galaxy-s5-active-018Think of the Samsung Galaxy S5 Active (released May 2014, listed at $659 without contract by AT&T) as a stronger, tougher cousin of the Galaxy S5 (released April 2014). The Galaxy S5 Active dropped its predecessor S5’s fingerprint sensor, a security feature to augment the usual password protection. The effectiveness of the current fingerprint technology deployed by smartphone makers is debatable. (See “Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone fingerprint sensor hacked,” The Guardian, April 16, 2014.) For most people, the thought of their fingerprint data falling into the wrong hands is probably worse than a stolen password. So I suspect not too many people will be up in arms over the loss of the fingerprint swipe in the S5 Active. Ruggedness and sturdiness, on the other hand, is a desirable trait for smartphones, because we now bring our devices along to record once-in-a-lifetime events, sometimes in less-than-ideal environments. With the S5 Active, Samsung attempts to tackle what has long been the Achilles’ Heel of mobile electronics—the vulnerability that comes with their compactness.


From the Galaxy S5 Active’s home page, Samsung taunts you to do what you might normally not do while carrying a phone: “Run in the rain, camp in the desert, dig in your garden.” This is a phone designed to meet IP67, an Ingress Protection standard set by the International Electromechanical Commission. It has also passed MIL-STA-810G, a subset of the military standard for ruggedness as established by the U.S. Military. So you should reasonably expect the device to survive the stresses and bruises of urban adventures and outdoor activities.

I’m no Indiana Jones, and certainly don’t plan to travel to Syria or Iraq to test the Active S5’s combat readiness (even if Ubergizmo pays for the trip). But I can mimic the activities of an urban warrior by jogging around Golden Gate Park with the test unit, dropping it to the ground, and exposing it to dirt and water. Day to day, I’m a normal phone user with perhaps more than average travel (part of being a tech writer). I use the phone primarily to stay in touch with friends on social media and colleagues on email. I use it to watch a movie or read news on long flights. For someone like me, the ruggedness is nice to have, but not a necessity. For those who routinely go river-rafting, head into the wood to hunt, or scale a rocky cliff for fun, it’s an attractive feature—perhaps even critical.

Filed in Cellphones >Reviews. Read more about Galaxy S5 Active, Samsung and Samsung Reviews.

432 PPI
~$200 - Amazon
16 MP
F2.2 Aperture F-Stop
170.1 g
2800 mAh
No Wireless Charg.
Launched in
Snapdragon 801 + MicroSD
Storage (GB)
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