Samsung Galaxy S4 Active Review: Rough and Ready

Written by
Samsung Galaxy S4 Active Review: Rough and Ready

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is the latest in a long line of variations of the Korean manufacturer’s Galaxy S4 flagship, which hit the market earlier this year. It’s a device designed for those who enjoy life outdoors and it seems Samsung’s ability to create a smartphone for all types of user is paying off – the firm was recently announced as the leading force in the mobile market in terms of its market share.

Boasting a water resistant and dustproof shell the S4 Active sets itself well apart from its other Galaxy siblings. Thanks to a wealth of impressive specs it combines high-quality performance and protection perfectly, but how does it cope in the great outdoors? Read on to find out…

Key features of Samsung Galaxy S4 Active

Features of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active

  • 5-inch TFT capacitive display 441 ppi
  • Quad-core 1.9 GHz Krait 300 Processor
  • 8 megapixel camera, autofocus, LED flash
  • 16GB internal storage with 2GB RAM
  • Android OS, v4.2.2 Jelly Bean
  • Superfast 4G LTE
  • Li-Ion 2600 mAh battery
  • Weight 153 grams, 9.1mm Thick


There’s very little difference between the S4 Active and the Samsung Galaxy S4 in terms of looks, and the manufacturer has carried forward the rounded form factor which has become synonymous with Galaxy handsets. That said, it has replaced the shiny polycarbonate rear cover with a matte finish, and added toughened sections at the top and bottom, which instantly makes the device feel sturdier in the hand.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active Multiple Views

The S4 Active has also gained some weight, which adds to its robust nature. But don’t let that put you off, because it’s not enough to weigh you down, and the inclusion of three physical buttons at the bottom makes it even easier to use with one hand when you’re out and about.

With an IP67 rating the device is completely protected from dust and dirt particles and can be submerged in water up to one meter deep for up to 30 minutes. Even the exposed audio jack isn’t affected by any dunks or splashes, giving it the edge over its rivals.


Unfortunately the Super AMOLED display found on the flagship has been replaced by a TFT offering. However, thanks to a ppi of 441 text and images look sharp and clear when doing things like reading your favourite blogs or playing games.

Galaxy S4 Active Display Size

With a 1.9GHz quad-core processor under the hood the screen performance is faultless. Samsung’s TouchWiz UI, which has once again been skinned on top of the Android Jelly Bean software, looks fantastic on the 5-inch display, while the meaty processor ensures there’s no lag or stutter, even when you’ve got lots of apps open at once.


Ditching the 13 megapixel camera found on the Galaxy S4, Samsung has opted for a modest 8 megapixel sensor on the S4 Active.

Basic shots are clear and bright, exactly what we’d expect from a camera of this nature, but with so many other smartphones boasting a similar lens, there’s a danger this could blend in with the rest. But this is Samsung we’re talking about and once again the manufacturer has made significant enhancements to the software side of things.

Galaxy S4 Active Camera

Aqua mode is one such element setting the S4 Active apart from handsets like the Sony Xperia Z and Z Ultra. Making the most of its water resistant shell, Aqua mode allows users to take pictures and record videos underwater, with some stunning results. The device is also capable of being used in salt water, however the firm does suggest that you clean it with fresh water afterwards to ensure no damage is caused.

When framed correctly images look crisp and clear, while video footage turns out brilliant every time. Aqua mode is a highlight of the handset, allowing users to easily capture and record those once in a life time moments anywhere.

Innovative software

Fans of the Galaxy S4 looking for a tougher handset will be pleased to hear that some of the intuitive software has been carried forward. Smart Stay, Smart Scroll and Smart Pause, which use eye-tracking technology to allow you to control the display hands-free, have all made the cut, as do the various air gestures.

As hoped, S Health has been carried forward and is the perfect addition, allowing you to make the most of the handset’s active qualities. It’s brilliant for fitness fanatics and is capable of everything from monitoring your heart-rate during a workout to recording your glucose levels and calorie intake.

S4 Active Hands-On Review


On paper the S4 Active may look similar to the Galaxy S4, but once it’s in action it’s a very different device.

It’s unlike any of the other S4 variants and stands out for all the right reasons. Although some of the specs have been trimmed back slightly, Samsung has made up for this with some exceptional software and a premium yet durable design, that will no doubt appeal to the more dynamic user.

The S4 Active’s ability to take first-class pictures and videos underwater, without compromising any other part of the handset, is what many have no doubt been waiting for. Once again Samsung has shown its talent in creating a unique smartphone that targets a different kind of consumer.

This guest post was written by Sarah Hazelwood of Phones 4u, the Best High Street Retailer of 2013 and home of #projectupgrade

Images Courtesy of Phones 4u

Did you like this handset review? Please comment and share with your friends, family and colleagues too…..

Article Categories:
Handset Videos/Samsung · Phones 4u


  • Andrew Lambie

    Looks great! Beats Apple!

  • Arnaz ConcreteMuzik Woods


  • Jacob

    Whether it’s the Galaxy S4, or the Note II (or the unreleased but highly-anticipated Note III), Samsung continues to outdo itself with its powerful and popular smartphones.

    The Samsung Galaxy S4 Active continues in this tradition, with innovative software, crystal-clear 441ppi display, and superfast 4G LTE capability.

  • Harold Gardner

    That is a thoughtfully designed device. It will be interesting to see how in performs in the wild.

  • Ron Sidwell

    The loss of the 13 Megapixel camera is a small price to pay for the added durability. I especially like the water resistance feature and the ability to take photos/videos underwater.

    • I agree the ability to take pictures underwater is an interesting feature, I’ll be testing it out in the bath as soon as I can get my hands on one 🙂

  • Ernie

    The beauty of this is when I vidit a new Independent musician group, I can do a video, an interview, record them live and bring it back to my Internet radio network

    • I’m sure there are already handsets available which can do that Ernie! However with such a powerful CPU I reckon the S4 Active can probaly handle the workload that little bit smoother!

  • Ernie

    SamSung is head to head with Apple. Good for both companies.

  • Pingback: iPhone 5S vs. Samsung Galaxy S4 – Head to Head | Pre pay as you go Blog()

Menu Title

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.