With a 6.3-inch screen, Samsung's ginormous Galaxy Mega smartphone verges on the absurd. And it's further evidence that Samsung won't rest until it has a mobile device of every conceivable size and shape, the accepted conventions of smartphone ergonomics be damned.
How big is too big? When do we, as consumers, step in and stop this maddening inflation of screen dimensions? Samsung has ignored the pleas of the rational by adding yet another model to its already saturated phone lineup. And with chassis dimensions that come perilously close to those of tablets such as the Nexus 7, it's aiming to fill a niche that doesn't exist.
A phone made for giant pants
At 6.59 by 3.46 by 0.31 inches, the Galaxy Mega is bigger than both the LG Optimus G Pro and Samsung's own Galaxy Note II. If you wear skinny jeans, or anything smaller than giant man pants, you will struggle to get the Mega fully inside your pocket. And if you have small fingers, as I do, you'll find yourself constantly cradling the Mega with both hands so that it doesn't slip out. This isn't a phone that you can hold discreetly, or comfortably use one-handed. Dialing a number or replying to a text message with just your thumb is a challenge, and in my tests I often hit a button I didn't mean to.
The Mega features the same plastic chassis and bezel, the same removable backing that gives access to the battery pack and MicroSD slot, and the same button placement as the Galaxy S4. It's a little less than an ounce heavier than the Note II. But unlike with those two devices, you might feel awkward making a phone call with the Mega against your ear.
It performs like a tablet
The Galaxy Mega lacks a 1080p screen, which bodes well for battery life but feels like a missed opportunity on a device this size. Reading articles and watching movies on the 6.3-inch, 233-pixels-per-inch, 1280-by-720 display is pleasant, but the colors aren't as vivid as those on the second-gen Nexus 7. The Galaxy Mega also lacks Samsung's signature S Pen stylus—a shame for a screen this big, as the Mega could serve well for sketching.
Considering that Samsung is usually current with mobile-industry hardware trends, the Mega's midrange components are unfortunate. Inside, it has a 1.7GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor and 1.5GB of RAM.
Initially, in tests the Mega didn't perform like a midrange phone—it switched from the Amazon Kindle app to a game and then on to email without any lag. But then I discovered its Achilles' heel: The Mega runs the latest version of Samsung's interface overlay, TouchWiz Nature UX 2.0, and while it's faster and more responsive than previous iterations, the phone's dual-core processor reveals its shortcomings in the form of slight lag as you cycle through home screens. This lag will likely get even slower as Samsung pushes forth more software updates.
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