Samsung Galaxy S5 Active

This Galaxy S5 is ready to take a beating

If you've been holding on to that older Samsung Rugby Smart or even last year's Galaxy S4 Active, you'll be pleased with what you're about to read. With the Galaxy S5 Active, Samsung has once again taken their best selling device and sent it back to engineering to create a version that you can beat and abuse without ending up with something that no longer works. And they managed to keep everything we love intact while doing it.

If you want or need the features and specs from the Galaxy S5, but know that you'll be dragging it through the mud, the blood and the beer, then the Galaxy S5 Active was built for you.

The Galaxy S5 Active video walkthrough

Treat me rough

Samsung Galaxy S5 Active

Simply put, this is the Samsung Galaxy S5 after it's been toughened up a bit. The looks are a good bit different — and camouflage is only one of the color options (along with gray and red), so don't worry — but the device acts just the same as its slightly more delicate sibling. The style isn't going to appeal to everyone. There is no getting around that. It's wide, flat, and thin, with an extra bit of armor consisting of a hard rubber band that encircles the frame. It looks like it should have the Snap-On logo on the back. Having said that, I think I like it better than the look and feel of the normal Galaxy S5. But this is all personal preference.

The difference, and focus of the phone is the Mil-Spec 810G and IP67 ratings. Together, these make the S5 Active resistant to salt, dust, humidity, rain, vibration, solar radiation, transport shock and thermal shock. This means that you can dunk the S5 Active into a meter of water for 30 minutes just like the "normal" Galaxy S5, but it's also going to fare better if left in the bright sun, or going in and out of extreme temperature conditions, or getting slammed on a metal table from 3 feet in the air. That was fun to test, but a bit loud.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Active

You have the same buttons, controls, and ports that you're used to in the same places. You also have an additional Action Button that opens the exclusive Activity Zone app when pressed, or the camera when long-pressed by default. Things change a bit when you get to the bottom of the phone, where you'll find three mechanical buttons — one each for Home, Back, and Multitasking. With S-Voice assigned to the long-press home action, you could use the S5 Active with work gloves on or if you're covered in grease or mud. The touch screen is still pretty unusable with wet or dirty fingers, though. The Fingerprint scanner and it's association with the security keyring has been removed, so when your hands are clean you won't have that to use.

I love this screen

Samsung Galaxy S5 Active

Like the internal specs, the display is the same excellent piece of tech we find on the Galaxy S5. It's a 5.1-inch Super AMOLED panel with a 1080p resolution that checks in at 432 ppi. It's bright. It's beautiful. It works well in bright sunlight. It's one of the best displays we've ever seen, and deserves the praise that it receives. Gone are the days when only a good LCD could be considered "the best" as this display rivals or exceeds the display used on the HTC One M8 or the Apple iPhone 5s. I'm itching to have a go with the new panel used on the LG G3, but until then I give the crown to the Galaxy S5 — and the Active variant.

A great camera

Samsung Galaxy S5 Active

The cameras are the same as you'll find on the Galaxy S5, with the same features and shooting modes in the software. Overall, it's an excellent smartphone camera, but it struggles in low-light situations. Most smartphone cameras do the same, so I'm not going to fault it. Having the Active button serve as a shortcut and a shutter button is a nice touch. While you'll find plenty of samples in our Galaxy S5 review, I'm adding a few here just for fun.

The same TouchWiz flavoring

Samsung Galaxy S5 Active

Like everything else, the software on the S5 Active is a mirror image of what you'll find on the standard Galaxy S5. It's completely TouchWiz'd out, and I'm not about to say that is a bad thing. Samsung has been enhancing and retooling their software, and each version gets a little better than the last. If you've not used TouchWiz in a while, you owe it another chance. It's not for everybody, and I'm not going to say I prefer it, but no longer should it be dismissed off-hand.

Inside the app drawer you're going to find everything but an AT&T Kitchen Sink included, as well as all the Google Applications required. You're not going to like them all, nor are you going to use them all. You can go into the settings and disable almost all of them, so jump in and do just that. We don't like all the extra garbage installed on our phones any more than you do, but there's not much you can do when a phone is an exclusive to a carrier. Disable the junk, and politely let AT&T know on their social media pages that you'd rather not have the bloat.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Active

The software itself is fluid, and any stutters and jitters you remember from last year's Galaxy S4 models are gone. While the style may not be for everyone, the function is spot-on and Samsung has done a fine job tuning their operating system. We can stop the blind hate for TouchWiz now, and realize it's another option for folks who want it.

Having said that, I'd really love a Google Play edition of the S5 Active, but that's just me.

