back to article Samsung Galaxy S4 Active: The mobe for CHUCK NORRIS TYPES

The key advantage Sony’s Xperia Z has over the Samsung Galaxy S4 is its IP57-rated waterproofing. However, Samsung hasn’t got where it is today by sitting still and letting a rival get away with any sort of competitive upper hand, so now we have an S4 that carries an IP67 rating. Enter the S4 Active. Samsung Galaxy S4 Active …


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  1. Professor Clifton Shallot

    Ticks a lot of my boxes

    Waterproof and with physical buttons - just what I was looking for.

    1. petur

      Re: Ticks a lot of my boxes

      Too bad it unticked others...

      Why the different screen and less battery life? Not to mention lower camera specs...

      1. M Gale

        Re: Ticks a lot of my boxes

        1920x1080 at 5" not enough for you? All I can say to that screen is "holy fucking shitballs", personally.

        Though if it has the exact same CPU and RAM, I gotta wonder why the slightly slower benchmark results, unless it's just within the margin of error?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Ticks a lot of my boxes

          "If only the Queen knew what was happening to her English."

          1. Toxteth O'Gravy

            Re: Ticks a lot of my boxes

            It's the BBC's English, actually - or would be if the Corporation hadn't embraced regional accents, moi durr

            1. bob's hamster

              Re: Ticks a lot of my boxes

              @ Toxteth O'Gravy

              I don't about what what you said, but naming yourself after an obscure character in the Young Ones gets my vote. Didn't he have the world's stickiest bogey?

        2. Steven Raith

          Re: Ticks a lot of my boxes

          The slower benchmark results are probably the result of earlier thermal throttling as - for obvious reasons - there'll be next to no airflow through the chassis. I mean, there wouldn't be much on the normal S4, but this will have even less.

          Same as Nexus4/OptimusG - the optimus seems to have a different/better cooling solution.

          That's my guesstimate anyway - would need to see a side by side teardown to be sure.

          Steven R

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Ticks a lot of my boxes

          Getting that level of dust/water resistance usually means a fair bit of extra material, amounting to insulation of the phone. The vanilla S4 spends a fair amount of time flirting with thermal throttling so the Active is almost guaranteed to run into slightly higher levels of throttling.

          That or they turned off the benchmark cheats.

    2. N13L5

      misinformation much?

      quoting the article: "It’s probably all for show as the S4 is not a tough phone by any stretch of the imagination"

      I agree that the bumpers and pins are mostly show, but the S4's polycarbonate body is actually rather tough already in the regular version. Its won at least one abuse test over Apple's alu kit and various other phones.

      Polycarbonate might be "plasticy" to you, and between your lines, its visible that you look down on plastic, but this particular type of plastic is not cheap and its very sturdy and handles abuse extremely well.

      1. MondoMan

        Re: misinformation much?

        And then there's the whole "silicon" somehow transformed into rubber thing.

  2. dajames

    About bloody time!

    All phones should be waterproof.

    Many phone manufacturers are now refusing warrant y repairs on phones that they say have suffered "water damage". They even fit a moisture sensor inside the phone to provide some evidence that water may have penetrated the phone, whether or not the water has played any part in the phone's need for repair.

    I myself have had an HTC Legend whose screen packed up shortly after I was obliged to take a call in a light snowstorm (in London, I hasten to add, nowhere as inhospitable as the Arctic wastes (depending on your point of view, I suppose)). I suspect moisture damage, but more from condensation when I subsequently used the snow-cold phone in a warm fuggy pub (as you do).

    The makers want you to take your mobile with you everywhere, and use it all the time, so making a phone that packs up after getting a little damp is just daft -- the phrase "not fit for purpose" springs unbidden to mind. Now that there are waterproof phones it'd take a lot to persuade me to buy one that wasn't.

    However, IP67 guarantees that the phone won't admit water if submerged to a depth of at most 1m for 30 minutes ... what I want is a phone I can put in a damp cagoule pocket and carry up a 1000m mountain in the rain, and back again, over a period of (say) ten hours (in which time the phone will be taken out and used as map, GPS, compass, and maybe even camera a few times, possibly in rain). The pressure difference between sea level and 1000m in air is about the same as the pressure difference between surface level and a depth of 1m in water (a 10% change), so I wonder whether IP67 will really be good enough after the first 30 minutes ...?

    1. badmonkey

      Re: About bloody time!

      These aren't underwater devices, the 30 min escape clause is how that gets formalized. If you want to see what that would look like, go look at any underwater camera enclosure with proper O-ring seals and mechanical latches. You can't get that level of seal with little push-in rubber plugs and crappy thin film covers - it will hold out the water initially, but over time it will seep in when there is a pressure differential between the phone insides and the deep water. Hence permanent submersion is not likely to be a good situation in which to leave your S4 Active.

