Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Galaxy S4 Active – what’s the difference?
The number of devices in the Galaxy S4 family is growing, some of which have greater differences than others. In this comparison we take a look at the differences between the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the S4 Active.
Main differences at a glance:
- IP rating – The Active has Ian P67 rating for water and dust protection
- Hardware Design – Physical buttons and port covers on the Active
- Camera – The S4 has a better camera than the S4 Active
- Battery – Slight differences in power consumption
- Size & weight – The S4 is slimmer and lighter
- Price – The S4 is more expensive
Please note – Different models/variants of the each are released globally and would impact your decision. This comparison is based on the Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505 and the S4 Active GT-I9295 which are the most popular within the UK market.
Samsung Galaxy S4 v S4 Active Video Comparison
Galaxy S4 vs S4 Active spec comparison
Before you start reading, you may like to have a look at how the features of these two handsets compare to each other in our spec comparison table. Click the image below to see it in its full glory.
This is what really sets the 2 devices apart. As the S4 Active name implies, it is designed with the more active and adventurous in mind.
The Active has IP67 rating, meaning it can survive in water up to 1 metre deep for 30 minutes. So should you drop the phone whilst paddling by the sea, or in the kitchen sink then it will still work upon retrieval (providing it has not been submerged for longer).
With this comes a dustproof and ingression protection. Should you bury the S4 Active in the sand or cover it in sawdust, it is too protected.
Often devices with such resistance have less features or look less appealing, this is not the case with the S4 Active.
Whilst the standard S4 will have a degree of splash protection (don’t go testing) the S4 Active clearly more suitable for those who fear water damage to their handset. This could be an ideal phone for a plumber!
One caveat of the IP rating is the hardware design of the S4 Active, there have been a few changes when compared to the S4. They are relatively minor and when sat by side you can see that the 2 devices are from the same product line.
The Active has 3 physical buttons on the front of the device, not just the one home key of the S4. Samsung have done away with the capacitive menu and back keys on the S4 to ensure use under water with the S4 active.
In some respects this is a nice feature even if it wasn’t related to the IP rating as it gives a tactile feedback.
The microUSB port on the bottom of the device remains in the same position, but there is an easily removable rubber cover over it that needs to be closed when not connected to a cable to protect the internals of the device from the ingression of water or dust.
The headphone jack on the S4 active remains un-protected. Yes, drop the phone in water and the headphone socket gets wet, but this is ok! Samsung have treated this area so you can simply connect your headphones without the need to fiddle with port covers. This is a massive bonus and makes the device more practical.
There are two other small alterations and these affect the back of the device. The back cover is now slightly smaller and has a seal attached to it, which meets a seal inside the phone to protect the battery, SIM and microSD card from water.
The back of the device has a screw like fastening in each corner that are finished in brushed silver. It gives the Active an alternative and slightly tougher look.
The second biggest difference between the two devices over and above the IP rating.
The S4 Active has been downgraded to an 8 megapixel camera in comparison to the 13 on the S4.
However, the Active gains an Aqua Mode which uses the volume key as a shutter button and allows for enhanced under water image and video capture.
So if you like snorkelling and want to capture images of the fish and the coral then the Active is an ideal solution.
The following photos were taken on the S4 then on the S4 Active. You can see how the S4 takes a crisper and more detailed shot (click to enlarge).
Both devices has the same battery, but according to Samsung there are some differences in battery usage times (most likely because of the protection in place) all be it these vary considerably in real life usage.
The chart below is from Samsung’s UK website with the S4 listed in column 1 and the S4 Active in Column 2.
Size & Weight
One sacrifice for the IP rating is the size and weight of the S4 Active. It is now 21g heavier than the S4 at 151g compared to 130g.
The physical size as changed ever so slightly too:
S4 Active:139.7 x 71.3 x 9.1 mm
S4: 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm
At the time of writing the S4 is priced at £440 + VAT (£528 including) whilst the S4 Active is £405 + VAT (£486 including).
Ultimately there is little difference here, but for approximately £42 saving you get an IP67 rating but loose out on an extra 5 megapixels on the camera and gain a little extra weight.
Whether this is worth it for you is going to be a personal decision, but if protection from water is necessary then you are not sacrificing much on the original S4.
If you are a fairly careful user with limited exposure to water then it is probably worth going for the S4 on the basis of a better camera, slimmer and lighter profile.
Find out more about the Samsung Galaxy S4 HERE.
Find out more about the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active HERE.