CNET First Look
Galaxy S8 Active vs. S8 in a case: Which is tougher?Everything the S8 Active can do, the S8 can do, too -- in a case.
When I think Galaxy Active phone, I pretty much think a tougher, meatier, all around sturdier version of the Galaxy S phone. And when you look at the Galaxy Active, that's basically what you have. At least on the surface level. They actually have very similar specs from the excellent camera, and even that button on the side. Basically the S8 Active seems like a more expensive version of the S8 with a built-in case. Case, so what do you really get? And couldn't I achieve it all by just putting a tough case on this Galaxy S8? Well, from a drop test to a dunk test, I decided to find out. First test, the look. Compared to the thick S8 Active, the Galaxy S8 is sleek and small. Instead of the glass back, you've got plastic that's easy to grip. It'll still charge wirelessly too. The S8 Active has thicker sides that come with their own bumpers. That's good, but these screws on the side Purely ornamental. We know because we unscrewed them. One thing that set the pass active phones apart were all the buttons that were easy to press with wet or gloved hands. But this year's S8 Active loses those three physical navigation buttons under The screen and the button on the side is that used to open up a health app or any other app you wanted. Is now programmed to Bixby Voice and that's it. [UNKNOWN] in the good case. And really there's no real design advantage on the [UNKNOWN]. Second test, water resistance. Both the Galaxy S8 and S8 Active are water resistant. But after last year's Galaxy S7 Active drowned in our pool because of a design flaw that effected some units, one that Samsung later fixed, of course, we had to see if this year's phone faced the same issues. It didn't. Both Galaxy S8s survived 28 minutes in the bucket. Burn test? Freezer burn. [BLANK_AUDIO] For our third test, we pop the phones on the freezer for 30 minutes. In addition to being water resistant, the phones are rated to stand dust and extreme temperatures. They both came out again chilly but fully functional. Fourth test, beware of sudden drops. The S8 Active's real claim to fame is that you don't have to worry about it when you fumble the phone from your pocket or while taking a photo. So we dropped the encased S8 and the S8 Active side by side on both the front and back, and peered at the phone for cracks. They both got three or four very short, hairline scrapes from their spills, but no major cracks or splinters. Phones fall and break all the time so that's expected. And even with the case, if it falls screen side down on an even surface you could be out of lack with your screen. So what do we learn from all these? That a $3, $5 protector like the The Spigen Tough Armor case can probably shield your regular S8 from life's major messes and spills without you having to pay $100 more for the same hardware guts. [MUSIC]