Jessica Star Lee/Digital TrendsA excellent rugged phone is tough to uncover. A great rugged phone that doesn’t sacrifice performance, also harder. Fortunately, Samsung has been a leader in the segment via its Galaxy S Active series of phones. Last year’s Galaxy S7 Active preserved every little thing we loved around the constant Galaxy S7 — the great cam, lightning-fast processor, and gorgeous display screen — while beefing up the battery, drop security, and water resistance.

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Thanktotally, Samsung shows up to have actually taken the very same strategy through the Galaxy S8 Active. The result is a tried-and-true flagship that doesn’t skimp on anything to provide the the majority of durability in the segment. Read on to uncover out just how the S8 Active stacks up versus its predecessor.

Specs and performance

Samsung Galaxy S8 Active


Samsung Galaxy S7 Active

Size151.9 x 74.9 x 9.9mm (5.98 x 2.95 x 0.39 in)148.8 x 74.9 x 9.9 mm (5.86 x 2.95 x 0.39 in)
Weight7.34 ounces (208 grams)6.53 ounces (185 grams)
Screen5.8-inch Quad HD+ Super AMOLED flat5.1-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED
Resolution2,960 x 1,4402,560 x 1,440
OSAndroid 7.0 NougatAndroid 7.0 Nougat
SD Card SlotYesYes
NFC supportYesYes
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 835Qualcomm Snapdragon 820
Connectivity4G LTE, GSM, CDMA, HSPA+, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi4G LTE, GSM, CDMA, HSPA+, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi
Camera12MP rear through OIS, 8MP front12MP rear via OIS, 5MP front
BluetoothYes, variation 5Yes, variation 4.2
Fingerprint sensorYesYes
Other sensorsAccelerometer, ambient light, compass, GPS, gyroscope, Hall, heart price, iris scanner, proximityAccelerometer, ambient light, compass, GENERAL PRACTITIONERS, gyroscope, heart rate, proximity
Water ResistantYes, IP68 and MIL-STD-810GYes, IP68 and MIL-STD-810G
PortsUSB Type-C, 3.5mm headphone jackMicro USB, 3.5mm headphone jack
ChargingRapid charging, Qi/PMA wiremuch less chargingRapid charging, Qi/PMA wireless charging
ColorMeteor Gray, Titanium GoldCamo Green, Titanium Gray, Sandy Gold
MarketplaceGoogle Play StoreGoogle Play Store
Price$850, or $28.34 per month for 30 months$695, or $23 per month for 17 months
DT ReviewN/A4 out of 5 stars

The S7 Active was at the bleeding edge of mobile hardware last year, and also the exact same is true of the S8 Active now. The S8 Active has a more recent Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor. It attributes the very same 4GB of RAM as last year’s model, though the amount of interior storage has actually viewed a sizable bump: 64GB, up from 32GB in the S7 Active. Both phones function MicroSD slots for expansion approximately an additional 256GB.

To tip the scales also additionally in the S8 Active’s favor, the new model features Bluetooth 5.0. The S7 Active made execute via just version 4.2, which has half the data move rate, and cannot pair to more than one device at a time.

In terms of power and also performance, there’s really no dispute. The Galaxy S7 Active would certainly still be plenty quick for just about anyone, yet the S8 Active is sindicate a generation ahead.

Winner: Galaxy S8 Active



Where design is involved, the S8 Active is the even more attractive handset, at leastern head-on. Although the display screen isn’t curved on the S8 Active, presumably for durability comes to, it covers substantially more surchallenge area than the S7 Active’s did. The bezels are fairly slim on eextremely side for such a rugged gadget, but the S8 Active is only a little taller than its predecessor. In regards to width and also thickness, they’re specifically the same.

That bigger 18.5:9 screen comes at a price — the S7 Active’s physical navigation butloads are nowbelow to be uncovered on the new version. Aesthetically, it’s an excellent look — however if you’re in a line of work where you’re interested in the S8 Active to begin with, the lack of a tactile, clickable interconfront might inhibit usability via gloves.

For that factor, it’s tough to recommend the S8 Active lock, stock, and barrel over its predecessor in the architecture department. In various other respects, both have actually the typical hallmarks of a rugged phone: Textured surencounters, cushioned corners, uncrucial molding alengthy the sides, and, in the S8 Active’s case, screws that serve no obvious function. They’re not as garish as they can be, yet they make for a phone that is no enhance for the svelte, classical S8, or for that issue the HTC U11, LG G6, or iPhone 7.

Winner: Tie


Jessica Star Lee/Digital Trends
Jessica Star Lee/Digital Trends

While durcapability is more than likely the Active’ series foremany consideration, the S8 Active doesn’t seem to be any kind of much better at taking a beating than its predecessor. That’s not to say it’s not challenging — sindicate that enhancements haven’t really been made.

