Do we have a good one for you today – the original Samsung Galaxy S6 goes up against the new Galaxy S6 Active, an AT&T exclusive. How do the two of these devices stack up one another? What features does the Galaxy S6 possess that the Galaxy S6 Active left out of its design? The same question can be asked of the Galaxy S6 Active, what does it have that the original Galaxy S6 is lacking?
The first thing that jumps out at you in this comparison is in the looks – the Galaxy S6 is pure beauty and professionalism combined into a premium smartphone. The Galaxy S6 Active is also good looking in its own rugged kind of way, especially the gray model – the camo colors of blue or white are a bit much for my tastes. The rugged outside still allows a nice grip on the device, so both models are comfortable to hold.
The two devices do share many common traits, so this area will be a little longer than usual. Both devices share the terrific 5.1-inch Super AMOLED QHD display with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels and a density of about 577 pixels-per-inch (PPI). The Galaxy S6 and S6 Active also share the Samsung 64-bit 14nm Exynos 7420 octa-core processor (the first one using the 14nm technology) with four cores clocked at 1.5GHz and four cores clocked at 2.1GHz, as well the Mali-T760 GPU. Both devices offer a base 32GB of internal memory and there is no microSD card slot to expand that memory in both models, although the Galaxy S6 does have a 64GB or 128GB option. We must note that both models use the new DDR4 RAM and the new UFS 2.0 Flash memory – both are faster, and more energy efficient.
The cameras are some of the best on the market – the main camera uses a 16MP sensor, OIS, F/1.9 aperture, real-time HDR, autofocus and LED Flash. The front-facing camera (FFC) is 5MP with an f/1.9 aperture, a wide-angle lens, real-time HDR for low-light selfies and video chatting.
They also share some more common or usual suspects – Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC, a built-in IR Blaster, a microUSB 2.0 port, LTE Cat 6, Adaptive Fast Charging and built-in wireless charging for both Qi and PMA formats. There is also a heart rate sensor and they both use a non-removable battery, although different sizes. They both can take advantage of Samsung's Ultra Power Saving Mode (UPSM) if the battery is getting low and you really want to extend its life. They will both hit you up for $200 on a two-year contract and about $700 off contract.
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.
Smartphones | SpecOut
Samsung Galaxy S6
This section on the Samsung Galaxy S6 will be shorter since we will only be discussing features that the Galaxy S6 has that the Galaxy S6 Active does not possess. We cannot talk about too much other than the design – the Galaxy S6 is a solid aluminum unibody construction and Gorilla 2.5D glass on the top and Gorilla Glass 4 on the bottom.
The other big difference is the Galaxy S6 has a fingerprint sensor that is PayPal approved and can be used with Samsung Pay, as well as used to unlock the device. It is a much-improved version from the one used on the Galaxy S5 where you had to swipe your finger – the new fingerprint sensor uses more of a touch or pressing of your finger. Besides the heart rate sensor that it shares with the S6 Active, the Galaxy S6 also has a oxygen saturation sensor as well.
There may be no room for a memory expansion card, but the Galaxy S6 also offers a 64GB version and a 128GB version – each version is approximately $100 more than the previous and certainly not as cheap as a microSD card. The Galaxy S6 also has a smaller 2550mAh battery, but generally it will last you throughout a normal day.
Samsung Galaxy S6 Active
The Galaxy S6 Active is the exact opposite in looks – no pretty glass here – it is shock-resistant plastic that looks like you put a plastic case on your Galaxy S6 and covered up all of the pretty glass. However, it will protect your device from drops and most damage, although the camo blue and camo white is very hard on the eyes…the gray version is much more tolerable.
The S6 Active is IP68 certified for dust and water resistance up to 1.5 meters and up to 30 minutes under water. It also has 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 fingerprint sensor/home button has been replaced with three mechanical touch buttons that provide a nice click and feedback to the user. It also has an extra shortcut button on the left side just above the volume rocker that can be programmed, as you desire. Its default is the Samsung Activity app, but you could reset it to be a camera button or to perform one of many other duties. The Activity app brings up a menu with a flashlight button, the weather, compass and other features an outdoors person might want instant access.
The Galaxy S6 Active comes with only a 32GB internal memory option – gone are the 64GB and 128GB options, and like the normal Galaxy S6, there is no room for expansion. The S6 Active carries a huge 3500mAh battery, replacing the smaller 2550mAh battery found in the Galaxy S6, and should last into a second day of heavy usage. It shares the fast charging capabilities of the Galaxy S6 and also shares the built-in wireless charging. The speaker has been moved from the bottom of the device to the back.
A couple of other things to think about – the S6 Active is only available on AT&T's network and the Android updates generally are slower than the normal Galaxy S6. The price is the same as the regular Galaxy S6, so if you want the this rugged device, it will not cost you extra money.
…And The Winner Is…
This was a semi-tough decision, but I am choosing the Galaxy S6 as the winner of this comparison. It really comes down to what you want out of your Galaxy S6 – both models are terrific and if you are an active camper, hiker, fishing enthusiast, rock climber or outdoors person, then the Galaxy S6 Active is definitely the one for you…providing you are willing to switch to AT&T.
Most people are not those things and I would rather spend the same amount of money on a more premium looking device with glass on both sides. I want the choice of getting a 64GB or 128GB model if I would want one. I also like my speaker on the bottom of my device, and most of all, I want the fingerprint sensor for PayPal and Samsung Pay.
The Galaxy S6 Active is a great smartphone, designed for a specific user, and I would like to see the bigger 3500mAh battery and certainly the dust and waterproofing on the normal Galaxy S6. However, for me, I would spend my $200 on the Galaxy S6…not because it is necessarily better, but I would find the features it has more to my lifestyle.
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