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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Go wild

Who's it for? Anyone

Button-pusher

Blending in

Hard body

Grip gripe

For your convenience

Active dash

Edge master

Blast off

Camera power

Screw that

Not so pocket-friendly

Remember the S4 Active?

Compared to the Galaxy S5

A smidge more

The Samsung Galaxy S5 Active may have a tough exterior, especially with this camouflage coloring, but it's much more like the original Galaxy S5 than you might think.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

It may boast a sturdier chassis, but inside, the GS5 Active has (almost) all the Android 4.4 KitKat goodness as the S5, and all of Samsung's own additions as well, like a heart-rate monitor -- though it lacks the fingerprint scanner.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

Physical navigation buttons are responsive alternatives to capacitive controls, and do all the same things.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

In addition to Camo Green, you can get the S5 Active in Ruby Red or Titanium Grey.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

With reinforced plastic corners and no silvery trim, the S5 Active can take more rough-housing. I shoved it pretty hard between these branches, without incurring any dents, scuffs, or dings.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

However, it's too bad that the material along the top and sides isn't grippier.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

See that blue button? That's for you. A short press opens up a dashboard for sports-related apps and a long press launches the camera. Don't worry, you can swap functions all you'd like in the Settings.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

Here's a look at the default Activity Zone that Samsung installed. It has a compass, barometer, flashlight, and stopwatch.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

Straight sides and grooved edges were designed to make the phone easier to hang onto.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

An IR blaster on top will let you control your TV from the couch.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

The Active's 16-megapixel camera matches the GS5 original with excellent image quality and the option to record ultra-HD video.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

There are four nubs on the back panel that look a little like screws. Don't be fooled, the back panel comes off with nothing more than a strong fingernail wedged beneath an indentation.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

A tad taller, wider, and thicker than the already-big S5, the Active is a bit more of a pocket-buster.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

Ignore the fatigue and you can see that the S5 Active is still pretty similar to the S4 Active that came before, but with a flatter back, less grippy coating, and an added convenience key.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

Here, the S5 Active sits alongside its kin, the S5 flagship. Internally, the two share the same screen size, processor, RAM, and battery specs.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

Look closely and you can see the Active's slightly more inflated size and bulk.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET
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