Update: We have further proof that the Samsung Galaxy S8 Active launch is coming any day now, as AT&T accidentally included the rugged smartphone in a promotion. It appears to be another US and AT&T-exclusive with a rugged design.
Want a high-end phone that won’t break at the first sign of a light storm? Then the Samsung Galaxy S8 Active could be for you.
This rugged alternative to the flagship Samsung Galaxy S8 is thought to be launching soon, and rumors suggest it’s every bit as high-end as the normal S8, but a whole lot tougher.
We’ve collected all the news and rumors below, so read on to find out exactly what to expect from what could be the toughest flagship of 2017.
Cut to the chase
- What it it? A tough flagship from Samsung
- When is it out? Before the end of the summer
- What will it cost? Likely at least as much as the normal S8
Samsung Galaxy S8 Active release date and price
- Could be exclusive to AT&T
There’s no word yet on when the Samsung Galaxy S8 Active will launch, but it’s been extensively leaked, including a mention on one of Samsung’s own websites, and looks like it’s probably more or less complete, suggesting we could see it soon, especially since it’s been over a year since the June 2016 launch of the Samsung Galaxy S7 Active.
However, the S8 Active might not be made widely available. You could only get the S7 Active in the US and only on the AT&T network, and leaks suggest that the Galaxy S8 Active could be an AT&T exclusive too.
So, if you’re on another network you might have to change, and if you’re outside the US you might be completely out of luck. Nothing’s confirmed yet though so don’t give up hope.
One thing we can be quite confident of is that the Samsung Galaxy S8 Active will be expensive. The S7 Active was a pricey phone at $ 800 (around £610/AU$ 1,005), and rumors suggest the S8 Active will be just as high-end as the $ 850 (about £646/AU$ 1,066) Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus.
TechRadar’s take: We’d expect to see the Samsung Galaxy S8 Active within the next few days – before the end of the summer – but we’re not convinced it will launch outside the US.
Samsung Galaxy S8 Active screen
- A 5.8-inch 1440 x 2960 Super AMOLED screen
- No curves
Leaked images and a leaked training manual appears to show official material suggesting the Samsung Galaxy S8 Active has a 5.8-inch 1440 x 2960 Super AMOLED screen – the same size and resolution as the Samsung Galaxy S8. It’s also apparently clad in tough Gorilla Glass 5 and is shatter-resistant.
Based on images it doesn’t appear to be curved, which makes sense, since that could harm its durability, and in fact these images actually show a black bezel around the screen, leaving it looking rather less premium – but again, this probably helps make it tougher.
And the Galaxy S8 Active is at least rumored to have the same super-widescreen 18.5:9 aspect ratio as the standard Samsung Galaxy S8.
TechRadar’s take: Rumors are convincingly pointing to a screen the same size and spec as the S8’s, but without the curves.
Samsung Galaxy S8 Active design
- A chunky metal and plastic build
- Tested to military standards
- Water and dust-resistant
While the Samsung Galaxy S8 Active is rumored to have specs that rival the standard Galaxy S8, it’s not going to look as good, but it should be a lot tougher.
In leaked shots you can see that it’s seemingly got a metal frame, but what looks to be a plastic back and big bezels around the screen.
Elsewhere, we’ve seen from what appears to be marketing material that the Galaxy S8 Active has a ‘durable metal design’ and comes in at 152.1 x 74.9 x 9.9mm and 208g. For comparison, the standard Galaxy S8 is 148.9 x 68.1 x 8mm and 155g, so this is bigger, thicker and heavier.
The Samsung Galaxy S8 Active is also rumored to be IP68 certified, meaning it’s dustproof and water-resistant to 1.5 meters for up to 30 minutes. That information is from a leaked training manual for the phone.
The normal S8 matches all of that spec, but what the S8 Active apparently has that the Galaxy S8 doesn’t is MIL-STD-810G certification. That’s a US military standard that means it can survive more extreme conditions, such as very high and low temperatures, shocks and vibration.
And that marketing material mentions that you’ll be able to buy the phone in ‘Meteor Gray’ or ‘Titanium Gold’.
The image above is also another leaked marketing shot of the phone supplied by trusted leaker Evan Blass.
TechRadar’s take: The leaked photos we’ve seen look believable, so the Samsung Galaxy S8 Active will probably be clad in a mixture of metal and plastic, with a chunky but durable design.
Samsung Galaxy S8 Active camera and battery
- The same 12MP and 8MP camera pairing as the S8
- A huge 4,000mAh battery
We’ve heard from two separate sources that the Samsung Galaxy S8 Active has a 12MP camera, with one source (the marketing material pictured below) expanding on that and saying that it’s a dual-pixel one with an f/1.7 aperture, along with an 8MP snapper (also with an f/1.7 aperture) around the front.
That sounds like exactly the same pairing as the standard Galaxy S8 has, which is great news, as that has one of the best smartphone cameras around.
The same sources also say that the Galaxy S8 Active has a 4,000mAh battery, one which apparently supports fast and wireless charging.
That’s a big improvement over the 3,000mAh juice pack in the Galaxy S8, or even the 3,500mAh one in the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus, so if true this should be one long-lasting phone.
TechRadar’s take: It looks like the S8 Active will share many of the S8’s specs, including those of its camera, so a 12MP rear snapper and an 8MP front one are likely, while a big 4,000mAh battery would be in line with its predecessor.
Samsung Galaxy S8 Active OS and power
- Flagship power with a Snapdragon 835 and 4GB of RAM
There’s seemingly no change here from the standard S8, with every leak so far pointing to a Snapdragon 835 chipset (which is what the S8 uses in the US) and 4GB of RAM, along with 64GB of storage and a microSD card slot supporting cards of up to 256GB.
We’ve also heard that the S8 Active will run Android 7.0 Nougat and that it packs Bluetooth 5.1 and NFC. Those specs would make it a real flagship, ready to compete with any other 2017 handset.
TechRadar’s take: With all rumors pointing to a Snapdragon 835 and 4GB of RAM that’s what we’d expect to see. If it launches soon then Android Nougat is also all but guaranteed, though it will very possibly be upgraded to Android O once that’s available.
Samsung Galaxy S8 Active other features
- Bixby built-in
- A fingerprint scanner
Images suggest that the Samsung Galaxy S8 Active will have a fingerprint scanner on the back, just like the standard Galaxy S8, and it’s also likely to inherit Bixby from that phone, complete with a dedicated hardware button to launch the AI assistant.
That’s not necessarily a good thing though, as one highlight of the Galaxy S7 Active was a remappable button that you could use as a shortcut to an app of your choice, but sources suggest that the Bixby button has replaced that here, and won’t be remappable.
TechRadar’s take: Samsung is sure to want to make the most of Bixby, so expect that to have a major presence on the S8 Active.