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Review: Samsung Galaxy S5 Active for AT&T

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Screen

The Active has the same 5.1-inch Super AMOLED full HD display that the GS5 does. I held the Active side-by-side with the standard model and couldn't see any difference at all between them. The display is fantastic through and through. I have no complaints whatsoever. It is large, pixel-rich, colorful, and bright. I didn't have any trouble using it indoors or out. All of the graphics and UI elements are smooth and show no signs of pixelated edges. It's a truly good screen.

Signal

The GS5 Active is an exclusive for AT&T. I used the Active throughout the NYC metro area and it performed very well. The phone never lost AT&T's network entirely, even in weak coverage areas. I was able to connect most calls on the first dial. The Active didn't drop any calls during my review period. I was pleased with the Active's data performance. LTE speeds were generally zippy and the Active only rarely dropped down to HSPA+. I had no trouble updating apps, posting pictures to Twitter, or checking email while out and about, even in congested areas of New York City. The GS5 Active lacks Samsung's Download Booster, which combines Wi-Fi and LTE to speed up downloads.

Sound

The Active is a very good phone for making voice calls. The earpiece produces clear, loud voices that I had no problem understanding even in a raucous bar during a World Cup match. There were no problems or interference of any kind and no background noise; only the other person's voice. Volume is much improved versus the standard GS5. The Active is quite loud when cranked up all the way. You can set the volume at about 50% or 60% for most calls. Reserve the full-blast setting for when you're at sporting events or other noisy spaces. The quality of calls dips a bit when sent to the speakerphone, but the volume is still very good. The Active supports background noise elimination, which means the people I spoke to through the device said I sounded great. Ringers and alert tones offer plenty of volume to get your attention. The vibrate alert is particularly strong. What's better, you can control the intensity of the vibrate alert for calls, messages, and so on. The Active includes 6 pre-recorded vibrate patterns and allows owners to create their own.

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Battery

I am pleased to say the Active offers battery life that is equal to that of the GS5. In other words, battery life is very, very good. The device easily lasted from breakfast to bedtime and often had power to spare. Most owners should have no trouble with the Active's battery.

The Active also includes a power saver mode - and an ultra power saver mode - that can be used to extend the useful life of the phone. The power saver can be toggled on manually - or automatically - once the battery reaches 20%. Users can opt to block background data, restrict performance (ramp down the processor), or set the display to grayscale mode. Ultra power saving mode takes it a lot further. It sets the screen in grayscale mode, turns off all data when the screen is off, turns off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and only permits six user-selected apps to function, three of which are phone, messaging, and email. Power saver mode and extreme power saver mode will provide estimates (when switched on) of how long the phone will continue to function based on the remaining charge.

Bottom line: the battery rocks.

Battery  

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