Samsung Galaxy Xcover 4 Review

Introduction


The rugged smartphone is, by all accounts, a form factor of interest to a tiny consumer niche, and as such isn’t a popular choice with manufacturers. Among the big players, Samsung has been the most supportive of the idea, with the best-known example being the “Active” spins on its mainline flagships.

But one might consider its Xcover line, in this case represented by the latest Xcover 4, to be in an even tighter niche: where the Active series offers top-of-the-line specs if a sturdier body, the Xcover family is firmly and unashamedly planted into the low end. Thus, when taking into consideration whether such a _phone_ is “good”, one has to shift their expectations and judge it more based on whether it meets its own, offbeat set of goals, over whether it suits the everyday consumer’s needs.

So with that in mind, let’s take a closer look at this quirky beast.

Design and display

Durability entails some sacrifices in the looks department

Samsung Galaxy Xcover 4 Review
Samsung Galaxy Xcover 4 Review
Samsung Galaxy Xcover 4 Review

You couldn’t call the Xcover 4 pretty if your life depended on it – every design decision on this _phone_ simply screams “function over form”. Visually, this is a classic Samsung but with a couple of necessary changes due to its form factor, such as the all-plastic back and the three physical buttons on the front.

This, however, quickly proves itself to be a quite nice little package: the grippy outer shell feels amazingly comfortable in the hand while also doing its job quite well. And somewhat surprisingly, the Xcover 4 carries a US military MIL-STD-810G rating (as well as the more standard IP68), which means it’s resistant to extreme environmental conditions: these include water, dust, shocks, low and high pressure, and extreme temperatures.

The display is nothing to write home about with its 720 x 1280 px resolution spread across a 5-inch screen, but is, on the other hand, more than bright enough for outdoor use. However, the auto brightness rarely works particularly well in certain conditions, so you might be better off disabling it if it doesn't feel particularly good for you too.

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Front view | Side view
Samsung Galaxy Xcover 4
Samsung Galaxy Xcover 4
5.76 x 2.89 x 0.38 inches
146.2 x 73.3 x 9.7 mm
6.07 oz (172 g)

Samsung Galaxy Xcover 4

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
5.33 x 2.61 x 0.31 inches
135.4 x 66.2 x 7.9 mm
4.87 oz (138 g)

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)

Motorola Moto G5
Motorola Moto G5
5.68 x 2.87 x 0.37 inches
144.3 x 73. x 9.5 mm
5.13 oz (146 g)

Motorola Moto G5

Huawei P10 Lite
Huawei P10 Lite
5.77 x 2.83 x 0.28 inches
146.5 x 72 x 7.2 mm
5.15 oz (146 g)

Huawei P10 Lite



Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Samsung Galaxy Xcover 4 511
(Excellent)
3
(Excellent)
1:748
(Poor)
8551
(Poor)
2.42
5.28
(Average)
7.13
(Average)
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 440
(Good)
1
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6826
(Excellent)
2.01
2.4
(Good)
6.49
(Average)
Motorola Moto G5 604
(Excellent)
4
(Excellent)
1:1340
(Excellent)
7080
(Good)
2.12
3.15
(Good)
3.11
(Good)
View all

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

View all


Samsung Galaxy Xcover 4 Review

Introduction


The rugged smartphone is, by all accounts, a form factor of interest to a tiny consumer niche, and as such isn’t a popular choice with manufacturers. Among the big players, Samsung has been the most supportive of the idea, with the best-known example being the “Active” spins on its mainline flagships.

But one might consider its Xcover line, in this case represented by the latest Xcover 4, to be in an even tighter niche: where the Active series offers top-of-the-line specs if a sturdier body, the Xcover family is firmly and unashamedly planted into the low end. Thus, when taking into consideration whether such a phone is “good”, one has to shift their expectations and judge it more based on whether it meets its own, offbeat set of goals, over whether it suits the everyday consumer’s needs.

So with that in mind, let’s take a closer look at this quirky beast.

Design and display

Durability entails some sacrifices in the looks department

Samsung Galaxy Xcover 4 Review
Samsung Galaxy Xcover 4 Review
Samsung Galaxy Xcover 4 Review

You couldn’t call the Xcover 4 pretty if your life depended on it – every design decision on this phone simply screams “function over form”. Visually, this is a classic Samsung but with a couple of necessary changes due to its form factor, such as the all-plastic back and the three physical buttons on the front.

This, however, quickly proves itself to be a quite nice little package: the grippy outer shell feels amazingly comfortable in the hand while also doing its job quite well. And somewhat surprisingly, the Xcover 4 carries a US military MIL-STD-810G rating (as well as the more standard IP68), which means it’s resistant to extreme environmental conditions: these include water, dust, shocks, low and high pressure, and extreme temperatures.

The display is nothing to write home about with its 720 x 1280 px resolution spread across a 5-inch screen, but is, on the other hand, more than bright enough for outdoor use. However, the auto brightness rarely works particularly well in certain conditions, so you might be better off disabling it if it doesn't feel particularly good for you too.


