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The quick take

The Galaxy S6 active takes a proven great device in the Galaxy S6 and beefs it up just a tad. Metal and glass are replaced by rubber and plastic, giving the GS6 active water, dust and shock resistance while only adding minimal thickness and weight. The extra space also gives the active a dramatically larger battery, which fixes one of the main issues with the original. You'll lose a fingerprint sensor and some of the sex appeal of the GS6 if you choose to buy an active, but the only real downside to be found here is that the phone is exclusive to AT&T.

The Good

  • Long battery life
  • Water, dust and shockproof
  • Great camera
  • Wonderful display

The Bad

  • No fingerprint scanner
  • Bulkier than the regular GS6
  • No large storage options
  • Exclusive to AT&T in the U.S.

Samsung Galaxy S6 active

Beefcake

Galaxy S6 active Full Review

Samsung choosing to release an "active" version of its flagship Galaxy S device of the year isn't really new. We saw both a Galaxy S4 Active and Galaxy S5 Active in the last two years, and when leaks first appeared of a purported Galaxy S6 variant we weren't surprised. Nor were we astounded when the device was exclusive to AT&T or we saw that it's basically just a Galaxy S6 with a tougher case around it.

But that's not a bad mark against the Galaxy S6 active — the Galaxy S6 itself is a pretty great device, so when you add a few extra features it makes the active version just as appealing to a certain type of potential phone buyer. Not everyone wants a sleek, slim and slippery phone that sacrifices battery capacity for looks.

Of course no phone is without a compromise or two, and the Galaxy S6 active isn't perfect. It lacks the great fingerprint sensor of the Galaxy S6, and not everyone will be happy with the looks of the device or its exclusivity to just one carrier. Read on with our full review of the Galaxy S6 active to see how it all comes together.

About this review

We're writing this review after just over a week using a gray Galaxy S6 active on the AT&T network in areas with good cellular coverage. The software version of the device was G890AUCU1AOE9 (Android 5.0.2) and wasn't updated during the review period.

Galaxy S6 active Video review

Like some moving pictures to accompany our complete written review? We have you covered right here. Be sure to watch our video then read the rest of the review for full impressions of the Galaxy S6 active.

Samsung Galaxy S6 active

Added protection, and a few subtle changes

Galaxy S6 active Hardware

There isn't a ton about the Galaxy S6 active that sets it apart from the flagship Galaxy S6, but the big difference is of course the external hardware of the phone. Gone is the sleek, slim and rounded exterior made up of glass and metal, replaced instead by a far more active-looking exterior.

It's like a Galaxy S6, but with a protective case glued on it.

A super hard plastic piece surrounds the edges of the phone, with inserts of grippy rubber making it easier to hold the phone and larger textured buttons for volume and power that are simple to press. The back of the Galaxy S6 active is a textured hard plastic plate, with exposed rivets and a metal ring surrounding the camera lens. The edges of the device create a small lip around a familiar 5.1-inch QHD screen that should protect the display if it's placed face-down on a table, and larger bezels all around should save it from unfortunate drops.

The standard Samsung setup of a large physical home button flanked by two capacitive keys is gone, replaced with a triumvirate of textured buttons with chrome logos that almost perfectly match the buttons of the previous generation Active. The buttons are a little on the mushy side and unfortunately don't light up, but perhaps the biggest issue with them is that the home button no longer doubles as a fingerprint sensor. That's a shame because Samsung finally has that hardware component figured out in the Galaxy S6, and it's a great feature (and security enhancement).

The casing of course gives the Galaxy S6 active better protection from the world around you, as it's water, dust and shockproof (within reason). That's all without annoying flaps over the headphone jack and USB port, and the SIM tray can even be easily removed with just a fingernail. You don't need to be an extreme sports athlete or construction worker to see the benefits, either — I'm sure many reading this have had a spilled drink in a restaurant or an unexpected drop to the sidewalk ruin a phone. Those aren't issues here.

You don't have to be an extreme sports star to want the protection — we've all seen a phone destroyed by accident.

The GS6 active is notably — but not severely — thicker, wider, taller and heavier than the standard Galaxy S6, but the added grip of the sides and back actually make it easier to hold and use (particularly one-handed). You can easily argue that the Galaxy S6 active is a bit too tough, rugged or cumbersome looking, but you can also say the same about some of the thicker and protective cases on offer for any other phone you buy. Think of this phone as coming with a pre-installed protective case — it'll bother some people, but most won't have an issue with it. (Just maybe shy away from the blue and white versions of the phone with the camouflage backs.)

I personally don't have any issues with the physical design of the phone as much as I'm just a bit annoyed by the move to all physical buttons below the display. Without a fingerprint scanner embedded in the home button there's not much reason to have that home button at all, and now it's joined by two more buttons that have no need to be physical. High-sensitivity modes make the touchscreen usable even with gloves on, and the physical buttons at this point are just taking up space unnecessarily.

Samsung Galaxy S6 active

A familiar spec sheet

Galaxy S6 active Specs

The Galaxy S6 active just about matches the regular Galaxy S6 in specs down to the number, but has a few subtle changes under the hood.

