So for the past two years with the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the Samsung Galaxy S5, Samsung has partnered with AT&T to create a more rugged and durable variant of its regular flagship phone. And this year’s no different we have the Galaxy S6 Active, the third generation of the Active line. And when compared to the stock Galaxy s6, they have a lot in common.
Both have the same internals, the Exynos 7420 Octa core CPU, 3GBs of RAM, the same beautiful 2560x 1440 5.1 inch Super AMOLED Quad HD display with Corning Gorilla Glass 4, the cameras are the same etc… but there are still several major differences setting this apart from the stock s6 and most notably the hardware. So the Active is meant to be a very rugged phone for active people outdoors built to withstand the elements. It’s got IP68 certification which means it’s water resistant and submersible up to 1.5 meters of water for up to 30 minutes. And it can accomplish all of that without the port covers we saw in last year’s Galaxy S5. It’s also shock resistant when dropped onto a flat surface less than or equal to 4 feet. The S6 active also meets U.S. Mil-STD-810G for water-resistance and to withstand dust, shock, vibration, temperature extremes, humidity, and high altitude. So this phone is really armed to the teeth and very outdoor friendly because you don’t need a case to protect it and you don’t really have to worry about it too much. The exact opposite of the regular S6 with its fragile glass. And I really do enjoy some of the hardware features such as these little ridges on the sides of the phone and also the rubberized plastic back all of which help with grip so the device won’t slide and slip in your hands. This camo design on the back of our camo blue review unit looks adventurous as well and it’s unique so I like it. This phone doesn’t have the most premium quality in the world when compared to the obviously more beautiful stock S6 but it doesn’t feel cheap either. It feels solid in the hand and it feels like a high end phone. You get your typical buttons such as the power and volume buttons and they’re very high quality and they’re textured too making it easy to find the controls. But here we get the addition of this blue Active key. And this key by default launches the Activity Zone unique to the Active and from here you can see and launch a number of adventure-related apps. We have the weather, a barometer, S Health, a compass, integration with Samsung’s Milk music streaming service as well as a flashlight toggle and stop watch. So I guess this this is a one stop shop for all of your needs. But the beauty of this key is that you can customize it to open apps of your choice. So for a short press you can change it to launch any of the apps you’ve downloaded and I’ll just pick Chrome to demonstrate. For a long press let’s set it to open the settings. So for short press, we get Chrome and a long press we get the settings. So very nifty and useful as well. The microUSB port for charging and syncing is at the next to the microphone. Here you have a sim tray that you can just pull without needing a sim ejector it’s a nano SIM. But unfortunately there’s no microSD expansion, the only storage option available is 32gbs 24 of which is available to the user. At the top you get your microphone, IR blaster and the 3.5 millimeter headphone jack. On the back, we have our speakers which sound okay but definitely not the best location for a speaker. You have your AT&T branding and the Galaxy logo. You get your 16MP rear shooter along with the LED flash and a heart rate sensor. On the front you get your LED notification light, earpiece, proximity and gesture sensors and also the 5MP front facing camera. Instead of on screen buttons we get physical buttons here which is rare to see but for such a rugged phone having physical buttons make a lot of sense because if physical buttons are more reliable than touch buttons during extreme situations. Personally I think physical buttons are great since they don’t use up the screen real-estate and you get perks like double clicking the home button to launch the camera and also wake the screen with a simple press and the multi tasking, home, and back buttons are all very tactile but unfortunately it’s lacking the fingerprint scanner unlike it’s sibling. The software experience is exactly what would from a Samsung device. The good old TouchWiz interface runs a lot better and delivers a smoother experience compared to previous Samsung phones. Features like dual window works as well as ever. And new additions such as the theme store enables you to install themes that change the look and feel of the entire software experience. Though Samsung has dramatically decreased its number of pre-installed apps, there is no shortage of software value adds from AT&T. Unfortunately the Active is still stuck Android 5.0.2 so hopefully AT&T can update it to the newer version soon. And speaking of updates, with the S6 Active being a unique model specific to a single carrier, the odds that it will get a timely update to the next version of Android are pretty low, if they come at all. The display is excellent with rich colors as you would expect from an AMOLED panel, it can get very bright but it can also become very dim and having the ability to switch between various screen modes is a big plus. Performance on the Active should be about the same as its sibling even though benchmarks say otherwise with the Active scoring a couple hundred points higher than the regular S6. Regardless, the Active has handled everything I’ve thrown at it well whether it’s navigating the UI, opening and closing apps, intensive gaming, video streaming or web browsing. The Active run it all like a champ without a problem. The performance is solid and so far I have experienced no lag or sluggishness and let’s hope it can stay that way. There is only one word to express the Active’s camera – beautiful. Shots are rich with color accuracy and saturation and the pictures taken look fantastic. The camera has a is nicely laid out with a wealth of shooting modes for you to enjoy and having the ability to record 4K video as well as 1080p video at 60 frames per second is awesome. So yeah the camera of the S6 Active is definitely without a doubt, one of the best. The Galaxy S6 Active has a 3500 mAh non-removable battery which is a good thing since it prevents water intrusion. And the battery life is quite good I’ve consistently been able to get 5 and a half hours of screen on time so the Active can definitely last you through an entire even with heavy use. The built-in wireless charging capability makes it simple to refuel and the included fast charger also helps to quickly recharge. If conditions get really you can turn on ultra power saving mode at 10% and still get up to 24 hours talk and text. Lastly, call quality on the Big Orange is solid. I can clearly hear the other person and the other person can hear me clearly as well. Though the call quality could be better with AT&T HD voice but it’s not yet available in my area. Data speeds on AT&T’s 4G LTE network is also quite good since I can get LTE reception even indoors. The speeds are okay indoors but the data speed drastically improves outdoors. So overall if you’re looking for a phone that you can bring on outdoor adventures, look no further than Galaxy S6 Active because it should be on the top of your list. It’s got all the flagship specifications you would come to expect, an excellent camera and the best of all the rugged, durable hardware with its IP 68 certification. You won’t be disappointed with a phone as good as this. The S6 Active is available only on AT&T in store and online. You can get this for $199 with a two year contract, $695 off contract or lease the phone through AT&T Next, the carrier’s early upgrade program. Thank you for watching. Let me know what you think about the Samsung Galaxy S6 Active. Would you buy it? I’d love to hear from in the comments.