After weeks and months of leaks, the Galaxy S8 Active hasn't left much to the imagination. We’ve already seen the phone from virtually every angle and got a sneak peek of a prematurely launched carrier page last week, to boot. The only thing left was for Samsung to officially make the thing official.
The company’s doing just that this morning, a day before the rugged handset goes up for pre-order through AT&T here in the States. For the time being, it's a carrier exclusive -- the sort of thing you can still get away with on a fairly niche device. It’s a quiet sort of launch a couple of weeks ahead of the expected Galaxy Note 8 announcement.
No surprise, Samsung had to ditch the S8’s most iconic feature, the Infinity Display, in order to make the Active sufficiently rugged. Even with Gorilla Glass on both sides, the edge-to-edge glass makes the company’s flagship extremely vulnerable to drops, to which plenty of YouTube videos can attest.
The rugged upgrades render the phone basically unrecognizable as an S8, in spite of the company’s strong commitment to aesthetic consistency across product lines. The sides are completely encased in a bumper, monopolizing considerable bezel space on the front. The glass back was ditched as well, in favor of a harder, textured surface.
The fine print says the phone can survive a five foot drop onto a flat surface, though “drops may cause scratches or other damage to device screen or body.” Well, yeah, sure. It’s also water resistant in five feet for up to 30 minutes -- the same rating as the standard S8.
Samsung’s on-going dedication to Bixby in spite of its rocky start means the company has kept the dedicated button on the side, even as it’s made all sorts of more dramatic design choices. It’s true what they say, you can’t keep a mediocre smart assistant down.
All said, it’s not a bad looking phone, at least as far as these rugged models go. It splits the difference between every day phones and those military grade models like the CAT S50. It’s a bit like buying a Otterbox case you can never take off. And let’s be real, no matter how beautiful your phone is, most us have learned the hard way by now that they’re best kept in cases to protect them from ourselves.
The nicest surprise in all of this is a crazy big 4,000mAh battery, putting it well over the S8’s 3000mAh. That kind of capacity is almost enough to consider the device over the company’s other flagship offerings, assuming, of course, you’re cool Samsung pushing its battery capacities beyond the normal limits. The Active S8 will hit AT&T stores August 11.