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Samsung Galaxy S7 Active review – CNET

Everyone says that the two biggest things they want in a smartphone are a tough screen that won’t break, and super-long battery life. After my time carrying the Samsung Galaxy S7 Active with me out and about New York City, I can comfortably say that it delivers on both at one expense: Compared to the premium elegance of the original Galaxy S7, it ain’t pretty.

The Active shares all of the S7’s high-end specs — that beautiful Quad HD display, a speedy quad-core processor, a microSD card slot for more storage and an excellent 12-megapixel rear camera — but gone is the beautiful metal-and-glass design. What you get instead is a shatter-resistant screen, physical navigation buttons, a customizable Action Key, and a military-grade body. It’s also equipped with the largest battery Samsung has ever put in a smartphone, which should appeal to just about everyone.

While marketed toward those with an “active lifestyle” (and really, that can mean anything), the Active is a solid choice for anyone looking for a durable and high-end phone — this is the S7 to get if you don’t want to use a case and want to avoid cracking your screen like this. But Galaxy fans who put a premium on design should stick to the S7 or S7 Edge. Check out our existing review of the S7 to see how the camera and processor perform.

Right now, the Active sells only with AT&T in the US, and at $795 (around AU$1,085 and £550, converted) at full retail when it goes on sale on June 10, it isn’t cheap. That’s the same price as the curved-screen Edge, and $100 more than the S7 and a whole lot of other Android phones.

Here’s why you’d want the Active instead

I was initially turned off by the Active’s cheap look and feel, but it has worked hard to win me over, because it has a few things that the better-looking S7 and S7 Edge don’t. (And also a few reasons why you may want to stick with the original S7 or S7 Edge).


Sarah Tew/CNET

The shatter-resistant screen and durable body mean you don’t need a case

Samsung put an extra layer of protection on top of the display glass to keep it from cracking, and in general, the phone is rated to withstand falls from up to 5 feet. I’ve dropped it numerous times on the sidewalk, gravel and hardwood floor, and while the body has scratched slightly, the screen has remained unscathed.

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