Samsung Galaxy S4 Active: Hands-on preview

Image 1 of 11

original_slideimages/samsung-galaxy-s4-active-submerged-1.jpg

original_slideimages/samsung-galaxy-s4-active-submerged-1.jpg

Image 2 of 11

original_slideimages/samsung-galaxy-s4-active-removable-back-2.jpg

original_slideimages/samsung-galaxy-s4-active-removable-back-2.jpg

Image 3 of 11

original_slideimages/samsung-galaxy-s4-active-plastic-exterior-3.jpg

original_slideimages/samsung-galaxy-s4-active-plastic-exterior-3.jpg

Image 4 of 11

original_slideimages/samsung-galaxy-s4-active-real-buttons-4.jpg

original_slideimages/samsung-galaxy-s4-active-real-buttons-4.jpg

Image 5 of 11

original_slideimages/samsung-galaxy-s4-active-still-thin-and-light-5.jpg

original_slideimages/samsung-galaxy-s4-active-still-thin-and-light-5.jpg

Image 6 of 11

original_slideimages/samsung-galaxy-s4-active-camera-6.jpg

original_slideimages/samsung-galaxy-s4-active-camera-6.jpg

Image 7 of 11

original_slideimages/Samsung-Galaxy-S4-Active-inhand-1.JPG

original_slideimages/Samsung-Galaxy-S4-Active-inhand-1.JPG

Image 8 of 11

original_slideimages/Samsung-Galaxy-S4-Active-inhand-2.JPG

original_slideimages/Samsung-Galaxy-S4-Active-inhand-2.JPG

Image 9 of 11

original_slideimages/Samsung-Galaxy-S4-Active-inhand-3.JPG

original_slideimages/Samsung-Galaxy-S4-Active-inhand-3.JPG

Image 10 of 11

original_slideimages/Samsung-Galaxy-S4-Active-inhand-4.JPG

original_slideimages/Samsung-Galaxy-S4-Active-inhand-4.JPG

Image 11 of 11

original_slideimages/Samsung-Galaxy-S4-Active-inhand-5.JPG

original_slideimages/Samsung-Galaxy-S4-Active-inhand-5.JPG

Samsung seems hell-bent on producing a phone for everyone under the sun – and even those under the sea. The most intrepid member of the company's growing Galaxy family, the Galaxy S4 Active, packs nearly all of the same features as the original S4, but in a rugged and waterproof exterior. And we were fortunate enough to get a chance to go hands-on and see the Active in action.

If you've ever handled a rugged phone before, you know these things can be bulky bricks of a phone. Not so with the Galaxy S4 Active, which is every bit as impressive as the original Galaxy S4. It's marginally larger, but by just a tiny amount, being 2.5mm taller, 1.5mm wider, and just a smidge over 1mm thicker than the S4 (it’s 9mm thick).

It is noticeably heavier, at 153 grams versus 130 grams, but the phone feels substantial and not unwieldy. However, it still sports the same oft-criticised plastic used in the normal S4. Maybe it's the extra weight or sealed components, but this phone feels like a solid and premium device, even more so than the original.

We've covered this already, but as a recap, the S4 Active shares the same 5in full HD display, quad-core 1.9-GHz processor, and Android 4.2.2 software as the S4. It's safe to say that the Active will likely garner as much praise as its award winning sibling in the performance department.

However, there is a key difference here – the 13-megapixel camera has been nixed in favour of an 8-megapixel unit. We didn't have a chance to really get a good gauge of the Active's camera, but it's likely on par with the Galaxy S3, which is to say it’s pretty darn good.

The Active is IP67 certified, which means it's dustproof and waterproof to 1 metre for 30 minutes. Samsung's booth had a fishbowl on hand to demonstrate, and I can confirm that the Active sat comfortably in the aquarium gravel with aplomb. Rounding out some of the physical differences are rivets on the back panel that give it an industrial look, while the capacitive buttons on the front have been replaced by physical buttons.

For more on Samsung’s new S4 variants, see our hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini and Galaxy S4 Zoom.