1. blair.harrington's Avatar
    A quick history.

    First smartphone is the iPhone 3G in 2008. Move onto the iPhone 4 in 2010. iPhone 5 in 2012. And now the S4 Active.

    I had the G Pro for 3 days. Decided it was too heavy and large for me. Hated the speaker too.

    Wasn't in a rush to ditch the iPhone 5. My only one serious complaint was the screen size. iOS 7 addressed most of my OS gripes.

    My experience with Android is pretty limited. I feel like I've learned a great deal in a matter of days. Overall I give the nod to iOS however I feel the iPhone 5 is too small for my needs right now.

    I ruled out the One because I hate that power button placement and the S4 because I can't stomach Samsung's OLED screens. No matter what mode.

    The S4 Active intrigued me because it offered an LCD panel, was 5", and had 3 physical navigation buttons. I don't like capacitive buttons and strongly prefer on-screen or physical ones.

    I'll try to write this in as few words as possible. Overall I'm happy I left the iPhone 5 for the S4 Active.

    Let's begin with the screen. Without question my favorite part of the S4 Active. It's beautiful and to my eyes looks no worse than the iPhone 5 screen. I think the ppi difference is irrelevant. Anything over 300 is negligible to the human eye in my experience.

    Some people may worry about viewing angels on a TFT LCD. I don't see washout at any angle. I don't have my iPhone 5 and sold it pretty much immediately after purchasing the Active so I did not compare side by side. Regardless it's a non issue for me. I can see the screen just fine at an angle in those rare moments when I even do that. Most of the time I'm looking at the screen head on.

    The bottom navigation buttons are terrific. They look and feel great. I think the back button is best suited on the right because most people are right handed and will hit that button more frequently than the menu button.

    The volume and power buttons have a very subtle textured feel to them.

    The back plastic appears to be a touch less slippery than the one on the S4 however it's still somewhat slippery and accumulates skin oils, etc. Personally it doesn't scream 'cheap' to me but it also doesn't feel great by any means. I might get a subtle case down the road. Quality plastic that feels good in your hand can be done on phones. (HTC First, Blackberry Z10, Xperia ZL.)

    USB port requires you to open and close it. It opens and closes very easily. One must decide if having to open/close it will bother them. It's a non issue for me.

    The very top and bottom of the back have a terrific textured rubber area. I wish these rubbery parts could have been used on the sides too which are very slippery sadly. There also appears to be 4 non-removable screws in the corners. I'm curious if this was done for looks or provides an actual purpose.

    The headphone jack is at the top and is waterproof.

    The phone itself is water resistant up to 3 feet for 30 minutes. It's also dust proof somehow. I have no desire to test out how it reacts to water. I'll just wait until I'm caught in a rainstorm and have to use my phone or I drop my phone at the beach. I do like the idea of putting my money behind a device that at least attempts to combat water. I frequent the beach in the summer so thumbs on that front.

    The screen is still as prone to shattering as a normal S4. I wish Samsung could have placed something on the front to protect the screen from breaking if it falls. (Rubber on the front bezel?)

    The phone is slightly heavier than the regular S4. (21 grams.) It makes for a decent weight that isn't heavy. At the same time I wouldn't want to use a heavier phone. I personally prefer a lighter phone in all circumstances.

    The camera appears to be pretty solid. It's an 8 MP shooter so it should be worse than the one on the regular S4. I haven't taken a ton of photos but I'm happy with the results.

    I'm running Nova Launcher Prime plus TeslaUnread with the Stark icon pack. I like this launcher a great deal. The stock TouchWiz apps are pretty terrible. The Notes app is laggy. The Gallery absolutely sucks. (I'm using Gallery ICS. It's not much better. I'm all ears for suggestions. I think the camera roll is so far the worst thing compared to the iOS camera roll.)

    Gmail app is great. I hated it on the G Pro back in May but it appears 4.5 has made a world of difference. It's really terrific.

    Using the Habit browser. It's great. Safari iOS IMO is excellent and this one comes close. Lacks the ability to pin a webpage onto your homescreen. Need to copy and paste the URL into the stock browser to do this. Pretty annoying but I'll deal.

    Clipboard is just bizarre. Everything you copy in TouchWiz goes to the 'clipboard'. Yet you can't access it directly. I looked online and it appears the only way to access it or delete its contents entirely is to compose a text and hold down in the dialogue area. Just weird.

    I had an absolutely nightmarish time trying to transfer music onto the G Pro last month. iSyncr, DoubleTwist, and AFT all failed me in spectacular function. Thankfully, with fingers still crossed, I found an amazing solution with an app called WiFi File Transfer Pro. It crashed when I tried to upload my entire music folder (51 GB) in one click. Instead I'm forced to upload files individually by artist. This is taking some time but it appears to be working just fine. I can now transfer music onto my SD card with no wires and no headaches. Individual albums upload very quickly. I also have all my music uploaded to Google Music. (But don't use it directly because I have a data cap plus I want my music at all times.) It appears that using the Google Music app to play the music on my SD card is working perfectly with respect to artwork because it's just mirroring what I already have uploaded onto Google Music. The stock Music app provided limited artwork in comparison.

    iOS overall still gets the nod when it comes to overall app quality. I think most would agree. It's just more polished.

    Keyboard was giving me a lot of issues. Went from terrible Samsung one to SwiftKey but wasn't satisfied. Personally I like the iOS keyboard a great deal. Autocorrect is a big deal with me and I don't swipe or use suggested words. I'm going back and forth with the stock Android keyboard and the Jelly Bean one and they both appear to be solid choices.

    Battery life appears to be on par with my iPhone 5. Certainly not much better or worse.

    This is a big one: back speaker. I find myself listening to the speaker a good deal. It's very good on the S4. It was terrible on the G Pro so I was worried but I'm really happy with it. It's on par with the one on the iPhone 5. Obviously it's most likely not as good as the one on the One but I'm very happy with it. Having it on the back is somewhat annoying. It should always be on the bottom or the front IMO.

    I think that's it. If you have any questions I'll try to answer them. I'm very open to using an iPhone again but not until they offer a 5" model. The 5" screen is probably my sweet spot with respect to smartphones.

    Forgot to add that I love the notification light.
    aggie, planoman and bjs188 like this.
    06-25-2013 04:48 PM
  2. planoman's Avatar
    Nice job! We go to the beach for vacations as well and although the S4 active is water resistant I will still carry it in a phone bag to protect it from sand...the way sand get everywhere you just can't be too safe!
    06-25-2013 08:21 PM

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