Samsung Galaxy S4 Lively evaluation: a prime-tier telephone in a water resistant package deal

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review: a top-tier phone in a water-resistant package

After Samsung’s newest product push in London, we’ve nothing in need of a Galaxy S four franchise on our arms. Whereas the corporate unveiled its anticipated Mini model together with a images-targeted variant, it additionally took a step within the rugged-system path by saying the Galaxy S4 Lively. With IP67 water and mud safety, the telephone guarantees to see you thru half-hour of aquatic exercise at a time. Ruggedness apart, although, this gadget is sort of just like the GS4, albeit in a barely heftier — and arguably extra engaging — package deal. We spent some high quality time with Galaxy S4 Lively on AT&T, which retails for a similar $199.ninety nine as the unique S four. So is that this a greater decide? You realize the place to seek out out.

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Samsung Galaxy S4 Lively assessment

eighty four
Samsung (AT&T)

Samsung Galaxy S4 Lively (AT&T)


  • Engaging, snug design
  • Efficient water resistant options
  • Fluid on a regular basis efficiency


  • Disappointing battery life
  • Decrease-high quality show than GS4


With a water resistant casing and a cushty, engaging design, Samsung’s Galaxy S4 Lively is a robust choice for outdoorsy — and clumsy — varieties. Simply do not anticipate all of the bells and whistles of the unique Galaxy S four.


Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review: a top-tier phone in a water-resistant package

We’re doubtless not alone in equating “rugged” with “boxy and unattractive.” Our preliminary response to the concept of a GS4 Lively wasn’t precisely considered one of enthusiasm, then, as we knew it might sport a thicker profile than the flagship S four. The Lively measures 5.5 x 2.eighty one x zero.36 inches (139.9 x seventy one.four x 9.1mm), whereas its predecessor is extra petite at 5.38 x 2.7 x zero.31 inches (136.6 x sixty nine.eight x 7.9mm). Weight-sensible, too, the rugged model is a bit chunkier: 5.29 ounces (150g) in comparison with four.fifty nine (130g). Once we truly acquired the gadget in our palms, although, that additional little bit of bulk was appreciated. The Lively is arguably much more snug to carry than the unique S four, as its edges are extra rounded and the additional fractions of an inch make for a sturdier grip.

The Galaxy S4 Lively sports activities a polycarbonate design, a mainstay for Sammy’s flagship handsets, however the physique has a metallic, quite than a plasticky, end. Our evaluation unit got here in a punchy turquoise shade referred to as Dive Blue — it is undoubtedly extra thrilling than the white and cobalt hues out there for many Galaxy merchandise, and in addition fairly applicable given the gadget’s water resistant options. There’s even a touch of metallic, courtesy of rivets, on the Lively’s bottom. These particulars add as much as a telephone that, fairly frankly, appears larger-finish than the Galaxy S four.

Whereas the rim and backing of the S4 Lively are decked out in blue (or City Grey, because the case could also be; there’s additionally a Flame Orange choice for the worldwide variant), the entrance face sports activities a texturized cobalt end across the 5-inch show. The bezels are wider than on the S4, which additionally has a 5-inch panel. Cosmetically, all the things else is fairly comparable throughout each units — you will discover the standard speaker grille and Samsung emblem above the display, together with the LED indicator lights and a couple of-megapixel digital camera — though there are a couple of exceptions. First, the Lively’s show is coated with Gorilla Glass 2 somewhat than Gorilla Glass three for scratch resistance, which strikes us as odd, contemplating that the telephone is meant to be particularly sturdy. There are additionally three bodily buttons for residence, again and menu slightly than only one hardware key. The raised buttons are straightforward to seek out by really feel, which is useful whenever you try a bit eyes-free operation. Some might say they cheapen the look of the system, however from a usability standpoint, they’re undoubtedly superior.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review: a top-tier phone in a water-resistant package

You will discover the micro-USB port on the underside fringe of the telephone, and it is coated with a rubber flap. The left aspect of the system sports activities the quantity rocker, whereas the fitting has the facility button. Up prime, there is a water resistant headphone socket and IR transceiver for utilizing the telephone as a TV distant. Flip the handset over, and you will see the 8MP shooter with LED flash (a step down from the 13MP unit on the GS4) together with each AT&T and Galaxy branding and one other speaker grille.

