Culture

The Galaxy S7 Active—the Best Phone You've Never Heard Of

When a PR representative from AT&T asked me if I’d be interested in trying the Galaxy S7 Active, I asked what it was. While I thought I was aware of almost every new phone, I hadn’t heard of this model. Perhaps that’s because it’s exclusive to AT&T and may get less exposure.

While slightly longer and a little bit thicker than an iPhone 6S, its one of the most comfortable phones to hold with its smooth, rounded edges—and I have relatively small hands. It has a solid metal housing and a non-slip rubberized back. It’s based on the svelte Galaxy S7 that’s finished in metallic colors and has a glass back. The Active comes in gray, gold and green camouflage.

But where the S7 Active departs from the S7 and other phones is that it’s fully waterproof, dustproof, and drop-proof, and has a gorgeous break-resistant display. It can be immersed in water up to five feet deep.

It also has a huge 4000 milliamp-hour battery (more than twice the capacity of an iPhone 6S) that will last for two days or more. It’s one of the first phones that never needs an add-on case, because its protection is built-in. Yet in spite of this, it doesn’t feel like a phone encumbered by a bulky protective case, and it’s only 1.5 ounces heavier than an iPhone 6S.

I’ve now been testing the Active for almost a week, and I think it’s one of the best phones I’ve ever used. And by logic it should be. It’s got all of the features that have made the normal Galaxy S7 the favorite of most reviewers. It has a terrific camera, a gorgeous Quad HD Super AMOLED display, built-in wireless charging, fast recharging, and expandable memory. Yet, in spite of this, it eliminates the need to treat your phone gingerly and be fearful of getting it scratched or damaged.

Now a ruggedized phone is not just for our kids or construction workers or those of us who are rough with our equipment. It’s for every one of us who’s ever spilled a glass of water, dropped their phone, or taken the phone to the beach.

The Active also has a unique set of six functions that can be opened in a single window with the push of a button at the top left of the phone. This button can also be used to open any other app of your choice such as Google Mail or the camera. The six functions are a flashlight, compass, weather, barometer, health, and stopwatch.

Next Page: This is a huge step up for Samsung, and serious competition for the iPhone.

In each subsequent release, Samsung has cleaned up the user interface (UI) of their Android phones, moving from a cartoonish look with garish colors to something now more tasteful and modern. It still could be improved by eliminating some of the installed apps that perform duplicate functions, and by not requiring the user to find and install many of the popular Google apps.

That’s one of the reasons why the iPhone does so well; it looks great right out of the box, and needs no planting or pruning of apps. But the UI is now Apple’s only advantage; the current iPhone hardware shows its age compared to the S7 Active.

If you are an AT&T customer and are looking to upgrade to a new phone, I would strongly recommend the S7 Active. While it’s not inexpensive at $795, it’s the same price as the S7 Edge with the curved edges on its display and $100 more than the S7. Like the others, you can stretch out your payments; the Active is $23 per month for 30 months. This is one phone that may just last longer than the time it takes to complete your payments.