      I don't see why changing altitude would be an issue, the interior of the phone will equalize in pressure for the same reason it's not really properly waterproof and therefore there is no pressure driving rain water inside. It should be able to remain permanently wet in such a scenario without issue.

    2. JonP

      Re: About bloody time!

      "The pressure difference between sea level and 1000m in air is about the same as the pressure difference between surface level and a depth of 1m in water (a 10% change), so I wonder whether IP67 will really be good enough after the first 30 minutes ...?"

      Should actually be better - the pressure 1000m above sea level is LESS than at sea level (rather than more 1 meter underwater) - so there'd be less external pressure to force the water into the phone...

      1. CRConrad

        Doesn't work.

        Because then you walk back down from the mountain.

      2. calmeilles

        Re: About bloody time!

        Going up it should be fine, air in the phone should be expelled.

        But coming down air will be sucked in. If the phone is more than just damp then so will water.

    3. Imsimil Berati-Lahn
      Thumb Up

      Re: About bloody time!

      I'm with you on this one dajames.

      Ubiquitous electronics, such as mobile phones have become, should be like wristwatches insofar as you shouldn't have to worry about them if you get caught out in a downpour without a brolly. They should be as impervious to the elements as the human body. A quick towelling off and happy happy once more, not like my poor old 3110 which caught a fatal cold and died a week later. I have been more careful with my mobes since.

    4. NumptyScrub

      Re: About bloody time!

      quote: "However, IP67 guarantees that the phone won't admit water if submerged to a depth of at most 1m for 30 minutes ... what I want is a phone I can put in a damp cagoule pocket and carry up a 1000m mountain in the rain, and back again, over a period of (say) ten hours (in which time the phone will be taken out and used as map, GPS, compass, and maybe even camera a few times, possibly in rain)."

      The IP Code ratings for water ingress are effectively a laddered test; IPx7 is "better" than IPx6 etc. In that respect, getting pissed on by rain up a mountain is IPx2 onwards, getting kept in a damp pocket probably IPx1.

      I've seen motorcycle-related electronics mention IPx5 onwards as "rainproof", so I'd be happy to assume an IPx7 rated device would survive a rainy mountain expedition unharmed by water, even being kept in a damp pocket. YMMV of course :)

      Also, JCB (the site equipment manufacturer) does a range of ruggedised phones from cheap featurephone to (less powerful than the S4) touchscreen smartphones. You can get a couple of their models for under a ton (£100) if all you really want is phone calls and SMS, but I can't see GPS mentioned for any of their models. Nowhere near as versatile as the S4, but also nowhere near the price as well ;)

  3. A K Stiles

    Eagle IPA?

    I'm glad to see you didn't actually waste any Eagle for the purposes of that photo - looks more akin to some love-boat-lager (carling / bud - the american one). Either that or someone didn't flush through the pipe cleanser before pouring the beer!

    1. Al Taylor
      Thumb Up

      Re: Eagle IPA?

      Well spotted. It's actually San Miguel. I've had a 4-pack in the kitchen for weeks (left by a mate, not bought, I hasten to add), and finally found a use for one.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Eagle IPA?

        But San Miguel ain't the worst by far.


        "The last improvement is partly due a different finish than the typical Samsung hyperglaze."

        I suddenly thought I was reading Neuromancer again. WTF.

  4. James 51

    Tougher and cheaper? Can't lose.

  5. greifpad

    On the short list

    The S4 Active has definitely made it on the short list for my next phone...

  6. Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face

    Looks good, although I bet it'll still need rooting in order to remove the stupidly low artificial headphone volume limiter.

  7. John H Woods Silver badge

    399 ...

    at Carphone Warehouse .... tempted

  8. breakfast Silver badge

    Good so far

    I got one a couple of weeks ago because I needed something that could survive life around horses and Samsung seem to be doing better than Sony in reviews even where their devices have a lower on-paper spec.

    So far it seems pretty good- my last phone is a fairly old Xperia, so I don't really have a modern benchmark, but it does far more than I need a phone to do and the battery life seems quite reasonable- certainly if I forget to leave it on charge overnight my alarm still goes off in the morning, which is a marked improvement over what I had...

  9. Wize

    I like it except for one detail

    The USB charging socket flap.

    The headphone socket doesn't need one, so why not make a USB socket with the same internal protection?

    After all, I plug my phone in to charge almost every day thus opening and closing that flap. I've had waterproof phones (old nokia) and those things tend to break off eventually.

