Samsung Galaxy Mega

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Samsung has packed a whopping 6.3-inch screen and a battery big enough to power a defibrillator into a mid-priced device – but is this mega-handset anything more than a comedy outsized gadget?

How big is too big? Many phones including the iPhone 5 and Galaxy S4 carry a screen that is 4 inches or bigger. Is it the ideal size or do we need even more space to ogle? Samsung sides with the latter view, judging by the behemoth Galaxy Mega.

The Mega’s 6.3-inch screen trumps most phones, with only the Asus Fonepad and Sony Xperia Z Ultra eclipsing it with 7 inches and 6.4 inches respectively.

It is larger than your average smartphone too, measuring 167.6 x 88 x 8mm and weighing 199g. Compare that to the 130g Galaxy S4 at 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9mm and you get a sense of its scale.

When we first unboxed the Mega, we were in awe at its largesse – and it looked ridiculous for it. But after a few hours spent with the device, gradually we began to fall in love. Sure, it’s a little too big to make a phone call but if you’re going to watch videos, browse the web and use it as you would any modern-day smartphone, then it’s perfect.

Display

The screen was the first thing we noticed – and not just its size. While clarity wasn’t the best we’ve seen, it was unusually bright and vibrant. It’s not capable of a 1080p resolution, being restricted to just 720p, but this doesn’t matter as much on a phone of this size. If you stare closely enough you can make out individual pixels, but a phone of this size is designed to be viewed further away.

Unlike many Samsung devices, the Galaxy Mega uses an LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) rather than an AMOLED (Active Matrix Light Emitting Diode). While AMOLED usually produces vibrant, brighter screens, it is often let down by poor viewing angles and viewability in sunlight. Thankfully, there are no such issues with the Galaxy Mega, thanks to its LCD display.

One thing we would have liked to have seen from the Galaxy Mega is a Wacom digitiser like the one used in the Galaxy Note. This would have allowed us to draw on the screen using the S Pen, but sadly it’s missing.

Design

Samsung loves to use plastic and once again it’s the material of choice for the Galaxy Mega. While some see this as a negative, the plastic design of the Galaxy Mega feels a lot more premium than the Galaxy S4 – although removing the back cover will reveal a really thin and flimsy piece of plastic.

I have smaller hands than most but I had no problem holding the Mega in one hand. In fact, it was a breeze. That said, if you’re hoping to operate it entirely one handed, then that’s trickier. It can be done but you will lose a secure grip on your phone in doing so and I found myself nearly dropping the device on more than one occasion.

If there is one major drawback to the Galaxy Mega’s design, it would be its love of fingerprints. The glossy black design picked up fingerprints incredibly easily. This detracted from an otherwise beautiful design, as it meant the phone constantly looked grubby.

Performance

The Galaxy Mega doesn’t seem like it was designed to be a powerhouse, which is immediately apparent from the spec sheet. The 1.7GHz dual-core processor is a noticeable step down from the quad-core chip in the Galaxy S4.

The difference in performance wasn’t noticeable though, with the Mega managing everyday tasks such as web browsing and messaging with ease. Running full HD movies and TV shows was also handled without issue.

Unfortunately, the Galaxy Mega did struggle with gaming and it wasn’t just processor-intensive titles either, like N.O.V.A 3. While N.O.V.A 3 was almost unplayable due to incredibly sluggish performance, simpler games such as Riptide GP and Nutty Fluffies also played pretty poorly.

When we tried to quit Nutty Fluffies the device even panicked a little, leaving the screen to flicker for around five seconds. Much less processor-intensive games such as Candy Crush and Angry Birds should play a little better but be prepared to wait a while for them to load.

Camera

The Galaxy Mega’s eight-megapixel camera failed to impress on automatic settings and shooting at 16:9 aspect ratio. This was mainly due to the fact it’s incredibly easy to take blurred photos as a result of the extra wobble involved with holding such a large device.

While 16:9 is great, it also means 8MP pictures are downgraded to 6MP. When we switched to a 4:3 aspect ratio, which cranked up photos to 8MP, we got much better results.

Samsung tries to compensate for added wobble with an anti-shake mode in the camera settings – something we’d highly advise using if you’re considering this phone. The results still aren’t up there with other phones we have used such as the Nokia Lumia 925 or even the Galaxy S4, but it was what we expected from a mid-range device.

A downside to the Galaxy Mega is that any photo displayed on its screen is likely to look worse. This is down to the larger display, which will show much more detail and flaws than the smaller screens of the Lumia or Galaxy S4.

Full article in Mobile News issue 548 (September 23, 2013).

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