Samsung Galaxy S4 Active

AKA: Samsung SGH-I537
8/10 AVG.
RATING
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The Galaxy S4 Active combines the world-beating tech of the standard S4 with a water and dustproof case design, making it the must-have Android mobile of the moment. - Damien McFerran, Pocket Gamer  
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Overall, a great fun smartphone that gives you a flagship experience, but loves a little water sports too. - Chris Hall, Pocket-lint  
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Reviews summary

8/10 AVG.
RATING

Based on 24 reviews

What's good

  • Water resistant up to 1 meter for 30 minutes
  • Dust resistant
  • Fast and smooth overall performance
  • Underwater camera mode
  • Excellent bright light legibility

What's bad

  • Slippery grip
  • Not especially durable against drops
  • LCD display suffers from washed out colors

Like the name suggests, the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is designed with the active outdoor users in mind. As with the Sony Xperia Z, the S4 Active is IP67 certified, which means that it is water-resistant up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes and also dust resistant. Tech Hive tests back up the water-resistant claim, though they go on to mention that micro-USB flap port felt flimsy and "seems like it'd be way too easy to damage through regular use."

To complement the water-resistant feature, the S4 Active has made one notable design change. Instead of the standard navigation buttons on the touch screen, Samsung opted for physical buttons. Critics explain the design choice by noting that physical buttons work better than capacitive buttons when wet. In addition, most critics enjoyed the tactical feedback from pressing the buttons. Android Central states that they had "just enough click to them, as well as just the right amount of texture."

Besides the buttons, the S4 Active has also added a new Aqua camera mode. As the name suggests, Aqua mode is for underwater picture taking. When active, the shutter controls move to the volume rocker and users can choose whether they want to take pictures or videos. While most reviewers enjoyed the mode, they also noticed two main drawbacks: lack of auto focus and poor screen visibility underwater. CNET felt that these issues lead to quite a bit of guesswork and "hit or miss" image quality.

Specs-wise, the S4 Active packs many of the same features as the Samsung Galaxy S4. It comes with a 1.9GHz quad-core process, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of onboard storage. Its smooth performance scrolling between pages as well as playing graphically intensive games impressed reviewers. T3 calls the phone a power-house.

Unlike the Galaxy S4, the S4 Active sports a 5", 1080 LCD display. When reviewers directly compared the two phones, they noticed that colors on the S4 active were not nearly as vibrant and had a magenta cast on the panel. Still, Engadget states that the screen still offers excellent viewing angles, crisp text and good bright light legibility.

Despite the Active in its name most reviewers discovered that the phone itself isn't much more rugged than other top smartphones. The plastic finish made it difficult for many to get a good grip on the device, making drops more likely. Unfortunately, most realized its not made to withstand drops. While the top and bottom edges of the phone are rubberized, Trusted Review warns that it will not soak up an impact, though they go on to say that it will help avoid light scratches.

Regardless of its actual durability, consensus amoung critics is that the Samsung Galaxy Active 4 is a solid phone with an interesting design. Android Central concludes, "the Samsung Galaxy S4 is a fun, robust Android smartphone."

Specs summary

Screen
5"

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Active's screen is 5 inches with 1080 x 1920 pixels resolution.

Processor
1.9GHz

There is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 APQ8064T Quad core 1.9 GHz processor (CPU).

OS

The phone runs on the Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean (Update Available: 4.4.2 KitKat) operating system (OS).

Camera
8+ MP
You can take photos or capture video with the phone's onboard 8+ megapixel camera. There is also a secondary front facing camera with 2+ megapixels resolution.
Storage
16 GB

Internal memory is 16 GB. An external, MicroSD, MicroSDHC (up to 64 GB) expansion slot is available for increased storage capacity.

Battery
2600mAh

The phone is powered by a 2600 mAh Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) battery. Samsung's performance ratings are: 13.3 days standby time, 1020 minutes talk time, 600 minutes Wi-Fi surfing.

Prices (Where to Buy)

Videos

Resources

Manuals / User Guides
Helpful Links
Have a question?
Visit the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active Q&A Forum to ask the community a question or help others.

Reviews summary

8/10 AVG.
RATING

Based on 24 reviews

What's good

  • Water resistant up to 1 meter for 30 minutes
  • Dust resistant
  • Fast and smooth overall performance
  • Underwater camera mode
  • Excellent bright light legibility

What's bad

  • Slippery grip
  • Not especially durable against drops
  • LCD display suffers from washed out colors

Like the name suggests, the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is designed with the active outdoor users in mind. As with the Sony Xperia Z, the S4 Active is IP67 certified, which means that it is water-resistant up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes and also dust resistant. Tech Hive tests back up the water-resistant claim, though they go on to mention that micro-USB flap port felt flimsy and "seems like it'd be way too easy to damage through regular use."

To complement the water-resistant feature, the S4 Active has made one notable design change. Instead of the standard navigation buttons on the touch screen, Samsung opted for physical buttons. Critics explain the design choice by noting that physical buttons work better than capacitive buttons when wet. In addition, most critics enjoyed the tactical feedback from pressing the buttons. Android Central states that they had "just enough click to them, as well as just the right amount of texture."