Both phones are rated IP68 water and also dust resistant. If you drop either in the pool, they’ll survive for 30 minutes, at a depth of 5 feet. Both adhere to the MIL-STD-810G army equipment typical, meaning they deserve to withstand a selection of environmental conditions and physical trauma that would demolish lesser devices. And both attribute “shatter-resistant” display screens, according to Samsung, and shock-absorbing corners to weather drops. No matter which Active you choose, you’ll be equally protected against the elements.

Winner: Tie


Malarie Goessential / Digital Trends
Malarie Govital / Digital Trends

The genuine distinction in between the display screens in each of these phones is the size. Whereas the Galaxy S7 Active featured a 5.1-inch panel via a standard 16:9 aspect ratio and a resolution of 2560 x 1440, the S8 Active’s is bigger and also sharper. At 5.8 inches, it fills up far more real estate on the front, making the body feel surprisingly compact. The 18.5:9 facet ratio leads to a taller display screen when you’re holding it in portrait mode, and also the resolution has been improved to 2960 x 1440 for those extra pixels at the optimal and bottom. Both tools make use of AMOLED modern technology, transferring rich blacks and also vibrant colors. In a nod to the continual S8, the S8 Active’s panel functions rounded corners — although it lacks the futuristic, sloping edges.

Winner: Galaxy S8 Active

Battery life and charging

Jessica Star Lee/Digital Trends
Jessica Star Lee/Digital Trends

Whereas the conventional S7 had a 3,000mAh battery, Samsung bumped the capacity to 4,000mAh for the S7 Active. It has actually taken the exact very same strategy this time about. Both the S7 Active and also S8 Active feature huge 4,000mAh batteries, great for at leastern a day-and-a-fifty percent of use, through the potential to go past that.

Although the sizes are equal, the S8 Active’s 835 chipcollection is said to be 25 percent even more efficient than the outgoing 820 found in the S7 Active. This would certainly provide a slight edge in battery life to the newer version. Fortunately, both tools assistance Samsung’s quick charging protocol and also wiremuch less charging, so topping up those massive batteries shouldn’t take too long. However before, the S8 Active features a USB Type-C connector, while the S7 Active provides do via Micro USB. The last isn’t quite as quick, isn’t reversible, and can’t serve as many kind of different functions.

Winner: Galaxy S8 Active


Malarie Gokey / Digital Trends
Malarie Goessential / Digital Trends

The photography endure is an additional area wright here there’s very little separating the S7 Active and also S8 Active. Last year’s tool basically carried over the regular S7’s 12-megapixel rear shooter, which we uncovered to be terrific in trial and error. That electronic camera was mainly unchanged relocating to the S8, and also it’s been preserved in the S8 Active. The just difference is the front-dealing with camera, which benefits from an 8-megapixel sensor, compared to 5 in the S7 array.

While very good, the cameras could constantly be boosted. Samsung has actually got serious competition from Apple and Google in this space over the last year, so probably it’ll be time for a major upgrade when the Galaxy S9 rolls around. Regardless, whichever Active tool you choose, you’ll gain a similar electronic camera experience on par with the finest flagships. Selfie fans will certainly desire the S8 Active.

Winner: Galaxy S8 Active


Jessica Star Lee/Digital Trends
Jessica Star Lee/Digital Trends

The S8 Active consists of Bixby, Samsung’s new virtual assistant. In theory, Bixby need to be a vast part of Samsung’s TouchWiz Android suffer, making eincredibly job a little less complicated. In exercise, yet, it just isn’t that valuable yet. Even with Bixby Voice ultimately releasing in English after months of delays, there’s very little reason appropriate now you’d usage it instead of, say, Google Assistant.

Bixby was expected to be Samsung’s defining new feature. Without it, you’re looking at two very equivalent phones from a software perspective. Both Active gadgets function a subsection of mini-apps dubbed the Activity Zone, which acts as a portal to many outdoorsy devices and also information, favor the flashlight, stopwatch, compass, and barometer. If you’re interested in a rugged smartphone to start through, you’ll probably uncover it somewhat helpful — however it exists on both the S8 Active and S7 Active, so you’re not required to select.

Winner: Tie

Price and availability

Both the S7 Active and S8 Active are unfortunately AT&T carrier exclusives, so if you’re on an additional network-related, you’re out of luck. The S8 Active runs $850 at launch, while the S7 Active has actually dropped dvery own to $700 after a year on the sector. The S8 Active expenses $50 more than its predecessor did once it was brand-new.

So the availcapability is equally poor for both phones, and the S8 Active requirements a $150 premium for the latest tech. AT&T does have actually a couple of promotions going on to lessen the blow, choose the capacity to obtain approximately $200 for trading in an eligible gadget. If you deserve to string them together, the S8 Active begins to make more sense — though on price alone, it loses this battle.

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Winner: Galaxy S7 Active

Overall winner: Galaxy S8 Active

Great as the Galaxy S7 Active was, the newer version benefits from a next-gen, state-of-the-art processor and a practically full-display display. In regards to its ruggedness, the S8 Active doesn’t sell a far-reaching upgrade — however if you desire a phone that doesn’t reduced back on power and also performance to provide best-in-class durability, look no further than Samsung’s latest.