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Always On: Unboxing the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active

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Always On: Unboxing the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active

5:31 /

It's sporty. It's dust-proof. It's waterproof. Take a look at Samsung's latest smartphone.

Another day, another version of the Samsung Galaxy S4. This time, it's the Active which is a more rugged version of the S4 line. Let's get it out of here. Before we do, actually, can I just say, I don't know why all of the Galaxy S4 phones are not active or rugged in some way. I don't know why you need a different version of a phone that's more dustproof, drop-proof, or waterproof since it's been my experience that all phones could benefit from being dustproof, drop-proof, and waterproof. Nevertheless, just gets by a slightly different version if you want it to stand up to everyday life. Rant over. Let's get to the gadget. You know this packaging, right? -Yeah. -I'm kind of over it. There it is. Quad-core CPU, etcetera, etcetera. Let's get it out of the box here. Now, even though it's slightly more ruggedized, it actually doesn't feel much larger and heavier. There are some slight physical differences that we'll get to in a little bit, but it's basically the same sleek, thin design as the regular S4 or the S4 Mini or whichever S4 you happen to encounter. Unlike your usual S4s, you've got a sticker back here to tell you sort of how to sit the back cover. For maximum protection against humidity and water, firmly seal battery cover and USB cover before use. Make sure to press below the LED flash to make sure it gets nice and secured through here. There've been a lot of different tests of the waterproofness of this camera and we will, of course, conduct our own. But spoiler sounds like, although it can take a splash, dunking might be slightly more questionable. Case has a slightly different design and then you can see that there's sort of like a rubberized seal all around the inside of that back case there. It looks a little tougher on the inside than the usual ones. Okay, let's get our battery here. I will say that for those of you who complain that the S4 in the Galaxy line are a little flimsy feeling, although the back is plastic, it feels a little sturdier, and overall, the phone has a little bit more heft which is actually kind of reassuring. Let's turn it on. One other physical difference that you see right off the bat is that there are physical buttons as opposed to the touch buttons because those are not always conductive under water. I don't think you're gonna be swimming with this thing, but-- Nevertheless, I actually really like the kind of brushed aluminum look of this compared to something like obviously the white Galaxy S4 as a slightly different look overall. It doesn't have that brushed metal. The darker versions have obviously darker bezels, but this kind of has a cool, sophisticated, slightly kind of tougher bod that I'm kind of digging, although size-wise, you can see basically the same, just a tiny bit thicker, not bad. Usually, ruggedized means bulky and ugly, although, to me, that's just another reason why this could be just as tough as this. Let's do the specs. The Galaxy S4 Active has a 5-inch TFT display with 1920x1080 pixel resolution. That's pretty good resolution, but this is not Samsung's usual AMOLED display. In fact, reviewers say it's considerably less vivid than the S4. It runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, and of course, has Samsung's proprietary TouchWiz interface. The processor is, no joke, 1.9-gigahertz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 which is one of the fastest currently available on mobile phones. It also has 16 gigs of internal storage and a microSD card slot that's expandable to hold up to 64 gigs. It also has micro-USB for charging and 2 gigs of internal RAM. The battery is 2600 milliamp hours which is rated to 17 hours of talk-time and up to 13 days on standby, like that would ever happen. The S4 Active has a 2-megapixel front-facing camera and the back camera is 8 megapixels. That's a lower resolution than the original Galaxy S4, but again, it's all about the sensor. The camera also features a new Aqua Mode which lets you control and take photos underwater. The Active includes all the extra software features of the S4 such as Air Gestures, Air View, Smart Gestures, Smart Pause, Smart Scroll, Smart Unlock, and TouchWiz Widgets. It costs $199 with a two-year contract. Setting aside my rage about the actual existence of this phone or really the fact that there are two to choose from at all, I'm thinking if I was in the store and I was trying to choose between the Galaxy S4 and the Galaxy S4 Active and I wasn't totally obsessed with having my buttons, you know, on the screen, haptic feedback instead of physical buttons, there is no reason not to get the S4 Active. You can drop it. It's dustproof. You could take it in the water. To me, that's exactly what I want my phone to do and it also does all of the same things as the regular Galaxy S4. This seems like the obvious buy. Life is hard on gadgets. For the full review though, head on over to CNET and check out what our editors have to say.
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