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Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review

Like the normal S4 - but much more satisfying

Our Verdict

All the power of the S4 (minus the camera and screen) in a waterproof package. A little too much chunk, but good for peace of mind.

Product features

  • Built-in Memory : 16 GB
  • Rear Camera Resolution : 8 Megapixel
  • Battery Talk Time : 15 Hour
  • Screen Resolution : 1920 x 1080
  • Processor Core : Quad-core (4 Core)

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For

  • Water resistant
  • Excellent screen
  • Fast, fluid OS

Against

  • Average battery
  • Bulkier than S4
  • Lower res camera

One of the main concessions made on the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is in the camera department, where the 13MP snapper from the Galaxy S4 has been replaced with an 8MP version.

For those all important "selfies" there's a 2MP camera on the front which isn't too shabby, plus it means things such as Skype video calls are also possible on the Galaxy S4 Active.

While the downgrade in sensor may be a disappointment to some there is still comfort in the fact the S4 Active sports the same myriad of options in the camera app giving you a wealth of picture taking ability in your pocket.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review

The UI and shooting modes are borrowed straight from the Samsung Galaxy Camera, just hit the mode button to bring up the scrolling wheel of options.

You can view all the options at once by hitting the button in the bottom left corner of the screen if the wheel is a bit too much, and we found it was much easier to find what we wanted in this exploded view.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review

Standard options such as Night, Panorama and Sports modes are pretty straight forward, but Samsung's "innovation" comes into play with some of the more left field options such as Sound & Shot, Beauty Face and Animated Photo.

A unique mode to the Galaxy S4 Active is Aqua, optimising the performance of the camera for taking pictures underwater.

As you might know, touchscreens don't work particularly well underwater but dive into the settings menu of the camera app and you can swap the volume rocker switch from a zoom control to a shutter key for some submerged action.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review

Of course you'll have to tinker with all the settings before you take your S4 Active for a splash, as once submerged there's no going back.

If you're someone who likes taking photos of people then Best Photo and Best Face will likely be attractive options for you to use, with the former taking a eight snaps for you to then select the best one to keep.

The latter is a similar concept, but focuses on the face only and it's capable of picking out several faces in a picture. This is great for group shots as once you've taken the picture you can select each person's face and choose from five snaps to find their best smile.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review

These functions are all well and good, but you have to actually remember to turn them on when you come to take the photo, as the Galaxy S4 Active can't do these things on auto-mode.

This is a little annoying as often we forgot to put the mode on, and the times we did the added process meant our subjects weren't quite as we'd hope they'd be.

We found that most of the time auto mode was good enough, be it taking in a city landscape or going up close and personal with dinner.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review

Something we found irritating on the camera app was the shutter sound, with the only way to turn it off being to put the whole handset on silent - very annoying. Next time Samsung, just have a toggle in the settings menu. Thanks.

We were thoroughly impressed with the camera on the Galaxy S4 and while the Galaxy S4 Active doesn't quite reach the same heights as its namesake, it doesn't do a bad job.

In well lit areas inside and out the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is capable of taking some glorious photos, with a good level of detail and decent level of colour saturation to make any part-time shooter proud.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review

Up close macro mode works a treat - and automatically too - with the S4 Active not seeming to struggle when it came to focussing on objects.

It wasn't all plain sailing with the odd grainy picture experienced and some blurring in a handful of shots, but considering the S4 Active has less of an impetus on the camera situation compared to its 13MP brother you won't be disappointed with what it can do.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review
A lovely landscape of London on the S4 Active

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Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review
Zoom in and quality deteriorates

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Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review
You can take some striking snaps with the S4 Active

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Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review
Up close macro mode works well

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Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review
We did get some grainy shots indoors

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Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review
The S4 Active can focus ok, but colours lack vibrancy

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Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review
Panorama mode works well

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Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review
There's a lot going on here and the S4 Active doesn't pick out everything

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Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review
One of the many effects available on the S4 Active

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Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review
Ahh sepia, how we love you

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Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
TouchscreenYes
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
USBYes
Contract TypeSIM-free
Maximum Memory Card Size Supported64 GB
Built-in Memory16 GB
Built-in FlashYes
Memory Card SlotYes
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyGPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA, HSPA+
SAR Value0.26 W/kg
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationYes
Integrated TV TunerNo
Product FamilyGalaxy S4 Active
Cellular Generation4G
Cellular Network SupportedGSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA 850, WCDMA 900, WCDMA 1900, WCDMA 2100, LTE 800, LTE 850, LTE 900, LTE 1800, LTE 2100, LTE 2600
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution8 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraYes
Memory Card SupportedmicroSD
Phone StyleBar
ColourGrey
Operating SystemAndroid
Brand NameSamsung
Battery Talk Time15 Hour
Product ModelGT-I9295
Screen Size12.7 cm (5")
Screen Resolution1920 x 1080
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)153 g
Processor CoreQuad-core (4 Core)
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Processor ManufacturerQualcomm
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Operating System VersionAndroid 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email, Instant Messaging
RealtoneYes
Call FeaturesCall Log
Pixel Density441 ppi
Height139.7 mm
Width71.3 mm
Depth9.1 mm
Radio TunerNo
ManufacturerSamsung
Product NameGalaxy S4 Active GT-I9295 Smartphone
Processor Speed1.90 GHz
Processor TypeSnapdragon 600
Product LineGalaxy S4 Active
Screen TypeLCD
Sensor TypeAccelerometer, Gyro Sensor, Ambient Light Sensor, Barometer, Proximity Sensor
Manufacturer Part NumberGT-I9295ZAAXEF
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.samsung.com/uk/
Marketing Information

Robust companion for outdoor activities

Now you don't have to worry when using your phone on the beach or out on your mountain bike. You can capture these moments and more, and even share them with friends instantly. The Galaxy S4 Active's protection from liquid splashes and completely dustproof design lets you jump into any situation without hesitation. Start your active life with the perfect companion.

Capture your underwater story instantly.

Take your phone under the surface and capture a different world. With the Galaxy S4 Active, you can shoot and record underwater. New Aqua Mode allows you to capture your underwater adventures with optimised clarity. Instead of using the touchscreen, just push a volume key to snap an aquatic shot. The Galaxy S4 Active lets you dive in and capture all of your underwater moments with no hassle.

Limited Warranty2 Year