By: Tony Matesi
Open box. Load SIM card. Take photo. Drop in muddy puddle.
That was the order of events when I received the Samsung Galaxy S6 Active smartphone at the Breckenridge Beast/Sprint. In an effort to provide a proper review and test of the product, I decided to walk over to a mud pit near the Clif Multi-Rig and drop the phone in your oh-so typical accidental fumble fashion. Plop. The phone landed directly in the middle of a mucky mud puddle. The screen faced up and was covered in a thin layer of brown water. Instead of hurrying to pick it up like I normally would, I let it sit there as I took photo evidence of what I’d just done to it. The screen was still on so I wasn’t too worried. I picked it up, and despite the fact that it looked just fine after sitting in the water, I have to admit I was still surprised when I was able to unlock the phone and swipe through my apps while the screen was still wet. After 20 minutes of doing everything I could think of to abuse this phone, short of taking a hammer to it, I became convinced this smartphone is “Spartan proof.”
One of the first things you’ll notice when you pick this phone up is the immersive display. There is no question the Galaxy S6 Active has one of the best screens on the market. The screen is a 5.1″ Quad HD Super AMOLED® display that has what Samsung calls “adaptive screen technology” which “automatically adjust[s] brightness and contrast levels to keep whatever you’re looking at vibrant, clear and rich with color.” Meaning whether you’re in the sun or under the shade on a Spartan course, you’ll be able to see what you’re looking at on the screen distinctly. Considering how often Spartans are outdoors and how most phone screens are difficult to view in sunlight, this was a major plus.
This Ultra Beast of a phone is comprised of a combination of plastic and metal that forms a very strong case. Essentially, it has the protection of a phone secured by a protective case, without actually having to purchase the additional case.
As part of the more rugged design of this phone, it forewent some of the fancy touch buttons of its cousins, the S6 and S6 Edge, for a few more physical buttons. The gripability is top notch, so long as your hands aren’t already fried from completing a Spartan Gauntlet of Obstacles. The designers had gripability in mind when they included features like the riveted textured back plate, and a side frame with grooves for fingers. The S6 Active includes quite a few details intended to prevent accidental phone slips and drops.
In the event that an unfortunate slip does happen, don’t worry! The S6 Active’s best feature is that it can withstand being submerged in water. It is rated at military specification IP68, which means it is water-resistant up to 30 minutes in three feet of water, and even more impressive, you don’t have to cap off any ports. Also, the outer edges of the device are higher than the screen, preventing the screen from contacting the ground directly if dropped. They also added some bulge to the corners of the phone, making it possible to withstand up to a 4-foot drop. While it is drop protected we have to remind you that this is for protection from accidents, this is not an open invite to throw the phone around and bash it like a caveman.
With how advanced technology is becoming, it’s surprising that it took this long to create a phone capable of staying on all day. Samsung has achieved what most competitors have failed to do: provide a full day of battery life. The S6 Active comes in at a hefty 3500 mAh; this thing is built to last all day and night long. It withstood the challenges of an entire 16 hour day of working at a Spartan Race, updating social media, exchanging spreadsheets, creating new documents and everything else we Spartan Staff do, all without requiring a pause to plug-in to the wall. And for those rare times when you might actually need to plug-in, the S6 Active is “Fast Charging, your battery goes from zero to up to 50% in about 40 minutes. And in Ultra Power Saving Mode, at only 10% power, you’ll still get calls and texts for up to 24 hours.”
The Good: Waterproof (up to 30 mins), dustproof, drop proof up to 4 ft. Spartan tested and approved.
The Bad: A little bulky.
Spartan Race Ready: Absolutely, this phone could go through an entire Ultra Beast course, and you’d still be able to text mom and dad to tell them you survived and made it to the finish. This phone is a solid tool for the modern Spartan’s lifestyle.
Rating: 4.5/5 Spartan Helmets