Samsung Galaxy S8 Active review

Ricky Villacrez, 18 November 2017.

Gallery

Samsung's gallery has focused on Stories for a few years now. Stories can be shared as collaborative albums meaning that your friends can add photos of the meet-up from other angles or collaborate on a Story with a shared theme like Sunsets or Scenery. The "Pictures" view is chronological while the "Albums" view shows you the individual folders stored on the device.

Gallery: Timeline view - Samsung Galaxy S8 Active review Gallery: Albums - Samsung Galaxy S8 Active review Gallery: Stories - Samsung Galaxy S8 Active review Gallery: Settings - Samsung Galaxy S8 Active review
Gallery: Timeline view Albums Stories Settings

The built-in editor offers plenty of editing options from basic levels, to advanced color curves, to stickers and decorative texts.

Viewing a photo - Samsung Galaxy S8 Active review Photo details - Samsung Galaxy S8 Active review
Viewing a photo Photo details

Editor - Samsung Galaxy S8 Active review Crop and rotate - Samsung Galaxy S8 Active review Tone (Levels) - Samsung Galaxy S8 Active review Tonal and color curves - Samsung Galaxy S8 Active review Tonal and color curves - Samsung Galaxy S8 Active review
Editor Crop and rotate Tone (Levels) Tonal and color curves

Filters - Samsung Galaxy S8 Active review Decorations - Samsung Galaxy S8 Active review Stickers - Samsung Galaxy S8 Active review Labels - Samsung Galaxy S8 Active review Covers - Samsung Galaxy S8 Active review
Filters Decorations Stickers Labels Covers

Google Play Music

Google Music is the default music player for your music on the Galaxy S8 Active. It can play locally stored music files as well as stream music from its free online could-service. It also works with Samsung's extensive sound enhancements.

This includes a SoundAlive tool, which includes an interface for tuning the equalizer for your standard headphones or a Bluetooth set. There are presets and two dials for basic users and a manual 9-band equalizer for the more advanced users.

Google Play Music - Samsung Galaxy S8 Active review Google Play Music - Samsung Galaxy S8 Active review Google Play Music - Samsung Galaxy S8 Active review Google Play Music - Samsung Galaxy S8 Active review
Google Play Music

Adapt Sound tunes the EQ to your hearing by playing multiple frequencies through the headphones. What you have to do is answer whether you can hear the sound or not, based on this, it will adjust the audio bands so that you can hear the widest range possible. We tested it on some cheap JBL earbuds and it made them sound pretty good.

Equializer and Adapt Sound - Samsung Galaxy S8 Active review Equializer and Adapt Sound - Samsung Galaxy S8 Active review Equializer and Adapt Sound - Samsung Galaxy S8 Active review Equializer and Adapt Sound - Samsung Galaxy S8 Active review
Equializer and Adapt Sound

UHQ sound resolution enhancer is available as well for upscaling compressed audio. There are also features like Surround sound emulation and Tube Amp Pro simulator.

Video Player

The Gallery handles the videos by default. Like with the music player, you can grab the traditional Samsung one from the Galaxy Essentials collection in Galaxy Apps (You can also find a Video Editor in there). Even if you don't, the Gallery app has plenty of essential features. It has full subtitle support with advanced options that let you tweak them to your liking.

The strange display ratio doesn't match any standard video aspect ratio, but you're given the option to watch them in their native proportions, with black bars, of course. You can stretch the video to fit, or you can crop in to an 18.5:9 portion of it.

There's also a pop-out video player, which will keep playing on top of whatever else you're doing on the phone. You can resize this with by pinching in or out.

Video Player: Settings - Samsung Galaxy S8 Active review Video Player: Subtitles - Samsung Galaxy S8 Active review Video Player: Fullscreen view - Samsung Galaxy S8 Active review Video Player: Pop-out player - Samsung Galaxy S8 Active review
Video Player: Settings Subtitles Fullscreen view Pop-out player

You can always download third-party video players from the Play Store, and they will tap into the system-wide Video Enhancer feature, too. It touches up the contrast curve and color rendering to make the video footage pop.

Loud audio output, but some distortion with headphones

Somewhat surprisingly, the Samsung Galaxy S8 Active audio output isn't quite the same as its non-rugged S8 stablemates. While the volume levels are about the same, the extra toughness probably mandated some changes in circuitry and in turn some more distortion with headphones.

