How do you take one of the world’s most popular and best-selling smartphones and make it available to an even wider audience? You make it waterproof and just a bit more rugged. Samsung have done that with the already impressive Samsung Galaxy S4 and it’s available now exclusive to Vodafone for three months – it’s the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active. EFTM went hand’s on with the Active last week in some extreme conditions.
Taking a bunch of journalists to New Zealand for two days isn’t something that Vodafone does every week, so as well as demonstrating the importance of global roaming to travellers, the trip coincided with the launch of the Galaxy S4 Active – exclusive to Vodafone, and gave us the chance to test this phone out in some circumstances where it can really show itself off.
This is, in almost every way, a Samsung Galaxy S4. High spec, big in size and comes with all the software features users are flocking to the Galaxy S4 for.
It does have a slightly different screen, using a TFT LCD instead of Super AMOLED – but you’ll only notice that showing in contrast and perhaps the blacks not being as deep as the S4. That said, you’ll struggle to really notice that even if you happened to have them side by side. As a user – you won’t be disappointed.
Additionally the camera on the S4 Active isn’t quite as good as the Galaxy S4 but again, find me a user who feels disappointed and I’ll find you the worlds greatest nark.
What’s truly different here is the IP67 certification – which to you and I means that it can not only cop a decent splash of water, you can literally take it under-water.
To assist with this the back cover of the Active is very different to the standard S4 with a rubberised seal around the key components. The MicroUSB charging port at the bottom has a waterproofing plug that you fit when you are ready to submerge, and the menu, home and back buttons are physical keys instead of those touch sensitive areas on the standard S4.
One other thing. The S4 Active also has a dedicated “Aqua” camera mode. In this mode you choose your volume buttons to be the camera shutter or video record buttons and you’re good to go underwater. The touch screen is useless underwater so this is a requirement if you want some snaps beneath the surface.
While in Queenstown I submerged the Active in a freshwater stream, buried it in snow and held it out the window of a 4WD through river crossings without any concern for its wellbeing.
It came out with flying colours. As with all waterproof shooters, your main worry needs to be getting water drops stuck on the lens which renders photos useless if you’re taking snaps in a “splashy” environment – so keep your eye out for that and you’ll be fine.
Operating on the 4G network you’ll get superb upload and download speeds for the photos you’ve taken to be shared and you should see a similar decent battery life to the standard S4.
This is a top-notch phone, let down only if I’m picky by the bulk that it carries. It’s 23grams heavier than the standard S4, as well as being a couple of millimetres thicker too – but you’d expect that wouldn’t you?
I know my brother-in-law who is a dive instructor will be keen to give this a try, and I’m sure many more “Active” smartphone users will flock to the Galaxy S4 Active.
Trevor Long travelled to Queenstown NZ as a guest of Vodafone Australia and Virgin Australia