Samsung Galaxy S7 Active – The Best Rugged Phone to Buy, but there’s a Catch

Samsung Galaxy S7 Active

If you are in the market for a flagship smartphone that can be described as tough and rough or simply rugged, you have very limited options around you.

In fact, there is only one major option you can turn to – Samsung Galaxy S7 Active. Released this year, the phone comes in to take the place of last year’s Samsung Galaxy S6 Active. As usual, Samsung came in with improvements from last year’s offering, bringing in a more durable waterproof, dust proof and shock resistant body that also houses more powerful specs and an even larger battery unit.

Just like the rest of the Galaxy S Active models, the new Galaxy S7 Active has been made in partnership with AT&T, meaning it remains exclusive to the carrier. This is where things get thick and thin for those using other carriers such as Verizon, U.S. Cellular, Sprint or even T-Mobile – you must switch to using AT&T in order to grab yourself the tough and rough Samsung Galaxy S7 Active, which kind of sucks.

Other than this terrible shortfall, there is no doubt that AT&T users will be getting themselves the best rugged flagship smartphone in the market right now.

A refreshed Galaxy S7

Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge at the MWC 2016 show in Barcelona. These two have now been joined by the S7 Active, making it three variants for this year’s flagship line. In terms of performance specs, you will find no difference between the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Active. Both handsets, including the larger Galaxy S7 Edge, come with a Snapdragon 820 SoC for the U.S. variant (other regions get an Exynos 8890 SoC) and a RAM of 4GB. On board storage stays at 32GB on both phones, which can also be expanded via a microSD card.

Galaxy S7 Active

As for the software, the three handsets have Samsung’s TouchWiz running on top of the stock Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow. However, the Galaxy S7 Active adds lots of other stuff specific to AT&T, all of which cannot be removed.

The rugged phone comes with a screen size of 5.1 inches, featuring the same Super AMOLED QHD panel you get on the Galaxy S7. The screen is also protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass 4 and it still comes with the Always On display feature for showing things like time, date and notifications on the lock screen with no need of turning to full screen mode. To make the phone suitable for the tough environment it’s meant for, Samsung added a polycarbonate layer on top of the display that ensures the S7 Active is shielded against drops. As for the water and dust-proof features, you get the same IP68 certification available on the S7 and S7 Edge.

Samsung omitted the fingerprint scanner from the Galaxy S6 Active, however, this year’s Galaxy S7 Active has this feature hidden in the physical home button. The best part is that this sensor will work even if your fingers are dirty or wet, something that cannot be achieved with Apple’s Touch ID scanners. It is also easy to use the two physical buttons on either side of the home button even if wearing gloves, for instance.

The Galaxy S7 Active also comes with a shock-resistant bumper around it that makes it a tank of a phone. Even though the screen size remains at 5.1 inches, it is the same height size as the 5.5-inch Galaxy S7 Edge. The phone is also thicker than the other two, something that also rules it out of the virtual reality world as far as the Galaxy VR headset is concerned.

Just like what you get on the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge in terms of cameras, the S7 Active features a 12MP main camera with f/1.7 aperture, OIS and dual-LED flash. The front part has a 5MP sensor with the same aperture.

The Active Key

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is the only model to have missed out on the Active Key feature. Since the S5 Active, the latest Galaxy S7 Active is the third variant in this series to feature this tool. It has its home just above the volume rocker and it’s meant for opening shortcuts to apps that have been assigned to it.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Active

The Active key has three modes – long press, double press and single press. While the latter is meant for launching the Activity Zone that is houses info such as weather, compass and so on, double pressing the button will launch the Emergency Zone where you can send a message to a designated emergency contact or maybe call 911. When you long press the button, DirecTV will launch. The good side of the story is that you can add shortcuts to other apps to the single and double press modes to get more versatile with your Galaxy S7 Active.

Huge battery unit

Samsung impressed when it improved the battery sizes of the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge to 3000mAh and 3600mAh respectively. However, none of these two are near the 4000mAh battery offered on the Samsung Galaxy S7 Active. It gets even better as the battery can be fast charged wirelessly with the help of Qualcomm’s Quick Charge technology, just like its siblings.

As for the pricing, AT&T values the Galaxy S7 Active at $795, which is $100 more than the standard Galaxy S7. However, looking at what the phone has to offer in terms of protection, there is no doubt that you will be getting a worthy smartphone. But as noted earlier, the major downside of this phone is that it is exclusive to AT&T.

Having said this, it is a high time smartphone carrier exclusivity ended. What do you think? Let us know in your comments below.

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