CategorySpecification
Operating SystemAndroid 5.0.2 Lollipop with TouchWiz
Display5.1-inch QHD (2560x1440) 577ppi Super AMOLED
ProcessorOcta-core 4x2.1GHz + 4x1.5GHz 64-bit 14nm Samsung Exynos processor
Storage32GB (non-expandable)
RAM3GB LPDDR4
Rear Camera16MP, OIS, ƒ/1.9, auto real-time HDR, low-light video, high clear zoom, IR detect white balance, virtual shot, slow motion, fast motion, pro mode, selective focus
Front Camera5MP, ƒ/1.9, auto real-time HDR, low-light video
NetworkLTE Category 6 (300/50Mbps)
Connectivity802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz), HT80 MIMO(2x2), 620Mbps, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, Mobile hotspot
Bluetooth 4.1 LE, A2DP, atp-X, ANT+
GPS, GLONASS, NFC, IR remote, USB 2.0
SensorsAccelerometer, ambient light, barometer, compass, gyroscope, hall, heart rate monitor, HRM, proximity
ChargingUSB 2.0 (Adaptive Fast Charging), Qi wireless (WPC 1.1, 4.6W output)
Battery3500 mAh (non-removable)
Dimensions146.81 x 73.41 x 8.64 mm / 5.78 x 2.89 x 0.34-inches
Weight150g / 5.291 oz
VideoFormats: MP4, M4V, 3GP, 3G2, WMV, ASF, AVI, FLV, MKV, WEBM, VP9
AudioCodecs: MP3, AMR-NB, AMR-WB, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, WMA, Vorbis, FLAC, OPUS
Formats: MP3, M4A, 3GA, AAC, OGG, OGA, WAV, WMA, AMR, AWB, FLAC, MID, MIDI, XMF, MXMF, IMY, RTTTL, RTX, OTA
Samsung software featuresActive Zone, Download Booster, OneNote, Private Mode, Quick Connect, S Health 4.0, S Finder, S Voice, Samsung Pay, Smart Manager, Sound Alive+, Themes
Google Mobile ServicesChrome, Drive, Gmail, Google Settings, Google+, Hangouts, Maps, Photos, Play Books, Play Games, Play Movies and TV, Play Newsstand, Play Store, Voice Search, YouTube
ColorsWhite, blue, gray

Of course the aforementioned size differences are notable, but it's also worth pointing out that you can only get the Galaxy S6 active with 32GB of storage — there aren't 64 and 128GB options. The battery has also been bumped in size considerably, to 3500 mAh compared to 2550 in the standard version. The Galaxy S6 active also supports Qi and Powermat wireless charging, just like other GS6 models. (A previous version of this review stated that Powermat charging was not included — we regret the error and have fixed it above.)

Samsung Galaxy S6 active

Again a great display, mediocre speaker

Galaxy S6 active Display and Speakers

This (along with the camera) is going to be a short section of the review, and that's not surprising. The Galaxy S6 active has the same QHD Super AMOLED display that you'll find on the Galaxy S6, and it has all of the same great qualities. Brightness, contrast and viewing angles are great, as is the outdoor visibility when it pumps up the brightness in direct sunlight. Samsung is an industry leader in displays right now, and thankfully there weren't any corners cut on the active model of the GS6. There really isn't anything bad you can say about this display, whether it's being evaluated on its own or next to any of the competition.

The display is leading the industry; the speaker isn't worth writing home about.

As for the speaker, it has changed locations on the Galaxy S6 active, moving from the bottom of the phone to the back (where it was on the Galaxy S5) — but because the back of the phone isn't perfectly flat there's a little bit of room for the noise to get out when it's sitting on a table. The speaker still isn't very big and doesn't sound that great — as we expect in a Galaxy S6 — but when you have a waterproof phone it's tough to have a larger speaker. The speaker still gets the job done for speakerphone calls and YouTube videos, but still isn't on par with the leading front-facing and dual speaker setups you'll find elsewhere.

Interestingly Samsung has stuck with the same ported grille style earphone speaker above the display for calls, whereas many other rugged devices go with a bone conducting speaker setup to limit the number of places water and dust can enter the device.

Samsung Galaxy S6 active

One of the best, and that's unchanged

Galaxy S6 active Camera

One of the best features of the Galaxy S6 is its camera, and it has come over in full force to the active version of the device. The same 16MP sensor supported by OIS and newly-simplified software takes excellent photos in a variety of lighting conditions. Even a full two months after the launch of the original Galaxy S6 and S6 edge, we're really still in love with this camera.

Samsung's auto HDR mode makes it extremely easy to capture the right photo without any fiddling, but if you want to mess with settings you can hop into the Pro mode and tweak. Whether it's in crisp daylight, indoor scenes or night shots, there's really not much that stumps the GS6 active's camera.

For more information on the Galaxy S6's camera prowess, be sure to read our full review of the device, and see our camera comparisons for how it stacks up against the competition.

Samsung Galaxy S6

The software you know, with more AT&T bloat

Galaxy S6 active Software and Performance

The Galaxy S6 active has yet to update to the latest Android 5.1.1 that's available on some variants of the Galaxy S6, but considering it's nearly identical to the other models we wouldn't expect updates to be too delayed.

Samsung and AT&T didn't go all-out making the software look as 'active' as the hardware.

Until that update hits, we're looking at Android 5.0.2 with the Samsung customization you've come to know, for better or worse, on its other devices. Aside from a few subtle changes, everything here works as it does on any other Galaxy S6 — Samsung and AT&T didn't go all-out making the software look as "active" as the hardware, and I'm thankful for that.

The main interface change you'll notice on the GS6 active is that the settings are put into a tabbed view rather than a scrolling list, but depending on what version of Samsung phone you used last this may actually seem like the "right" way to do things. There's no way to switch back to a list view if you prefer that, though, so you'll have to learn to love it.

Of course you can't get through the review of an AT&T phone without talking about its pre-installed apps, and the Galaxy S6 active has a full set. AT&T has 26 apps pre-installed on the phone that you wouldn't find otherwise, most of which being AT&T's own apps with a few being partner additions from Amazon, Microsoft, Lookout, Uber and others. You can disable all but one — a built-in Usage Manager app — but can't actually uninstall any of them. The Galaxy S6 active has 24.47GB of storage free of the 32GB installed, which is right in the range of what you get from other models.

Activity Zone may be useful, but the rest of the pre-installed apps really aren't.

The one potentially useful extra app is the "Activity Zone," which is launched with a press of the "Active key" that sits above the volume rocker on the left side of the GS6 active. Activity Zone acts as a dashboard with small widgets that launch into full apps, including the weather, barometer, S Health, compass, flashlight, stopwatch and some Milk Music exercise integration. The app can be launched through a regular app icon as well, and you can also re-map the Active key to launch any other app of your choice with either a short or long press.

AT&T also does a few annoying things in the software, including putting the carrier's name in the status bar when you don't have notifications, giving you a permanent notification any time you're connected to Wifi, and having little bits of software to auto-connect you to certified AT&T Wifi hotspots. You'll get that on any AT&T phone you choose, though, so it's hard to complain too terribly much. I just wish AT&T didn't make so many seemingly-random software changes that all detract from the experience of using the phone.