Lastly, eradicating the duvet reveals the two,600mAh battery together with the micro-SIM and microSD card slots. That is additionally the place you will discover the telephone’s rubber waterproofing seal, which encloses these parts — the digital camera, however, stays uncovered. Eradicating the backing was straightforward sufficient for this reviewer with medium-size nails; there’s an indentation on the higher-proper fringe of the telephone that helps you pry it unfastened. Then again, getting the casing to reattach is a bit more troublesome, as it’s a must to maintain it in precisely the appropriate place for it to firmly snap in in all places.

When you’re enticed by the Lively’s pedigree as a sturdy gadget, we should always mood your expectations only a bit. This is not a telephone that may survive all the weather: Samsung very particularly states that it is water resistant for as much as half-hour at a depth of 1 meter or much less. It is shielded from mud as nicely, however it does not have the federal government-issued MIL-SPEC-810G certification to technically qualify as rugged. In different phrases, there isn’t any assure you will have a working cell in case you take the Lively deep-ocean (or pool) diving.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Lively Dimensions 5.5 x 2.eighty one x zero.36 inches (139.9 x seventy one.four x 9.1mm) Weight 5.29 oz. (150g) Display measurement inches Display decision 1,920 x 1,080 (441 ppi) Display sort TFT LCD Battery 2,600mAh Li-Polymer (detachable) Inner storage 16GB Exterior storage MicroSDXC (as much as 64GB) Rear digital camera 8MP with LED flash Entrance-dealing with cam 2.0MP Video seize 1080p / 30 fps (rear); 1080p (entrance) NFC Sure Radios

LTE: seven hundred / 850 / 1700 / 1900 / 2600 (bands 2,four, 5, 7 and 17)

HSPA/UMTS: 850 / 1900 / 2100

GSM/GPRS/EDGE: 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900

Bluetooth LE SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 CPU 1.9GHz quad-core GPU Adreno 320 RAM 2GB Leisure MHL, IR transceiver, DLNA, WiFi Direct WiFi Twin-band, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-fi Charging No Working system Android four.2.2 (TouchWiz)


Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review: a top-tier phone in a water-resistant package

The Galaxy S4 Lively sports activities a 5-inch Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) TFT panel, and you will undoubtedly discover the distinction between this LCD and the Galaxy S four’s Tremendous AMOLED display (additionally with 1080p decision). Whereas photographs and textual content look clear on each, colours aren’t almost as vibrant on the Lively. Once we in contrast our assessment unit with the Dash model of the Galaxy S four, blacks appeared barely bluish, and general colours appeared barely flat and muted. By comparability, photographs nearly pop off the display on the GS4. We additionally observed a barely magenta forged on the Lively’s panel. In comparison with the Droid DNA’s Tremendous LCD 1080p display, too, the Lively’s panel delivered extra washed-out tones and barely much less-detailed pictures.

We requested Samsung why it opted for a decrease-high quality display on this mannequin, however the firm hasn’t but issued a response. Within the absence of an official reply, we’ll enterprise that it has one thing to do with worth: the GS4 and the GS4 Lively each go for $199.ninety nine on AT&T, in any case, and what the Lively lacks in display luster it makes up for in construct high quality and water resistance.

That stated, the Lively’s capacitive display is way from common — particularly contemplating that many telephones do not even supply a 1080p decision. Viewing angles are very vast, and textual content seems to be completely crisp. Plus, it is very straightforward to learn gadgets on-display in direct daylight, extra so than on the S4. So whereas it might be a step down from the GS4, it is nonetheless greater than passable.

Software program

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review: a top-tier phone in a water-resistant package

We coated Samsung’s newest software program options in nice element in our Galaxy S four evaluate, and issues are just about the identical on this system. That is not an exaggeration: the Lively additionally runs Android four.2.2 Jelly Bean, which provides you seven house screens to fill with widgets and apps, and the Samsung-commonplace TouchWiz interface is layered on prime. You will discover the identical notification bar current on the GS4, and all the firm’s new sensible options (Sensible Keep, Sensible Scroll, Sensible Pause and Sensible Rotation) are right here as nicely. Each units allow you to change between an expanded view of the notification bar and a collapsed mode for toggling options corresponding to display mirroring, multi-window and S Beam. Furthermore, each telephones supply Samsung’s on-display keyboard powered by Swiftkey, which permits for swiping between letters to create phrases.

