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Monday, June 10, 2013

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active preview: water and dust-resistant S4


After weeks of rumours, leaked images and videos, Samsung has officially announced the world's worst kept secret: the Galaxy S4 Active smartphone. It's a rugged version of the Galaxy S4 that's water and dust-resistant. 

The Galaxy S4 Active is basically a variant of the regular Galaxy S4, so not too much has changed. The key feature is obviously its water and dust resistance. It's rated to IP67 standards, so it will survive being submerged in one metre of water for up to 30 minutes. The phone also has a water-resistant earphone jack, so if you manage to find a pair of waterproof headphones you could effectively listen to music underwater.

The Galaxy S4's ruggedness makes it a slightly bigger phone than the original Galaxy S4. It's taller, slightly wider and just over 20g heavier, so be warned about these tradeoffs in size and weight if you are considering it. Given the water and dust resistance, we don't think it's too much of a sacrifice to make. See also Group test: what's the best Android phone?

There's a few other changes, too. The menu, home and back keys on the front are physical buttons rather than capacitive ones, the 5in screen uses a TFT panel rather than super AMOLED and the camera has been downgraded from 13-megapixels to 8-megapixels. See also: Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Galaxy S4 mini review.

The downgrade in megapixels is offset but Samsung's "Aqua Mode", which allows users to capture underwater photos and videos. The company says this mode will "increase visual quality and clarity for enhanced underwater images and video". In a nice touch, the volume key can be used as a camera shutter.

The Galaxy S4 Active is otherwise identical to the regular Galaxy S4. It runs the 4.2 "Jelly Bean" version of Android that's skinned with Samsung's TouchWIZ UI, so all the extra functions that Samsung provides are present including 'Smart Scroll', 'Smart Pause', 'Air Gesture' and 'Air View'. There's also an S Translator app, 'Group Play' and the 'S Health' app which aims to replace fitness tracking accessories like Fitbit.

There's no word yet on an Australian release of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active, but it will initially be available in the US and Europe in 'Urban Grey', 'Dive Blue' and 'Orange Flare' colour variants.


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