Discuss the Galaxy S6 active in our forums

Little quibbles about apps and software tweaks aside, the Galaxy S6 active performs just like a Galaxy S6 should. It offers a generally snappy and responsive experience, with little bouts of curious lag that few Android phones seem to be able to escape. Looking at the Galaxy S6 active side-by-side with another GS6, the experience in terms of performance is identical.

Samsung Galaxy S6 active

More than what you need for a day

Galaxy S6 active Battery life

You can't get through a discussion about the Galaxy S6 without mentioning its battery life ... situation. While most of the concerns over the GS6's longevity have been exaggerated, it's hardly a secret that people are having troubles getting through a day on the phone when they use it to its full capabilities. The 2550 mAh battery is somewhat to blame there, but so are the extra-powerful internals and brilliant display.

The Galaxy S6 active keeps the same specs and display, but fixes the battery woes by increasing the battery size by over 35 percent to 3500 mAh. And while the battery still isn't removable, it honestly doesn't matter anymore now that it has reached a size that can get you through even a tough day of use. After over a week using the GS6 active, I ended every day with considerable battery (20 percent or more) left, even if I spent time streaming music, watching videos, using the hotspot, navigating in Google Maps or taking tons of pictures.

I wish every Galaxy S6 had this battery — it's the right size for the job.

That's something I could only accomplish on the Galaxy S6 with lighter use, with any of the mentioned activities putting a big dent in the battery and forcing a charge. Considering how identical the phones are you can look at it purely by the numbers: A 35 percent bump in battery means 35 percent longer battery life in this case. That means the difference between charging during the day and not worrying about it, and it's one of the Galaxy S6 active's strongest selling points.

Of course Samsung's Adaptive Fast Charging (which is compatible with Quick Charge 2.0 accessories) is still included, as is Qi wireless charging, and because the GS6 active has a textured back it's far more stable on a wider range of wireless charging pads. Though because of the greater battery life, I didn't find myself using wireless charging throughout the day as I do on the Galaxy S6 and really only used it for overnight charging.

Samsung Galaxy S6 active and Galaxy S6

A simple choice to make

Galaxy S6 active Bottom line

In some ways the Galaxy S6 active is actually a better phone than the standard version that was released over two months earlier. It has a tougher exterior that can stand up to more punishment, and has a dramatically larger battery that can get you through both average and hard-working days. It also has those features with few compromises — the extra size and weight aren't an issue, and the only other major shortcoming is the lack of a fingerprint scanner.

Aside from those changes, the GS6 active also carries all of the great traits that make the regular GS6 worth recommending. A brilliant QHD display is top in its class, while the 16MP camera still takes wonderful pictures in a variety of situations.

Should you buy the Galaxy S6 Active? It's a simple decision

For most people, the question being asked is whether they should buy the regular Galaxy S6 or the Galaxy S6 active. Well, making that decision is a pretty simple equation. Either you like the metal and glass construction, slim profile and fingerprint scanner of the regular GS6, or you'd prefer the protection from the elements, substantially longer battery life and rugged construction of the GS6 active.

More often than with previous versions, I'd say the Galaxy S6 active may be the right device to choose in that situation. It offers a great overall package with very few downsides, whether you're comparing to another GS6 or any other device out there for the same price.

Buy now from AT&T (opens in new tab)

Buy now from BestBuy (opens in new tab)