Front view | Side view
Samsung Galaxy Xcover 4
Samsung Galaxy Xcover 4
5.76 x 2.89 x 0.38 inches
146.2 x 73.3 x 9.7 mm
6.07 oz (172 g)

Samsung Galaxy Xcover 4

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
5.33 x 2.61 x 0.31 inches
135.4 x 66.2 x 7.9 mm
4.87 oz (138 g)

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)

Motorola Moto G5
Motorola Moto G5
5.68 x 2.87 x 0.37 inches
144.3 x 73. x 9.5 mm
5.13 oz (146 g)

Motorola Moto G5

Huawei P10 Lite
Huawei P10 Lite
5.77 x 2.83 x 0.28 inches
146.5 x 72 x 7.2 mm
5.15 oz (146 g)

Huawei P10 Lite



Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Samsung Galaxy Xcover 4 511
(Excellent)
3
(Excellent)
1:748
(Poor)
8551
(Poor)
2.42
5.28
(Average)
7.13
(Average)
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 440
(Good)
1
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6826
(Excellent)
2.01
2.4
(Good)
6.49
(Average)
Motorola Moto G5 604
(Excellent)
4
(Excellent)
1:1340
(Excellent)
7080
(Good)
2.12
3.15
(Good)
3.11
(Good)
View all

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

View all


Software, functionality, and performance

Pretty much the standard Samsung entry-level fare

Samsung Galaxy Xcover 4 Review

The Xcover 4 comes with Android 7.0 Nougat right out of the box, which is refreshing for a device at this price point; and since this is Samsung, expect to see the latest Samsung Experience UX laid on top of that as well.

In simple terms, this means you get the full suite of Samsung’s home-grown apps, including Health, Secret Folder, and Internet, as well as six bonus Microsoft apps. In typical Samsung fashion, however, the first-party apps cannot be disabled, so if you don’t like them – tough luck.

As previously mentioned, the Xcover 4 is very much low-end in terms of specs: its Exynos 7570 SoC and 2 GB of RAM work out to a somewhat underwhelming experience, with frequently dropped background apps and the occasional stutter. Also, the phone only comes with 16 GB of storage, making the use of an SD card a necessity.

Performance benchmarks

AnTuTu
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Xcover 4 35548
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 45938
Motorola Moto G5 45621.66
JetStream
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Xcover 4 20.843
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 23.803
Motorola Moto G5 21.060
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Xcover 4 11
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 19
Motorola Moto G5 14.33
GFXBench Manhattan on-screen
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Xcover 4 3.9
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 7.3
Motorola Moto G5 4.5
Basemark OS II
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Xcover 4 706.66
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 993
Motorola Moto G5 801.33
Geekbench 4 single-core
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Xcover 4 626.66
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 674.33
Motorola Moto G5 621.66
Geekbench 4 multi-core
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Xcover 4 1851.33
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 3224
Motorola Moto G5 2566.33
View all

Camera

Most certainly not the best, but surprisingly good nonetheless

Samsung Galaxy Xcover 4 Review
Camera interface - Samsung Galaxy Xcover 4 Review
Camera interface - Samsung Galaxy Xcover 4 Review
Camera interface - Samsung Galaxy Xcover 4 Review
Camera interface - Samsung Galaxy Xcover 4 Review

Camera interface


The Xcover 4 comes equipped with a 13 MP rear-mounted shooter, as well as a 5 MP front-facing one. And considering the device they’re attached to, they take pretty good photos in the right conditions. Of course, there are the usual problems you’d expect, such as the less-than-ideal dynamic range and the somewhat lacking details, but overall, the camera is more than good enough for the occasional shot.

The Camera app is the standard one you’ll find on every Samsung Android device, and offers most everyday features, including a pro mode, panorama, burst shot, a sports and a night mode, and others. However, you won’t find the Galaxy S8’s stickers and face filters, but we imagine the target audience for this device will be okay with such an omission.

Video quality is okay, but the camera lacks stabilization and the autofocus is hit-or-miss, which can be a problem if there’s too much movement in the shot.


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Camera speed

Taking a pic (sec)Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec)Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Xcover 4 2.2
2.4
365
367
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 2
2.7
365
210
Motorola Moto G5 2
2.6
800
570
View all


Call quality & battery life


Samsung Galaxy Xcover 4 Review

A rugged phone often requires some compromises – in this case, call quality is what suffers most. The earpiece is loud but not really clear, while the microphone is a bit on the quiet side.

On the other hand, battery life is particularly impressive: the removable 2,800 mAh battery can last very long, thanks to the small-resolution screen and the low-power CPU: in our own benchmark, the Xcover 4 lasted an impressive 10 hours and 43 minutes. However, charging took more than 2 hours (132 minutes, to be exact), which is far from ideal.

Battery Benchmarks

Battery life (hours)
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Xcover 4 10h 43 min (Excellent)
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 11h 4 min (Excellent)
Motorola Moto G5 7h 33 min (Good)
Charging time (minutes)
Lower is better
Samsung Galaxy Xcover 4 132
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 112
Motorola Moto G5 133
View all

Conclusion


Samsung Galaxy Xcover 4 Review

So the big question that remains is: whom is this phone designed for? Essentially, it’s people who need a basic device that can withstand a ton of abuse – a tiny niche, but apparently still large enough for Samsung to want to fill it every other year.

And for what it is – an entry-level device with rugged exterior – the Xcover 4 is amazing: it’s comfortable to hold, sturdy, and thanks to the progress of Android, entirely usable even with its weak specs. So if you’re the target audience for such a phone, its asking price of €259 (about $290) may well be worth the experience you’re getting in return.