Hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active

We go hands-on with the Galaxy S4 Active, water and dust-resistant version of the Galaxy S4

  • Samsung has just released the Galaxy S4 Active in Australia, a water and dust resistant Android smartphone. It's best described as a rugged version of the original Galaxy S4, rated at IP67 standards to survive being submerged in one metre of water for up to 30 minutes. Let's go hands-on!

    The retail packaging for the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active.

  • We reviewed the 16GB model, which is sold exclusively on contract through Vodafone in Australia. It's also available now as an outright device for $699.

  • In the box you'll find an extra back cover (red), the usual documentation, a micro-USB to USB cable, an AC charger, headphones, and different sized silicone ear buds.

  • Samsung supplies an extra back cover for the Galaxy S4 Active.

  • Despite being a rugged phone, the Galaxy S4 Active doesn't have any special screws to keep water out. You'll just need to make sure the USB flap on the bottom is closed, and that the cover is firmly attached and clicked into place.

  • Unlike the regular Galaxy S4, the Galaxy S4 Active has physical shortcut keys for menu, home and back. They provide excellent tactility and we much prefer them to the traditional, capacitive keys.

  • Here's the plastic flap on the bottom that covers the micro-USB port. It needs to be closed to survive underwater.

  • Faux-metal screws on each corner gives the Galaxy S4 Active a real industrial look. We also like the honeycomb finish that's printed on the back.

  • Controls and buttons are in their usual places, starting with the power/lock screen key on the right.

  • The volume rocker is located on the left side.

  • The headphone jack doesn't require a cover or plug. If you manage to find yourself a pair of waterproof headphones, you could potentially listen to music underwater.

  • The Galaxy S4 Active is skinned with Samsung's TouchWIZ UI, so most of the extra functions that Samsung provides are present including 'Smart Scroll', 'Smart Pause', 'Air Gesture' and 'Air View'.

  • The Galaxy S4 Active's 5in screen uses a TFT panel rather than super AMOLED, and the resolution is 720p rather than the full HD of the standard model.

  • Despite the lower resolution, most users shouldn't be able to tell the difference. Text displayed is crisp and clear, and the screen is both vivid and bright.

  • The Galaxy S4 Active's camera has been downgraded from 13-megapixels to 8-megapixels, though the presence of an "Aqua Mode" allows users to capture underwater photos and videos.

  • We can confirm that the Galaxy S4 Active has no problems taking a shower under running water.

  • Samsung says it will survive being fully submerged in one metre of water for up to 30 minutes.

  • The Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is available now through Vodafone for a $5 per month handset repayment on Vodafone's $60 plan, which includes $700 worth of calls, unlimited SMS and MMS messages and 1.5GB of data per month. It's also available for $699 outright through Samsung's Experience Stores in Sydney and Melbourne, along with a range of mobile retailers around Australia.

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