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Samsung Galaxy S4 Active feedback thread: now with challenges added!

(116 Posts)

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AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 07-Nov-13 14:48:58

This thread is for the very lucky 20 MNers who were selected from hundreds of you to try out the NEW Galaxy S4 Active handset from Samsung.

To check out the features of this smartphone please see here

Samsung says "We think this new handset would be great for parents. The Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is specifically designed to handle all aspects of modern family life - including

~ the great outdoors - with a fully sealed design that provides great protection from dust and water - you can even use the device to shoot photos and video underwater, with your results optimised by the new Aqua Mode.

~ everyday family life and all the challenges of modern family life.

~ looks and functionality - the Galaxy S4 Active also shares the Galaxy S4s slick design and useful smart services, so you can enjoy the same great style and convenience"

So testers please share - for the moment - your first impressions of the phone by answering the questions - challenges to come!

~ What handset did you have before and what frustrated you about it?
~ What was most appealing about the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active?
~ What were your first impressions when it arrived and you got it fired up? How was the set up?
~ What features have you used so far? What's your opinion of these?
~ What about how the phone looks and feels in your hand?
~ Any additional comments

Challenges will follow!

Thanks MNHQ

PS We'd love more reviews of smartphones on MN: all welcome!

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 14-Nov-13 15:58:46

bear with on the challenges testers...hope to have them up tomorrow.....grin

MellowMarshmallow Thu 14-Nov-13 17:35:11

Not compatible with Sky Go. I was looking forward to seeing what the F1 looked like on the screen.

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 14-Nov-13 17:59:28

Hi - a couple of you asked about the handset feeling hot. Samsung asked me to pass on the following to you
"When performing high intensity tasks all of our phones heat up especially ones as powerful as the Active

If the user is worried about it they can turn on power saving mode which will automatically slow down the processor which in turn will generate less heat."

thanks

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 15-Nov-13 11:48:13

Thanks for all the first impressions - and now for the challenges Samsung wanted MNers to undertake with their new phone.

Please note - as stated - these challenges must only be undertaken after reading the info sheet sent with the phone – all safety advice must be read first and testers must ensure they understand the instructions relating to water testing.

Below are the challenges: please do let us know how you get on with them - and feel free to return to the thread and let us know how the phone stood up to them over the next couple of weeks.

Challenge 1: Take the phone out to enjoy the great outdoors (and take some photos)

Challenge 2: Take a photo/video underwater/ when wet (up to one meter under water - please ensure you read about this first)

Challenge 3: Test it with the kids challenge 1: ask your DC to (for the purposes of this) drop it on the floor (not throw), ask your toddler to give it a chew or even - if you're feeling brave, 'accidentally' drop it in the bath/ (clean) loo

Challenge 4: Test it with the kids challenge 2: ask your DC to drop it into their dinner or smear it with food covered hands

Challenge 5: Story Album: Test out the feature called Story Album, take some photos/videos over the testing period and create a photo album

Challenge 6: Use on the go: how well does it cope with a family day out or during every day life for you at work?

thanks and good luck

MellowMarshmallow Fri 15-Nov-13 12:03:42

Challenge 1 - Have been on a very chilly trip to Jimmy's Farm. Took some lovely photos which really captured the sunlight. I didn't have much luck with the gloves-on option, so just used it without gloves (even though it was bloody freezing outside). I even took it on the zip wire. Also took it horse riding this week. Generally I'm a lot less fearful of having this phone outdoors than I was with the (ridiculously fragile) HTC.

Challenge 2 - Has survived being used in torrential rain and being put down in a small puddle of water on the worktop. Didn't take any photos though so will give that a try.

Challenge 3 - Already fumbled it, making the poor thing dance over my fingertips while I spectacularly failed to get a grip...eventually landed with a thud on the worktop. It's also been dropped (by dc, not me this time) on a carpeted floor.

