Every year, for the last four years, Samsung has released a tougher and more rugged version of its flagship Galaxy S phone — and this year’s no different. Samsung’s new Galaxy S8 Active is the S8’s more durable cousin.
Like all previous Active phones, the S8 Active is for people who hate coddling their devices. The phone’s marquee feature, however, is not how rugged it is, but its huge, long-lasting battery.
Available exclusively on AT&T again for $28.34 monthly installments paid over 30 months through the carriers Next service plan, the S8 Active takes everything that makes the S8 great and wraps it in an extra layer of protection. Pre-orders start Monday and the phone comes out on Aug. 11.
Samsung says the S8 Active’s made of military-grade materials, and in addition to water and dust-resistance, it’s got a metal frame and bumper that helps with absorbing shock and shielding against abrasions.
The lack of physical navigation buttons below the screen is notably different with the S8 Active’s design compared to previous phones in the family. Because the Active line is made for the outdoors it’s always had physical buttons instead of touch-sensitive capacitive ones so that people who are wearing gloves or have fingers that are dirty or wet can still press them. Also missing is a programmable “Action key” button, which lets you launch an app or action to it.
There is a ‘ button like on the S8, but considering how behind it is compared to Google’s Assistant or Siri, the button might as well not be there.
The phone’s still got a 5.8-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED display, but it loses the curved edges that make the S8 and S8+ so sleek. That said, the screen’s shatter-resistant so it should be able to withstand some serious drops just like Motorola’s Moto Z2 Force. Just don’t expect any kind of serious scratch-resistance, though.
Underneath the hood, you’ll find the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage with microSD card slot.
The 12-megapixel f/1.7 rear camera and 8-megapixel f/1.7 selfie camera are unchanged. The fingerprint sensor is also in the same location: on the back next to the camera.
The S8 Active looks like it has all the right stuff. But as I mentioned earlier, it’s biggest feature (literally) is its giant 4,000 mAh battery. It’s the same capacity as last year’s S7 Active and significantly larger than the S8 and S8+, which have conservative 3,000 mAh and 3,500 mAh batteries, respectively. Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 reportedly won’t even have as big of a battery (rumors say it’ll only have 3,300 mAh).
Battery life has always been one of the Active phones’ best features, and that won’t be changing anytime soon. If you don’t mind a thicker, bulkier phone all for a bigger battery that could probably last two full days, the S8 Active seems like a good choice. It’s just too bad it’s exclusive to AT&T again. Maybe you can hunt down an unlocked version if Samsung ever makes one.