-Rugged construction holds up to punishment
-Water, dust, and shock resistance
-Quad HD Super AMOLED screen returns
-Performance is top-notch and in line with S6 pedigree
-Active key is an incredibly useful addition
-Camera is best in class performer
-User interface is snappy, smooth


-All plastic design doesn't appeal to everyone
-Neither do fully tactile buttons
-Only 32GB onboard storage
-No fingerprint reader
-Only on AT&T

Our Rating
Bottom Line

The Galaxy S6 active soars in a few key elements that might make it intriguing enough for people who do not even consider themselves “active.” A long lasting battery, an active key, and a durable exterior enhance all of what made the original S6 one of the easiest to recommend phones this year. This is not only a phone that can take what you throw at it, you can pretty much throw it anywhere, too.

Our Rating
You have rated this

Editor's Choice Update 2015The latest addition to the high-end Samsung family is a rugged iteration of their flagship Samsung Galaxy S6, and holding true its moniker, is a great option for the more active users around the world. Does it bring more to the table apart from a more rugged form and various types of protection? We find out, in this Samsung Galaxy S6 Active review!

Buy now from AT&T


samsung galaxy s6 active aa (14 of 19)

Though the Samsung Galaxy Active line with their all-plastic builds isn’t new, it has never been as striking as it is in its current iteration. While the original Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge introduced glass and metal to revamp a gradually underwhelming design language, its Active counterpart goes back to a full plastic build,with rugged lines and obvious signs that point towards the durability of this device.

samsung galaxy s6 active aa (11 of 19)

It is certainly beefier all around, with hard lines that highlight not only how thick the device is, but also how much more rugged it is. The camouflage print and a thick faux-bolted lining on the back are the device’s attempts to showcase some real strength. The thickness of the device really makes it stand out when compared to the sleek and elegant Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, though it can be argued that thickness makes for a more comfortable handling exprience. The plastic might suffer fromo typical problems from accidental drops and bumps though, and these scuffs will detract from the look of the device little by little.

Related: Best Galaxy S6 Active cases

samsung galaxy s6 active aa (10 of 19)

All the buttons on the Galaxy S6 Active are tactile, including the recent apps and back buttons up front below the display that flank the physical home button, along with the addition of an active key that is found on the top left. Obvious issues do arise from this, with presses of the power, home, and active keys all being able to wake the phone, which can become a nuisance at times when the device is in your pocket. Thankfully, some useful improvements have been made when compared to previous versions of the Active, with their being no additional flap cover for the microUSB port and the headphone jack, without taking away from the durability of the device.

samsung galaxy s6 active aa (9 of 19)

Speaking of durability, an IP68 rating and a military-grade durability certification means that you can throw practically anything at this phone and still have a working device, which has certainly held true in our testing. Despite some falls and numerous plunges in the water, the Galaxy S6 Active never missed a beat. That said, a drop on a jagged rock that hits the screen at just the right angle will make it crack, so a little care if of course required, but unfortunate bumps, spills, and light tossing around in daily life are what this phone can protect itself from.

samsung galaxy s6 active vs galaxy s6 and edge (18 of 20)

Scuffs and scratches will gradually draw away from the looks of the Galaxy S6 Active, with its aesthetic already not the most positively received. Plenty of commenters have already sounded off on how much worse this phone looks when compared to its more elegant brethren, but aesthetics is obviously all a matter of opinion. The camouflage print on the lighter versions of the phone do look somewhat odd, but that isn’t an issue with the sleek-looking black edition. With no such print on the back, the black color helps mask some of the more drastic lines of the device, and even if scuffs might be more prominent, the black version is the way to go.

samsung galaxy s6 active vs galaxy s6 and edge (15 of 20)

The Galaxy S6 Active makes it almost painfully obvious about why it looks the way it does, but these choices result in a device that allows for something that you will be hard-pressed to find with a lot of other high-end smartphones out there, a higher peace of mind. For the user that wants a phone that is as powerful as the Galaxy S6, but doesn’t want to worry about even light drops putting it out of commission, the Active iteration is a prime choice, and these users is probably aware of, and wouldn’t mind, the ruggedized looks of the Galaxy S6 Active either.


samsung galaxy s6 active aa (8 of 19)