Also used it last weekend while making a birthday cake - used it too look at images of similar, then snap my progress and upload to FB to boast / share with friends. Got covered with cake batter, icing sugar and butter. Greasy finger prints took a little polishing but otherwise all good.

Indith Fri 15-Nov-13 12:53:47

Challenge 2: Take a photo/video underwater/ when wet (up to one meter under water - please ensure you read about this first)

So. I gave it to my toddler at bathtime and told him to chuck it in (after checking the back was on and the socket covered). Toddler was delighted grin. Then I handed it to the big ones to take some photos while they were in there. I now have lots of pictures of bath toys and some underwater shots of feet.

While taking the pictures it worked well. Volume control for taking the shots is good. It can be hard to see if you've taken a picture though. Old phone the picture used to come up on the screen for a few seconds when taken so you can see if it is ok. With this one they just come up as the tiny little icon so under water you can't tell if it has taken and you certainly can't check it to see if it is good or if you need to take another without tapping on it and faffing on.

Anyway. Photos taken I resumed control of the phone and dried it on a cloth. But the touch screen wouldn't work properly. It wouldn't accept my tapping on anything. If I touched the screen it just sort of half swept over, you know how it spins to the next screen? It was doing that but stopping half way through and flickering. I tried to turn it off but though the menu came up when I pressed the side button I couldn't tap on the button to switch off. So I had to take the back off and take the battery out and put it back in. Was fine after being switched back on and when I took the back off everything was dry inside. Photo quality under water is good, tis a decent little trick that but afterwards not so good. Not sure I will be brave enough to try again.

Challenge 3: Test it with the kids challenge 1: ask your DC to (for the purposes of this) drop it on the floor (not throw), ask your toddler to give it a chew or even - if you're feeling brave, 'accidentally' drop it in the bath/ (clean) loo

Me and dcs have all dropped it plenty of times already. It definitely survived being dropped!

Challenge 4: Test it with the kids challenge 2: ask your DC to drop it into their dinner or smear it with food covered hands

No probs. It gets mucky, it gets wiped. It is happy.

Shall take it out and about this weekend to rugby etc for a day out and take more photos before I try the album thing. Got some pictures of the dcs in their CiN dress up outfits this morning smile

GhostsInSnow Fri 15-Nov-13 13:38:29

Challenge 4 first for me (doing things in order was never my thing!), but I've twisted it a little...

ask your DC to drop it into their dinner or smear it with food covered hands

DD is 16, so food covered hands are a bit of the past, however, both of us enjoy baking and frequently use recipes we have found online.
Todays task, we baked a Victoria Sponge from a recipe found on the Good Food website.

The phone was on the work surface as I weighed ingredients so was dusted with flour etc. I scrolled through the recipe easily with buttery fingers leaving smears up the screen. The phone was by this stage quite floury and buttery and I was more than a bit worried, however, this was unfounded. I turned off the screen, dampened a little kitchen roll and began to wipe, by the time I'd degreased and polished the phone looked perfect. We managed to dust it completely with Icing sugar as we prepared the buttercream and again, the phone cleaned up perfectly.

In the past when I have baked from an online recipe I've had to put my laptop at the far end of the kitchen and clean and dry my hands before being able to scroll through so this was brilliant! Next time we bake we will use the phone to follow recipes as its just so much easier and time saving. A very novel use I'd never even considered!
grin

YeahBuddy Fri 15-Nov-13 13:52:49

Going to try some of the challenges later smile I was hoping to take it for a walk in the rain but it has been sunny here for the past couple of days... hmm

TheYamiOfYawn Fri 15-Nov-13 14:11:12

I'm bit behind, so will do my first impressions first, and then the challenges.

~ What handset did you have before and what frustrated you about it?
I had an HTC Desire C. Mostly, I liked it, but it struggled with some videos, and the screen shattered when I dropped it. It only had a camera facing away from me, so I couldn't take selfies, and the Cbeebies app didn't work on it. Also, I couldn't use it in the rain, and the screen was very hard to read in sunshine.

