Samsung's gallery has focused on Stories for a few years now. Stories can be shared as collaborative albums meaning that your friends can add photos of the meet-up from other angles or collaborate on a Story with a shared theme like Sunsets or Scenery. The "Pictures" view is chronological while the "Albums" view shows you the individual folders stored on the device.
The built-in editor offers plenty of editing options from basic levels, to advanced color curves, to stickers and decorative texts.
Google Music is the default music player for your music on the Galaxy S8 Active. It can play locally stored music files as well as stream music from its free online could-service. It also works with Samsung's extensive sound enhancements.
This includes a SoundAlive tool, which includes an interface for tuning the equalizer for your standard headphones or a Bluetooth set. There are presets and two dials for basic users and a manual 9-band equalizer for the more advanced users.
Adapt Sound tunes the EQ to your hearing by playing multiple frequencies through the headphones. What you have to do is answer whether you can hear the sound or not, based on this, it will adjust the audio bands so that you can hear the widest range possible. We tested it on some cheap JBL earbuds and it made them sound pretty good.
UHQ sound resolution enhancer is available as well for upscaling compressed audio. There are also features like Surround sound emulation and Tube Amp Pro simulator.
The Gallery handles the videos by default. Like with the music player, you can grab the traditional Samsung one from the Galaxy Essentials collection in Galaxy Apps (You can also find a Video Editor in there). Even if you don't, the Gallery app has plenty of essential features. It has full subtitle support with advanced options that let you tweak them to your liking.
The strange display ratio doesn't match any standard video aspect ratio, but you're given the option to watch them in their native proportions, with black bars, of course. You can stretch the video to fit, or you can crop in to an 18.5:9 portion of it.
There's also a pop-out video player, which will keep playing on top of whatever else you're doing on the phone. You can resize this with by pinching in or out.
You can always download third-party video players from the Play Store, and they will tap into the system-wide Video Enhancer feature, too. It touches up the contrast curve and color rendering to make the video footage pop.
Somewhat surprisingly, the Samsung Galaxy S8 Active audio output isn't quite the same as its non-rugged S8 stablemates. While the volume levels are about the same, the extra toughness probably mandated some changes in circuitry and in turn some more distortion with headphones.
With an active external amplifier, the Galaxy S8 Active does splendidly. It delivers loud output with perfect accuracy. However, adding our standard headphones to the mix caused spikes in both harmonic and intermodulation distortion readings. Stereo quality, on the other hand is barely affected and volume is just as high so it's a pretty solid showing overall, but we are not used to getting that much distortion on flagships these days.
|Test||Frequency response||Noise level||Dynamic range||THD||IMD + Noise||Stereo crosstalk|
You can learn more about the tested parameters and the whole testing process here.
The loudspeaker on the S8 Active is a bottom-firing one. Even so, it's plenty loud for hearing ringtones and notification sounds in demanding environments like outside or in a busy warehouse.
While the Galaxy S7 active scored "Good" in the same loudspeaker test, the successor scored a "very good", overall. The voice and ring tests scored about the same, but the pink noise test scored noticeably higher. The speakers did not distort, even at maximum volume.
While the speaker is plenty loud, it's not very pleasing to listen to music coming from the loudspeaker. Definitely use a pair of headphones if you enjoy the audio experience of watching a movie or TV show.
|Speakerphone test||Voice, dB||Ringing ||Overall score|