Samsung made its bulging line of Galaxy S4 variants doubly official tonight in London, finally showing off the tasty-looking Galaxy S4 Active. We had a little play with it to see what all the fuss was about.
Immediately you lay hands on the S4 Active you realise this is how the original S4 should have been. It's so much more solid it makes the standard edition feel like a cheap plastic toy, in exactly the same way the build quality of the beautiful HTC One does. In fact, the phone barely creaks when put to a twisting torture test, which really makes it ooze quality.
The Active is actually marginally thicker and taller than the S4, but not so much that it's an issue -- it's still more than thin enough to slip right into your skinny-jeans pocket without any problems. The whole phone has a rugged industrial quality to it, which is both good looking and a bit different from most of the other glass slabs, all the while the textured polycarbonate provides a reassuring grip in the hand. Physical Android buttons replace the capacitive touch ones on the front of the phone too -- which depress with a solid and satisfying click -- and have a slight texture to them that'll make finding the suckers in the dark or in your pocket so much easier.
The screen, although LCD here rather than AMOLED, looked as vibrant and super-saturated as ever. In fact, apart from an 8MP camera (compared to the 13MP monster on its less-than-rugged brother), the rest of the guts of the device remain the same. You've still got that zippy Snapdragon 600 quad-core CPU clocked at 1.9GHz, which makes it the fastest Android phone on the block right now. Unfortunately that means TouchWiz is ever-present -- this is no Google Edition device, sadly -- but at least the screen is as responsive and lag free as ever.
Frankly, this is the design and build-quality direction Samsung should have taken with the original Galaxy S4 from the off, and definitely the one I would buy if given a choice. It's just a shame Samsung's not going to release this thing in that gorgeous red colour that got leaked a while back. We'll be stuck with black, white and orange launching on June 29th in the UK.
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