Product Review: Samsung Galaxy S5 Active

Samsung has a brand new addition to its Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone. The newest incarnation is called the Samsung Galaxy S5 Active.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Active

Now what?

I won’t spend time rehashing all of the fancy features of the S5. The S5 Active is a little taller, bulkier than the original.

S5 v Active

So if you’re not a fan of bulky phones, and this one tops the list, you should avoid the S5 Active.

The S5 Active also doesn’t have a fingerprint scanner, which was one of coolest features of the Galaxy S5.

S5 Active front

You can also see that the Active includes three physical buttons down on the lower portion of the phone. I don’t normally applaud physical buttons, though after using this device, I’m okay with keeping the physical buttons.

The real hype is the “active”

But basically, the biggest difference between the original S5 and the S5 Active, is that the Active is geared toward “active” users, meaning folks who want to pretend to use their phones outdoors.

In fact, the S5 Active has a couple of fine programs and built-in features to enhance the active aspect. These are the S5 Active’s “Activity Zone” apps.

Activity Zone

 

The Activity Zone features a compass, barometer, flashlight (which can flash Morse Code), and a stopwatch. The least useful for me was the stopwatch because I used this device with the Gear 2.

Barometer

Activity Zone Menu

 

There’s a little blue button on the side of the phone that activates these programs.

S5 Active button

The button’s convenient, but it doesn’t work if the screen’s off. That makes sense, since when the phone’s sitting in your pocket you could easily bump the button and continually active the apps.

Rugged design

Similar to its brother, the S5 Active has a stellar camera. The edges of the phone have a black bumper that’s supposed to add some anti-shock security to the phone.

S5 Active BumperThe phone also has a semi-sealed back, which enhances the waterproof (resistance) of the phone. I didn’t test the waterproof aspects of the Galaxy S5 or the Galaxy S5 Active, but there are good videos that highlight these factors.

Is it worth it in the end?

Whether you want to spend a bit extra (about $10) — $649 or $199 on contract — is up to you. I suspect that most people won’t take full advantage of the S5 Active’s features, which means you’re probably okay with the Samsung Galaxy S5. Additionally, because the S5 Active is slightly bigger than its brother, smaller hands might loathe this phone.

I found that the Active has great speakerphone quality, as compared to my Nexus 5. The crisper clarity is especially useful in vehicles on a highway.

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Jeff Taylor

I’m just an ordinary guy living an extraordinary life. I’m also an attorney and I blog about Android for lawyers. You can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google+.