~ What was most appealing about the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active?
When I read the description, the ruggedness was the most appealing thing. I like to read in the bath, and being able to use my kindle app without worrying was a very attractive prospect.

~ What were your first impressions when it arrived and you got it fired up? How was the set up?
My first impression was that it was very sleek and pretty (I was expecting something a bit more butch looking) but also that it was huge compared to my old phone. It was bit annoying having to get my sim card cut down. I was also not entirely confident in the sturdiness of the hole for the charger - I worry that this will break within a year or so, and it does does make charging the phone a little more hassle. I have (TMI) a waterproof rechargeable vibrator which doesn't have any of the faffy cover but seems to work well anyway.

~ What features have you used so far? What's your opinion of these?
I really, really like this phone. Rather surprisingly, I'm finding the voice activation on the camera very useful, as the phone is a tiny bit too big to take pictures with one hand. I wasn't keen on the head-tilty thing which was a bit gimmicky and not really useful. I like the thing where you wave your hand over the locked screen and you can see the basic info. I like the swipey keyboard, and really like the way that it is big enough to have numbers on the top row, although it would be nice to have a simpler swipey way of getting the most common punctuation symbols. I like the bigger screen very much. I tried a video google hangout with DP, but the video quality wasn't really good enough to make it worthwhile. I love love love the screen sensitivity, and the ability to set it so that you can use normal gloves, and that it works in rain. I tried to set it up as a remote control, but my TV is too old to work with it, so I gave up.

~ What about how the phone looks and feels in your hand?
I love the look of it. It is sleek and shiny and beautiful, the screen is clear. the rivet-style buttons on the back spoil the sleekness a bit, so I'm not too keen on them. I do find the phone just a teeny too big for perfect ease of use - I have to stretch my hand really wide, and have to use two hands of lots of things that I used to use one hand for with my old, smaller phone. Also, it needs fairly big pockets, and it's too big to keep inside my bra if I'm wearing something without pockets, which means that the pedometer is less useful that it would be if it was securely in my pocket the whole time. The screen is abolutely lovely, though. I like the haptic feedback which is just right.

~ Any additional comments

I was very impressed with the general set-up of the phone - the settings menu is increbily user-friendly and easy to use. The battery life isn't great, but no worse than any other smartphone I've had. I find the various screens very easy to navigate. It works very well for listening to music, podcasts and watching youtube.

viperslast Fri 15-Nov-13 14:51:01

Thanks for the feedback on it getting hot. I'll try that app and see if it's getting too hot. I did think that my daughters iPhone probably would have shut down at the temp mine got to so worth checking I think. I don't want to fry it!

Any feedback on the screen lag Ann? Is anyone else finding this? For example, clicking in the reply box here takes long enough that I think it's not working every time then, once it has worked I have to click again to get the keyboard. It's much slower than the s3 and the keyboard was instant on first click with the s3 too.

ShatnersBassoon Fri 15-Nov-13 16:01:00

Challenge 1 - I used my phone to photograph my son's Cubs pack playing outdoors games the other evening. Some great photos, even in the dark, lots of decent action shots that look sharp on a bigger screen (uploaded them onto the Cubs' Facebook page). It did work through my thin knitted gloves, and I'm happy to do that now I have a rubbery cover for it (was far too slippery to hold in gloved hands without the cover). I'm very pleased with the camera on it, having been so disappointed with the camera on my old Sony smartphone.

Challenge 2 - I did it! I took photos of a Playmobil frogman in the kids' bath! I'm not sure if the bubble bath caused a problem, or if the dirt that had come off my children had clouded up the water, or if my shaking hands messed it up, but the photos were blurry. Probably swimming pool water would give better results, but I don't fancy being escorted off the premises for taking photos in my local baths.

Challenge 4 - I used it to read a recipe from when I was baking the other day, and got cake batter and all sorts on the screen. No harm done, and nice not to panic about bits of grease seeping into the workings. Just wiped it off with a bit of damp kitchen paper.

