It seems like it is one step forward and two steps back when it comes to Samsung and part of their Galaxy S4 line; in recent news we learn that the waterproof, dustproof Samsung Galaxy S 4 Active will be released in the U.S. as an AT&T exclusive. Just when it seemed like Samsung was finally starting to understand how much most consumers despised carrier exclusives, they take a step backwards and falls back on the same song and dance when it comes to the Galaxy S4 Active.
This only slightly irritates me as I was considering the Galaxy S4 Active as part of my line-up, because I had assumed that Samsung was done with carrier exclusives. Silly me!
But aside from my own personal problems with the decision, I find it interesting that Samsung decided to make the Galaxy S4 Active a carrier exclusive in the first place. In my opinion, it has a highly desired design that could be considered useful to anybody. It’s a phone that has built-in protection against elements that are known to be a problem for many electronics, and phones are no exception. I think the Galaxy S4 Active could have sold rather well on any carrier.
But I think it could have sold even better if the features that give it the “Active” name were included in the original Galaxy S4.
I’m not a person that spends a lot of time outside; a walk here, a jog there, going to the park a couple of times a week… technically the Active isn’t marketed towards people like me at all. But the fact that the Active can take a beating (and a dunking) makes it a perfect candidate for just about anybody. In my case, it’s the perfect candidate for a parent whose toddler enjoys testing out how long things can float in the sink. It’s perfect for the customer I once saw heading into the Sprint store I worked at with her smartphone out in front of her while there was a massive downpour, who had no hesitation telling me that her phone was acting up (I’m going to go with ‘liquid damage’ for 500). It’s perfect for the Bad Luck Brian who just happened to drop his smartphone in the only puddle that can be found in miles. You never know when your phone is going to meet an unpleasant fate by falling into an undisclosed amount of liquid.
In short, the features of the Galaxy S4 Active are features that everybody could use. It’s being marketed as a niche product when it’s really not. The Galaxy S4 Mini is a niche product for people who like small phones; the Galaxy S4 Zoom is a niche product for people that want a great camera on the back of their phone. The Galaxy S4 Active is a product that helps prevent everyday dangers that every phone ever made is at risk of encountering on a daily basis. The Active should have had its features implemented into the original Galaxy S4 in the first place.
We can see with the Sony Xperia Z that implementing a 13-megapixel camera into a device that’s waterproof and dustproof isn’t impossible. And depending on how you feel about AMOLED display, I’m sure it wouldn’t have been too hard to figure that into such a device as well. Not to mention that by combining the Galaxy S4 with the Galaxy S4 Active, the company doesn’t look like it’s milking the S4 name for all it’s worth… as much.
I’m starting to see it as a missed opportunity for Samsung. Waterproofing and dustproofing phones are actual useful features that help protect the device and help to make it last longer. I would sacrifice how thin a device is for a little more heft and protection to ensure that my device can last through all the “oopses” in life – but there are a couple of other features that the Galaxy S4 Active is missing out on that makes me question why Samsung decided to take the route that it did. I would like to think that waterproofing and dustproofing the Galaxy S4, which is available on all four major carriers, would have boosted the sales even more.
Readers, what do you think about the Galaxy S4 and the Galaxy S4 Active being separate devices? Would you have sacrificed how thin the Galaxy S4 is in order to have the phone waterproof and dustproof, or do you prefer to have the two devices stay separate? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!