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

155 Comments
  • This handset is a beast. The only knocks on it IMO are are having only a 32 gb variant and the S6' memory leak and god awful RAM management (samsung devices in general). Other than those, with the specs it's packing and durability it could be considered the best android phone ever built to date IMO
  • Pretty sure the memory leak issue is on Lollipop's side.
  • Indeed. It's also pretty seriously overblown as an "issue".
  • Mind breaking that down further? Why do you think it's overblown? Is there an easy fix?
  • It's not overblown. The ram management on the S6 is terrible. Something is wrong with their software.
  • I'd be willing to bet it's the Cheetah Mobile software that's baked into the device. Posted via Morse Code
  • Doubt it seeing how most carriers disabled that app. Good try though. Posted via the Android Central App
  • That has nothing to do with it. It runs no system background processes unless activated by the user, can be disabled entirely, and isn't even pre-in stalled on certain carriers.
  • I buy almost everything except food and clothing from online auctions most people aren’t aware of the almost I unbelievable deals that they can get from online auction sites the site that has the best deals is >>> http://www.saveslam.com/Deals/ I checked with the BBB and was told that it is all legit. How they can sell gift cards, laptops, cameras, and all kinds of goodies that we all want for 50-90% off, I don’t know I do know that I bought my son an ipad there for less than $100 and my husband a $250 Low gift cards for $48. Why would I even think about shopping anyþlace else?
  • Stop it Posted via the Android Central App
  • @Kovyneva78 Hmmm... How did your sorry ass slip through the cracks?
  • Hi Andrew, are we sure the memory issue is purely a lollipop issue? My wife has never reset, restarted or powered off her M8. Ever. If the memory problem is a lollipop issue, did HTC go ahead and fix it? Posted via the Android Central App
  • True It's more the terrible RAM management that's worse than anything I've seen before.
  • I just reboot my Samsung devices every day or so & everything hums along nicely. 5.1.1 is a big upgrade & I'm sure AT&T will roll it out soon for the GS6 family of devices. I have the G4, M9, S6 & out of them all I paid with my own money for the GS6. I love this device. Best Sammy phone yet and Ive had them ALL, from the Windows Mobile only days & Instincts.
  • Ya, I'm all about samsung's hardware as well. Currently have a note 4 and Tab S. The S6 is the best mobile hardware ever mass produced IMO. Industry leading specs, but no one should have to reboot daily to get maximum performance. the issues touchwiz has managing resources and keeping apps cached in memory has been going on far too long. I've experienced it too much and seen it too many times on YouTube in comparisons. The S6 is extremely aggressive however. More so than the note 4 and S5 on LP. It needs improvement and I was hoping 5.1.1 would be a fix but apparently that hasn't been the case on the S6 so far since the t-mobile update. Improvement is long overdue
  • I have tried to wait out the updates from Samsung that would fix the memory leaks, but I think I have had just about enough. Tired of rebooting multiple times a day. It would be the best phone on the market for Android, but if Samsung can't admit to the memory problems and deploy a fix that actually works, then I think I am going to have to pick up a different phone like from HTC as an example.
  • I'm curious... what are the symptoms that people are claiming to have that have them convinced there is a memory leak? Posted via the Android Central App
  • I don't know how you could do a wrapup of this device without mentioning that there's only a 32GB version available. For some folks that makes it a non-starter, especially since storage isn't expandable. For example, I wouldn't own the N6 I have now if I couldn't get my mitts on the 64GB version. It's extra important in this age of 4K recording cameras and extra carrier bloatware. Posted via the Android Central App
  • "... but it's also worth pointing out that you can only get the Galaxy S6 active with 32GB of storage — there aren't 64 and 128GB options." I also mention that there's 24.47GB free on first boot... which is actually 1GB more than the 32GB GS6 on T-Mobile. Of course the larger storage options will kill the deal for some people, but I'd really like to see any kind of sales data that shows people are ponying up for the 64 and 128GB models in large quantity.
  • I bought a 64 GB model S6 a month or so ago. Of course, nobody else is so enter the new "64GB for 32GB" promo that kicked in from Samsung on the 21st. Im surprised you guys didn't cover that...
  • We've actually covered two such sales that I can find. And I thought I recalled a third... http://www.androidcentral.com/grab-128gb-galaxy-s6-t-mobile-price-64gb-model http://www.androidcentral.com/t-mobiles-memorial-day-sale-lets-you-double-storage-galaxy-s6-no-additional-cost-and-more
  • Only 32GB is for sure a deal breaker for me or i'd be all over it. That larger battery is a great feature, but 32GB, seriously.....
  • I don't know how you could comment on an article without reading it first, yet here we are.
  • Yeah, I've also never seen that happen before.
  • Reading.....a lost art. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Actually READ the article before you complain.
  • I don't know how you could have read the article without ... actually ... reading ... the ... article.
  • It DOES support both charging standards just as the regular S6. PocketNow, PhoneDog and others have tested and confirmed this.
  • Hunh, I'll have to look into that. Nothing in any official spec sheet lists Powermat. And honestly it's not really a loss... of the small number of people who have invested in wireless charging, an overwhelming majority have gone with Qi.
  • Agreed.
  • Regarding the buttons, I'm not sure how well capacitive or on screen buttons would function if the display was wet, which would go against the rugged aspect Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yeah water does have an affect on the touchscreen, but if your screen is wet then what are you going to do with just the buttons below the display? At some point (very quickly) you're going to have to get the water off the display and interact with the rest of the phone.
  • True - but when it is raining and you need to quickly use your phone having physical buttons is the way to go. Water makes on screen buttons unreliable and unusable fast. Secondly, you can still see your screen with a few raindrops on it.
  • Yes you can see your screen with a few raindrops on it... but you can also use on-screen buttons just fine with a few raindrops on the screen, too. My point is that if there's so much water on your screen that you can't use it as a touchscreen, you probably can't see much on it anyway — and there's not a whole lot you can do on your phone with just the navigation buttons... you need to touch the screen.
  • Ok, gotcha - makes sense.
  • I've found that just a few drops running down the screen play hell with the touchscreen, particularly if your a swiper. Posted via the Android Central App
  • You can at least take a photo. (Double tap the home button to launch the camera, and then tap the activity button.) Posted via the Android Central App
  • You can do the same on any GS6. Just use the volume keys take the photo :)
  • The touch screen doesn't work very well (or at all, for that matter) when it's totally wet. This is why the physical buttons are necessary.
  • another ACTIVE like the s5 that we will see on ebay with wather damage and screen cracked for sale LOL
  • HAHAHAHA! You're a real comedian! LOL
  • Just imagine how much more of this they would potentially sell if it wasn't an exclusive to just one carrier.
  • Seriously....
  • AT&T is the customer, not us. People forget that. Trust me, they paid a hefty sum for this device. And Sprint will get their version, just like last year!