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Samsung Galaxy S4 Lively screenshots

Getting actually granular, there are a number of extra minor variations: the Lively presents a driving mode for studying out incoming notifications whenever you’re behind the wheel, and the GS4 consists of one further show mode referred to as Skilled Photograph, together with an auto-regulate display tone choice. Suffice to say, although, that software program should not think about to which system you select to buy.

So far as apps go, the pre-load ought to look fairly acquainted. There’s Samsung’s ChatOn service, together with Group Play, Messages, S Memo, S Translator, S Voice and WatchOn. There’s additionally S Well being nonetheless, although this time there isn’t any humidity sensor for gauging your environment. Third-social gathering apps embrace Flipboard and TripAdvisor. That is not it, although: you will discover a host of service-branded apps right here as nicely. These embrace DriveMode, FamilyMap, Locker, Messages, Navigation and Sensible Wi-Fi. None are notably obtrusive, however they are often disabled to attenuate muddle.

Digital camera

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review: a top-tier phone in a water-resistant package

Contemplating the Lively is constructed to help underwater capturing, the digital camera could also be the primary purpose you’d contemplate this telephone over the unique Galaxy S four. Whereas the Lively does supply a singular Aqua mode for capturing stills underwater, its rear digital camera sports activities a 1/three.2-inch 8MP CMOS sensor with LED flash and 4X digital zoom, in comparison with thirteen megapixels on the GS4’s shooter. Relating to UI variations between this man and the OG Galaxy S four, properly, there actually aren’t many. Each telephones use a proper-hand shortcut bar that features toggles for flash, microphone and video mode. The GS4 does supply night time-detection mode, which the Lively lacks, whereas the latter features a shortcut to the timer. Bounce into the complete settings menu on every gadget, although, and the one actual discrepancy you will discover is a video stabilization choice for the unique GS4.

We have been at residence moderately than in some unique locale whereas reviewing this telephone, so as an alternative of capturing sea turtles and tropical fish of their native habitats, we took this man for a spin in an indoor pool (uninspired, we all know). Samsung’s included Aqua mode disables the Lively’s touchscreen and makes use of the quantity rocker for the digital camera / video-document button. This mode solely works for the rear-dealing with 8MP digital camera, although, so you will nonetheless should faucet the show for underwater selfies. Our pattern pictures seemed fairly clear, and colours appeared correct. Retaining the digital camera regular whereas it is submerged could be tough, although; a few of our first photographs and movies turned out a bit out of focus.

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Samsung Galaxy S4 Lively pattern photographs

What about efficiency again on land? The 8MP shooter does a good job reproducing correct colours, and for probably the most half its automated focusing is spot-on. Along with Aqua mode, there are settings for: Magnificence Face, Greatest Photograph, Eraser, Drama, Panorama, Wealthy Tone (HDR) and Sound & Shot. In fact, there’s additionally Auto mode, and it really works nicely throughout totally different environments. Notably, the Galaxy S four’s twin-digital camera function is not out there on this system. Common daylight efficiency could be very robust, with loads of element displaying up in photographs of Astor Place on a sunny day.

Once we examined out the cam’s low-mild efficiency, we obtained very grainy, pixelated outcomes. However, pictures snapped with flash present an honest quantity of element. Wealthy-Tone (HDR) mode additionally works properly; once we snapped a pic of an condo stoop half within the sunshine, half within the shade, we have been capable of make out particulars in the complete photograph.

Each the rear and entrance cameras shoot video in 1080p at 30 fps, with a bit price of 17 Mbps, and in our pattern footage, every thing seems crisp. We would not name the standard distinctive, however for a smartphone digital camera, it is par for the course, and underwater footage is completely usable.


Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review: a top-tier phone in a water-resistant package

The Lively packs the identical internals because the Galaxy S four on AT&T: a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor clocked at 1.9GHz, an Adreno 320 GPU and 2GB of RAM. Reminiscence-clever, your solely selection is sixteen gigs, although nearly 11GB of that’s consumer-accessible.