    On the other side of it all, I love that they kept the removable battery feature. Without it, the phone would be a definite NO.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: I like it except for one detail

      The Sony Xperia Z has two external studs so it can be charged in a (optional) cradle without having to faff around removing a rubber plug from the microUSB socket... I couldn't see anything like that on the S4 Active judging in the pictures in this article.

      That said, just because one co-molded plasticky-rubbery flap breaks off after a few hundred open/close cycles doesn't mean that all of them do.

      1. Wize

        Re: I like it except for one detail

        Even if it doesn't break, they can still be fiddly. Why not do away with it and make it internally waterproof like the headphone socket.

  10. Robert Grant

    "so I won’t be driving over it in a 4 x 4"


  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I could do with this.

    I'm not particularly active, yet my S3 has dents in the bevel that I'm unable to tell were due to my own drunken clumsiness or the dog.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    ".... as I discovered while taking snaps of a small model elephant in my bath"

    You don't know how relieved I was to see that the picture actually was a small model elephant.

  13. Rob Beard


    After my Galaxy S3 stopped charging and Carphone Warehouse decided it was not under warranty due to a slight case crack this got me thinking maybe it's about time to look for a new phone and considering some of the locations I work in (and maybe the odd bit of on the toilet Facebooking) I think this might be just right for me.

    I'll probably leave it until the S5 comes out though so the price drops a bit. :-)


  14. RainForestGuppy

    Chuck Norris don't need no phone..

    He just stares at you and you know what message will follow..PAIN!!!

  15. stu 4

    So just to check....

    I can stick this up my bum then ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So just to check....

      Start off with the S4 Mini first, perhaps.... though some sort of waterproof, gas-permeable and lubricated sheath might be in order, commonly available from pubs, chemists, petrol stations and supermarkets. The smaller the phone, the more capacity you have for other prison contraband to exchange for goods and favours.

  16. Shades

    Could this really be?

    Hmm, a serious contender to replace my trusty, but ageing, HTC HD2 (with Android ROM)? Tough, well manufactured, big screen, physical buttons, replaceable battery and MicroSD slot to name but a few things I've desired in a device.

    1. an it guy

      Re: Could this really be?

      have an upvote for mentioning the HTC HD2. I've got one, and they're amazingly solid. I've fallen while roller blading and this was in my pocket. my leg and trousers came off much worse than the phone (which was in a casing admittedly).

      I've been debating a new phone for a while, but still like the HD2 too much

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Before I start, I know what you're thinking "the dipshit didn't close the battery cover correctly, or push in the USB plug in properly" - so let me give you some perspective - I work as a consultant for a mobile phone manufacturer, I fiddle with prototypes every day, I'm the kind of maniac that actually reads the instructions and fully charges the battery before turning the device on for the first time, I have a PhD in computer science. I did everything according to the book, yet on my first underwater test at 30cm (in the bath) and after about 15 seconds "USB dock connected" popped up on the screen.

    That's odd thinks me but not one to be put off by a silly bug I continued to film the inside of my bathtub. About 15 seconds later the screen started flickering and my wonderful underwater bubble burst with the horrific realisation that my phone was not actually waterproof (in accordance with IP67) after all. Anyway, I dried it off with a towel, opened it up (couldn't turn if off via the buttons any more) and observed the presence of water around the battery and elsewhere.

    That's when I Googled "Galaxy s4 Active leaks" to discover I was not alone. In the US AT&T and Samsung will replace water damaged Actives but when I called Samsung customer service here in France I discovered what a farce their service is. While they do provide a phone number for technical problems, for a manufacturing fault we get an email address - which must just get routed to their spam folder because they've been ignoring me for about 2 weeks now, something tech support says is not possible "just send another email" they say...

    Thankfully the online retailer took it back, but the experience taught me a thing or two about Samsung and how they really don't give a shit about one little customer (we don't have the concept of class action law suits in France).

  18. Vociferous

    So it's the telephone for religious rightwing gun nuts?

    ...who oppose abortion, hate gays and atheists, wants to censor TV, and feel that women should stay at home?

    Is there really much of a market for that kind of thing outside the US and Saudi Arabia?

    1. CyberAngel

      Re: So it's the telephone for religious rightwing gun nuts?


      I got this in FINLAND - the land of Nokia - and I sold my Lumia 920 Red

      for a Samsung Galaxy S4 Active Urban Grey

      being "a religious nut" who prefer straight, heterosexual, etc things

      THANK YOU for your advice!

      This is a very nice phone...

  19. SmartFix

    I wonder if the warranty is worth anything

    The S3 has big issues with a screen that cracked with little or no help all they have done so far is blame the customers and removed some advertising promoting the gorilla glass. I wonder if Samsung will follow a similar path if thousands of the S4’s leak

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