What makes the Active line so intriguing is that Samsung doesn’t skimp on the high quality essentials instead of focusing just on general resistance ratings. This starts with the display, with the Galaxy S6 Active featuring the same as the original, a 5.1-inch Super AMOLED display with a Quad HD resolution, with its resulting pixel density of 576 ppi.

samsung galaxy s6 active vs galaxy s6 and edge (4 of 20)

For everyday usage, the Galaxy S6 line in general proves to be really easy on the eyes, while allowing for a bit of a sensory overload. The display really punches out colors, and is really easy to see outdoors as well, especially when the light sensor notices the bright conditions and pumps up the display brightness automatically for even better viewing.

samsung galaxy s6 active aa (2 of 19)

Water will still register touches on the screen, but it’s important to note that it doesn’t become completely dysfunctional when submerged. That being said, the screen can be made inoperable for underwater camera usage by using the Aqua mode in the camera app. Another great display by Samsung returns in the Active version of the Galaxy S6, and there is no sacrificing of viewing enjoyment for the sake of ruggedness here.


samsung galaxy s6 active aa (1 of 19)

That story continues when it comes to performance as well, with the octa-core Exynos 7420 processor, clocked at 2.1 GHz, and backed by the Mali-T760 GPU and 3 GB of RAM, returning here. Performance is expectedly as smooth as ever, and moving between the various elements of the UI showed no signs of lag or stutter. Issues were rarely observed while gaming, and more importantly, the Active never seemed to get as warm as would happen with its flagship siblings, even when under heavy gaming load.

samsung galaxy s6 active aa (4 of 19)

Multi-tasking is easy as well, with the recent apps key getting used a lot for my particular active lifestyle, allowing for quick and snappy switching between music apps, activity trackers, and Evernote. Ultimately, the same great performance from the original Galaxy S6 comes from not only the powerful in-house processor, but also the optimizations made to the software experience. Even in the case of my personal use Galaxy S6 Active on which I run the Google Now launcher and a custom lock screen, everything works fine with seldom any slow down to the point where I needed to close all applications.


samsung galaxy s6 active aa (15 of 19)

The changes on the hardware side of things are obvious, with the main addition being the water, dust, and shock resistance that makes the Galaxy S6 Active one of the most resilient devices we’ve used this year. The various storage options available with the original doesnt make its way here though, with the device coming with 32 GB of storage, which can get used up pretty quickly, especially with no microSD expansion available.

samsung galaxy s6 active aa (12 of 19)

Some compromises had to be made as well, including the move of the speaker from the bottom to the rear, which is a step back, apart from the fact that it also becomes almost inoperable until any water that has gotten in dries out. There is also the lack of a fingerprint reader in the home button, which fans of the better implementation on the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge will miss. The heart rate monitor returns though, and actually makes a little more sense in the Active edition than it does on the rest of Samsung’s lineup.

samsung galaxy s6 active aa (3 of 19)

The Galaxy S6 Active is available exclusively from AT&T, and 4G LTE connectivity is as good as is possible from the carrier, and there have been no issues as far as connectivity is concerned. Phone calls were loud and clear, and there were no call drops either.

samsung galaxy s6 active aa (18 of 19)

A main aspect of the hardware of the Galaxy S6 Active is the active key, a new button found at the top left side, that can be used to launch two applications you can set, one by a tap and the other by a long press. It makes sense as a quick way to launch the Activity Center, which it does by default, and a fitness application when on the move. You can change what apps can be open though, depending on your needs, so for some users, it makes as much sense to put a Calendar app and Evernote on it for quick access and logging of important information. The one take away is that an extra customizable button like this can be incredibly useful for anyone, and will be a welcome addtion to any and all future Samsung smartphones.

samsung galaxy s6 active vs galaxy s6 and edge (10 of 20)

Some compromises may have been made, but the one area that the Galaxy S6 Active shines in is when it comes to the battery. Packing a large 3,500 mAh battery with wireless and fast charging capabilities baked in, this battery proves one undeniable truth when it comes to battery life, and that is bigger is better. Full days of work were possible with relative, but consistent, ease, with there being at least 35% of battery life left at the end of most days, which would go down to around 20% on days with moderately heavy usage.

