Look and feel
That massive screen dominates but the ‘budget’ nature of this phablet is reinforced by its plastic backing.
Ease of Use
An amazing touch screen and AirView functions make this a doddle to use, even without a stylus.
The wide space available on that screen comes into its own when you multi-task using two applications at the same time.
While it only packs a dual-core processor rather than the high-end quad-cores seen elsewhere, overall performance never suffers.
Continuously streaming HD video eventually saw the battery give out after more than 8.5 hours.
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,7/2/2013 3:40:08 PM
Ease of use
Great battery life;
Small internal memory;
Camera shake on photos;
No built-in stylus
What’s in a name? Well, if you think Samsung Galaxy Mega is a bit of a mouthful, you probably shouldn’t have tried to swallow it in the first place. Even those calling it the Samsung GT-19205 may soon realise they’ve bitten off more than they can chew. That’s because the latest device from the company that kicked off the phablet craze is a whopper.
To put the Galaxy Mega into context, Samsung makes a version of its flagship S4 smartphone called the Galaxy S4 Mini. This ‘Mini’ is actually bigger than the iPhone 5s, which is Apple’s largest handset. So when Samsung calls something ‘Mega’...
Missing in action
Easily living up to that name, this 6.3-inch monster offers a noticeable boost in terms of screen size over the Galaxy Note 3. If it also happened to pack in all of the functionality of that excellent handset, it would be a formidable device indeed. The main issue is what’s missing from the Galaxy Mega, and it’s a problem that starts with that name.
Had this been called the Galaxy Note Mega, it would have had the potential to seriously wow us. After all, Samsung has succeeded in making the stylus usable again in polite company, without those annoying, hurtful sniggers. It’s actually a shock, then, to run your finger along the bottom of the Mega and realise the revitalised pull-out pen is missing. Surely the whole point of having a phone the size of a small whiteboard is that you can scribble on it?
What you will be able to draw with the Galaxy Mega is looks from those around you. Sadly, the gasps and wide eyes you’ll encounter are more ‘WTF’ than ‘OMG’. It’s a small comfort to think that people reacted to the Note the same way when it first appeared, but we can’t help thinking it will take longer for a handset this size to be considered normal. Despite this, the screen is still a joy to look at, even though Samsung has downgraded it from the Super AMOLED technology found on its other high-flying handsets.
On paper, the Mega’s 720 HD LCD screen offers just 233ppi, which trails far behind the Full HD screens found on Samsung’s Note 3 (386ppi) and S4 (441ppi) devices. In practice, that massive display hides its shortcomings well. It may not be so large that you’ll be selling your TV and mounting it on your wall, but it is big enough that you can browse the web or watch movies without clutching it too close to your face. With the screen viewed further away, that drop in pixel count is less of an issue than it would be otherwise. However, colours are noticeably less rich on the Mega compared side-by-side with the Super AMOLED output on Samsung’s other devices.
The choice of LCD screen does bring a few other benefits, though. First, it helps keep the Galaxy Mega’s price down, with online sites listing SIM-free models below £300. A bigger phone also means, by design, a bigger battery, but powering a 6.3-inch Super AMOLED screen would still chew through that massive 3,200mAh power supply fairly quickly. Yet with an LCD screen, we managed to squeeze more than eight and a half hours of constant HD video streaming out of the Mega, a fantastic and far-above-average effort.
Those impressive multimedia credentials are let down slightly by the camera functions. It turns out that what you see onscreen isn’t always what you get – especially in low light. Onscreen targets might appear clearly as you line them up but when you hit the shutter button they are replaced by darker, less attractive versions. A tweak of the settings can compensate for this but point-and-click amateurs who don’t like to dig down to even those shallow levels will be disappointed.
Photography is also one area where the Mega’s pocket-busting size doesn’t do it any favours. Being so large makes it hard to hold still, and as Jerry Lee Lewis would say if he saw the blurred faces of our group snaps, there’s a whole lot of shaking going on. This is particularly true of spontaneous shots, but it even affected images where we had time to stop and frame the photo.
Naturally, your camera skills aren’t the only thing affected by the size of the Mega. The device can be held easily for reading and watching media, but taking control of any other function proves this is not a true one-handed device. Stretching your thumb across that wide expanse to select onscreen icons leaves you with the fear that you may drop the phone, as even large hands struggle to tame this beast.
While the designers have tried to use the Mega’s size as a positive – especially when it comes to that impressive battery life – clearly someone forgot to make space for much installed memory. Delivering models with 8GB and 16GB is also somewhat deceiving. On the 8GB handset, Samsung’s operating system leaves just 4.78GB available to use. That’s enormous if you’re running one of the world’s first ever computers, but is small by modern mobile phone standards. At least those with a passion for media have the option to increase that by adding a 64GB microSD card.
The Samsung Galaxy Mega is more tablet than phone, although it tries its best to use that to its advantage. A spacious screen more than does movies justice and the Mega has enough battery life to keep those films running through a transatlantic flight. While its disadvantages, such as the lack of a stylus, will disappoint artistic types, for the price they may be overlooked by more practical users.
Ultimately the Mega is one for those whose screen needs go beyond what a smartphone-sized device can offer. The downside is that at this size Samsung has lost the portability-to-size ratio that now seems so well defined in its Note range, as the Mega loses its status as a pocket device.