7 things you need to know about the Galaxy S7 Active
Samsung's Galaxy S7 Active smartphone is water- and shatter resistant, and it's more stylish than past generations of ruggedized Galaxy S phones, but all potential GS7 Active buyers should consider these seven facts before making a purchase.
By Al Sacco, Managing Editor, CIO
Samsung this week announced its latest ruggedized smartphone, the Galaxy S7 (GS7) Active — a device that is particularly well-suited for enterprise and business users, according to Chris Briglin, Samsung Business director of enterprise mobile product marketing.
The GS7 Active, like previous ruggedized Galaxy phones, is a bulked-up version of Samsung’s newest flagship Galaxy, the GS7. And like the GS6 Active before it, the GS7 Active has many of the same features as it more delicate sibling — and a number of key differences.
Samsung and AT&T have exclusively offered the Active versions of Galaxy S phones for years, and that’s not going to change. The GS7 Active will be available only through AT&T.
2. Galaxy S7 Active is even more ‘ruggedized’
The Galaxy S7 and its display are water and shatter resistant, according to Briglin, which means they’re not water or shatter proof. The device, like the GS6 Active before it and the GS7 and GS7 edge, has an International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) protection rating of IP68, and it offers “protection from contact with harmful dust” and is “protected from immersion in water with a depth of more than 1 meter,” according to CNET.
While not much has changed from GS6 Active when it comes to water and dust protection, the new GS7 Active has a stronger screen, Briglin says. He wouldn’t share specifics on just how much more durable it is, but Briglin said the screen is different than the ones on the GS6 Active and GS7 phones and that it has “two layers.” The top layer is made of polycarbonate and the bottom layer is Gorilla Glass 4, according to a Samsung spokesperson. If you’re most concerned with protection against water and aren’t worried about display damage, the regular GS7 or GS7 edge may be better options, because they both offer the same level of water and dust resistance.
3. Galaxy S7 Active has a fingerprint reader
The Active version of the GS6 lacked one of that phone’s most valuable and convenient hardware components: a fingerprint scanner. Samsung clearly saw the error in its ways, and the new GS7 Active has a finger reader. That means GS7 Active owners can use their fingerprints to unlock their phones and authenticate their identities to access locked apps, make online purchases and use the Samsung Pay mobile payment system.
4. Galaxy S7 Active’s huge battery is heavy
The Galaxy S7 Active has a massive 4,000 mAh battery — the largest battery in a Galaxy S smartphone, by far. The battery is more than 14 percent larger than the GS6 Active’s 3,500 mAh battery, 33 percent bigger than the GS7’s 3,000 mAh power pack, and 11 percent larger than the GS7 edge’s 3,600 battery. That means it should get longer battery life than all of these phones, which all already have impressive life.
That’s certainly a good thing, but the extra battery comes at a price: the GS7 Active is notably heavier than the GS7 and GS7 edge. It weighs about 185 grams, according to Samsung, or nearly 20 percent more than the GS7, and almost 10 percent more than the already heavy Galaxy S6 Active.
5) Galaxy S7 Active more stylish than GS6 Active
The GS6 Active was much more clunky than the regular GS6, and while the GS7 Active is slightly larger and more bulky than it GS7 counterpart, it’s better looking and less … awkward than the previous generation of ruggedized Galaxy. It also comes in three colors instead of just one, according to Briglin: green camo, titanium gray and sandy gold. And its quad HD Super AMOLED display is 5.1 inches — the same screen size as the GS7, but smaller than the GS7 edge’s display.
6) Galaxy S7 ‘Active button’ gets a new trick
The GS6 Active has a customizable “convenience key” or “Active button” that lets you pick two different applications that you can quickly launch via a short tap or a long press. The new GS7 Active retains that Active button, but a fast double-tap on the key now lets you trigger a third app of choice.
7) Galaxy S7 Active won’t work with Samsung’s Gear VR
Again, the GS7 Active is larger than the GS7, and because of the size difference it is not compatible with Samsung’s popular Gear VR virtual reality headset, according to Briglin. If you’re not a VR user and have no plans to become one, this probably isn’t a concern. However, it’s notable because Gear VR is compatible with the GS6, GS6 edge, GS6 edge+, GS7, GS7 edge and Galaxy Note5, and that means it works with many different device shapes and sizes. So it’s odd that the headset doesn’t fit the latest Active Galaxy S device.
Al Sacco was a journalist, blogger and editor who covers the fast-paced mobile beat for CIO.com and IDG Enterprise, with a focus on wearable tech, smartphones and tablet PCs. Al managed CIO.com writers and contributors, covered news, and shared insightful expert analysis of key industry happenings. He also wrote a wide variety of tutorials and how-tos to help readers get the most out of their gadgets, and regularly offered up recommendations on software for a number of mobile platforms. Al resides in Boston and is a passionate reader, traveler, beer lover, film buff and Red Sox fan.