Challenge 6 - Great, useful tool. Wouldn't be without a smartphone now, and this is the best one I've used. Pulls up information quickly when out and about e.g. looking up cinema times when we were in town. The calendar is something I've come to rely on, and is easy and quick. The children like being able to use it (something I never allowed with my old phone blush), and it has come in very handy for keeping them amused at various points - god bless you Angry Birds!

Will work on the other challenges, although I think there is some overlap on them, so some are perhaps partially covered in these answers.

magentastardust Fri 15-Nov-13 18:11:44

Reading others has reminded me of another couple of points!

Loved that you can use the touch screen with gloves but sadly now that I have a screen protector on it , I can't do this any more. I'm too scared of it getting scratched in my pockets/bag though so I will stick with the screen protector.

Also worried about the charger socket , seems quite flimsy and I am worried about it twisting off , I keep having to make sure I am very delicate with it.

The Pedometer -would love to use this properly but as the phone is so big there isn't really anywhere I can keep it on me for just walking around the house or work as the phone is too big really for pockets.

That all sounds a bit negative but I do really really like the phone-I am getting really attached to it now. smile Love using it for taking decent snaps of the kids and being able to access work emails really quickly.

viperslast Fri 15-Nov-13 18:32:59

A point I have noticed about the calendar which really grates is that it doesn't have an option to repeat 4 weekly which is a shame as it's great otherwise.

magentastardust Fri 15-Nov-13 18:56:58

Ooh I think you can get a Samsung band which you can wear to track your steps that goes with the S health App-it is around £70 though.

YeahBuddy Fri 15-Nov-13 19:02:08

Right, I have just let the toddler twins play with the phone in the bath for about ten minutes. It got dunked several times and is completely fine!

I also let one of them have a play whilst eating dinner and the poor phone got covered in mash and beans but again has survived. I won't be letting them do that again though because I think there is still some mash stuck in the speaker at the back. But at least now I won't be completely paranoid about getting my phone wet or messy.

magentastardust Fri 15-Nov-13 20:10:38

Has anyone used it for music? Is there anyway to get free music on it other than download everything from google play? I have spent a fortune over the last couple of years with iTunes on my ipod -would be nice to have some music on the phone too.

Indith Fri 15-Nov-13 20:27:40

I plugged my phone into computer and opened the files, there was a music file already there so opened that then just dragged music files from my computer into that file and they copied over. It all plays fine. Don't know what format or anything it is though grin .

Snog Sat 16-Nov-13 05:18:42

just to warn you i am seriously out of live with my s4. I've had it 3 months and the battery has warped meaning it shuts itself down constantly and needs a mains charge to get going. internet forums suggest this is commonplace. Unacceptable for a £500 phone imo. I cant wait to get shot of mine now.sad

MoogDroog Sat 16-Nov-13 14:17:19

Some challenge feedback from me:

Challenge 1: Take the phone out to enjoy the great outdoors(and take some photos)

Did this early on - went for a walk in our local National Trust place. Took some great photos of the kids splashing in puddles and playing Pooh sticks. It rained and I carried on snapping away without worrying which was great. The rich tone setting gives some great results.

Challenge 3: Test it with the kids challenge 1: ask your DC to (for the purposes of this) drop it on the floor (not throw), ask your toddler to give it a chew or even - if you're feeling brave, 'accidentally' drop it in the bath/ (clean) loo

Well, I managed to drop it the other day, it fell out of my pocket onto the concrete outside. Not a scratch on it, thankfully! I took it in the bath to MN and it was great. I dunked it too with no problems. Will get the DCs to do this too for testing purposes.

Challenge 5: Story Album: Test out the feature called Story Album, take some photos/videos over the testing period and create a photo album

I used the photos taken above to do a story album. I like the idea but found it a bit limiting in terms of the templates and what you can do with the pics. Maybe there's more to it but I didn't find it terribly intuitive.

