Customer Reviews: Samsung Galaxy S4 Active, Blue (AT&T)
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on July 1, 2013
The Galaxy S4 Active is pretty much identical to the regular Galaxy S4 with a few exceptions. I have a Galaxy S4 that I use as my main phone but I also got the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active yesterday. So there are a few tiny differences between the regular Galaxy S4 and the Galaxy S4 Active. First, it has three mechanical buttons instead of having two capacitive and one physical button that's on the regular S4. Second, the display that's used on the S4 Active is a TFT instead of the regular super AMOLED HD display that's on the regular S4. The TFT display is great with viewing angels but it doesn't have very good dark colors, especially blacks. Another thing that's different is the camera mode that's called aqua mode. When used, it disables the touchscreen from being responsive to prevent it from messing it up. When you are underwater, you have to use the hardware buttons to take pictures. The camera is also 8MP instead of 13MP that's in the regular S4.

These are some of the things that that are different from the regular Galaxy S4:


+Display / Screen:

The regular Galaxy S4 uses a Super AMOLED HD display but the S4 Active uses a TFT display which has better viewing angles but the blacks are not as good as the regular S4. The AMOLED display that's used in the regular S4 produces better dark colors because it turns off all the black pixels to save battery. Everything else about the display is the exactly same from the resolution (1080 x 1920) to the pixel density (441). It's also using the exact same Gorilla Glass 3 that's on the regular Galaxy S4.

+Android OS:

The S4 Active ships with the most up to date version of Android, Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean) which is exactly the same as the regular S4. You also get the exact same TouchWiz features that's on the regular S4. There's nothing new in the OS from the regular S4 except that the camera has a new mode called aqua mode. Read the next paragraph to find out what it is.


The camera on the regular S4 is 13MP while in the S4 Active is 8MP. Also, the camera in the S4 Active has an underwater mode (aqua mode) that it warns you that the touchscreen won't be responsive when you are underwater. This prevents the water from messing with the screen and possibly ruining it so that's why it disables the touchscreen. You have to use the hardware buttons to take pictures when you are underwater. When you get the phone out of the water, you have to disable the aqua mode so the screen can start working again. The camera quality feels like it's the same quality as in the S3. The front facing camera is exactly the same (2MP).


The design is exactly the same as the regular S4 but with a few little differences. First, the speaker, camera, headphone jack, volume button and the power button are all in the same place as in the regular S4. In the regular S4, you have the USB port exposed but in the Active you have a rubber door that's designed (obviously) to prevent water getting in. Another thing that's different is that in the regular S4, you have two capacitive buttons and one physical button. In the S4 Active, you have three mechanical buttons that are designed to be water proof.


The battery is also the same on the S4 Active that's on the regular S4 (2600mAh). Nothing has been changed in the battery department. If you get a great battery life on the regular S4 then you will also get a great battery life on the Active.


Again, the storage on the Active hasn't changed at all. It's still has the same capacity (16GB but only 9.2GB free space) that's on the regular S4.


The CPU is also exactly the same that's on the regular S4, Snapdragon 600 Quad-core 1.9 GHz. Nothing has changed in the CPU department as well.

+Removable Battery:

I wasn't expecting a removable battery on a water proof device but Samsung proved me wrong. I don't know how Samsung can make an amazing phone that has great specs with a removable battery and still be water proof. Samsung really knows how to make them phones!


-None, maybe the camera being 8MP but it's not really a con for me.

Overall, if you are someone who is around water a lot then the S4 Active is for you. Even if you are around swimming pools, use your phone out in the rain, or take it in the toilet with you and want to get a phone that will still work even under these extreme conditions then the S4 Active is for you. The phone is overall exactly the same as the regular S4 except for the mechanical buttons, camera mode, 8MP camera and the screen display (TFT). I also like the fact that it has a removable batter which is amazing for a phone that's designed to be water proof.
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on August 17, 2013
I wanted to love the Samsung S4 Active. I do kayaking, downhill skiing, and a fair amount of bike commuting in sometimes lousy weather. I think the "regular" S4 is among the very best of today's smartphones (along with the HTC One and the iPhone 5), so the idea of a weather-resistant version of the S4 sounded like the best of all worlds for me. I bought one in July 2013.

The problem is that the S4 Active has proved to NOT be dependably water resistant. My S4 Active got bricked by being on a lawn chair in my yard for an hour when the lawn sprinkler came on. Android discussion forums show that quite a few other S4 Active owners have had a similar experience to mine. Some tech magazine reviewers have reported the same.

