You carry your smartphone with you just about everywhere, so there’s a decent expectation over its two-year life that you’ll drop it. Get it wet. Dribble some food on it.
Samsung’s answer to those everyday problems is the Galaxy S5 Active, a new smartphone that takes the company’s flagship Galaxy S5 phone and wraps it in a sturdy shell built to withstand drops, dings, spills, and scratches. It’s also water resistant and dustproof, meaning you can dunk it in shallow water for a few minutes and everything will still work perfectly.
The Galaxy S5 Active is only available on AT&T and costs $US200 with a two-year contract. (The same price as the regular Galaxy S5.)
I’ve been using the Galaxy S5 Active for a few days. It works as advertised, but compromises a lot to bring you extra durability, especially design.
Here’s a quick review.
What Is It?
The Galaxy S5 Active is almost the same phone as the regular Galaxy S5. The only thing it’s really missing is the fingerprint sensor that can unlock the phone without a password. (That’s probably a good thing, since Samsung’s fingerprint sensor doesn’t work very well.)
The Active has a sharp 5.1-inch screen, a heart rate monitor on the back, and most of the software extras Samsung added to Android in the standard Galaxy S5.
It’s the outside that changed the most. The Active is built like a tank — complete with faux screws and plastic panels designed to look like metal plating. It comes in a few colour options, including a very tacky camo green.
All that extra bulk is designed to increase the durability of the Galaxy S5 Active. It’s also dust resistant and water resistant. You can dunk it in up to one meter of water for 30 minutes and it will still work.
Is It Any Good?
Like I said above, the Active is basically the same phone as the regular Galaxy S5, so I won’t waste time going over all the features Samsung introduced with that phone in April. This time it’s all about the design.
The Active is indeed very durable, but it doesn’t add much. In fact, I think the design is tacky and ugly, as if Samsung’s designers took the mandate to build a durable phone a little too literally and made this thing look like something an Army sergeant would want in the field of battle.
Plus, Samsung’s regular Galaxy S5 is already water and dust resistant and its plastic body doesn’t attract dings and scratches like metal phones do. There’s not much of a reason to choose the Active over the standard model.
If you like Samsung phones, I think you’re better off with the regular Galaxy S5. It’s slimmer and more attractive, and it already has just about all the benefits of the Active, including water resistance.
I think this is an aesthetic choice. If you want a phone that feels big, thick, bulky, and substantial, go with the Galaxy S5 Active. If you want your phone to look good, go with the standard model.
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