Power saving modes are available, but didn’t prove to be necessary on most days, and even if the battery did drain, fast charging capabilities allowed for a full recharge in close to 90 minutes. In recent times, fast charging has felt like a consolation prize to make up for average battery life, but the Galaxy S6 Active proves that combining it with an adequately sized battery is definitely the better way to go.


samsung galaxy s6 active aa (16 of 19)

The camera of the Galaxy S6 Active is also the same as the Galaxy S6, with a 16 MP rear shooter with a f/1.9 aperture and a 5 MP front-facing camera with a wide angle lens and the same aperture. The experience is the same across the board with the Galaxy S6 line, with a pretty intuitive camera application that is capable of all typical modes, and  Pro mode that allows for changes in certain key aspects like white balance, ISO, and manual focus. The only real addtion in the camera is the Aqua mode, which makes the screen inoperable to allow for good underwater photography. Taking pictures and videos is possible by using the active key and volume rocker respectively.

Image quality remains quite high, with details captured very well, and largely left alone due to a minimal amount of post processing. Low light shots do suffer from the typical noise caused by a lack of light, but manages to do a better job than the majority of the Android smartphone cameras in the market. In situations from selfies to foodie pictures, photos and video looks great on the Galaxy S6 Active as they did in the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 Edge, which is really good news for the outdoorsy type who might want to record a scenic memory. For everyone else, the Galaxy S6 Active, like its flagship brethren, still provides one of the best camera experiences available in the world of Android today.


samsung galaxy s6 active aa (13 of 19)

Finally, when it comes to the software side of things, the same streamlined TouchWiz experience keeps the Galaxy S6 Active snappy, smooth, and about as fast as we’ve ever seen on a Samsung device. The only significant addition is the Activity Zone, which basically limps together S Health, the media app called Milk, and some extra tools like a barometer and stopwatch together for easy access. By default, it is the app the opens when hitting the active key, but it is just as easy to put your own personal fitness application in place of it.

samsung galaxy s6 active aa (19 of 19)

Speaking of personal customization, the theme engine has provided an option for users to change the general colors of core areas of TouchWiz, with replacement launchers and applications available for further changes. A great example of the changes possible is what I’ve done with my personal Galaxy S6 Active, but even then, the core of TouchWiz isn’t bogged down by the tweaks that have been made. The Activity Zone is not a huge improvement for the Galaxy S6 Active, but perhaps it’s better to look at this rugged phone as a powerful yet durable shell around whatever fitness ecosystem you might already use in Android.


Display5.1-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED display
577 ppi
Processor2.1 GHz octa-core Exynos 7420 processor
Storage32 GB
not expandable
Network4G / LTE / HSPA+ 21/42 Mbps
ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC, A-GPS / Glonass, USB 2.0
CameraRear 16 MP with OIS.
Front 5 MP wide angle lens
SoftwareAndroid 5.0.2 Lollipop
Battery3,500 mAh
Dimensions146.8 x 73.4 x 8.6 mm
150 grams


Pricing and final thoughts

galaxy s6 active editors choice (1 of 1)

A total price of $695 puts the Galaxy S6 Active just a tad more expensive than the original Galaxy S6, and much cheaper than the Galaxy S6 Edge. The catch here is that the Galaxy S6 Active is available exclusively from AT&T, which will hopefully change, but is somewhat unlikely.

So there you have it for this closer look at the Samsung Galaxy S6 Active! There are quite a few rugged phones that we’ve seen, but this device might be the best of the bunch, largely because much of what made the original Galaxy S6 so good returns, and is further enhanced by everything a rugged phone can offer. Samsung can greatly benefit from making the Active available in more than just AT&T’s network, but more importantly, it has to notice how certain aspects of this fringe device can make future Samsung phones better, like the active key.

samsung galaxy s6 active aa (5 of 19)

Editor's Choice Update 2015The Galaxy S6 Active might be setting the benchmark in what an active lifestyle phone should be, because the phrase “active lifestyle” can mean so many things to different people, and this phone manages to satisfy all of those demographics. An outdoorsy person can knock this phone around and still have perfectly working phone; a gym rat can check heart rate and quickly change songs or fitness routines using the active key; and even the heavy phone user couch potato will benefit from one of the best battery life experiences we’ve had this year. It may not be the prettiest phone, but the S6 active succeeds wonderfully in all of the places where it counts, and something has to be said for a phone that you actually don’t have to worry about, inside and out.