I spent many hours in late July at AT&T retail shops and service centers attempting to get them to replace my water-damaged Active S4, and for two weeks they refused to do so. So, I went two weeks without a working phone. After AT&T and Samsung began getting increasingly frequent bad press regarding the failure rate of water-damaged S4 Actives, they changed their support policy on August 6, 2013. Water-damaged Active S4's purchased originally at AT&T retail shops or over the web will be replaced ONCE (and only once) by AT&T. After that, no further replacements will be made for you if your S4 Active fails due to water damage.

So...I LOVE the updated Android operating system and the overall features of the S4 Active. But I no longer trust the water resistant marketing claims of Samsung and AT&T regarding this phone.

I sincerely hope that Samsung learns from the unacceptable failure rate of water damage to this "water resistant" phone, and comes out with an improved second-generation model that is dependably waterproof under real world operating conditions. But until then, I recommend getting a "regular" Samsung S4 and putting it in a water-resistant case. The water-resistant and dust-resistant intentions of the S4 Active are great ideas! But unfortunately, the current S4 Active is a flawed, first-generation product that cannot be depended upon, IMO, to back up the weatherproof claims.
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on August 5, 2013
So easy to use. I have the blue and the husband has the grey. Put a clear case around it because it is kind of slick to hold onto - Have tried it in water and had no problems - Headed to the beach next week so we will see how it holds up in sand!
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on October 21, 2013
So far my phone works OK. It does what it is supposed to do.. device functions are great- camera, bluetooth, IR flasher, etc. etc. etc.
Going from an iPhone to this, I am insanely impressed by the sensitivity, clarity, noise cancelling, sound processing of the microphone-- it is hard to believe but I can actually talk to my phone like it is advertised, giving it commands and talking instead of typing, a very welcomed change-up from talking to my iPhone in a robot voice and dialogue that even the phone didn't ever really understand.

The battery is mildly impressive compared to almost any similar device this powerful, and gives me 2-3 full days on average, making calls, sending texts, browsing the web, just light to average use. Usually only a day or 2 with heavy use.

Reason it doesn't get an awesome rating?
MAIN REASON--Warranty does not cover water it was almost a waste to pick this device instead of something else. .. that's right your "water resistant" device is not protected by any warranty if there is any water damage. Great to find a company standing so firmly behind it's products and how they are advertised.

Also, there is a lot of bloatware that requires you root your phone, install this, uninstall that, back-up that, delete this....I spent the first 2 weeks figuring out all that crap and reducing the amount of information my phone was recording and sending and that is totally unacceptable to have to work so hard to protect my privacy and simplify my device.

Would I buy it again? good question....
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on September 13, 2013
I've own this phone for around 2 months now and it has work smoothly without any issue.It has already been on the water for around 15 mins and is still working. The battery last pretty long around 12 hrs. Nothing to complain about until now.
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on August 7, 2013
I had an Samsung S3 a few years ago but have had a Windows phone (Samsung) and an Iphone 4s in between buying the S4 Active recently. I was really bored with the iPhone so I had planned on switching back to the Windows Phone (I know I'm in the minority but I'm a fan of the tiles) but after seeing the S4 that a friend of my had I was sold. I ended up going with the Active since I tend to take my phone everywhere with me and I would rather not be so worried about getting it wet or spending $250.00 fixing a sensor because of dropping my phone into a cup of coffee as I did with my iphone. So far I really enjoy the user experience with the big screen. It makes viewing movies and internet so much easier and better on the eyes. I've found the touchscreen function to not work quite as well as my iPhone 4s as I seem to have to be more deliberate with how I touch the screen. The default samsung touch keyboard was terrible IMHO as the letters were too far apart and it just seemed stretched. I switched to the google keyboard within the first few days and it's much more efficient as it is very similar to the iphone keyboard but has easier word replacement and seems to figure out my typos better.

I don't mind the touchwiz interface as it has tons of functionality and for the most part is intuitive after a little research. I am disappointed that the active can not use the standard S4 cases and it was a pain finding one that I liked (I bought this Diztronic case from Amazon - B00DEQ4QW0

The battery life is a disappointment for sure as it is actually worse for the Active than the standard S4 but since the batteries are replaceable and not too expensive that is easy to overcome. I usually get about 4 hours of use before having to recharge but I'm constantly getting email and listening to a book or podcast.

I haven't really missed any apps as almost all of my favorites were available on Google Play with the one exception, MailBox, but all of my email is through Gmail so it was an easy switch over to the Gmail App.

I'm still playing around with the camera but it seems to take a great picture and although it's only 8mp vs the 13mp on the standard s4 it can take pics underwater in aqua mode so that makes up for the loss I guess. Also, having Instagram like effects is a nice touch in the camera app. The sound quality is really good and on par with the iphone 4s at the very least and probably a little louder.

The only other thing I can think of is I did have an experience with the phone getting pretty hot at one point but it has only happened that one time so not sure if it will be an ongoing problem.

