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Review: Samsung Galaxy S6 Active one-ups all its competition

The Samsung Galaxy S6 Active is the phone you never knew you wanted.

While it doesn't have the looks, clean lines and thin and light physique of the Galaxy S6, the S6 Active makes up for it with a larger battery, drop and shock protection and waterproofing.

This basically allows users to be more adventurous with the device, as well as less concerned with the physical abuse our smartphones go through day-in-day-out.

The S6 Active has the exact same hardware and software specs as the S6, including a 5.1-inch Super AMOLED display, Exynos 7420 processor, 16-megapixel rear-facing camera, 5-megapixel front-facing camera, fast charging and improved version of TouchWiz. The S6 Active, however, only comes with 32GB of storage, which might not be enough for some users.

The primary difference between the two devices is easy to spot. The S6 Active doesn't have the beautiful glass-and-metal design the S6 does, instead favoring plastic and a thicker casing capable of protecting the device from drops. It's also nice that, when the phone is placed facedown, the S6 Active's screen isn't rubbing against whatever it's on, as is the case with the S6.

While Samsung (sadly) did away with being able to remove the battery from both devices, the S6 Active has a larger battery, which means longer battery life. The S6 Active's battery is nearly 1,000 mAh larger than the S6's, and that contributed to the impressive 12-hour life I was easily able to get out of the device. And that's with YouTube-ing, Instagram-ing, browsing, emailing, texting and every other "-ing" you can do with a phone.

Another physical change is the S6 Active loses the fingerprint scanner in favor of physical buttons (volume, power, lock, etc.) I don't mind physical buttons so this wasn't an issue for me. There's also an Active button, which is a shortcut button that is completely programmable to the user's desires.

Testing the waterproofing feature resulted in passed tests. I'm always apprehensive to test these kinds of features on a device that isn't mine, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do. The S6 Active is good in waters up to five feet for as long as 30 minutes.

There's one big software difference the S6 Active has over the S6: Activity Zone. All it does is give easier access to fitness apps and things like the flashlight. I'm whatever on this. I guess it's nice to have, but I just didn't use it much.

The S6 Active is an AT&T exclusive that is priced at $200 on-contract and nearly $700 off-contract (which is only $10-ish more than the S6).

The Samsung Galaxy S6 Active is a winner, and would be my choice if I had to choose between it and the S6. The S6 Active performs and takes photos just as well as the S6, but has added layers of durability and user-friendly additions (like the shortcut Active button), so what's not to like?

Richard Hall

Richard Hall is an award-winning newsroom developer, editor and blogger for NewsOK. He was born in Austin, Texas, spent his childhood in southern California and has lived in Norman since 1999. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2008. Read more ›