The Happy Camper: The Swiss Army Knife of Smartphones

Kevin Callan wanted a new smartphone — and he found one that fit his needs. Find out about the Swiss Army Knife of smartphones:

Credit: Samsung

My old phone was a flip-open variety, like a communicator on Star Trek.

I knew it was time for an upgrade when my daughter starting playing with it and asked Scotty to beam her up.

Choosing a replacement seemed overwhelming at first. After all, smartphones are not just for making phone calls anymore. They capture video, snap amazing photos, provide highly addictive games, connect you to social networking, texting and email. There’s probably even an app to transport you to the Enterprise.

My main preferences were simple, however. Sure, it had to have all the bells and whistles. But it also had to be rugged, hold a good battery charge and be waterproof (or at least water-resistant as much as possible). After all, I wanted to pack the device into the wilderness with me and know it would survive — or at least to live through a dreaded dunking in the toilet at home.

I chose the Samsung Galaxy S5 Active — and I’m now a happy camper!

The S5 Active has nearly every feature one could ask for in a smartphone, including an awesome 16MP camera with a very fast auto-focus. Beyond that, however, it’s also rugged. That’s why I like it; from reinforced corners to the ability to take a solid toilet dunking. It’s also been tested against salt, dust, vibration, extreme temperatures, humidity and high attitudes.

The most pronounced claim, however, is that the military-grade S5 is shock-resistant. I’ve dropped it three times the first week I owned it. Once was during a nasty tumble. My dog, while on the leash, went for a squirrel while I was walking and texting. The phone flew a good three metres, hit the granite-laden trail, and survived the ordeal. Thankfully, so did the squirrel.

Battery life isn’t too bad. Talk time is about 20 hours and while on Ultra Power Saving Mode you have another four hours of infrequent use when your battery is about to die. It gets even better by switching to black-and-white display and limited app options, giving you up to 24 hours on just 10 per cent battery.

Keeping with the outdoor theme, the S5 Active has an “active” button that launches Samsung’s Activity Zone. This app is pretty cool, providing a compass, GPS coordinates, flashlight, stopwatch and barometric measurements. Overall, the S5 Active is the Swiss Army Knife of smartphones.

It may be too big and full-bodied for some — but it’s perfect for me. The added weight and solid design is one of the main reasons I chose it. I’m more of a klutz while in the outdoors (and indoors) than an extreme adventurer. This phone, however, is made for both.

I think the Samsung Galaxy S5 Active is an awesome choice for outdoor tech-types. I even sent the company a message telling them that — and I got a message back. They’re sending me a free phone to give away on my Happy Camper Facebook page. That’s very cool. (Check out my page to find out how to win a free smartphone.