Slightly ugly, but rugged and tough enough to pass military specifications, the Samsung Galaxy S5 Active is for the outdoorsman in everyone. Or those clumsy phone owners we all know. Either way, this version of the Galaxy S5 is superior when it comes to durability and design, if you can tolerate the bulk.
The S5 Active’s innards are exactly like the regular S5’s: It houses a 2.5GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, a 5.1-inch Full HD Super AMOLED display, 16GB capacity, a microSD slot for up to 128GB of extra storage, and a battery that lasts about 18 hours.
The Active, however, looks like it’s wearing a suit of armor. Plastic armor, but armor nonetheless. It’s overall thicker and heavier than the S5 due to its large corner bumpers and bulkier back panel, but it’s got some solid shock resistance as a result. The S5 Active is 0.13 inch taller, 0.04 inch wider, 0.03 inch thicker and an ounce heavier than the S5.
The sides of the phone have a nice texture to them for a grippier grip. There’s also a flap that covers up the microUSB port which I don’t care for. Not because it doesn’t serve its purpose, but flaps like that just get in my way when I want to charge the phone.
Even though I’m used to the capacitive buttons on my Galaxy S4, the physical buttons on the S5 Active were just fine. They fit the rugged nature of the phone and worked as expected.
The S5 Active also has an additional button called the Active Key on the side of the device that acts as a quick launcher, or shutter button for the 16MP camera. Long pressing the button takes you to the camera, and a simple push takes you to an app that shows barometer readings and a compass, and shortcuts to the stopwatch and flashlight.
The Active Key can be programmed to other apps, so you’re not limited to outdoorsy information. I’m a big fan of shortcut options on my devices, so I had a great experience with the Active Key. It alone makes the Active worth owning over the normal S5.
In terms of general operation and experience, the S5 Active is just like the S5: Runs on Android 4.4.2, is easy to use, is waterproof up to a meter depth for 30 minutes, has a solid camera, and has a number of fitness trackers.
One thing the S5 Active is missing is the fingerprint reader. Honestly, though, that’s not a loss at all because, although it operates better than the reader found on the iPhone 5s, it’s not a must-have feature.
Yeah, the Samsung Galaxy S5 Active has a long name and is bulky, but it eliminates the need of a case (which most people use anyway) and is the better device when compared to the Galaxy S5.
Currently an AT&T exclusive, the S5 Active is attractively priced at $200 with a two-year contract. Go get you some.