Some final thoughts

Samsung Galaxy S5 Active

"Active" and "rugged" are buzzwords. The Galaxy S5 Active isn't built of unobtanium and kryptonite, and you can't randomly beat on it with heavy metal tools. For all the "ruggedness" built into the construction, it still has 5.1-inches of glass on the face. But when it comes normal everyday abuse, like bumping the phone against some scaffolding, or dropping it in the mud, or even walking in and out of a deep-freeze all day long, the S5 Active is going to last longer than it's counterpart.

You may work at a desk all day like I do, but there are folks out there who don't. People who put on a uniform every morning, or a hard hat, or till the soil. Also, many folks get out every weekend and play hard. Rocks, woods and waters can be hell on a smartphone. The Galaxy S5 Active is designed for all those people, who work or play hard and need a phone that's as tough as they are. And the great thing is that they need make no compromises. Everything you love about the Galaxy S5 — it's camera, it's screen, the features and the specs — are on board.

If you need a phone that is as tough as you are, you want to have a look at the S5 Active.

 
There are 53 comments

jayjay234 says:

That back cover tho...

Posted via NEXUS 5

NoNexus says:

You do realize it comes in other colors right?

Posted via Android Central App

jayjay234 says:

Yeah. Why ask?

Posted via NEXUS 5

NoNexus says:

Why talk about the back cover if it wasn't the color?

Stop being a dick.

NoNexus says:

I am asking a legit question. I was curious about his complaint.

Posted via Android Central App

lindseybp says:

Jerry - Any chance this comes to Verizon in the future?

A895 says:

No.

finc says:

+1 for the google edition of this thing. I would instantly buy it.

THIS. Google Edition and I'm all over it.

JFMobile says:

Honestly, it's not the best looking thing out there.

lafountain says:

To you, but others may think it is the best. There are also some that prefer function over looks.
Posted via Android Central App

NoNexus says:

For what it is, it is pretty good looking..

ryanmtech says:

Yea I agree. Now that Sprint has shown their S5 Sport, this thing looks like a Godsend.

Dizfunctions says:

This is pretty awesome.

Posted via Android Central App

williams448 says:

Does long pressing the home button open up S-Voice, or Google Now?

Posted with my badass Galaxy S5

dgcorn says:

Long press gets to Google Now or "Ok, Google." Double press gets to S-Voice.

briankurtz79 says:

I'm so sick of exclusives!!!!

Posted via Android Central App

minnow4 says:

+1

Posted via my sixth Sense HTC M8

ryanmtech says:

ok i didnt really get all the hype on the s4 active but this is actually pretty tight.
i would be all over this if it were on more than just att

markbc says:

Thanks for an interesting and informative review!
You mentioned exactly the points I was wondering about -real use with gloves and in an outdoor environment.
Also, it's smart that Samsung kept the specs closer, if not the same, as the "regular" S5. That's an improvement over the S4 Active!

Finally, that built in rubber bumper is quite appropriate for this model!
No case needed ;-)

Thanks!

xlDeMoNiClx says:

If only Samsung would smarten up, and realize how many units they'd sell if they made this available on every carrier like the regular S5.

I'd definitely get this over the regular version.

Posted via Android Central App

lindseybp says:

Amen to that! I have two toddlers and would love to have this phone but I'm not switching from carriers just for a phone.

dgcorn says:

The other significant difference between the S5 and the S5 Active is that the later only uses USB2 micro so it doesn't have the upside of USB3 data transfers.

mtmerrick says:

I'm honestly surprised this wasn't mentioned. It's one if the biggest spec differences.

exieramos says:

"We don't like all the extra garbage installed on our phones any more than you do, but there's not much you can do when a phone is an exclusive to a carrier. Disable the junk, and politely let AT&T know on their social media pages that you'd rather not have the bloat."

I thought this S5 Active was also coming to Sprint and Bell Canada?

http://www.androidcentral.com/samsung-galaxy-s5-active-coming-sprint-att...

buddy got one of these last week....dropped it out of his pocket standing......cracked screen......

bangishotyou says:

I had the Nexus 4 for almost a year. I'm 6'1" and fit the tall and lanky description of your average geek. I walked out of work swinging my arms for some reason and my N4 flew out of my hand. It flew up to head height and then flew forward about 5 feet and landed hard on the blacktop that makes up our parking area. No scratch. No dent. No shatter front screen or shattered glass back.

Personal anecdotes are just that. Personal anecdotes. They don't count for much beyond "well, this happened to me".