Buy now from AT&T

Now read – Best Android Phones of 2015 (July)

  • TheBigPotato

    I actually like the looks of S6 Active. It seems Rugged and Really Legit.
    1) Off course the Battery life.
    2) “Buttons” Buttons everywhere.
    3) Looks
    4) Grip and Durability.

    1) Speaker on the Back.
    2) 32GB is not enough.
    3) Why USA only.
    I personally like to take my phone outside during rain. Dat feeling though.

  • Joe

    I could instantly tell who wrote this article with the forced attempt at making it read like a real news article. Kind of annoying just like his videos

    • Marc Perrusquia

      At least it’s better then Kevin “the tech ninja” he gets so much crap wrong in his reviews.

      • Joe

        Yeah that’s true

  • KenanSadhu

    Please shoot something underwater, if you have the time. Thanks!

  • MDMcAtee

    The Active is a true working/outdoorspersons phone. It has most everything a person could want in a rugged phone. Throw a tempered glass screen protector on it and not fret over using it.

    The tactile buttons are great when working with dirty greasy hands from working on your equipment to bloody hands like when field dressing game .

    Like any rugged phone folks will always talk negative about it’s looks but most people who have a need for one see it is a fantastic phone that doesn’t take a back seat to any for it’s spec’s .

  • Margaretlori

    ******* i like me androidauthority < Find Get More d

  • Yashwanth

    on your s6 active which theme are you using

  • PhyllisTDowd

    i like me androidauthority See More Detail

  • Peggy

    I always loved samsung devices- my laptop is samsung, my tv, all my smartphones of course. I also got the highend ones until the S6. I hated tje S6 as soon as i found out that it has no removable battery and no microsd card slot. I thought that maybe i will get the S6 active as a second phone. Durable, water resistant and great battery life. But so disappointed again ncoz it only has 32gb storage.
    I will certainly buy S6 active with 128gb storage and dual sim . Samsung pls produce this.

  • Shawn Thomas

    There are better phones for true working people. Considerably more rugged, reliable, longer lasting, 100% tactile, drop/water/dust proof

    The larger battery compared to the original model is nice, but the
    tactile buttons don’t make sense to me. If your hands are dirty/slippery/wet enough to not be able to use the buttons/navigation on the original device, how are you going to be able to navigate/use the touch-screen on the device once you’re turned it on?

    I feel those buttons fall into the same category as the faux-bolts on the back – they add to the overall image and feel of the device, but they’re not necessary additions. They’re there to convince someone to buy it if they’re relatively active, but beyond that, there hasn’t been much thought.

    This device is trying too hard to please everyone. A jack of all trades, master of none.

  • WAusJackBauer

    AT&T only makes no sense.

  • Mike Bastable

    this handset looks quite good. Compiments for AA too, the redesign of the website workswell with reviews…easier to use

  • Paul Williams

    ” the Galaxy S6 Active is available exclusively from AT&T, which will hopefully change, but is somewhat unlikely.”
    In my mind, thus stament is the only drawback. Samsung needs to release it to the other carriers.

    • Planoman

      Other carriers need to order it. I find it hard to believe Samsung would turn down others that want this.

  • Andrew Taibi

    Great Phone with a lot of truly awesome features but I’m hesitant to call it durable. I went hiking this weekend and dropped it from 2.5 ft onto a wet stick and it already has a crack in it…(only had it for a month at this point)

  • Kamalnath Kanthimathinathan

    an excellent phone let down by horrible design. same old sammy ha…..

  • Planoman

    Agree with this review. I also got the S6 64GB initially and like it fine but the features and reviews of the S6 Active just jumped out at me and I had to get one. Luckily they can be bought for well below retain on Swappa etc where they are selling like hotcakes I might add. We know know! It is a great combination of features!

  • iKrontologist

    Joshua Vergara hates Samsung almost as much as Ron Freaking Amadeo. He really shouldn’t be allowed to review any devices put out by Samsung. He will always invariably go about nit picking things to death. In all reality Samsung is a true end to end custom phone maker. They design phones to fits specific needs and wants. Each model of the more 30 variants plays to features and designs that if a given person is looking for a phone, makes it easy for them to find one model that near perfectly fits their wants n needs.