  • Exclusive to At&t once again?? And Samsung wonders why they're losing so much money these days... Posted via my Note 4...(AC App)
  • They aren't losing any money. Just because you make 99 billion as opposed to 100 billion, that isn't a loss. You are still making profits. Besides, the active line has never been significant. They are losing profit on the low and mid end. Sent via carrier duck. They were out of pigeons
  • I think the reason that they are so less significant is more because of the fact that they release them like 4 months after the normal versions that everyone scoops up immediately, and so when the Active comes out, everyone has already got a new phone and they aren't in the market for another one.
    Besides making it an ATT exclusive, offsetting the release date 4 months is whats keeping this beautiful phone from selling. If I could get it carrier-unlocked off-contract, I would probably scoop this puppy up in a heart beat, even though I have been more on the HTC side of things the last year and a half (you know me, i have no bias). I love the look and feel of the Active series.
  • I believe if you are willing to pay full price for the phone, AT&T would provide you with the unlock code if you request it on their site.
  • They must have a sweetheart contract. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Maybe the other 3 were not interested at the $$$$ Sammy was offering. Maybe ATT ponied up the extra ca$h to get the exclusive. Not sure which.
  • I don't understand what is the big deal people do about storage , when there is free Google drive, Microsoft drive.. etc etc etc crazy kids lol
  • Because cloud storage isn't as reliable as on-board storage. And only a few gigs are "free" with either service.
  • almost every new phone coming with free 100 GB from Google or microsoft drive/ dropbox etc
    however latest flagships smartphones handles pretty well cloud services, at least on
    my S6 Active it's so fast, same on my HTC M8 (100 GB), got 226 GB on Google drive, and
    135 GB Microsoft Drive LOL
  • Got 100 gigs free via one drive with S6.
  • Data caps, my friend.
  • WiFi, my friend.
  • Active phone with a big battery. Designed to be used in the great outdoors for long periods. You get wifi a lot in the wilderness? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Or in the mountains. Or even in the city. I wish we could say wifi is everywhere, but it's not. Not yet.
  • Because this device is made for those who won't be around WiFi or in reach of a data signal. I don't understand why some of you can't or won't understand this. Posted via Morse Code
  • Exactly this. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I don't understand why either Posted via someone's Note 4
  • Looks like a really nice phone. I'd choose it over the regular variant.
  • You know I wonder why this review didn't mention the standard work around for the lack of storage that most all people use? Being able to use a micro SD card externally for all of your music videos photography needs isn't something brand new to use and there are many different types of OTG dongles and and all in one solutions. While not as convenient it certainly is blessing to have. Also the lack of a fingerprint scanner and the physical buttons appeals to many people like myself. Having to have the on screen buttons sensitivity set high enough to be actually usable in below freezing conditions makes the entire screen susceptible to touch issues, which is eliminated by the physical buttons. Add in the activity button to this makes this phone even better than the regular version. Lastly.. the speaker this phone has.. I have compared mine to several normal s6's and it is louder. Granted it isn't a HTC m8 experience by no means but at least on mine it is loud and clear. I can put mine in my leather holster and still can listen to my music at a acceptable level. The only real issue to keeping this phone from selling great is the exclusivity and the lack of internal memory. People don't know about using OTG for lower fixed storage phones as this one because there isn't enough being posted on how to actually utilize it for day to day use,which would make a great how to article for the writers here at AC. Overall the trade offs are that of function over style and in my humble opinion functionality triumphs style. Posted from my Samsung S6 Active
  • We've talked about OTG cables before, but really I don't see it as a reliable and acceptable option for extending your storage. If you need storage THAT badly, you need to buy a phone with more, not have an OTG cable and an SD card or thumb drive dangling off of your phone.
  • But you really don't need a cable hanging off your phone anymore to have additional storage .. and this phone doesn't come with the option of more storage, so my opinion is very relevant to this article. Being able to utilize one of the very small micro SD card adapter like from Leaf, Scandisc, Corsair is not a detriment but a 100% viable solution. I'm sorry you do find it so but it is. Posted from my Samsung S6 Active
  • I don't think it's necessarily useful for a lot of the people that crave more storage capacity, but I agree that for many it is indeed an underappreciated and perhaps under discussed solution. My Kingston DataTraveler microDuo OTG drive is about the size of a fingernail, no messing with a cable or any sort of adapter, and it boasts decent USB 3.0 read speeds on a desktop via it's full size port (can't wait for the dawn of Type C, smaller/faster). The thing is always always on my keychain, before it I carried mSD OTG readers. It won't solve much if you need over 25GB of music on you at all times, but for quickly offloading a couple gigs of 4K video you just shot or carrying around movies it's perfect.
  • I find them handy when I travel so I can have entertainment without worrying about filling up my phone's storage (which, considering I'm traveling, will be conserved for photos). At the airport or on the plane, I can attach the OTG and watch me some videos easily because I'm generally not moving around a lot (people hate when you do that on a plane). However, that's the only real use case I've had for OTG.
  • If it is so cold that you cant use the on-screen buttons, then you would literally only be able to go Home, Back, and Multitask with your phone. Have you forgotten that the whole rest of the experience on the phone is on the touchscreen? But I totally agree, I have an HTC M9 and an iPhone 6 and a Galaxy Note 4, and while own a handful of nice SD cards, i pretty much do all my backing-up and off-loading OTG as well, I don't really even mess with SD cards anymore. The exclusivity does suck, I really wish I could get one of these unlocked because they are gorgeous. But oh wellllll.
  • Eh? Wake phone and use verbal commands, perhaps? Posted via the Android Central App
  • "OK Google", how can I use my phone when it's cold.
  • "functionality triumphs style" The cell phone industry really needs to follow this simple phrase.
  • I cannot stand that much bloat. I have it on my S6 but it is a 64GB model. At least give us 50+ GB free! Att and Samsung a bloatware lovers, the worst combination. Posted via my Galaxy S6!
  • If only they put this battery in the regular galaxy s6... I just don't get it. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yeah :-/
  • It's because the regular GS6 is thinner and can't allocate such a larger battery.
  • You're a genius. The point was, most would sacrifice the thinness of a phone for stronger battery life. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Call me crazy but I very much prefer to have dedicated buttons for navigation(physical or capacitive) Coming from the S3 to the G4-- I'm losing patience waiting for the navbar to appear or having to swipe from the edge to bring it up. If someone can point me to the right direction to make it 'stick' on all applications, i'm all ears!
  • Nope you are not crazy at all. Posted from my Samsung S6 Active
