A Rugged Flagship Level Phone
I purchased the Samsung Galaxy S6 Active at the beginning of 2016. I had been using the LG G4 previous to that, and really didn’t like it. The shape and size just did not fit into my comfort zone. It was a great phone, but just wasn’t for me.
So when my wife and I came due for upgrades we both picked the Active. Not for any real particular reason other than the fact it is already “ruggedized” to handle the everyday life we throw at it. We have two small children who have been known to find our phones and treat them, not so gently.
The S6 active is now on model behind the current, the good news is that you can get a phone that still has top level specs for about half of what the 7s cost. The hardening of this phone is not just for show, it can take more of a beating than the standard Galaxy and still keep working. Except for one exception.
I am careful with my devices, I sit at a desk all day for work, so my phone is not exposed to really hard environments. My wife on the other hand uses her phone as her primary computing/camera/communications/entertain the kids device. It is exposed to much more. One day while she was attempting to take a picture of our newly installed raised garden bed, she dropped the phone from about two inches on to the cinder blocks we used as a border. The screen shattered. The body of the phone was fine, but the screen took the brunt of the perfect fall angle. It was a huge pain to get the screen repaired since it is not a super popular phone model. The repair shop had to special order the replacement screen. It took four replacements before the screen repair took.
That aside my phone, and her’s after the repair have been great. I never notice a slow down when I have multiple tabs open in Chrome or when I have a couple of apps running. It snaps apps quickly to the forefront and doesn’t hesitate when multitasking.
One thing I have found that is annoying is the feature that turns the screen off when you are in a call and you are holding the phone next to your face. Sometimes I have to listen, then hold the phone down to enter something on the keypad (think calling your bank) and then put it back to my ear. Once in awhile the screen will just flash, I have to shake the phone around to wake the screen up. It is easier to just use the speakerphone for these tasks, but sometimes that is not an option.
Speaking of the screen, colors are bright and unless you are using the phone in direct sunlight it is easy to see. The screen repels fingerprints well and the body of the phone doesn’t show them at all. Voice call volume is loud and so is the speaker. I was surprised at first how loud the built in speaker is for playing music. It easily fills a small room with great sound.
The camera supports HDR pictures and HD video. The colors in the pictures are good and true to life. I have been able to pull some great shots with it.
It does struggle a little when you zoom, as it is a digital zoom so pictures get a little noisy.
The Active does not have a spot for expandable storage. It does have 32gb on board and I have yet to fill it. I do not take a bunch of pictures on my phone or have a lot of apps and media, so your mileage may very. For my uses 32gb has proven to be more than enough.
You also cannot remove the battery, this could be an issue for the all day, out of the office, road warrior. I am usually not far from an outlet so charging when I need is not an issue. The Active also comes with a speed charger, plug it in and you can get hours of battery life back in just a few minutes. I would say from completely dead to full is about an hour. From 30% to 80% in about 20 minutes. Again that is only with Samsung’s smart charger wall wort. Standard micro-USB chargers work, but it is slower.
So the phone is water and dust proof, to a point, I wouldn’t take it swimming but it should survive an accidental dunking. The design is comfortable to hold and is easy to operate one handed. I also like the physical buttons on the chin of the phone. That makes it much easier to use when the phone is in the armband case when I go running.
If you are looking for a great deal on a rugged but good looking phone, the Galaxy S6 Active is a great choice.