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Here's what you can do with the 'Active key' on the Galaxy S6 active

Outside of the rugged hardware, there isn't a ton that separates the basic use of the Galaxy S6 active from its standard counterpart. The one notable exception is the extra hardware button — the "Active key" — found directly above the volume rocker on the left side of the phone.

It's tied into a new bit of software found exclusively on the active version of the device called the "Activity Zone," which is a neat little dashboard for all things active on your phone. But the Active key can also be customized to launch other apps of your choosing.

Pressing the Active key takes you into the Activity Zone by default, which is a sort of dashboard for all things active that the phone can do. You get seven panels with little widgets, including the weather, barometer, S Health, compass, flashlight, stopwatch and a Milk Music workout companion. The barometer, flashlight and stopwatch can be interacted with by a single button, but in the case of all the widgets you can tap them to launch an associated app.

The weather and S Health apps are the same as you'd find on your standard Galaxy S6, but the others are exclusive to the active device and have some more functionality. For example the flashlight app has different blinking modes and brightness levels, whereas you get a simple on/off on the standard GS6. No extra functionality in a flashlight app will convince you to buy the Galaxy S6 active over another phone, but it's a neat little piece of exclusive software you can take advantage of.

But say you don't need to have immediate access to the Activity Zone from a hardware key (it's still available in the app drawer). You can instead use the Active key to launch whatever app you want — just hop into the phone's settings (under the "Personal" tab) to configure it.

The settings are pretty simple, letting you have one app set for a single press of the Active key, and another app set for a long-press of the key. You can choose between any of the apps you have installed for either function, and can always switch back to just having the Activity Zone launch if you want.

As an extra little tip, the Active key can also be used as a shutter key in the camera, but considering you can just use the volume keys on the standard Galaxy S6 in the same way this isn't too much of a victory.

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

39 Comments
  • Yup I have the Active Zone, and the Calendar mapped. I love it. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Mines mapped to the home screen and the camera... gotta love the functionality of it... Posted from my Samsung S6 Active
  • Hmmm.... if only you could use it for a Tasker task shortcut...
  • I accomplished this by exporting the task as an app, then bound that app to the button. Pretty simple physical button for my garage door (with confirmation screen touch to prevent accidents) =)
  • I've done that before, but for profiles that often change it can be a bit of a hassle.
  • Just go buy an S5 Active, save money and have a removable battery with MicroSD storage.
  • Except you have worse performance (slower CPU, less RAM, slower GPU), worse camera, worse display, worse looks, worse software, and I can go on.
  • He clearly doesn't have the phone and just wants to shit on it
  • No I don't, I have an S5. And yes I want to shit on it, because no SD Card is absurd.
  • S5 Active, sorry. Wanted to be clear on that....
  • Not by that much. Mine has been a little laggy since the last "update", but otherwise fine. And again, removable battery+SD Card. So go ahead, vote me down all you want people, truth hurts, so I expected it. I'll go take a few thousand sad face selfies and store them on my SD card to console myself. :~(
  • Opinion and truth are two separate things.
  • Technically, my post was the truth, with an opinion that the S5 Active is a better deal. The S5 Active is less money, it has a removable battery, and an SD Card slot. There is no "lie" in that.
  • My old Chocolate has a removable battery and an SD card slot, must be better than the S6 Active.
  • Oh yeah the active that most times than not has the battery door that comes off in the wettest of times from what i have seen. Truth hurts that so many people narffed up their S5 Active because the battery door wouldn't stay sealed.
  • Mine's always been good, I take it off-roading and plowing in the winter. My S3 had issues getting wet in winter, S5A has been just fine. Oh, and I have an SD Card
  • Removable battery isn't nearly as useful as a great battery. If I wanted to carry a battery around, I could just as easily carry a power bank around. Having a microSD card is a big advantage though, enough to make me seriously consider the S5 despite all the other disadvantages, but in the end the huge battery on the S6A convinced me to get that instead.
  • I actually don't have any issue with battery life, I get through the day, usually with no problems. My issue with non-removable batteries, is that when it dies, your phone is bricked, and you're down until your carrier's insurance sends you a new one. Even if it doesn't completely die, it can affect your phone's performance, and you're stuck with it. It's one of the (many) reasons I don't like iPhones. And yes, SD Card is a big advantage. More storage options, and sometimes it's the quicker way to go for file transfers from your PC.
  • I think most people don't want to carry extra batteries but when the battery starts to degrade, mine usually goes within the first 6 months to a year, you are stuck with it. With a removable battery you can pop in a new battery and have a new phone again!
  • Lmao you do that, and when your SD card corrupts, I'll enjoy my 1000 happy face selfies with my unlimited Google photos back up. Plus my front/back facing cameras are better, as is my 1440p resolution screen, not to mention my 3GBs of DDR4 Ram and 8 core processor. But yeah just get a S5 Active, so we could be like you. Posted via the Android Central App using my GS6 Active
  • LoL Posted via Morse Code
  • Yes, because I only keep my photos on my SD Card. I don't have Google+, a Home PC, Laptop, Work Laptop, Tablet, and external hard drive to back things up on. Oh woe is me, what will I do when my SD card dies?
  • 32GB's just isn't enough in the real world. I mean after OS updates and on-board app updates you're probably down to 23GB. Then add your fav movies, music, pics, apps and you'll have nothing left. Maybe 64GB would be my limit and 128GB is the sweet spot. Otherwise give me an SD card slot. Even more so that Google has added microSD back into M build with some great features!
  • Always a good idea to get the older device with worst specs. But it has an SD card Narfffffffffffffff. lol
  • Stop using the word narf, lol, its horrible!
  • Yeah no thanks. I'd rather spend some money on pure awesomeness. Posted via Morse Code
  • It would be nice if this wasn't an AT&T exclusive. I'd love to see a Tmobile version.
  • http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Xp_enPOLU14
    Here t-mobile version
  • oh wow this is like my beloved convenience button on my old BlackBerrys (always had it tied to email)
  • Thankfully this key is attached to a phone you want to use!
  • That's very cool. Posted via Morse Code
  • From what I've read, this active button activates in your pocket constantly. Hundreds of photos of your pocket lint. Nice. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Nope Active button only shot photos when the Camera is open, otherwise what happen sometimes it actives the Apk no the camera.
  • Never had active button take pictures in my pocket. But is useful to take a pic when you want. Posted via S5 Active
  • This was one of my favorite feature on BlackBerry phones we called it a convenience key but it is the same idea a programmable hardware button. Posted via Android Central App
  • Great, more Samsung crapware.
  • using single press to launch Google Play Music... long press launches the flashlight.
  • Hey, i have s5 active and i'm looking for a way to launch a flashlight with an active button wHithout launching any app. Like with a stock widget (i mean, it's launching a process process but it's not appearing as an app). Please let me know if you know how to do this
  • I have the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge and I ordered one of these... http://dimple.io