Hereís my Samsung Galaxy S5 Active review. Since Iíve already reviewing the GS5 and *spoiler alert* itís basically the GS5 with more plastic on it. Iím not going to go as in-depth with the Active. Itís more a comparison of the Active with the regular GS5. Since the GS5 Active is the ďActiveĒ, does that make the regular GS5 the ďGalaxy S5 Couch PotatoĒ?.
What about the Samsung Galaxy S5?
The Active is the ruggedized version of the GS5. Make sure you check out our GS5 review
If it were a car, you could think of it as an off-road version of an existing car.
Itís been raised, has taller tires, 4 wheel drive and thicker, more rugged looking plastic on the body.
While you canít put taller tires and 4wd on a GS5 (not really anyways), the Active is clad with more plastic.
The corners have been reinforced with extra padding plus their more rounded. This helps to dissipate energy when you drop it and it lands on a corner but it also makes it a little thicker and increases the GS5 Activeís footprint albeit only slightly.
I like how there is a lip that extends around the screen which makes the screen slightly recessed. That should help protect the screen when you drop it accidentally.
On the back, the battery cover has been reinforced with beefier latches which makes it harder to remove.
It's also smaller and doesnít extend to the edges. These changes make the cover less likely to fly off when you drop it.
The cover on the charger has a deeper, gasket. Itís easier to pull off compared to the GS5ís because the part where you stick your fingernail in to pop it out is on the top and bottom instead of on the side.
In front, the menu buttons are all actual physical buttons which you can press.
You also get an extra button on the left side of the phone which you can map to your favorite application. It can differentiate between short and long presses. By default, short pressing it brings up Samsungís Activity Zone app while a long press launches the push-to-talk app.
I also noticed the finishes on the phone are hardier and arenít glossy so that theyíre more resistant to scratches.
When you squeeze and twist the Active youíll find that it flexes less too so it appears to have a reinforced frame.
The amount of padding and bracing seems to be a trade off between making the Active more durable without making it too heavy and bulky - it is unquestionably going to be more durable than a regular GS5 but itís not as idiot proof as a Sonim XP7.
It probably wonít show as much damage like a GS5 would when you drop it but it will likely show some.
You gain a lot of ruggedness but do you have to give up anything?
Most noticeably, you give up the fingerprint reader. As a GS5 owner I can honestly say that the fingerprint reader is a great feature. While itís not as convenient to use as Appleís TouchID, itís still easy enough to use.
You also lose the GS5ís USB 3.0 port but from my experience, this is actually a good thing. Iíve noticed that the GS5/Note 3ís USB 3.0 port isnít really any faster than a good USB 2.0 port (like the HTC One M8 or Note 4) plus a USB 3.0 port is harder to plug in at night.
Other then that, I donít see much difference between the 2 phones.
The added padding doesnít really change how you use the GS5 Active. In fact, Iíd argue that the extra thickness and rougher surfaces makes it a little easier to hold and use since the regular GS5 is a bit thin for my taste.
Otherwise, the screen appears to be identical as is the camera, battery, processor, etc.
I suppose as the flagship device, the GS5 might receive firmware updates for a longer period of time but that is purely speculation. Consider this, 2.5 years ago Samsung brought out the Galaxy S III. At around the same time they also brought out the Galaxy Rugby LTE which was similar to the S III. The GSIII is currently running Android 4.4 while the Rugby LTE only has 4.0. Then again, compared to the Rugby LTE, the Active is not as rugged and I think of it as being more of a mainstream device so the chances of it receiving updates is greater.
As far as pricing goes, the Active is $250 on a 2 year contract on all 3 carriers. The off-contract pricing is $700 on Bell, $730 on Rogers and $750 on TELUS.
On contract, the regular GS5 is $200 and is sometimes discounted.
In the US, both have been on the market for about the same amount of time and while on AT&T the Active costs $10 more than the regular, they both cost the same on contract.