Samsung Galaxy S5 Active

It's a Galaxy S5, only tougher. A lot tougher.

Behold, the Samsung Galaxy S5 for the hunting set. OK, that's not quite fair — camouflage is but one color you can get the GS5 Active in — gray, red and green are other options — but how can you not go for camo, right?

So what we have here is basically your standard Galaxy S5, hardened even beyond the IP67 rating of the original with some MIL-spec 810G thrown in. Basically, a rougher, tougher Galaxy S5.

The physical differences are easy enough to discern. It's just a tad taller and thicker. The smooth lines of the GS5 are broken up by what those of us who have seen too many sci-fi movies would perhaps call an exoskeleton. (But probably more accurate is to just say it has some extra armor.) Like the Galaxy S4 Active, there are exposed rivets, which have always struck me as sexy, in an industrial sense.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Active

The capacitive buttons have been traded out for physical counterparts — recent apps, home and back — and they've got a nice click and texture to them. They're physical buttons — a bit of an anachronism, to be sure, but remember that this is a rugged phone. Capacitive buttons just won't cut it. The power button is in the usual place on the right-hand side of the phone.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Active Activity ZoneSamsung Galaxy S5 Active

There's a new button by the volume rocker, though. That's the "Active Key." By default, a long press takes you to the camera app (and can serve as a shutter button, if you'd like, but you'll have to enable that in settings). A short press takes you to the "Activity Zone." It sounds like a fun kids hangout, but in reality it brings up a screen with barometer readings — elevation and pressure in millibars — a compass (with GPS coordinates), and one-touch buttons to a flashlight and stopwatch. You can remap the Active Key to any number of other apps, though.

The new 'Active Key' on the side lets you jump into the camera, or the phone's new sensor-filled 'Activity Zone.'

Like the Galaxy S5 and the GS4 Active before it, the USB port is hidden under what feels like a pretty sturdy flap. Note that it's just a standard microUSB port, though, and not the newer USB3 with its funky second connection. Hardly a deal-breaker, in our opinion. Along the top bezel is the 3.5mm headphone jack, IR port (in case you have to change channels out in the wild), and a secondary microphone.

While this is a rugged-ish device, it's still got a removable battery cover — with a removable plastic sticker warning you to put it back on right if you want to keep the water and dirt out — and a removable 2,800 mAh battery, same capacity as the GS5 proper. (For what it's worth, both phones' batteries are of the same size and shape and can be interchanged, but they have different product numbers.)

While we're on the back of the phone, it's worth mentioning that there are a couple of protective plastic covers on the camera lens and the flash/fingerprint sensor. (Again, just in case you need to check your heart rate in the bush.) You'll want to take those off.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Active screens

Software-wise, we're looking at Android 4.4.2 with TouchWiz and a whole lot of AT&T bloat. (To the surprise of absolutely no one.) We've got a 16GB model here (which is all that's available) and about 10.9GB of storage available for us to use. There is still a microSD card slot under the battery door, though.

The Galaxy S5 Active manages to do all this without feeling like a tank, though. To be clear, there's not much about it that's dainty. It's a big, semi-rugged phone. When you hold it, you don't worry about it. There's still a whole bunch of glass on the front, of course — that 5.1-inch display has quite the footprint, but it's also very excellent in the full Florida sun — but at least there's a little bit of a lip to keep it off the workbench should you leave it face down.

The GS5 Active is currently available on AT&T for $199 on contract or $714 outright.

Read More: Our Samsung Galaxy S5 review


Reader comments

Samsung Galaxy S5 Active hands-on


Nice!!! I will likely get these for my field operators who work in an oil and mud and grease and well...... a dirty environment.

Hope they will be available in Canada from Bell

Well att is the best, support more platforms than just ios and android. Spring is horrible with supporting otber platforms.

Posted via Android Central App

Umm, please tell me what OS AT&T supports that Sprint does not? And how is that relevant to a story about an ANDROID phone?

Does it have the "meh" TFT screen that the original had?

From my Moto X+1 running Android 5.0 in the world's worst dummy case

I agree. I could do without the Green Beret appearance package.

