Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review

Like the normal S4 - but much more satisfying

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The Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is a high-end smartphone and therefore it's capable of all manner of text based communications from SMS and emails to social media and IM.

At the most basic level is the text messaging client which has been given just a minor spruce up by Samsung's TouchWiz UI, with the inclusion of profile pictures on the main page and in the message stream.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review

If you've used an Android phone before then you'll be more than familiar with the layout and workings, and even if you haven't it's a simple, intuitive app which is easy to get your head around.

A nice feature in the message stream is the ability to increase and decrease the font size using the volume rocker switch on the left of the Galaxy S4 Active, perfect for anyone with poorer eyesight or seeing a whole message on screen at once.

As we've mentioned already in this S4 Active review, you can quickly call or message a contact from the main text messaging screen - a quick swipe left or right over a contact's name will see the Galaxy S4 Active jump you to the dialler or message reply screen.

When it comes to email the Galaxy S4 Active has inherited the reworked client found on the Galaxy S4, which will be music to the ears of any Galaxy S3 or Galaxy S2 owners out there who will have experienced a torrid time with the offering on those handsets.

You can add as many email accounts to the client as you wish and it gives you the option, in the slide out menu on the left, to view all your messages in a combined inbox or on a per-account basis.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review

We found it easy to use and with a helpful set-up wizard for the major email accounts you shouldn't have too much trouble getting started on the Galaxy S4 Active.

There's another email app in the form of Gmail on the S4 Active too, which as you may have guessed gives you access to your Google email and nothing else.

Google has reworked the Gmail app over recent years and it's now an attractive and relatively easy to use offering which provides enough functionality for you never to require the other email app if you want to stick solely with your Gmail account.

Social networks are big business these days and the two core offerings - Facebook and Twitter - see their official applications pre-loaded onto the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active.

This allows you to get straight into the action without having to go via the Play store first, and there's plenty of sharing options throughout the TouchWiz interface allowing you to post content to both networks with the touch of a button.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review

Samsung has also included its own instant messaging platform on the Galaxy S4 Active in the form of the ChatOn app - its attempt to take a chunk of the market away from the likes of WhatsApp, iMessage and BBM.

While the app itself is well appointed and straight forward to use the reality is very few people actually use it and you'll struggle to pool together even a small number of friends who are signed up to it and, more importantly, actually use it.

This makes ChatOn's inclusion a little redundant in our eyes and you'll probably banish it from the homescreen pretty soon into your S4 Active ownership.

Of course all this messaging capability is nothing without an input method and the stock keyboard on the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active isn't a bad offering.

The S4 Active ditches the stock Android option in favour of a slightly tweaked TouchWiz version which sees a row of numbers added on top of the normal QWERTY layout - made possible by the additional real estate afforded to you by the 5-inch display.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review

Travel between keys is acceptable and the screen was responsive to our various pokes and prods, although we found the accuracy and next word prediction engine not quite as sharp as SwiftKey's.

The extra girth on the S4 Active means it's a little trickier to hold for one handed for typing, and we found ourselves having to employ both mitts in order to get up a decent typing speed.

If you're not a fan of tapping the screen and prefer the swiping gesture then the "continuous input" option in the S4 Active's keyboard settings menu will be welcome relief, allowing you to slide your digits between characters to create words on screen.

For anyone who hasn't used this method of text input before it can feel rather unnatural, but if you're prepared to put in some decent practice you can type very quickly one handed.

It's certainly not the worst mobile keyboard we've come across, but if you're someone who does a lot of typing then we'd still recommend downloading a third party alternative from Google Play, with our top pick being the aforementioned SwiftKey.

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
Wireless LANYes
Contract TypeSIM-free
Maximum Memory Card Size Supported64 GB
Built-in Memory16 GB
Built-in FlashYes
Memory Card SlotYes
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyGPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA, HSPA+
SAR Value0.26 W/kg
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationYes
Integrated TV TunerNo
Product FamilyGalaxy S4 Active
Cellular Generation4G
Cellular Network SupportedGSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA 850, WCDMA 900, WCDMA 1900, WCDMA 2100, LTE 800, LTE 850, LTE 900, LTE 1800, LTE 2100, LTE 2600
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution8 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraYes
Memory Card SupportedmicroSD
Phone StyleBar
Operating SystemAndroid
Brand NameSamsung
Battery Talk Time15 Hour
Product ModelGT-I9295
Screen Size12.7 cm (5")
Screen Resolution1920 x 1080
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)153 g
Processor CoreQuad-core (4 Core)
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Processor ManufacturerQualcomm
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 4.0
Operating System VersionAndroid 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email, Instant Messaging
USB StandardUSB 2.0
Pixel Density441 ppi
Front Camera Resolution2 Megapixel
Height139.7 mm
Width71.3 mm
Depth9.1 mm
Radio TunerNo
Battery Standby Time320 Hour
Product NameGalaxy S4 Active GT-I9295 Smartphone
Processor Speed1.90 GHz
Processor TypeSnapdragon 600
Product LineGalaxy S4 Active
Screen TypeLCD
Sensor TypeAccelerometer, Gyro Sensor, Ambient Light Sensor, Barometer, Proximity Sensor
Manufacturer Part NumberGT-I9295ZAAXEF
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information

Robust companion for outdoor activities

Now you don't have to worry when using your phone on the beach or out on your mountain bike. You can capture these moments and more, and even share them with friends instantly. The Galaxy S4 Active's protection from liquid splashes and completely dustproof design lets you jump into any situation without hesitation. Start your active life with the perfect companion.

Capture your underwater story instantly.

Take your phone under the surface and capture a different world. With the Galaxy S4 Active, you can shoot and record underwater. New Aqua Mode allows you to capture your underwater adventures with optimised clarity. Instead of using the touchscreen, just push a volume key to snap an aquatic shot. The Galaxy S4 Active lets you dive in and capture all of your underwater moments with no hassle.

Limited Warranty2 Year