  • The nav bar isn't supposed to hide unless it's an app that forces "immersive" mode that hides both the status and nav bar. Apps like games, galleries, video players, etc. will force immersive mode. You can also enable it on a per-app basis in the settings... But beyond that, apps aren't supposed to hide the nav bar. The buttons should almost always be there. And when you are in immersive mode, a simple swipe up from the bottom bezel or swipe down from the top bezel brings the buttons out for you to use.
  • Understood. I really think immersive mode is just band aid for Google's decision to remove the need for physical navigation buttons. It just wasnt thought out too well. Nothing is worse being entrenched in a game (in immersive mode) and having the need to swipe near the edge that happens to also bring up the navbar/notification bar. My most recent encounter is with LG's camera app(which runs in immersive mode)... the shutter button is very close to the edge, and one can easily fumble between tapping the shutter or bringing up the navbar. It happens quite often. Sorry, Google's decision with the navbar feels more of a design over function initiative. One of many in Lollipop/material design. my 2 pennies.
  • You're definitely not crazy. My problems with on-screen buttons are that they take up screen space and if you use immersive mode you're forced to constantly swipe up from the bottom of the screen to get them to appear. The screen real estate issue is the main one for me. I have an S5 and wanted a bigger screen so I went and looked at the G4 but I quickly realized that after you account for the on-screen buttons the usable screen on the S5 and the G4 is almost the same.
  • I agree 100%. PhoneArena had an interesting post about it. http://www.phonearena.com/news/Heres-why-on-screen-navigation-buttons-on... It was a really tough decision deciding between the G4 and Note 4. Camera, swappable battery and expandable memory were my top priorities-- everything after I just have to #dealwithit-- and that included the loss of screen real estate.
  • On-screen buttons are more of a personal preference thing to me. I prefer them but honestly, I don't hate physical buttons. They all have their own pros and cons. I just love on-screen buttons because in the case of Moto, Nexus and LG devices, they allow smaller bezels (minus HTC, who seems to have an obsession with black bars that do nothing but serve as a spot for their logo).
  • Now that it's possible, ya oughtta add the web link for your Periscope at the top of the review!
  • Yeah now that you can actually do something with those Periscope links on the web, we need to decide what to do with them. Of course the videos aren't permanently available, they go away over time... Not sure how to handle that just yet.
  • Replays are supposed to be on Periscope's server(s) for 24 hours, guess you'd have to use a timestamp next to the link.
  • If only this beast was sold in the uk Posted via the Android Central App
  • My S6 active is the best phone I have ever used. It's the perfect size, it has a perfect sized battery, and it retains most of the features that made the regular S6 amazing, plus adding ruggedness and waterproofing/dustproofing/shockproofing. I'll never purchase another regular S phone again now that I've delved into the world of the S-line active variants.
  • I feel the same about mine. We can lament the fact about the fixed 32 gigs of internal memory all day and it won't change the reality of it. Or instead of damming Samsung for this show people who want this phone a viable alternative solution to it. Yes it would be awesome to never have to use a external add on, but this phone calls for it so why not show people what to use and how to use it? Posted from my Samsung S6 Active
  • How can they not find room for the fingerprint scanner on the S6 activite?
  • Kind of annoying. They could've easily just left the buttons as they are on the GS6 here. Pretty uninspired design to just put dumb plastic buttons on there.
  • Dumb plastic buttons... seriously? You might want to look at the polls around the Web Andrew... more people want these than the other choices . Uninspired by the design ... why even bother reviewing the phone then? Posted from my Samsung S6 Active
  • "Dumb" plastic buttons, as in they don't actually do anything. The home button doesn't double as a fingerprint sensor, and the buttons don't even light up to let you see them at night — both of those things would make those buttons "smart". Just because I'm not inspired by the design doesn't mean I can't review the phone... why do you seem to think I can't review a phone that I don't love before I even touch it?
  • Assuming that the physical buttons are there for functionality in cold / wet / dirty environments, the user might also be assumed to be wearing gloves. A fingerprint sensor doesn't make much sense in any of the above scenarios, and probably shouldn't be expected to work reliably. Since you can also feel the buttons, you also don't need them to light up to know where they are in the dark.
  • Seriously? The buttons don't even light up at night? WTF! That alone would keep me from buying it.
  • Seriously dude!?! I've been following Android for five years and you are easily the worst, least qualified, most biased reviewer I've ever seen. You really have no business reviewing phones on a site like AC. "Dumb plastic buttons"?!? Please stop talking because you're just making yourself look like a fool.
  • He's talking about functionality. Please enlighten us morons how the buttons on the active are "smarter" than the buttons on the regular S6?
  • I and many others happen to enjoy reading Andrew's reviews. I don't like the physical buttons either. Posted via the Android Central App
  • The S6 Active is meant to be in the outdoors on an adventure taking amazing pictures. I organized group adventures and need to be connected out there. The service provider that can offer service out in the woods is Verizon!!!! Why the F is my perfect phone on AT&T only?!?!?!?!? Freakin morons! So irritating. I really hope Samsung brings something like this to Verizon.
  • I am totally frustrated by this exclusive deal with AT&T for the same reason. I go mountain biking and kayaking a lot and the only provider that has me covered when I'm 'ACTIVE' is Verizon. I have been a Verizon customer for over 18 years and just 2 years ago decided to shop around since I was frustrated by the phones being offered by Vzw. I tried AT&T, T-Mobile, & Sprint - they barely had me covered at home, let alone out on the trails. TLDR: This exclusive deal will NOT get me to switch to AT&T, it will only result in me NOT buying this phone.
  • Nice phone, but I'm holding out for the Note 5 having water-resistance. I'd really like to have a bigger screen than my GS5 while keeping the IP rating. Living near the beach, it's a must have.
  • Why do you think that is even a possibility? Its not for a variety of reasons, the BIGGEST being the Note screen tech (Wacom Digitizer). It will NEVER happen.
  • There have been rumors, regardless of how farfetched they are, so I will wait and see. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Blame the S Pen for the Note series not having waterproofing. Unless there's a flap that would seal the pen slot at all times, it's not likely to happen. (and if there was, I'm sure it would make quite a few people even less likely to use the pen as it would be a pain to remove) Posted via the Android Central App
  • The S-pen slot is as far as I know fully sealed. The Wacom active digitizer used does not require any contact with any electronics inside the device. Power is derived from an electromagnetic field created across the display. Case in point: the Fujitsu Q582 tablet uses the same technology, yet has a fairly high IP rating.
  • I'd be interested, if it weren't for the AT&T hookup...
  • So, youre not an AT&T customer? Why not switch and port your number?
