(Photo : Samsung)
Samsung announced the Galaxy S4 Active on Wednesday. The rugged cousin of the Galaxy S4, the Active variant is designed to withstand sand, water, cold temperatures, and anything else you can throw at it. We've got a rundown of all it has to offer, and after seeing this, you may decide you'd rather have the Galaxy S4 Active than the regular Galaxy S4, even if you're just accident-prone and want your newest smartphone to last.
Samsung is dubbing this phone the "Active" and seemingly targeting the globetrotting National Geographic set. "The Galaxy S4 Active... is purposefully designed for active users who love the outdoors," Samsung CEO JK Shin said in a release. "Samsung has taken the innovative features of the Galaxy S4 and added breakthrough protective design elements to create a device that thrives in an active environment and is built for a lifestyle of travel and exploration." Or a lifestyle of frequently dropping your phone in the pool by accident.
The Galaxy S4 Active has a sealed design, making it very resistant to water damage and dust. Remember the stunning underwater feature of the Sony Xperia Z, shown off by Sony at the Consumer Electronics Show this year?
Well, the Galaxy S4 Active can do that, too. It is designed to withstand up to 30 minutes underwater at a submergence depth of one meter. This will be great for people who want to take photos while white-water rafting or surfers trying to record their best wave, or regular people who are tired of worrying about voiding their warranty when someone spills their drink. The Active also has water-resistant earphone jacks, so you can listen to music in extreme conditions without worrying about water damage—at least to the phone.
Samsung Custom Apps
The Samsung Galaxy S4 Active comes with a few Samsung apps that are meant to help adventure-seekers on their quest. They also help brand the Active as more than just a durable version of the Galaxy S4. Though, to be fair, these apps are also available on the regular Galaxy S4.
S Travel (Trip Advisor) - Samsung got Trip Advisor to power their native app, which helps with travel assistance, information about destinations, and recommendations.
S Translator - Oh the places you'll go with your Samsung Galaxy S4 Active! The S Translator provides instant text or voice translation... for emails and text messages.
Camera and Sharing - Samsung's multi-function camera modes come with the Active as well, including Drama Shot for continuous time-lapse loops, Sound and Shot for voice-over or sound-enhanced shots, Group Play, for sharing across Samsung devices. The Active also features the S4's camera extras like Beauty face, Panorma, Continuous shot, and Best photo.
Gestural Controls - The Galaxy S4 Active also inherits gestural controls like Air View, where you preview your emails by hovering your fingers over the screen, Air Gesture to control music and web content with the wave of your hand, and Smart Pause, which takes optical cues to pause videos while you're looking away. These are all fun and interesting features, but the fact that you can remorselessly grab on to this handset even with wet, greasy, or mud-caked hands makes them a little beside the point.
Other Samsung-Specific Features - With the Galaxy S4 Active, you'll get the Samsung Hub, their media content store, ChatON, their group chat and sharing hub and Samsung WatchON, Samsung's TV remote app.
Okay, let's get to the nitty-gritty. What do you get with the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active, and what might you be giving up by going with the tough version of the phone? The answer is not very much; there are somethings you might not like.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 Active comes with the 5-inch display with Full HD and 443 pixels per inch, which is slightly higher than the Galaxy S4. It also comes with Glove Touch, so you can operate it with gloves on in the extreme cold of your Antarctic adventure, or, you know, whenever you're just wearing gloves.
The Active is powered by a 1.9GHz quad-core processor with 2GB RAM, so you're not going to give up any performance for the hardcore model. It runs Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, just like its tamer predecessor. It comes with only the 16GB storage option, but microSD expansion can add up to 64GB. It's got a 2,600 mAh battery, the same as the Galaxy S4. It also has Wi-Fi and is LTE capable.
The main hardware drawback of the Galaxy S4 Active is that the primary camera is only 8 megapixels, compared to the 13 megapixel shooter on the Galaxy S4. So you've got to decide how important it is to have the very best camera available, or just a really good one, with the added benefit of your device being a more durable smartphone.
When Can You Get It?
Samsung says their Galaxy S4 Active will be launching this summer, but they've given no specific release date yet. (Hopefully it will come along before pool/water damage season ends.) But it'll be in the U.S. (and Sweden) first, and available in three colors: Urban Grey, Dive Blue, and Orange Flare.
Check back with us as we'll have more information when it comes along.