EDIT: forgot to mention storage. Love that I can add additional storage (up to 64GB) with an SD card. I was always near the near or at my storage limit with my 16GB iphone 4s.
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on November 28, 2013
If it weren't for just one issue, the phone would be a 5+ Star rating. The audio quality for the people calling me is horrible. Whoever calls me.....and I mean every person who calls, here's a horrible echo. Every time, on every call. If I put them on speaker phone or use a bluetooth headset, the audio quality is crisp and clear. It could be a defective phone, and I may try to send it back thru Samsung, but that's what happens when you buy on Amazon, or Ebay. It's tougher to take care of problems like this. The rest of the phone is GREAT....Camera and all. I like the way the phone operates, it's easy to use, and I can carefully rinse it off when i wish. I won't dunk it in water...It's water resistant, but it shouldn't be taken into under water's just too risky.

So, as long as you have a good headset...this phone is tops!

Update 2-2014

I decided to see if Samsung would replace the phone under warranty...Sure it's been over 6 months, but it's got a year warranty on it... or does it??
I spoke to tech support at Samsung....He was going through his little repair script...Ok, lets clear the phone cache...Ok, lets check this setting and that... Finally I said, Ya know, I've done a wipe and a hard reset of this phone at least twice. A few weeks ago, it's firmware was upgraded to Android 4.3 . Still have the horrible echo. The tech even called the phone and confirmed the echo. Yup it's bad alright. Then he said..........

Call your provider for service. You mean, Samsung won't service the phone? No, talk to your provider. But I bought the phone on Ebay...New, with receipts, and I use Net10 as my provider. They didn't sell me the phone. I use the ATT Network with Net10, but ATT certainly isn't going to help me. He talked to his supervisor and that's all they would tell me.....Talk to your provider. Anything else we can help you with today? Thank you for choosing Samsung.

SO, I guess i should have purchased a warranty from Square Trade or similar. Square Trade claims they will cover your device even when the Manufacturer won't.
Ok....Next time.....
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on September 10, 2013
Its a very fast phone with a long lasting battery that has more adaptability than ive had with any other phone. to buy an OTB cable for this thing is almost a need, to be able to move stuff from flashdrives/cameras/etc to the device or anything else is amazing. i can even plug in a xbox 360 wired controller and play games.

On top of all that its the Active series, meaning its water resistant allowing to take it for runs in the rain and what not, then also its more durable, im a very active guy doing parkour and freerunning so its nice to have a phone that can hold its own, but then back to the side of me thats computer science having the processor to b able to keep up with speeds so i can control my desktop at home! AMazing product with amazonprime = two day shipping. best buy ever.
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on November 20, 2013
The phone it self I'ed great. It has more bells and whistles than I could hope for. The internal antenna however needs to be much stronger. My husband's phone is 3 years old and will pick up service when I have none.
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on December 9, 2013
I've raved about this phone since I bought it new at an AT&T store. For the first 4.5 months, everything was perfect. I was happy that my phone resisted water properly. Stories about water leaks with the S4 Active scared me at first. However, last week was the start of my one problem with this phone. I held it in my hand and to my surprise, one of the back cover tabs wasn't secured. I blamed myself for missing one tab and was lucky that the phone was nowhere near water. A couple of days later, the same thing happened. I found that same tab popped out so I popped it back in. Now this tab pops out every few hours. A trip to the AT&T store where I bought it didn't result with a new phone. Instead I was asked to call back the following week to see if they have any S4 Active returns and that they would just swap out the back covers. I was also encouraged to contact Samsung. That didn't go too well either. The support person I'm currently in contact with has no sympathy and immediately told me that the back cover is not covered by the warranty. This is the main part of the phone that keeps the water out of the batter and sim card compartment. If there is something wrong with it, shouldn't it be covered? I should also mention that the battery door has only been removed a few times since I bought the phone. The phone, outside of the back door issue, actually works well for me. I loved that it was at least water resistance in case the phone accidentally gets wet. I was excited when it was marketed as a waterproof phone as all our vacations usually are some sort of water. The phone has nice features and the performance is fine. Battery lasts a whole day, which is fine for me. Every now and then I would charge it during day to make sure I have enough power for the evening. I love the bigger screen compared to my old iPhone. I recommended this phone to everyone I met. But with this battery door issue is killing me. It would be fine if this is a standard S4 since a replacement door is easily available. But there's nowhere in the world right now to get a replacement back door for the S4 Active.

I would still recommend this phone to anyone looking for a good performing phone that could resist water in case of accidents. However, I strongly caution you to check those tabs frequently to make sure they are still clipped in. When those clips start to pop out, hope that there will be more replacement doors available because Samsung won't cover them.
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