Samsung unveils the rugged Galaxy S4 Active

Following the Galaxy S4 Mini, on Wednesday, South Korean manufacturer Samsung introduced a new smartphone in its high-end Android lineup. Called the Galaxy S4 Active, the handset sports similar hardware specifications to the company's current green droid flagship -- the Galaxy S4 -- but in a more rugged packaging.

"The Galaxy S4 Active is the newest addition to the Galaxy series and is purposefully designed for active users who love the outdoors", says Samsung CEO JK Shin. "Samsung has taken the innovative features of the Galaxy S4 and added breakthrough protective design elements to create a device that thrives in an active environment and is built for a lifestyle of travel and exploration".

The latest member of the upscale Android lineup, unlike the mundane Galaxy S4 Mini, does not skimp on high-end hardware. The Galaxy S4 Active features a 5-inch LCD display with a resolution of 1080 by 1920 and a 443 ppi (pixels per inch) density. The screen can be operated using gloves, similar to other high-end smartphones like the Nokia Lumia 920.

It is worth noting that, with the rugged smartphone, Samsung opts for an LCD panel instead of an AMOLED unit, like on the Galaxy S4. Based on my experience, the company's decision is most likely influenced by the poor outdoor visibility which plagues the AMOLED display on the Galaxy S4. Samsung also uses physical buttons, instead of capacitive ones, due to their ability to work in harsh conditions.

The Galaxy S4 Active is powered by a 1.9 GHz quad-core processor, 2 GB of RAM and a 2,600 mAh battery. This configuration is similar to the one found in the Galaxy S4, suggesting that the South Korean manufacturer uses the same processor -- the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 -- in the former model as well.

Where the two smartphones also differ is in the camera department. The Galaxy S4 Active comes with an 8 MP back-facing shooter, compared to the Galaxy S4's 13 MP unit, which can take stills and record videos underwater. Both devices feature a 2 MP camera on the front.

The rugged smartphone can also be used to listen to music underwater (with a set of earbuds or headphones) due to its water-resistant headphone jack. According to Samsung, the Galaxy S4 Active is IP67-certified for dust and waterproofing and can be submerged for up to 30 minutes underwater at a shallow depth of one meter.

Other specifications include: 4G LTE and HSPA+ cellular connectivity; Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac; Infrared; Bluetooth 4.0; NFC (Near Field Communication); USB 2.0 and the standard array of sensors.

The Galaxy S4 Active comes with 16 GB of internal storage and a microSD card slot (which can accommodate memory cards up to 64 GB in size). Interestingly enough, Samsung specifically mentions the internal user-accessible capacity -- 11.25 GB -- likely to clear the air before the smartphone officially goes on sale. By contrast, the Galaxy S4 arrives with roughly 9.2 GB of free storage out-of-the-box.

The smartphone runs Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean and features the usual Samsung-branded apps including ChatOn, Hub, Group Play, S Health, Story Album and WatchON among others.

The Galaxy S4 Active comes in at 139.7 x 71.3 x 9.1 mm and 151 grams. By comparison, the Galaxy S4 is slightly shorter, narrower, thinner and lighter, measuring 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm and weighing in at 130 grams.

Available color options include Urban Grey, Dive Blue and Orange Flare. The Galaxy S4 Active will be available starting this summer, with the US and Sweden receiving the smartphone first.

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