Jun 17th, 2016

The Samsung Galaxy S7 has spawned two spin-offs: the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and the Samsung Galaxy S7 Active. One went for beauty while the other went for toughness. Does the rugged Active have enough to take on the superior Edge model? What’s the main differences between the two? Let’s take a look.

Design

s7 edge active

The most obvious difference between these two devices is the design. No one is going to confuse these two phones. The Galaxy S7 Edge looks and feels like a piece of fine jewelry. The Active is sturdy and tough like a rock. You can’t say one looks better than the other. Both are designed for specific purposes.

The extra bulkiness of the Active makes it nearly the same size as the Edge, though the display is smaller. It’s basically like putting an OtterBox or LifeProof case on the Galaxy S7. This also makes the Active much thicker than the Edge, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The rounded over plastic edges and grippy back give the Active a very nice feel.

Another big design difference is the materials. The Edge is glass on the front and back with a metal frame around the edges. The Active is comprised of multiple plastics. Samsung received a lot of flack in the past for using plastic in their Galaxy line, but the plastic used for the Active is much different. It doesn’t feel oily or attract fingerprints like a magnet. I actually prefer the feel of the Active to the Edge. While the Edge is made of glass, it still retains that oily feeling.

As mentioned above, it’s hard to say one design is better than the other. They are doing completely different things. The Edge is meant to be sexy and elegant, whereas the Active is meant to be rugged and industrial.

Display

s7 edge active 3

The display on the Active is the same size as the 5.1-inch Galaxy S7, but smaller than the 5.5-inch Edge. They all share the same 2560×1440 screen resolution and Super AMOLED panel. The big difference is that the Active’s display is “shatter resistant.” Notice it’s not shatter proof. What does that mean?

The Active’s display is not impervious to cracks like the Motorola Moto Z Force, but a crack likely won’t ruin your day. On most devices, like the standard Galaxy S7 and Edge, one crack can spread through the entire display (like this). This is called “spider-webbing.” The shatter resistant display on the Active prevents spider-webbing from happening. Any crack will be isolated and it won’t spread across the display.

Ruggedness

galaxy s7 active stones 2

We already talked about the rugged design and shatter resistant display, but that’s not all the Active has to offer. Like the Edge, the Active has an IP68 rating for dust and water. We hear IP ratings a lot, but what does it actually mean? The first number is for”intrusion protection,” and 6 is the highest. It means the Active is totally dust tight. The second number is for “moisture protection.” “8” is the highest level of protection as well.

Getting caught in the rain should be no problem for either the Active or Edge. You shouldn’t submerge the devices underwater if you can help it, but a quick drop in the sink or a puddle should be fine. The Active has a second rating that puts it above this Edge. MIL-STD-810G is a military standard that is used by the United States Department of Defense. Serious stuff.

This rating addresses a huge range of conditions, most of which you’ll never encounter. Including low pressure for altitude testing, exposure to high and low temperatures, rain (including wind blown and freezing rain), humidity, fungus, salt fog for rust testing, sand and dust exposure, explosive atmosphere, shock, and gunfire vibration. If it’s good enough for the military it’s more than good enough for you.

Battery Life

s7 edge active 4

The specs between the Active and Edge are essentially identical, except for one thing: battery. The Active is equipped with a massive 4,000 mAh battery. That’s 400 mAh more than the Edge and 1,000 mAh more than the standard Galaxy S7. We praised the Edge for having exceptional battery life, so you can imagine how great it is on the Active.

The Edge is able to easily make it through a day with battery to spare. I can safely say the same for the Active, but it gets even closer to that mythical 2-day battery life. You can stretch it to last multiple days if you take advantage of Doze and use the Power Saving modes. That’s really important for a device like the Active.

People who buy rugged devices often have jobs or hobbies that put a lot of stress on their device. Someone who does a lot of hiking would need a phone that can go long periods without power. When you’re out in the wilderness, a phone can be your only lifeline for help. It’s critically important to have a device that won’t die in a few hours. The Active can pass that test.

Price & Availability

s7 edge active 2

The Edge and Active are both around $100 more than the standard Galaxy S7. For the Edge, you’re paying extra for the curved display, and the for the Active, you’re paying extra for ruggedness. The differences we’ve talked about have mostly been in favor of the Active. However, there’s one area where the Active takes a big hit.

The Galaxy S7 and Edge can work with pretty much any carrier on the planet. You can walk into your local carrier store and they will most likely have both devices on hand. Unfortunately, this is not the case with the Active. AT&T is the exclusive carrier for the Galaxy S7 Active. In fact, they’ve been the exclusive carrier for every Active phone in the past.

This really sucks for any non-AT&T users who want a rugged device. For some reason, a lot of rugged devices end up as carrier exclusives. The Kyocera Brigadier, which was exclusive to Verizon, is another example. These devices aren’t seen as popular enough to get a universal launch. The good news is that OtterBox makes cases for most phones.

Conclusion

s7 edge active 5

As you probably expected, the difference between these devices is clear. One is rugged, one is not. However, the Galaxy S7 Edge is surprisingly not far behind the Active. It has the same IP68 rating and nearly the same size battery. The Active has the impressive military rating, shatter resistant screen, and a few extra mAh in the battery. Slap an OtterBox on the Edge and you could have a similar experience with a lot less camo.

Which device do you think is the best?

local_offer    Samsung Galaxy S7   Samsung Galaxy S7 Active