    They do this variety of near custom models, because they are the only manufacturer that really can….. end to end. They are NOT ever about only offering one or few choices like Apple does to their Chairman Mao Suit wearing cloned iProles, Trolls and Shills!!! …….seen one seen ’em all!

    But Josh never fails to miss the point of actually being more of a custom device maker than a ONE SIZE FITS ALL lame arrogant Elitists Cult of the CrApple fans. He really should go write for Cult of the Mac or CrApple insider. Let’s see him pick those iPhones apart? ….he certainly doesn’t know a thing about technology and it’s reviews like this that make him look more like all those citizens in Apple’s 80’s 1984 Commercial. Who all looked more brain dead than a bunch of Zombies who are fed intravenously! ……dry, funky ignorant proles and he’d tell you straight up he’s a professional Samsung Hater!!! lol…. What a dork!!! :D

  • PingPong Root is the officially developed rooting tool for galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. It supports all the ROM versions of S6 and S6 Edge. Especially, you can root without tripping knox.

  • JMFV

    DON’T BE FOOLED – my S6 Active suffered a 3-foot drop onto pavement and shattered, inoperable. Dead. data lost, $250 in cost to replace (this is using ATTs so-called protection)….. now I like the phone, but the process of transitioning to a new handset is horrible (kudos to Apple here) and the delicate nature of the phone now requires me to put it in a case, and given that it is larger because it is ‘active’ now I have a very large device to carry around. SHAME ON SAMSUNG!!!!

  • Sierragator

    There were rumors that the Active would restore a couple of the abandoned features of the S5…the microSD card and the removeable battery. Looks like that didn’t pan out, so adios, Samsung, when I need a new phone. My S5 sport works fine, so I don’t expect to need anything for a while, but unless they go back to the more useful features (even the basic S5 was water resistant), I’ll be looking at other brands.
    Samsung, trying to emulate Apple is a sure way you’re going to lose. Sacrificing useful features for the sleek, glass and metal S6 design won’t steal away devoted iphone junkies, and you’ll lose the rest of us if you keep it up. There is NO good reason to abandon the sd card, and while many don’t need to swap batteries, it can be useful to backpackers etc. who really may need it to last a week or two. Who cares if you have wraparound glass, and expensive-looking metal that bends and gets scratched, let the iphone fans have their silly gadgets, we want functional devices.
    Next they’ll probably abandon the micro USB connection and computer connectability, for the final nail in the Samsung coffin.

  • Simplecountryhyperchicken

    Why only give it a 9.0 for battery? The Galaxy S6 Active has the single longest-lasting battery of any phone on the market.

  • Richard

    The phone is ugly. Function before form would have been the better option. Fake bolts? Camo? One blue button? I did buy the phone and appreciate the much larger battery and the resistance to the elements including water and dust. The S6 died after 3/4 of a day due to the smaller battery so the S6 Active is the better option for me.

  • Jack Hsiung

    when there is no removable battery, battery life is consider “mediocre” regardless how long it lasts.

    when there is no micro sd expansion, storage option is considered “mediocre” regardless how big it is.

    and this phone is fugly!


    a standard s5 looks better, cost less, and is more functional with removable battery + micro sd.

  • DAK

    “Shock resistant”? The phone is rated for a 4 foot drop. Any higher is considered abuse.

  • JCole1

    Do not believe reviews that the Active model can withstand drops. Mine fell from my nightstand, less than 3 feet, and while the glass and case had no signs of the drop, the internal touch panel was damaged. After owning for 2 months, Samsung said it was out of warranty and charged $240 to repair. If I had insurance from AT&T, it would have cost $200 for the deductible, plus monthly fees. Lesson learned, don’t bother with the Active and still get a strong case.

  • Addline Smith

    Would not repeat not recommend within 15 days had to be replaced charged it when I went to bed woke up to a non working phone was replaced now my touch screen quit and I get it working for a few mins then touch wiz quits again my phone chooses when it wants to ring a n d when ppl can hear me or I can hear them my phones never been dropped doesn’t have one scratch never been exposed to water tho I was told it can be almost $700 phone 5 mths old and I can’t use it now not worth the money !!!! Att insurance is a joke as well so needless to say had to buy out a new phone again avoid s6 active !!!!!!!!