Do we have a good one for you today – the pretty Xiaomi Mi4 LTE goes up against the new rugged Samsung Galaxy S6 Active. The Mi4 LTE offers great specifications for one-third the price of the S6 Active – does it top the S6 Active in any specification area, certainly not, but for the pricing, it will be a hard device to turn down. With the S6 Active a kind of niche device, the Mi4 LTE may be a better daily driver for most than the Samsung.
These two devices have a few things in common – for starters, they are very similar in physical dimension, with the Mi4 coming in slightly smaller, but weighing the same. The 5-inch display on the Mi4 is only slightly smaller than the 5.1-inch display on the S6 Active. Both devices are sporting 3GB of RAM – the S6 Active does use the faster DDR4 and both devices have non-removable battery. Both devices offer the usual suspects – Wi-Fi, Bluetooth (4.0 on the Mi4 and 4.1 on the S6 Active), GPS, built-in IR Blaster, a microUSB port for charging and data transfer and both devices have a quick charge feature.
Please take a deliberate look at the detailed Specifications Comparison chart below and here you will see just how these two great devices stack up against one another – click on the “View Full Comparison” link at the end of the chart to expand the details. After that, we will look at each individual device in greater detail and point out some of its pros and cons. From all of this information we will try to determine the winner based on specs and execution of design and functions.
Xiaomi Mi4 LTE
The Xiaomi Mi4 that we are comparing today is the newest model with FDD-LTE that works using Bands 1 (2100MHz) and 3 (1800MHz). There is supposed be a 16GB and 64GB memory models, but it is currently available only in the white 16GB model – neither model has room for additional storage. The Mi4 has a plastic back with full-metal body and trim that gives the Mi4 a solid feel, not to mention the look of a premium device. The Mi4 is comfortable in your hand and a pleasure to use.
The Xiaomi Mi4 sports a 5-inch FHD IPS LCD with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 and has 441 pixels-per-inch (PPI) – this is competing with the S6 Active’s 5.1-inch QHD display with 576 PPI. The Mi4 uses the reliable 32-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core CPU clocked at 2.5GHz, which was a great processor early last year, but it cannot hold up to the 64-bit Exynos octa-core in the S6 Active. Both devices carry 3GB of RAM on board, with the Xiaomi Mi4 carrying only 16GB of internal storage and no room for expansion, whereas the S6 Active offers 32GB of storage and no means to expand. The S6 Active uses the newer, faster DDR4 RAM and UFS 2.0 Flash Memory.
The devices have a very similar camera area – the Mi4 uses a Sony produced 13MP sensor, auto-focus, f/1.8 aperture and a dual-LED flash, but the Mi4 does not have the OIS capability. This compares to a 16MP Sony sensor with autofocus and LED flash, but also adds OIS, Live HDR and a f/1.9 aperture. The Mi4 has an excellent 8MP front-facing camera (FFC) with a f/1.8 aperture that is larger than the 5MP on the S6 Active, but the S6 adds Live HDR, an f/1.9 aperture and a 120-degree wide-angle lens. Either smartphone should take great selfies and offer a good video chatting experience. The Mi4’s 3080mAh battery is smaller than the 3500mAh found on the S6 Active, but both should easily get you through a full day and the S6 Active should make it through 2 days.
When it comes to other extra features about all we can say is the Mi4 has an FM Radio. This model is the new FDD-LTE device, so please check with Xiaomi’s website and your carrier to make sure that you can use 4G LTE in your country – in the US it should work on AT&T and T-Mobile. The Xiaomi Mi4 is running Android 4.4.2 KitKat with MIUI 5 on top. Pricing is all off-contract via online ordering – approximately $330 for 16GB model.
Samsung Galaxy S6 Active
The new Samsung S6 Active is part Galaxy S6 and part heavy-duty outdoor style phone, with a camo plastic to protect the device from the elements. Certainly well built, it just does not have the ‘wow’ look of the original Galaxy S6 with glass and metal. It is definitely more suited for the rugged outdoors than a boardroom or fancy party.
The S6 Active also had to give up a couple of features, such as the fingerprint sensor, capacitive buttons and Samsung Pay, but also gained three physical buttons and an extra side mounted, programmable button that is set to default to the Activity app. The app is designed for the camper or hiker and immediately brings up a menu with a flashlight button, the weather, compass and other features an outdoors person might need to use. There are some added benefits as well, such as IP68 certification for dust and water resistance and a MIL-STD-910G certification, which means it is resistant to salt, dust, humidity, rain, vibration, solar radiation, transport and is thermal shock resistant.
The S6 Active sports a 5.1-inch Quad HD display with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels and 576 PPI compared to FHD display with 441 PPI on the Mi4. The S6 Active uses the same 64-bit Exynos 7420 octa-core processor used in the Galaxy S6. The four ‘light-duty’ cores are clocked at 1.5GHz and four ‘workhorse’ cores are clocked at 2.1GHz. The 32-bit Snapdragon 801 quad-core 20nm processor in the Mi4 simply cannot hold a candle to the new 14nm processor from Samsung. The S6 Active is packing 3GB of DDR4 RAM, compared to 3GB of slower DDR3 RAM used in the Mi4, and it comes with Samsung’s new, faster, UFS 2.0 flash 32GB of memory with no room for expansion. The Mi4 comes with 16GB of memory and no room for expansion.
The camera is also a carryover with a 16MP Sony sensor, autofocus, LED Flash, a wide f/1.9 aperture, Live HDR and OIS. The increase in aperture and OIS make this the best camera Samsung has ever put into a smartphone. The FFC increased to 5MP and they wisely added the f/1.9 aperture, Live HDR and a wide angle, 120-degrees, for excellent low-light selfies and video chatting. This compares to a 13MP, LED flash and f/1.8 aperture and a huge 8MP FFC. The 3500mAh battery is larger than the 3080mAh in the Mi4, and it should easily get you through two days.
Extras the S6 Active has over the Mi4 – include a heart rate monitor, an oxygen saturation sensor and wireless charging for both Qi and PMA standards. It comes in White, Blue or Gray Camo. The S6 Active is an AT&T exclusive, is running Android 5.0.2 Lollipop, and will cost you $200 on a two-year contract and $695 off contract.
…And The Winner Is…
This is where we run into a dilemma with the Galaxy S6 Active – it is certainly the device with better specifications, but is it really worth the extra $360? If you want a top-of-the-line device, built to exist in the rugged outdoors, and draped in Camo plastic, then the S6 Active would be your choice.
However, if you want a great little smartphone, that has decent specs – 441 PPI and a workhorse processor, the same amount of RAM, a large battery and terrific looks, then the $330 Xiaomi Mi4 LTE could be exactly what you are looking for as a daily driver.
Because the S6 Active is an expensive specialty device, I am picking the Mi4 LTE as the winner of this comparison. It has great looks, decent specs compared to the S6 Active and will cost you a third of the price. More people would like carrying the looks of the Mi4 around on a daily basis over the camo ladened S6 Active – they both have their place.