Samsung Galaxy S5 Active vs Galaxy S5: What to Buy?

s5active vs s5 lead

Samsung’s Galaxy S5 is one of the best smartphones of 2014, thanks to its beautiful 5.1-inch display, long battery life and excellent camera. The S5 is also water resistant, but the new Galaxy S5 ($199 from AT&T) can stand up to a lot more abuse. 

The S5 Active can survive being submerged in 3 feet of water for 30 minutes, just like the standard S5. However, only the Active provides the added benefit of withstanding extreme temperatures, high humidity and falls of up to 4 feet onto hard surfaces. Basically, this smartphone acts as its own case.

Here’s how the two smartphones stack up in terms of features and specs.


s5active thumbnail

s5 thumbnail


Samsung Galaxy S5 Active

Samsung Galaxy S5


Water-resistant up to 3-feet for 30 min.

Drop tested from 4 feet onto hard surface 26 times

Dust, humidity and temperature-resistant

Water-resistant up to 3-feet for 30 min.


5.1-inch, 1920 x 1080 Super AMOLED 

5.1-inch, 1920 x 1080 Super AMOLED 


5.7 x 2.9 x 0.35 inches 5.3 x 2.9 x 0.25 inches


6.0 ounces

5.1 ounces


Quad-core Snapdragon 801 CPU

Quad-core Snapdragon 801 CPU





32GB (expandable to 128GB)

32GB (expandable to 64GB)


802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0

802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0

Special Features

Heart rate monitor

Activity Zone

Active Key

Heart rate monitor

Fingerprint scanner

Operating System

Android 4.4.2 KitKat

Android 4.4.2 KitKat


16-MP Rear

2.1MP front

16-MP rear

2.1-MP front


2,800 mAh (removable)

2,800 mAh (removable)

The S5 Active’s added durability does increase the size and weight considerably from the original S5. At 5.3 x 2.9 x 0.25 inches and 5.1 ounces the Galaxy S5 is relatively thin and light for its size. The S5 Active, on the other hand, comes in at a bulkier 5.7 x 2.9 x 0.35 inches and 6.0 ounces. That makes the S5 Active heavier than the all-aluminum HTC One M8, which tips the scales at 5.6 ounces. 

MORE: Galaxy S5 Features: What to Enable and Disable

It’s not just its rugged chassis that differentiates the S5 Active from the standard Galaxy S5, there’s also a new Activity Zone hub that combines a barometer, compass, flashlight and stopwatch into one app. Add that to the existing S Health app and built-in heart rate monitor and the Active should get outdoor aficionados’ pulses pounding. There’s also a new programmable Activity Key that can be set to launch any app of your choosing with the touch of a button.

Unlike the Galaxy S4 Active, which saw its specs trimmed relative to the standard S4 in favor of durability, the S5 Active doesn’t sacrifice much for its rugged form. For example, the S4 Active used an LCD display instead of the S4’s AMOLED panel and packed an 8-megapixel camera rather than its sibling’s 13-MP shooter. The S5 Active, however, gets the same 1920 x 1080 Super AMOLED screen and 16-MP camera as the S5. The only notable omission on the Active is the lack of a fingerprint sensor.

So which of these smartphones should you buy? That depends on what you’re looking for in a smartphone. If you’re interested in a slim, lightweight handset with a gorgeous display and all-day battery life, the Galaxy S5 is the phone for you. But, if you want the same kind of overall experience in a more durable package and don’t mind a little extra junk in the trunk, the S5 Active is worth checking out.

Daniel P. Howley
Daniel P. Howley
A newspaper man at heart, Dan Howley wrote for Greater Media Newspapers before joining He also served as a news editor with ALM Media’s Law Technology News, and he holds a B.A. in English from The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.
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  1. Dennis Says:

    Everyone misses a MAJOR issue here. The SGS5 has usb 3.0, the Active DOES NOT it has 2.0.

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