- Only 32GB of internal storage
- No microSD slot
- No fingerprint sensor on home button
- No connection to Gear VR
When looking at Samsung's production history, it wasn't too much of a surprise that they would release an Active version of the Galaxy S6. Marketed more towards the outdoors crowd, the S6 Active offers a tougher build while keeping all of the same hardware specs of the S6. The ruggedness does come at a cost, most notably in the looks department. Rather than the sleek glass and metal build, the S6 Active is made of plastic and rubber. It is both heavier and thicker than its counterpart and instead of the sleek lines of the S6 reviewers found the overall design to emphasize the ruggedness of the phone all the way down to the camouflage print and faux-bolted lining. It isn't just for show though. The phone earned a military-grade durability certification meaning it is relatively impervious to extreme temperatures, shock, low pressure and high altitudes. As well it comes with an IP68 rating which makes it waterproof in up to 5 feet of water for 30 minutes. Still, Android Authority warns, "…a drop on a jagged rock that hits the screen at just the right angle will make it crack…" Samsung didn't stop there, though. To help prevent accidental drops they added a finely textured back and rubberized grips around the edges. This combined with the additional thickness actually made it much easier for reviewers to grip preventing accidental drops.
Besides the design, Samsung had to make a few other concessions. There is no longer a fingerprint scanner or on-screen buttons. Instead, there are three textured, physical buttons below the screen. Experts describe the buttons as strong and "very clicky." The S6 Active also does not pair with the Gear VR – Samsung's Oculus-powered virtual reality headset. Perhaps the biggest drawback is that it only comes with only 32GB of storage with no microSD expansion slot.
Specs-wise there aren't too many differences from the S6. It still comes equipped with an octo-core processor (4 2.1GHz and 4 1.5GHz) and 3GB of RAM. As expected, experts had smooth performance even when multi-tasking or using processor heavy apps. The biggest change is in the battery life. The S6 Active comes with a non-removable 3500mAh battery compared to the 2550mAh of the S6. It lasted critics a full day even with moderately heavy usage with a little bit of juice left to spare. And thanks to the inclusion of fast charging technology, they were able to fill back up within 90 minutes. As an added bonus, it also includes Qi wireless charging.
In terms of the screen, the same 5.1-inch Super AMOLED display with Quad HD (1440 x 2560 pixels) resolution adorns the front of the device. Android Central states, "There really isn't anything bad you can say about this display…" going on to add that the brightness in sunlight, contrast, colors and viewing angles were great. Other critics agree calling the colors "punchy" albeit a bit oversaturated. While waterproof, the screen still will not function well when submerged underwater. It also comes with a brand new Active button that brings up two applications you can choose. By default, it will launch the Activity Zone – a dashboard with widgets that launch into full apps like the weather, barometer, stop watch, S Health, compass and flashlight – and a fitness application.
The 16MP camera offers the same experience on the S6 Active as the standard S6. That means experts were able to get good photo quality even in lower light situations, excellent color reproduction and excellent details. There is a new mode called Aqua mode, which makes the screen inoperable for better underwater photography. While critics experienced some difficulty swiping between menus, they still were able to take very bright and highly detailed HD photos and video even while submerged.
While they had a couple issues with the S6 Active, overall reviewers generally recommend it for those looking for a durable device. CNET states, "The S6 Active isn't the most beautiful or premium phone on the market, but…If you want a flagship phone that you don't have to baby, you can't beat this one."