This year Samsung finally managed to overtake Apple and steal the top place as the most profitable smartphone vendor. There is no doubt that the S4 flagman has credit for that. So far most rugged phones have lacked functionality and handy features.
S4 Active is much better looking and suggests more premium build quality
As a result companies like Sony and Samsung decided to fill up this market segment by introducing tough but powerful smartphones. In this video review in two parts we will test the S4’s rugged twin and in the meantime cook ourselves a technological salad. This first part of the review is dedicated to Samsung Galaxy S4 Active build quality and display.
Smartphone owners will agree that their devices are extremely functional and intelligent, but their major weakness is that they are very fragile and easy to damage by water spills, sharp objects or dust. Samsung Galaxy S4 active is one of the toughest phones out there which doesn’t sacrifice its flagship features.
Good news for S4 fans who thought the S4 had a cheap-looking plasticky design.
In fact, the Active flagship is not the toughest one our there as it is not shock proof
S4 Active is much better looking and suggests more premium build quality. A few significant elements have been added.
First, S4 Active’s polycarbonate body comes framed with a metal rim all along to create a sleek and elegant look and at the same time provide premium protection. The back panel is made of plastic and its surface is finished with an interesting texture. The back panel is removable to reveal the rubbery packing protection inside. Just be careful when putting the panel back before because it needs to be perfectly sealed before it goes underwater.
In fact, the Active flagship is not the toughest one our there as it is not shock proof, at least not officially. But it’s rubberized edges and internal rubber protection of the back panel makes it more or less durable to vibrations and accidental dropping. One thing is clear, its chances of survival in case of dropping are much better than those of the original S4.
You can take underwater pictures with the 8MP camera, which features a special Aqua mode
The dimensions have been increased in comparison to the S4 but the handset still looks and feels comfortable in the hand. One of the major changes of the design here is the replacement of the touch keys below with physical ones. It’s a matter of taste and user experience to tell if they are actually better than the sensor ones, but personally I prefer the physical keys because the feedback of the press is better.
As its name suggests this phone is suitable for active, adventurous people who often challenge their devices with extreme conditions like water, dust and drops. S4 Active has IP67 certificate. It is resistant to water and can spend up to 30 minutes up to 1 meter under the surface. During that time you can take underwater pictures with the 8MP camera, which features a special Aqua mode. It deactivates the touchscreen while active. To take the pictures or videos you use the volume rocker. Focusing is really hard to get underwater, because the touchscreen is not working in Aqua mode. The camera interface offers HDR video and photo mode as well as image stabilization.
The Super AMOLED screen on the S4 has been replaced with a TFT one on the Active
Videos are shot in 1080p format. The camera interface keeps all the cool features we saw in S4 like Drama Shot and Sound and Shot and more.
One of the major differences between the rugged flagman and its predecessor concerns the screen. Since Samsung had to make the 5-inch display strong – scratch and shock resistant, it replaced the Super AMOLED screen on the S4 with a TFT one on the Active. Still the fullHD resolution and the 441ppi pixel density are kept the same. Now, there is a difference in the picture quality but it’s not that obvious. The screen still looks great, the contrast is good and details sharp but it’s a little bit dull and dim compared to the AMOLED one in S4. The display has Corning Gorilla Glass 2 protection which makes it resistant to damage and scratches, of course we took the sharpest knife we could find. But it didn’t seem to leave even the slightest scratch on the glass. So we give it 5 out of 5 points for display protection.
The display has Corning Gorilla Glass 2 protection
Actually we didn’t have a cutting board around so we decided to add a pinch of technology in our salad and test the screen’s protection at the same time. I will let you enjoy the salad we made.
And of course we gave it a quick shower and it’s ready for the second part of the review where we will take a look at the hardware, CPU performance and battery life. Stay tuned…