MoogDroog Sat 16-Nov-13 14:21:46

Re. music - I've so far failed to get music on it. I've set up Google music, and told it to use iTunes as the library. It's been throttling my Broadband uploading 5000 odd songs to the cloud but I can't seem to find out how to get music from my computer onto my phone via usb. I've Googled extensively with no luck. confused

emblosion Sat 16-Nov-13 14:22:07

Challenge 1 - have been out and about a lot and taken pics and videos of my boys in the park etc,rain and shine, which have come out fine. Agree with the poster above that it can be hard to see if the photo has taken or not as thumbnail is so small.

Challenge 2 - stands up fine to use in the rain and survived being in standing water on kitchen work top and toddler tipping water on it. Screen sometimes goes unresponsive if wet but has been ok afterwards.

Challenge 3 and 4 - Galaxy S4 laughs in the face of being dropped and smeared in food.

we're moving house this weekend so will get to work on challenges 5 & 6.

SaltySeaBird Sat 16-Nov-13 17:39:28

So gutted not to have been selected but finding this thread really interesting. My ancient iPhone has properly packed up (about an hour after I applied for this product test, I've been phoneless ever since!) and even though I really can't afford or justify it I'm so tempted by this Samsung. Especially as I have quite an outdoors lifestyle and destructive toddler!

I read books on my phone a lot and love the idea of reading in the bath without worrying about the phone! The photo quality looks great too.

Have any of you testers come from a long term Apple relationship and if so how have you found moving from IOS to Android? Were there any iPhone apps you weren't able to find on Android?

Snog Sat 16-Nov-13 19:25:07

i changed from iphone and loved it to start with but its unreliability and poor customer service mean that i will trade it in this month after just 4 months

MoogDroog Sat 16-Nov-13 20:43:04

Salty I've been using an iPhone for couple of years (BB prior to that), and though initially a bit confused by the os but a couple of weeks on and I'm really enjoying it. I've been able to find all bar one of the apps I wanted (the one I couldn't was a Welsh language app) and I like that you can configure things far more to suit the way you use the phone. At the moment, I have no desire to return to Apple.

androbbob Sat 16-Nov-13 21:40:45

Challenge 1: Take the phone out to enjoy the great outdoors (and take some photos)

Done this last weekend - at my DS football match I took some photos in the rain of a double rainbow - worked very well. I have also used it for work and taken notes on the memo pad and taken pictures to email to my work account - my colleagues were concerned that I was using my phone in the rain - but it survived!!

Challenge 3: Test it with the kids challenge 1: ask your DC to (for the purposes of this) drop it on the floor (not throw), ask your toddler to give it a chew or even - if you're feeling brave, 'accidentally' drop it in the bath/ (clean) loo

Well no toddlers, but I was using it in the bathroom and it fell from the side of the bath onto the tiled floor - no issues. I have used it with wet hands - no problems. I have dropped it a couple of times and it has survived with no tell tale injuries! 'dropped' it in the sink and it survived. I did make sure the charger port was closed properly first.

Challenge 4: Test it with the kids challenge 2: ask your DC to drop it into their dinner or smear it with food covered hands

This was tested by my three nieces - aged 3 to 8, who all wanted a go when they visited recently. No issues - just wiped it down and on to the next child!

Challenge 5: Story Album: Test out the feature called Story Album, take some photos/videos over the testing period and create a photo album

Again I tried this with my nieces and made a small album. I have been taking more photos and will do another one in a week or so.

Challenge 6: Use on the go: how well does it cope with a family day out or during every day life for you at work?

I have used it for work - I am on a construction site, so it is exposed to dirt and mess. I do think it works well and I would be able to use it like a blackberry to get work emails on, but havent been able to set this up yet - work IT issues. I have however, taken it out and about with me for a week - using it for photo records, note taking and general phone calls. I do find it a little slippy to hold, so would prefer a cover for it, as it gets shoved in my jacket. It has survived with no damage though.

Just need to steel myself to do challenge 2........ underwater photos.....

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