That Snapdragon 600 chip continues to be comparatively younger, having solely appeared in a handful of units together with the HTC One and the LG Optimus G Professional, however to date we have seen the anticipated, incremental increase in efficiency. Naturally, then, the Galaxy S four Lively turned in good stats once we ran it by means of the standard suite of benchmarks. General, this handset’s scores are according to the GS4’s and the HTC One’s, and it was even on the head of the pack on graphics-targeted checks akin to GLBenchmark.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Lively Samsung Galaxy S four HTC One Samsung Galaxy S III Quadrant 12,350 12,684 12,495 5,875 Vellamo 1,976 1,903 2,429 1,626 AnTuTu three.x 21,351 26,143 25,one hundred forty 10,944 SunSpider zero.9.1 (ms) 643 772 991 1,194 GLBenchmark Egypt 2.5 HD Offscreen (fps) forty one 39 34 15 CF-Bench 28,558 28,111 25,one hundred forty 12,922 SunSpider: decrease scores are higher. Samsung Galaxy S III was benchmarked on Android four.1.

So far as actual-world efficiency goes, the Lively makes a very good day by day driver. We did not discover any bugginess in our palms-on time, although the gadget did really feel noticeably hotter after we used the digital camera for a strong half hour. Switching between apps, texting, mild gaming and searching the online did not journey the telephone up, although.

We carried out a number of velocity checks on LTE in New York and averaged 32 Mbps up and forty one down. We averaged above 4 bars of sign all through our few days of testing time. Within the US, the Lively runs solely (to date) on AT&T. It makes use of LTE bands 2, four, 5, 7 and 17, HSPA+ (850 / 1900 / 2100) and quad-band GSM / EDGE. It additionally supplies twin-band WiFi, Bluetooth and NFC.

Name high quality and quantity on the Lively could be very strong. Once we rang up a pal to check it out, her voice sounded clear and correct, and she or he reported the identical on her finish. The telephone gives noise-cancellation, which does a superb job to dam out din within the background. GPS efficiency can also be excellent; the handset was capable of detect our location in a matter of seconds once we powered up Google Maps for navigation.

On our normal video-rundown check — with LTE on, display brightness set to 50 % and a regionally saved HD video enjoying on loop — the Lively held robust for six hours and thirteen minutes. We have been disenchanted on this displaying, we should say. It appears the LCD show is the wrongdoer right here, although, because it sucks much more energy than an AMOLED panel. Actual-life utilization paints a extra constructive image: utilizing the Lively to incessantly e-mail, verify social networks, textual content and watch the occasional video, we received about 12 hours of endurance.


Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review: a top-tier phone in a water-resistant package

Some might say the Galaxy S four Lively is a gimmick; an try and squeeze as a lot momentum out of the GS4 model as attainable. True, it is extra “rugged lite” than “army-grade,” and its show actually pales compared to its predecessor’s. However water resistance apart, this handset nonetheless has fairly a couple of issues going for it. We truly favor this design, and it runs properly as a day by day driver. And despite the fact that the digital camera has fewer megapixels than the GS four’s, it delivers clear, detailed photographs and 1080p video.

So, it appears we set ourselves up for a query we will not in good religion reply. Do you have to decide the Galaxy S4 Lively over the Galaxy S four? Finally it comes right down to what you want your telephone to do. Take pleasure in texting from the bath, or just vulnerable to spilling the occasional glass of water? The Lively might be the higher selection. Need absolutely the highest-finish specs, from digital camera to show to battery life? The unique Galaxy S four is certainly the higher guess.

Zach Honig contributed to this report.

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<a href=””> Samsung Galaxy S four Lively </a>

  • Key specs
  • <a href=”” title=”Samsung Galaxy S four Lively evaluations” goal=”_blank”> Critiques 5 </a>
  • Costs
  • Discussions
  • Sort Smartphone
  • Working system Android (Jelly Bean [4.2])
  • Display measurement 5 inches
  • Digital camera eight&#one hundred sixty;megapixels
  • Carriers (US) AT&T
  • Dimensions 5.5 x 2.eighty one x zero.36 in
  • Weight 5.29 oz
  • Launched 2013-06-21

see all specs →

eight.eightcommon consumer score
  • Reception and name high quality 9.2
  • Show 10
  • Battery life 7.2
  • Digital camera eight
  • Ease of use eight
  • Design and type issue eight
  • Portability (measurement / weight) 7.6
  • Media help eight.four
  • Sturdiness eight
  • Ecosystem (apps, equipment, and so forth.) 7.2

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