With an active external amplifier, the Galaxy S8 Active does splendidly. It delivers loud output with perfect accuracy. However, adding our standard headphones to the mix caused spikes in both harmonic and intermodulation distortion readings. Stereo quality, on the other hand is barely affected and volume is just as high so it's a pretty solid showing overall, but we are not used to getting that much distortion on flagships these days.

TestFrequency responseNoise levelDynamic rangeTHDIMD + NoiseStereo crosstalk
Samsung Galaxy S8 Active+0.02, -0.03-92.492.50.00200.0079-91.4
Samsung Galaxy S8 Active (headphones)+0.16, -0.04-94.796.30.3800.706-85.3
Razer Phone+0.17, -0.04-80.389.90.0130.065-75.3
Razer Phone (headphones)+0.22, -0.02-78.988.60.0190.164-65.1
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2+0.02, -0.02-94.394.30.00380.0072-93.5
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 (headphones)+0.31, -0.01-93.393.30.0160.243-63.8
Samsung Galaxy S8++0.01, -0.03-92.192.10.00200.0086-92.5
Samsung Galaxy S8+ (headphones)+0.03, -0.03-92.592.50.00240.046-77.3
LG V30+0.02, -0.01-93.293.10.00080.0069-94.2
LG V30 (headphones)+0.03, -0.02-92.992.90.00570.051-68.1
OnePlus 5+0.03, -0.01-94.194.10.00100.0070-94.2
OnePlus 5 (headphones)+0.15, -0.08-94.094.00.00330.139-59.9
HTC U11+0.05, -0.11-94.194.10.00170.0067-94.5
HTC U11 (headphones)+0.05, -0.02-93.793.80.00180.105-53.7
Sony Xperia XZ Premium+0.01, -0.03-90.690.40.0180.027-92.6
Sony Xperia XZ Premium (headphones)+0.30, -0.20-90.590.00.00180.145-65.7

Samsung Galaxy S8 Active frequency response
Samsung Galaxy S8 Active frequency response

You can learn more about the tested parameters and the whole testing process here.

Loudspeaker

The loudspeaker on the S8 Active is a bottom-firing one. Even so, it's plenty loud for hearing ringtones and notification sounds in demanding environments like outside or in a busy warehouse.

While the Galaxy S7 active scored "Good" in the same loudspeaker test, the successor scored a "very good", overall. The voice and ring tests scored about the same, but the pink noise test scored noticeably higher. The speakers did not distort, even at maximum volume.

While the speaker is plenty loud, it's not very pleasing to listen to music coming from the loudspeaker. Definitely use a pair of headphones if you enjoy the audio experience of watching a movie or TV show.

Speakerphone testVoice, dB Pink noise/ Music, dB Ringing phone, dB Overall score
Samsung Galaxy Note8 67.8 69.5 71.5 Good
Samsung Galaxy S8+ 68.5 69.4 71.6 Good
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 68.3 72.2 72.9 Good
Google Pixel 2 XL 66.2 70.4 78.2 Good
Apple iPhone 7 67.6 73.2 75.7 Good
Samsung Galaxy S7 active 72.1 66.3 78.5 Good
Apple iPhone X 68.9 74.0 76.2 Very Good
OnePlus 5 69.2 72.9 77.5 Very Good
HTC U11 (Theater) 69.2 72.7 78.4 Very Good
HTC U11 (Music) 68.7 73.0 79.1 Very Good
Samsung Galaxy S8 Active 70.9 74.1 78.6 Very Good
LG V30 66.9 72.3 84.5 Very Good
Lenovo Moto Z2 Force 68.2 70.2 86.1 Very Good
Google Pixel 2 70.0 77.0 81.1 Excellent

Reader comments

  • Anonymous

After just 1 year, my S8-Active is coming apart. Im very dissatisfied

  • Alex

Why is the sound in the headphones worse than in the usual S8?

Nope, pass. I know 3 people who have had S7s and a S8 in the last year ALL three were busted within the first 4 months and all were in cases, including an Otterbox Commuter. Two of them went to Moto Z Force units, and one went to a iPhone 7. A...