  • Very nice review everything well put together. I love the rugged design and battery capacity of this phone. The poor battery life was my only issue with the GS6. One thing I can't seem to understand though is why Samsung didn't release it out the door with Android 5.1.1? Another concern I have is the stutter when switching apps I noticed that in other reviews. Posted via the Android Central App
  • IMO, I think this is better than the regular S6, for me at least. My only pet-peeve (besides the sealed battery and non-expandable storage, which is a bummer since it only has a 32GB option) is that in the States, it's an AT&T exclusive... Now, I don't live in the States currently, but it's an issue for non-AT&T customers. I dislike carrier exclusivity deals but I guess this is capitalism. Oh well, knowing Samsung, they will release an international version sometime...I hope. Regardless, I'd like to have one as a backup in CASE something happens to my daily driver (the LG G4). Don't mind the lack of a finger scanner and the increased mass and thickness (I mentioned that I prefer thicker phones over really thin ones) Posted from the superb LG G4
  • Love that Pre schnoid! Anyway, I would be interested in a regular S6 with this battery. Replaceable is better, but with this monster running the show the need to replace would be much less pronounced. Expansion memory is a loss especially at 32gb, but probably not for the masses.
  • A 3500mAh battery and a 14nm chip should put to rest any concerns about battery life and a fixed battery. The only concern right now is device lifespan.
  • Sure and the lack of updates(or very slow ones) ,shity touchwiz with bloatware and lack of custom roms because of the Exynos. Sounds very appealing.
  • Wells pretty much any phone in At&t will have slow updates so
    It doesn’t matter. Touch wiz slowly has become actually pretty good so people that doesn’t buy Samsung anymore because touchwiz theirs opinion are just base in old software no actually base in the new tone down fast and smooth touchwiz ,root has became like less attractive to do in new flagships where speed processor, memory, battery, displays and tons of features as a security concern are the point now , so someone will said Bloat, ads etc… you can disable it, ads you can block it, waste of space..Well disable 100 or 200 MB doesn’t bother at all when there is 20 GB left over free. However less and less people are actually unlocking bootloader and rooting theirs phones. just my opinion
  • Root doesn't pose a security threat unless you are crazy. Root can enable more good things by far(if used properly) than any posdible dissadvantage. 200MB (which is being optimistic with all the bloat, probably closer to 500)can equal 2 full length albums or almost 100 pictures. I'm not going to say that's a lot but can help when limited to 32gb. I'd never buy a phone I can't root. I've been an android user since the droid1. A phone without root is not a phone to me.
  • Had the S6 edge, bought this out right with my Best Buy card and am now selling my Edge. Great choice overal, I couldn't handle the battery before. Now I can get through the whole day. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Not bad. I'd get this over the regular S6 in a heartbeat except for the fact that development will probably be non-existent and the only way I'd use a Samsung phone is with a custom ROM.
  • Seeing AT&T in the top left is just obscene. Why in the world would they even think that is is necessary? I've come down a notch in praise for my Galaxy S6 due to the poor battery life. Even to the point that I don't recommend it unless the person prioritizes a great camera, but even then I mention the G4 as a good alternative if design isn't a big factor, which it usually isn't. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I just wish they could have made the regular s6 with that battery. Posted via my Nexus 6
  • S6 + otter box = basically this Posted via the Android Central App
  • Minus the much larger battery and water, dust and shock resistance...
  • I wish these ACTIVE branded Samsung phones weren't AT&T exclusives. Posted via Android Central App
  • In my opinion, the fingerprint sensor is one of the standout features of the GS6. Losing it sucks, but at least you get the massive battery.
  • COULD SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME IF VERIZON WILL EVER GET THE S6 ACTIVE??? VERIZON DEFINDEFINITELY SAYS YES, BUT ATT SAYS IT'S EXCLUSIVE TO THEM. I DON'T WANT TO CHANGE TO ATT. VERIZON SERVICE IS MUCH BETTER. MY HUSBAND'S CASIO COMANDO IS READY FOR THE TOLIET. DOES ANYONE KNOW WHAT'S UP.
    PLEASE HELP.
  • It still looks like it's been designed for four to eight year olds in ToysRus..... Bleuch
  • Put a normal s6 in a case that protects as well as this phone without a case and it looks like something designed for military use. And this still has USB access and a much larger battery...
  • Audiophile
    Would you be kind enough to recommend your favorite case for a S6??? I'm not sure why people aren't more enthused about Samsung 's Notes, I couldn't live without the pinpoint accuracy of my stylus and it's speed.
    Now just add a spell checker and font configurations to Gmail, an I'd be a happier camper.
  • I'd pay $800 for a 64 or 128gb Verizon Google play edition of this. If there was a 64gb-128gb model I'd consider making the switch to att from Verizon for it. Don't know what they were thinking with an "active" 32gb model with no expandable storage. Active people go to areas without good service. Being able to have music and take video, pictures, etc. is essential. Shouldn't have to carry anything extra to do so.
  • If it was only on Verizon... Also, does the active have the double tap for the camera? That's probably my favorite thing of my S6.
  • DO NOT be fooled by the claims from Samsung about the capabilities of their "Active" phones. I own three S5 Actives in my family and I'm currently in a battle with Samsung to get them to replace one that went into the shallow end of the pool with my kid in his pocket. Once he realized it he wasn't too concerned since according to Samsung the phone is water resistant up to 1 meter and 30 minutes, This phone was subjected to far less than that and FAILED miserably when the screen stopped working. When my kid told me what happened I checked myself and the back cover and USB cover were both sealed properly. We did all the right things you're supposed to do with a wet phone but the Samsung customer service representative instructed us to put the battery back in and power up the phone so she basically instructed me to electrocute my phone and now Samsung is refusing to replace it. The other two S5 Actives I own have both been in the water and came out fine still working to this day.
  • The S6 Active does not have a removable back and no longer has the USB flap. Everything is sealed on this version of the active.
  • Don't trust it because they won't stand behind it. There should be a class action lawsuit for the numbers of these "Active" phones that failed to perform as advertised.
  • I would have got the S6 Active over my new LG G4 if it wasn't stuck on AT&T. I will never give AT&T another penny of my money. Wouldn't even consider the S6 with that tiny battery and no SD card. Plus the S6 Active would have saved me the cost of a case that I would have needed. Also, happy it doesn't have a fingerprint reader that I never would have used.
  • Man, why does America ALWAYS get (to keep to theirs alone) the good stuff? This phone I'd buy in a heartbeat over the normal S6, because of the battery benefits alone...
  • I'd trade my N6 for this beast
  • There is a good reason the buttons are physical: it's what the target market want. They want buttons that can be used in more 'hostile' environments without increasing the screen sensitivity. Yes, there are some people who want a more rugged phone, but not one as rugged as this, but they are a halfway house, that I assume Samsung have researched and found to not be worth catering to. A rugged case is good enough for many such people, so the potential market is even smaller. Plus I feel physical buttons give better feedback. I have yet to use a device with satisfying capacitive buttons.
