It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone at this point, but Samsung has just now made the ruggedized version of the popular Galaxy S 4 official, called Galaxy S 4 Active. The SGS4 Active includes an IP67 rating, which means it's fully sealed against dust (first digit 6 connotes a completely dust sealed design), and submergible up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes (second digit 7). Samsung notes that the earphone jack is also water resistant so you can continue to listen to music while submerged with the appropriate headsets. Samsung also makes note of an 'Aqua Mode' setting in the camera to enhance audio and saturation when taking photos and video under water. 

Superficially the SGS4A is almost the same as the international and other variants of SGS4, however there are a few changes to the phone beyond just a sealed design with IP67 rating. SoC remains the 1.9 GHz Snapdragon 600 (APQ8064AB) we've seen before, the major change is that camera gets a bump down to 8 MP instead of 13 MP, and there's a 1080p LCD display inside instead of Super AMOLED. Camera is likely still using 1.1 micron pixels, just the 8 MP version of the sensor for reduced z-height since LCD is a bit thicker. LCD makes sense here for cost reasons (something has to give) and brightness plus outdoor viewability reasons — AMOLED can go just as bright, but at higher power than the equivalent for LED backlit LCD. The back of the SGS4A seems to be removable given the presence of a thumb groove in the press photos, so ostensibly behind there is the microSD card slot, microSIM slot, and likely still user-replaceable battery. It's also obvious from the photos that the SGS4A includes physical menu, home, and back buttons instead of the still somewhat odd combination of both physical and capacitive on SGS4.

I have to admit that I like the design and appearance of the SGS4A in these press photos a heck of a lot more than the non-active SGS4, even if the SGS4A puts on a few mm around the edges and is heftier. I've put together a table with the comparisons. 

SGS4A vs SGS4 Comparison
  SGS4 SGS4 Active
Length 136.6 mm 139.7 mm
Width 69.9 mm 71.3 mm
Thickness 7.9 mm 9.1 mm
Weight 130 g 151 g
Display 5.0-inch 1080p SAMOLED 5.0-inch 1080p TFT LCD
Camera 13 MP with LED Flash 8 MP with LED Flash

There's no official information on pricing, but Samsung gives availability as 'this summer' in the US and Sweden in three different colors – Urban Grey, Dive Blue and Orange Flare. The latter two Blue and Orange colors are very vibrant from the looks of things.

Samsung will be showing the SGS4A off at its June 20th event in London. 

Source: Samsung

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  • boogerlad - Wednesday, June 05, 2013 - link

    This phone would be perfect if they didn't downgrade the camera. Reply
  • freespace303 - Wednesday, June 05, 2013 - link

    Camera - You wouldn't notice the difference anyway, unless you were doing full page photo prints. Reply
  • boogerlad - Wednesday, June 05, 2013 - link

    It's not the megapixel count that worries me, it's that various sources say that the camera module is the same as the s3, which means we're getting a previous generation camera. The s4 camera has improvements in other areas other than megapixel count. Reply
  • Filiprino - Wednesday, June 05, 2013 - link

    It shouldn't be if the pixel size is the same of the current SGS4. Reply
  • medi02 - Thursday, June 06, 2013 - link

    With S1 => S2 transition getting "previous generation" sound chip meant you'd get better sound. Reply
  • tim851 - Wednesday, June 05, 2013 - link

    More megapixels also help if you crop your pictures. Because smartphones lack optical zoom and because I'm usually to lazy and impatient, a lot of my pictures are shot without perfect composition, I like to just "shoot from the hip". It's nice to be able to zoom in later on the interesting details.
    For me, the camera has become the top priority on a smartphone, seeing that I usually forget to bring my dedicated digicam, or find it a hassle when I don't. So getting last year's camera rules the Active out for me, which is a pity, especially since I find it visually quite a bit more appealing than the vanilla one.
    Reply
  • kkwst2 - Wednesday, June 05, 2013 - link

    But unless you're shooting in great lighting, the noise is enough that getting real use of those 13 MP is rare. In real world shooting, you'll usually not get much benefit out of that extra resolution because if you zoom in that far it will look like crap. I'm in favor of HTC's strategy on this one of sacrificing pixels for better signal, since I'm usually trying to shoot indoors in suboptimal light anyway. Reply
  • darwinosx - Wednesday, June 05, 2013 - link

    A heck of a lot of pictures are taken in low light so emphasizing low light is pretty important. Apple also emphasizes low light and their low light pictures are better than the S 4's but not as good as the HTC one. Reply
  • DLeRium - Wednesday, June 05, 2013 - link

    I know the MP wars are stupid, but at the same time image processing is improved each generation with more powerful SoCs. So just because we're dividing a limited sensor size into more pixel doesn't mean we get worse images. If that's the case we'd be demanding Canon to go back to 6MP SLRs instead of the 18MP sensors in crop cameras. The 18mp sensor today is far better than the 6MP sensor in 2003.

    With that said, I agree with the cropping ability. Crop is hugely important without digital zoom. With manufacturers emphasizing wide angle now, i take a picture and I get a lot of useless junk all around. Cropping helps.

    The thing is the S4 still does marginally well in low light, so I'll take that. If I really want low light shots, the HTC One isn't going to save me. My S95 will with beautiful pictures AND OIS so that it's not just a blur.
    Reply
  • Guspaz - Wednesday, June 05, 2013 - link

    The difference is that an 18MP Canon APS-C camera is about 328 mm^2, while the sensor in an SGS4 is about 4 mm^2... Reply

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