Sent from my Note 10.1 via Android Central App

@jtc276--GSM Arena says the display is Super AMOLED, and has the same size (1080 x 1920 pixels, 5.1 inches, 432 ppi) as the regular S5.

Wonder if you can get that Activity Zone app on the regular S5. Not that I need it, but it would be a cool option to have.

So if the device is MIL-SPEC 810 then the battery must be able to go thru the same certification?

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Darn! Yeah, you're right...I missed that one. All we need on this beast is solar charging cells like G-Shocks!

If I saw someone with this phone using an otter box case I might be tempted to face palm myself. Unless this phone fails a drop test.

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Glad to hear the AT&T will only have exclusive to the S5 Active for 3 months this time. (unlike the S4 Active)

Sure hope Verizon doesn't f********** it up by putting their ugly logo on the front. Since there's not space near the three physical buttons, I guess the only place to put the Verizon log is on the top right, next to the Samsung logo? (oh, wait, that'll make it look like the LG G2/G3!!!)

Of COURSE Verizon will put their logo on the front. And the back. And probably in the battery compartment, too. ;)

Why wouldn't capacitive buttons work on a rugged phone? That seems super counter intuitive, I understand capacitive is less reliable than physical when you're wet or wearing gloves but it's not like you can get much done with those three buttons at all so you're still relying on the display...

Plus it's one more major point of failure compared to a sealed under glass capacitive button. There might be a big usage case where you can get something done with just back and the recent apps button (I guess if you've got a couple measurement apps and just wanna switch between them in the field?), but it just seems like a long prolongation of Samsung's odd button layout choices. It's almost like they're doing it to spite everyone else at this point.

It isn't just less reliable, it is totally unreliable with wet or greasey fingers let alone gloves.

The physical buttons are the better choice

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You're missing his point. Even if the back, home, and recents buttons are 100% reliable, if the display is still a touchscreen, then you still can't really do anything with the phone if it's all wet. You won't even be able swipe or type in a password to unlock the phone if the display is all wet, so it doesn't really matter if the back, home, and recents buttons work.

On the Note 3 and definitely on the Galaxy s5, there is an option called "auto adjust touch sensitivity" that allows operation with gloves on... maybe there are other options on the s5 active that work well with physical buttons... just a thought-

It's a Samsung phone. I will have SVoice tied to a double press of the home button by default, which would let you operate the phone (to some extent) without having to touch the screen.

I know what is better sealed compared to rubber sealed holes... no holes.

And what does it matter if the buttons work better than the screen, if the screen doesn't respond it is a irrelevant point since you will need the screen controls to do anything more complicated than taking a picture...

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It isn't just less reliable, it is totally unreliable with wet or greasey fingers let alone gloves.

The physical buttons are the better choice

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Uh... Pretty cool! By the way, in the last paragraph it's written "old" when i think you meant "hold". Just taught I would let you know! :)

As usual, a great article phil!

Nice. I'd love to move to this from my Galaxy S4 (unfortunately, my upgrade isn't until next year). I would skip the regular S5, but this is very cool. I love the physical buttons.

@Phil Nickinson
Thanks for the cool post.
Seems like many things awesome in Samsung Galaxy S5 Active. But why those leading smartphone manufacturer still using 16GB storage on high end smartphone, it's really disgusting. Minimum 32GB should be there.
By the way, does it have the finger print scan option?
Thanks in Advance

@estockda #whoisWoldpacDAR #andhowcomeistillrecievedthenotificationthat #youtaggedmeinthispost #ifyouspelled #itwrong ??? #maybeatsignsDOwork !!

I like this phone. I wish Verizon had it. They always get the corny phones lol

Sent from Galaxy Note 3

So this is replacing galaxy rugby pro? Have a friend whos rugby broke and he is using his rugby smart. Will this be good replacement?

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I wish they would make an active version of the galaxy note line. That would be awesome. But I guess the pen would be the weak portion and where all the fail would come from

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Will this support capacitive charging? It would be nice to just lay it on a charger and not worry about that USB port all the time.

From shots that I have seen with the back off, I don't see the connectors. So, unfortunately, I think it doesn't support wireless charging. My only disappointment.