  • The author's whining about the physical buttons shows his ignorance. This phone has the ability to operate underwater and the physical buttons are required for that environment.
  • I am using galaxy s6 from last 2 month, i got a amazing experience now i can say that it is the best flagship phone in market yet but many rumors say that galaxy s7 is launch soon with some awesome features like flexible panel, checkout features of galaxy s7
    http://samgalaxys7.net
  • Love this phone. I was just about to buy an s6 and put an irritating lifeproof on it. No matter how ugly people say this phone is, it looks better than a reg s6 with a lifeproof or otter on it.
  • I am impress with the pefrormance of this phone, not only the camera quality but the display and other things are just incredible, thanks for sharing such a amazing features with us. http://diwalirangoli.in
  • DON'T BE FOOLED - my S6 Active suffered a 3-foot drop onto pavement and shattered, inoperable. Dead. data lost, $250 in cost to replace (this is using ATTs so-called protection)..... now I like the phone, but the process of transitioning to a new handset is hellacious (kudos to Apple here) and the delicate nature of the phone now requires me to put it in a case, and given that it is larger because it is 'active' now I have a very large device to carry around. SHAME ON SAMSUNG!!!!
  • Try dropping any crappy Apple from 3 feet onto cement the same way and see how the glass shatters. Your Samsung is 100% more rugged than anything those burned out hippies make. If you are going to be human, which is to say clumsy like everyone else, a $25 Unicorn Beatle case to further protect a $800 phone is a no brainer.
  • Okimar,
    Thanks for that great tip about the Unicorn Beatle Case, I had to buy my husband the S5 because Verizon didn't have the S6 Active. He drops his phone, goes swimming with it, leaves it on top of the car, etc.
    Thanks for tip.
    Buy the way, I have always hated Apple even since the late 80s
  • Vikkideane... The S5 is a great phone too and you sound like a great wife. He's blessed to have you looking out for him. :) You're very welcome.
  • I know this is not a "tech help" site, but here's my problem. Two weeks ago I bought a Samsung 6 active. And its' been pretty good, I work construction and it seems tough enough. The battery was down to 15 percent so I plugged it in to charge. Came back about 6 hours later, the little light on upper left was red instead of blue, and I can't get my phone to do anything. Any ideas?
  • Are you using the original fast charge cord that plugs into the wall?
  • I had been using my old Samsung 5 wall charger. Which is what I've been using since I bought it.
  • It's possible the old charger has bitten the dust. Try the new one and see if it makes a difference... Try turning it completely off while charging it for an hour to see if is good to go again. (Fingers crossed for you)
  • So, I see that the lack of a fingerprint sensor and the physical buttons were all complained about in the review and the video. In the vid, it was even mentioned that they didn't know why Samsung couldn't use capacitive buttons instead of physical ones. I think it's because the capacitive hardware doesn't work underwater (in fact, they state that the touchscreen doesn't work underwater and provide physical shortcuts for buttons). I'm willing to bet they wanted the fingerprint sensor, but couldn't find a cost effective way of keeping the home button waterproof with it. As for everything else, the only thing I have issue with is the storage capacity, but seeing as how this isn't my first phone with only 32GB of storage built-in, I've grown accustomed to managing content (e.g.: all pics autosave to the cloud so I may delete them), this isn't a huge issue for me. Coming from other phones that seemed to fail after the first drop, and all the outdoor activities I enjoy (hiking, camping, storm chasing, etc), this phone is AWESOME. I'm probably going to keep an eye out for future rugged phones from now on. Oh, and great review! I always read AC's review before making purchasing decisions. You guys are pretty thorough and clear about your personal expectations that it's hard to ignore your reviews. They're very informative and helpful. Keep up the good work!
  • My screen cracked on s6 active after first real drop from about 2 feet. Don't believe the hype about the ruggedness, and case it up if you have one. Also, no one is really willing or able to do a screen repair on this yet. Even the authorized Samsung repair center in Los Angeles will not fix. I have to ship it to Samsung in Texas and pay about $270 for a screen repair.
  • Do not believe reviews that the Active model can withstand drops. Mine fell from my nightstand, less than 3 feet, and while the glass and case had no signs of the drop, the internal touch panel was damaged. After owning for 2 months, Samsung said it was out of warranty and charged $240 to repair. If I had insurance from AT&T, it would have cost $200 for the deductible, plus monthly fees. Lesson learned, don't bother with the Active and still get a strong case.
  • I'm going through the same thing right now! 2 months old, fell off the arm of a recliner onto vinyl floor. 237.01 for repairs through Samsung!!! I bought this phone for its sturdiness. Maybe we both got the same bad batch? Highway robbery. Locked into a 2 year contract with a piece of junk. Never again. Oh, I had the 20$ bumper case on that they sold me in the store. Makes me ill.
  • Not what they are claiming to be about sturdiness , i use it for less than a month it fell from my lap and screen cracked . The geek squad charge me $150.00 plus tax for a replacement and I did not received a phone but a gift card. The gift card was not enough to cover the entire cost so I was charged again for taxes. I am paying for a phone that claim to be sturdy but it's only a lie definitely not for outdoors. Phone price over $700.00 plus tax plus $150 plus tax for replacement plus almost $50.00 for tax again plus all the time that I wasted at Best Buy. Not happy at all.
  • They never said it's able to withstand any possible damage, just that it's more resistant to shock and water than others. Shock doesn't mean impact. That's why I invested in an inexpensive Unicorn case that provides actual shock protection. I feel for you, but all smart phones are going to be fragile compared to the old flip phones, even the new ones with the CAT brand name have a limit to what they can take. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Firstly I have AT&T and have the S6 active and it is perfect. Secondly you buy as much storage as you need so you won't need to buy more storage. Seriously!
  • Samsung's claim about the S6 Active durability should solicit a class action lawsuit. This phone is no more durable than any other phone and seems to be even less. Certainly less than an I-Phone, which I've have several of. I've contacted Samsung customer support and been told that ANY damage, outside or inside the unit, will completely void the warranty so they were no help at all. Had I known what I know now when I bought the phone I would have assuredly bought the insurance and I recommend everyone that purchase the S6 Active buy the insurance. Another problem is that the cost of the parts are quite expensive. The outer screen, digitizer and LCD are all glued together. If one of them cracks they all crack and the phone is useless. Other phones continue to work when the outer screen cracks but not this one. I had the first LCD crack repaired for a whopping $350! After cracking the outer screen I refuse to pay another $350 so I'm activating an old I-Phone. I will now scorch the earth on the internet regarding this horrible phone. The world needs to know about the poor design and abysmal customer service from Samsung. They say that a happy customer will tell one other person about their good experience and an unhappy one will tell ten about the bad one. I plan on telling thousands.