Samsung Galaxy S6 Active review

Samsung's best Android phone – only harder to break

Samsung Galaxy S6 Active review
Samsung Galaxy S6 Active review

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Thrillseekers will love the Samsung Galaxy S6 Active not only because it stands up to life's tumbles, but it takes gorgeous, color-rich photos at a moment's notice.

Its 16-megapixel (MP) rear camera, ported over from the standard Galaxy S6, snaps large pictures with 2,988 x 5,312 pixels. The quick launch method of double tapping the home button brings up the default camera app in a jiffy and the autofocus is fast and accurate.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Active review

The S6 Active camera is identical to the amazing S6 camera

Samsung has refined its camera software to be the right balance of showing less clutter, yet still remaining feature-packed. You can hide the flash toggle, timer, HDR toggle and, these days, meaningless effects grid.

Auto mode is on by default and works 99% of the time, but a more intricate Pro Mode offers full controls over exposure, ISO, white balance, focal length and color tone. There are three slots in which you can save your favorite custom settings.

This is as close as you're going to get to DSLR settings on an Android phone, with the LG G4 offering a comparable manual mode. Also fun to toy around with are Panorama mode, a 3D-like Virtual Shot mode and Select Focus mode, which returns from the Samsung Galaxy S5 to let you change the focus after a shot is taken.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Active review

Samsung has specialized in selfies this camera generation with an upgraded 5MP camera and better software. I got a lot of use out of its Wide Selfie mode, which let me pan multiple people so that I could get a proper group shot. It's stitching works – most of the time. Interval Shot mode works the same magic by snapping a bunch of shots. Maybe one of the dozen will actually catch me not blinking.

Underwater photos and video quality

The Samsung Galaxy S6 Active camera shoots equally impressive video, resulting in 2160p footage at 30 frames per second (fps), 1080p video at 60fps and 720p slow motion video at 120fps. There's also a fast-motion video mode that just speeds up the footage with Hyperlapse-like results.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Active review

Underwater shots require snapping photos with the volume rocker

All of this is perfect for underwater video and photos, a unique feature of the Samsung Galaxy S6 Active. Dipping it in the pool, I didn't have a problem snapping photos or recording videos.

I couldn't always swipe between menus while underwater, but everything else worked, including the physical volume buttons that turn into camera shutter shortcuts when the camera app is open.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Active review

Underwater video came out clear and didn't harm the phone

Bright, color saturated and highly detailed HD photos and videos make the normal Galaxy S6 the best camera phone to own right now, and for some people the waterproofing design makes the Galaxy S6 Active even better.

Matt Swider