unit. The camera features a LED flash, and, just for the Galaxy S4 Active, Samsung introduced a new photo mode called “Aqua Mode.” By activating this function, Samsung promises to improve the quality and the clarity of the photos and videos recorded underwater. As well, in order to make the smartphone easier to use underwater, the volume rocker can be used to snap pictures and record videos. The LED flash can also be activated by long pressing the Volume Button.
The other camera features specific to the Galaxy S4 have been kept (Drama Shot, Sound & Shot, Beauty face, Best photo), but Active doesn’t come with HDR. For the front-facing camera, Samsung kept the 2 megapixel module, but also the Smart Scroll/Pause and Air View/Gesture functions.
Even though the 2,600 mAh battery of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is identical to the one of the flagship device, the new smartphone might come with shorter autonomy, because of the TFT display. Of course, the real life results might differ based on how the smartphone is used, especially when it comes to brightness settings.
Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is fitted with acceleration, proximity and ambient light sensors, as well with gyro, compass and barometer, features and functions that were introduced with the flagship model.
The smartphone is compatible with the 4G LTE and HSPA+ networks, including the ones in the US, it has WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/a support, IR blaster, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, and microUSB 2.0.
Samsung Galaxy S4 Active runs Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean customized with the company’s TouchWiz Nature UX interface, along with the Samsung-specific apps and functions.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 Active release date was set for this summer, and the US and Sweden markets will be the first to have it on sale. It will be available in Urban Gray, Dive Blue, and Orange Flare body liveries.
With the launches of Galaxy S4 Mini and Galaxy S4 Active, Samsung seeks to cover the demand of as many users as possible. While the Galaxy S4 is the model that aims to attract the customers who want a high-end smartphone and the Galaxy S4 Mini is the affordable version, Galaxy S4 Active was developed for the adventurous type. The hardware platform places it next to the flagship model, with only the display and the primary camera not being at the same level as the ones of the Galaxy S4.
The Galaxy S4 Active is a powerful smartphone, solid and recommended to those who don’t want to worry when using it in hostile environments, and to the clumsy ones, as well.
Since the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active has the same CPU and amount of RAM like the flagship model, we can compare it to the Xperia Z. The S4 Active is equally matched or supperior to Xperia Z in almost every aspect, of course, expect for the 13 megapixel sensor used by Sony. In terms of body, Xperia Z has IP57 certification, a standard that involves a lower degree of dust protection, compared to Active’s IP67 certificate.
Sony also launched Xperia ZR, a model that aims at the same public as the Galaxy S4 Active. Compared to the Xperia ZR, the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is better when it comes to CPU, display, and case, but the primary camera is weaker. Sony and Samsung claim that they optimized the two models for the best experience when it comes to recording videos and photos underwater.
Samsung failed to announce the official price of the Galaxy S4 Active, but it should have a price similar to the one of the flagship device. Adding certain features like the water and dust proof case will be compensated, in terms of production price, by the less powerful components like the display or the camera.
Samsung Galaxy S4 Active seeks to cover the rugged smartphones niche, but in the same time it might attract the customers who want their smartphone to look “though” and the ones who want to avoid any headaches when at the beach. Even though we are dealing with a powerful smartphone, the price might have a significant impact on how successful it will become.