Your buddy's story is the online equivalent of "I know a guy who knows a guy who saw a guy drop his Active in a case and had the screen shatter". I mean it's a great story, but without proof we really can't just take your word over Jerry's in regards to how rugged and tough this phone may or may not actually be.

k......my buddy shot it with a remington 300 ultra mag and it just deflected

minnow4 says:

Niice, love it when that happens...

Posted via my sixth Sense HTC M8

bangishotyou says:

See, now that's just as believable as your last comment. Difference being this time around it's funnier.

But i do believe you got my point and your follow up reply is testament to that. You understand that personal anecdotes concerning devices don't count for much without proof. : )

Sucks about your buddy's phone whatever happened, assuming something bad did happen to it. But hey, it happens. I kinda think though it'd survive in other people's hands, your mileage may vary and all.

The Renz says:

Funny Shi# Dude!! LOL!!

Mobius360 says:

Glass is glass. It's a phone, it can break. These things are not indestructible.

My friend bought a new G2 dropped it the next day and the glass shattered, I've dropped mine 5 times at least and no damage. Sometimes we get lucky.

It can be an ever so slightly imperfection in the glass, hitting just that right angle etc...

Hopefully he had insurance.

Posted via Android Central App w/G2

The Renz says:

Last I looked the article was related to the Samsung Galaxy S5 Active. Go to the LG G2 review and put your comment there.

Nancy Korn says:

Exact same issue. Not to mention, constant software issues since I received it. And Samsung will not do anything to rectify the situation. Disappointing and expensive mistake. Will definitely be going with a different manufacturer for my next phone, which is really frustrating as my last 3 or 4 have been Samsung units.

ProParkour says:

I actually love the look of this thing.

Posted via Android Central App

jmbburg26 says:

Good review. I picked up one this week. I need to have an Att phone for the summer because I'll be out in the boonies where T-Mobile has no coverage. Maybe I'm alone but I really wanted the Camo but the store was all sold out. Ended up with a red one. I agree that it is a very nice phone and I live the feel of it. It's a good size between the Nexus 5 and the Note 3.

Posted via Android Central App

brewzer says:

I am either getting this phone or the G3. I don't think I want a QHD screen with the 801 chipset so the S5 Active will probably win.

Jerry, just a heads up, either the mic your using has one side thats broken, or its a bad upload as one ear is clear as hell, the other ear its really static like when wearing ear buds, just a heads up bud

kbaigio says:

Is it true that it also has Optical Image Stabilization?
If yes, the camera of this phone is not the same as you propose with the Galaxy S5

scobb says:

The youtube video showing simultaneous video of an S5 and S5 active (clamped together) while the guy stomps around is pretty compelling. Some don't think it is real (it _is_ the internet) but it seems pretty legit to me. If it is real, it is a big plus. Maybe Jerry can repeat the experiment. :-)

Mobius360 says:

Looks like a cool phone, too bad it's exclusive to a carrier I'm not with. Samsung could probably sell a lot of these. I'm sure it'll do well for AT&T.

Posted via Android Central App w/G2

xd1936 says:

Jerry's audio in the video review is in the left ear only. Grr.

scobb says:

By the way, When is the AC marketplace (shopandroid) going to allow one to select the S5 Active as their device?

oddom says:

I love this phone wayyyy more then the normal s5 and its because it looks unique and awesome. Even my iphone toting brother likes the look of it..and he hates android

Posted via Android Central App

FlatTopFoley says:

Would have bought this in a heartbeat over my standard VZW S5

verks says:

Great write up Jerry. My thoughts exactly. I bought the original S5 and took it back. I saw this and had to have it. To me it is noticeably better than the original. Looks better, case need not apply and the screen has better visibility in the sun.

Posted via Android Central App

rlb says:

Isn't the screen the same as the regular S5?

Posted via Android Central App

troshs says:

Now...the thing is..are they gonna screw up all the updates like they did on the last Active?

Posted via Android Central App

pDoG says:

Working at a AT&T retail location, i have been selling more of these than the standard S5. As a S4 owner, i would most likely going for the Active...though my eyes are set on the G3 :D

MrBungle999 says:

I had the s4 active for a week and also the s4 standard. If this is truly exactly like s5 it's a winner. I was very disappointed with the s4 active.

Posted via Android Central App

strikeIII says:

Wait a sec...EVERYTHING is NOT the same as the S5...I don't see a USB 3.0 port in the pictures.

MemphisGeek says:

Jerry, you missed the fact that this thing does not seem to support any type of wireless charging. No pins at all in the battery compartment. Maybe I'm missing something but I don't think so.