Besides the buttons, the S4 Active has also added a new Aqua camera mode. As the name suggests, Aqua mode is for underwater picture taking. When active, the shutter controls move to the volume rocker and users can choose whether they want to take pictures or videos. While most reviewers enjoyed the mode, they also noticed two main drawbacks: lack of auto focus and poor screen visibility underwater. CNET felt that these issues lead to quite a bit of guesswork and "hit or miss" image quality.

Specs-wise, the S4 Active packs many of the same features as the Samsung Galaxy S4. It comes with a 1.9GHz quad-core process, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of onboard storage. Its smooth performance scrolling between pages as well as playing graphically intensive games impressed reviewers. T3 calls the phone a power-house.

Unlike the Galaxy S4, the S4 Active sports a 5", 1080 LCD display. When reviewers directly compared the two phones, they noticed that colors on the S4 active were not nearly as vibrant and had a magenta cast on the panel. Still, Engadget states that the screen still offers excellent viewing angles, crisp text and good bright light legibility.

Despite the Active in its name most reviewers discovered that the phone itself isn't much more rugged than other top smartphones. The plastic finish made it difficult for many to get a good grip on the device, making drops more likely. Unfortunately, most realized its not made to withstand drops. While the top and bottom edges of the phone are rubberized, Trusted Review warns that it will not soak up an impact, though they go on to say that it will help avoid light scratches.

Regardless of its actual durability, consensus amoung critics is that the Samsung Galaxy Active 4 is a solid phone with an interesting design. Android Central concludes, "the Samsung Galaxy S4 is a fun, robust Android smartphone."

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Reviews (8/10 Avg. rating)

Rugged and ready for adventure

from PCWorld (about 1 year ago)

Samsung has a winner on its hands with the Active: It’s sleek, powerful, and won’t fall apart the first time you drop it or get it dirty. The downgrade in camera quality is lamentable, and some will absolutely hate all of Samsung’s software extras, but those are small concessions to... More

  8/10

Like the normal S4 - but much more satisfying

from TechRadar (about 1 year ago)

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Active finds itself a little in no mans land, and it's a difficult one for us to recommend outright. If you're in the market for a super powerful smartphone which you can take on extreme activities, swimming and in the bath then sure the Galaxy S4 Active is the best around,... More

  8/10

The Iron Man of Samsung smartphones

from The Inquirer (about 1 year ago)

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is one of the best smartphones made by Samsung in recent years, offering users all the key strengths of the Galaxy S4, but coming with a beefed-up, more robust design. As with all Samsung phones, the addition of Touchwiz is a mixed affair, with the skin in general detracting... More

  8/10

Meatier more solid than other Samsung flagship devices

from Daily Mobile (about 1 year ago)

While the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active isn't as rugged as I would like it to be it is more durable than most Samsung devices and you gotta love that. It's pretty darn close (spec wise) to the regular Galaxy S4 and unless you really need the 13mp camera I'd be hard pressed not to recommend this device over... More

The Galaxy S4 gets the Schwarzenegger treatment

from Pocket Gamer (about 1 year ago)

You could accuse Samsung of being lazy with the S4 Active - after all, it's essentially the standard S4 in a different case, with no real technical improvements. In fact, with a weaker screen and less adept camera, you could call it something of a downgrade. However, in reality these differences mean... More

  9/10

The additional protection is a wonderful bonus to what is already a market-leading handset

from Fone Arena (about 1 year ago)

Simply put, the Galaxy S4 Active is a Galaxy S4 which isn’t afraid of the elements. If you’ve eyed the Sony Xperia Z – which offers similar levels of resistance – but prefer Samsung’s phones, then your prayers have effectively been answered; the Active may have a less powerful... More

A great fun smartphone that gives you a flagship experience

from Pocket-lint (about 1 year ago)

There's a lot to love about the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active. There's a great hardware experience on offer here that's competitive with some of the best devices on the market. Naturally, the waterproofing is the big sell: it works, taking away the worry of getting your phone wet, but bringing that additional... More

  9/10

Very powerful, water and dust resistant, appealing design

from Know Your Mobile (about 1 year ago)

Although it has a weaker camera and lacks the striking Super AMOLED screen of the standard S4, the Galaxy S4 Active is actually the better phone of the two, purely because it offers the same degree of power but comes with water and dust resistance. The increased resilience to the elements might seem... More

  9/10

It keeps the high-end guts and sports heavy-duty plastic but ditches AMOLED

from Ars Technica (about 1 year ago)

The S 4 Active is mostly additive. It's a little larger and heavier, but in exchange you get a phone that feels sturdier and a bit less plasticky in your hand. PenTile AMOLED detractors can get a high-end Samsung phone with an LCD display, and the dust-and-water-resistance is a nice extra feature. If... More

Waterproof Galaxy S4 offers excellent performance

from PC Advisor (about 1 year ago)

We really like the Galaxy S4 Active. It's got the kind of features that we wish the flagship smartphone has. There is a downgrade with some specifications but they don't seem like a big sacrifice. Performance is excellent and the neither display nor the camera could be described as poor. If you want... More

  8/10

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