The Samsung Galaxy S5 Active ships in a white/orange box with AT&T branding. Inside you will find the smartphone, stereo headphones, USB cable, charger, as well as a couple of booklets.
The AT&T retail package • the EU package
Overall, the handset has you covered in terms of extra accessories. This is hardly a surprise considering its stature in both Samsung's and AT&T's product lineup.
Design, build quality, handling
Design-wise, the Samsung Galaxy S5 Active follows the same path as its predecessor. The handset looks like a tougher version of the corresponding flagship - despite the extra armor it is undeniably a member of the Samsung Galaxy S family.
Typical Samsung design with added armor
To make its ruggedness even more prominent, the smartphone is available in eye-popping color schemes. They include Ruby Red, Titanium Gray, and Camo Green like our test unit. We found the latter to be a great conversation starter, though, we reckon, it will certainly not appeal to everyone.
Samsung Galaxy S5 Active for Europe
One downside of the newcomer's design that we found is the overwhelming mix of different textures throughout its body. While we do understand the necessity of extra protection, we reckon that some uniformity would have been welcome by many.
Build quality of the Samsung Galaxy S5 Active is exceptional. The smartphone is literally built like a tank (it kinda looks like it belongs in one too in Camo Green). Thanks to its construction, IP67 and MIL-STD-810G ratings, the handset is part of the small club of devices which can be used comfortably without a protective case.
The physical measures of the S5 Active are 145.3 x 73.4 x 8.9mm, at a weight of 170.1 grams. Unsurprisingly, the Active is thicker and heavier than the regular S5 (8.1mm and 145 grams). However, considering the added layers of protection, we believe the extra bulk is well worth it.
Galaxy S5 Active sized up against the regular S5
Handling the Samsung Galaxy S5 Active is a pleasant experience. The handset is one of the grippiest we've encountered in a long time. Every surface save for the display has a pleasant texture to it, so accidental drops are extremely unlikely. But even if you do let it slip off your grasp, there'll be no damage done.
Handling the Galaxy S5 Active for Europe
The handset has one major handling advantage over its regular sibling. Its hardware back and recent apps buttons cannot be pressed accidentally like the capacitive ones of the SM-G900.
The Samsung Galaxy S5 Active features the same 5.1" FullHD Super AMOLED display as the regular version. Its pixel density is 432ppi.
The display of the Samsung Galaxy S5 Active
Cinema mode offers true to life colors that were thought impossible on AMOLED. The Galaxy S5 Active's display really makes the "LCD offers more natural colors" argument useless. And, as usual, Samsung offers more saturated screen modes if you prefer your images punchy rather than accurate.
It's true that unlike most of its competitors, the display still employs a PenTile matrix, rather than a conventional RGB, but the diamond arrangement makes sure that results in no visible artifacts and, with pixel densities north of 400ppi, you can't take away points for sharpness either. You can only spot differences if you compare two panels side by side and look from so close that your eyes hurt, which is hardly ever going to be the case.
The brightness levels of the Samsung Galaxy S5 Active are slightly lower than on the regular Galaxy S5, though on par with the previous generation Galaxy S4. However, due to their low reflectivity, this doesn't affect outdoor performance. Keep in mind that enabling the auto tone setting in the screen option limits the maximum brightness to under 300 nits, so if that matters to you, you better keep it off.
Samsung Galaxy S5 Active
Samsung Galaxy S5
Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
Sony Xperia Z3
HTC One (M8)
Samsung Galaxy Alpha
Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4
The sunlight legibility, quite expectedly, is top-notch and the Galaxy S5 Active is a s a solid performer outdoors. The sunlight contrast ration is very close to the traditional Galaxy S5 display.