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It's the same as a regular Galaxy S4 with a few differences.
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.
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.
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.