Ah, the Galaxy S4 Active: it's like the regular Galaxy S4 but, you know, more rugged. It's actually not a truly rugged device, since it hasn't been built to meet military specifications, but it's certainly designed to stand up to slightly more abuse than its non-Active namesake. It is able to survive in up to a meter of water for 30 minutes and sensitive areas, like the micro-USB port on the bottom edge, are protected by rubber flaps. The beefed-up build adds some weight, about three-quarters of an ounce, and we actually find it quite welcome. Where many Samsung handsets can often feel cheap, plasticky and are lighter than they look, the S4 Active actually has a pleasant and natural heft to it. The weight makes the phone feel less fragile than the regular S4 and also delivers a better balance in the hand. We grabbed some hands-on time with it at Samsung's London event, so dive past the break for our impressions.
Samsung Galaxy S4 Active hands-onSee all photos
Guess what? It's very, very much like the Galaxy S4. We're not being flippant there; it would have been very easy for Samsung to use a bit of artistic license, and go ahead and cook up something "a bit like" the phone whose name it shares. In many ways, we might be tempted to say we actually prefer the GS4 Active. There are hardware buttons at the base, in place of the mono-button we've come to associate with the GS range. Flip this beast over and instead of unfettered plastic, you'll see rock-solid rivets. Not only that, the panel that contains said bits of metal adds a dash of color and variety to the back panel that adds some welcome spice. Despite being water- and dust-proof, the GS4 Active doesn't feel notably chunkier, or more cumbersome than the original Galaxy S4. Add this together, and you might argue that you've got the higher build quality that many have been asking for all along.
Much like the OG GS4, we're still impressed with the display, and can't wait to put it through the full review paces. It's not all the same, but tougher, though. The 8-megapixel camera is a drop down from the 13 that you may be used to with the original, but we can live with some compromises if it means we get to take those smaller shots under water!
James Trew contributed to this report.