The most significant difference between the Galaxy S4 and the GS4 Active is the outer shell and hardware itself. The GS4 Active has a new exterior that provides protection from dust, water and other liquids. The GS4 Active has an IP67 rating, which allows it to sit in three feet of water for up to 30 minutes without any risk of damage.
The Active can also withstand coffee spills, rain and sand. The screen can function both when wet and with gloves on. In other words, the GS4 Active would make a good companion on a construction site, on the slopes or at the beach.
Samsung didn't make any specific statements about the GS4 Active's ability to take more physical abuse. The regular Galaxy S4 is a delicate phone that, when dropped, may break. With the changed exterior, the GS4 Active appears to better protected against drops, but Samsung didn't say just how much punishment the GS4 Active can withstand.
[ Samsung lodged a big win Tuesday against Apple's iPhone and iPad. See Apple Faces iPhone Ban In U.S.. ]
Samsung also added some new software to make the Galaxy S4 Active stand out. There's a new "Aqua Mode" feature in the camera that can be used to increase visual quality and clarity for enhanced underwater images and video. The volume button doubles as a camera button, too, which is a change when compared to the regular Galaxy S4. The camera's LED flash can be used as a flashlight, as well. Samsung did dial down the camera quality, however. The GS4 Active has an 8-megapixel sensor instead of the GS4's 13-megapixel sensor.
Most other features of the Galaxy S4 Active are the same as the Galaxy S4. The Active has a 5-inch 1920 x 1080p HD display, a 1.9-GHz quad-core processor with 2 GB of RAM, support for 3G/4G networks around the world, and Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS and other radios and sensors. Further, the GS4 Active has all of Samsung's customized software and services, such as S Health, S Translator, WatchOn, Samsung Hub, Samsung Apps, Story Album and so on.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 Active will go on sale soon. It hits the U.S. and Sweden this summer, with other markets to follow thereafter. Samsung did not say which carriers will sell the Galaxy S4 Active, but AT&T and T-Mobile USA are dead ringers. Pricing wasn't disclosed.