BTW, I heard that it was actually a tad thinner than the S5. Phil, can you confirm?

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Looks better than the normal version which I guess says a lot about my thoughts on the standard s5

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I love that camo. Phone almost looks better then the original S5 IMO.
posted via Note 3, LG G2, or Nexus 7

So the screen is still a large slab of unprotected glass?. Not really seeing the point then, wouldnt a normal S5 with a case be just as protected?


Easy to mix up Spec and Standard, but it can mess you up. Would really like to get my hands on one of these to test our work order app vs the Droid Maxx and Razr Maxx HD's we use now. I wonder if the Active would fare better when run over by a garbage truck.

I have friends that hunt and they all bought camo Otterboxes for their phones. I don't really understand that. I mean, Camo is so that you can't see something as well. If I were to drop my phone in the woods, I would want it to be hunter orange or neon pink or something for an easier time spotting it.

If they wanted to make it really badass, they should have included wireless charging by default. Then you'd have less reason to open the USB port.

is it me ? or S5 active looks waaaayyyy sexier than S5 ?, i mean... most ppl would call me crazy but i dont like how S5 looks nor S4 nor S3, but this one... i'd change that physical buttons for a capacitive ones and i'd buy this phone any day.

I am overly tempted to buy one but I am thinking Samsung still has another card up their sleeves whenever Apple releases the iPhone 6! I think I'll hang a little longer onto my Galaxy S4.. It is cool non the less but they should have made it 32GB or more of built in... And yes the bloatware is totally unnecessary and the phone manufacturers should make it so we can uninstall it rather then disabling it because I hate rooting my phones these days seems retarded with how well everything seems to work and look!

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active i9295 is a tough challneger to Sony Xperia Z. In addition to the Water and dust proof features, it comes with a powerful configuration which let users to feel the slightest touch along with the fastest work. It has again a spaceable memory with a good expansion. Its display has corning gorilla glass protects which prevents the device from many challenges. Recommended for sports enthusiasts.
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Samsung Galaxy S5 and Samsung Galaxy S5 Active both are special and high end smartphone right now in the world. But Samsung Galaxy S5 Active is power in quality than Samsung Galaxy S5 in many ways....Like.....finger scanner, infra red, phone on.
But AT&T should make it a special edition from Samsung .....with finger scanner, infra red, phone storage 32 GB .......should be a very good choice to high end smartphone user. this days high end smartphone must have 32 GB phone storage and also have minimum - dust and water resistant, Protection like Corning Gorilla Glass 3 or above.
You may see the exact difference between Samsung Galaxy S5 and Samsung Galaxy S5 Active

Samsung should deliver the Samsung Galaxy S5 prime soon if the want to stay on the first place right now.

Thanks in Advance

Yes I did little analysis on Samsung Galaxy S5 Active. Same as regular S5. Only no finger print scanner and the camera kinda different. Otherwise you can say it's more than regular S5

I would highly advise against purchasing this phone. I had the phone less than 3 hours when my son got some water on it. it wasn't submerged at 3 feet for 30 minutes or anything near their claims on the Samsung website, just a splash of water. Less than an hour later it started acting funny, the screen was flickering and everything acted like it was on a 5 second delay. I took it back to AT&T and they took a look under the back cover (which the AT&T employee put on) and there was water damage. AT&T at that point refused to take the phone back, stating that it was a damaged phone. They told me that I should speak with Samsung, as it was their issue. I called Samsung and they said that if there was any water damage that the warranty was void. I tried pointing out to both AT&T and Samsung that the sole reason I purchased this phone was the IP67 rating. Regardless, they refused to honor their water resistant to 3 meters for a half hour claim. I now have a brick sitting on my desk that worked for less than half a day. If you're even thinking of getting this phone for its water resistance, know that the water resistance failed for me when exposed to a single incident, and that neither Samsung nor AT&T would replace the phone.

Samsung has done it again! Except. Temperature change. Subject the Samsung 5 active to a hot summer day and then a cup holder in front of an Ac vent and crack, there goes the screen. One single crack across the screen. Samsung will not even consider this as non misuse because it is classified as physical damage. Come on Samsung! Stand by your product!