We're keen for calling large smartphones "phablets" these days, but what happens when you come within an inch of popular tablets? Well, you get the Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 which, as its name implies, has a massive 6.3-inch display.
The device recently landed in our offices and we've been giving it a spin for the past several days. It has some similarities to the Galaxy S4 in terms of design, though its screen measures 1.3 inches larger than that of the current flagship, and it sacrifices a bit of power.
The Mega 6.3 hasn't landed in the United States yet, though we hope it does in the near future. Read on for our full review of Samsung's massive smartphone, which we recently called "Galaxy Note II on steroids" during our initial unboxing.
Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 Video Review
The Mega 6.3 might be big, but it doesn't pack the fastest and latest components on the market. The Galaxy S4 offers a quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor, for example, while the Mega has a 1.7GHz dual-core processor. Instead of 2GB of RAM, the Mega 6.3 packs 1.5GB, and it has an 8-megapixel camera instead of the 13-megapixel on the S4. It's available with 8GB or 16GB of storage (ours had 8GB), though that's expandable with a microSD card. Last but not least, it employs a TFT LCD display with a 1280 x 720-pixel resolution instead of the full 1080p HD SuperAMOLED screen that the Galaxy S4 offers.
We had a black review unit and the back has the same finish as the glossy back on the Galaxy S4 with the same style print. It's chic looking and we like the faux metal borders that run around the side, which adds a first-class touch.
Moving around the device, there's a microUSB charging port on the bottom, a volume rocker on the left-hand side, a power button on the right-hand side and a 3.5mm headphone jack up top. There's a microSD card slot for adding additional storage under the flimsy battery cover.
We can't knock the phone for having a massive display, we assume consumers know what they're getting into before they buy it, and we actually enjoyed the big screen. We were worried that the 720p resolution wouldn't look that great across the full 6.3-inches, but text and video looked truly amazing during our tests.
The phone is so big that we found we didn't use our iPad mini that often. That said, it could be a perfect option for anyone who is on the fence between buying either a phablet or a smartphone and a tablet.
Now the big question: can it fit in your pocket? We wear regular jeans and the device was able to fit into our pocket without any issue at all. We did notice it felt super bulky once we sat down, however, and we often took it out while sitting at our desk.
Overall, the hardware is good but not great.
The Galaxy mega 6.3 runs Android 4.2 and has a ton of the features that the Galaxy S4 offers, including AirView, DualView for running two apps at the same time, AirWatch and more. We won't dive too much into the software features because, generally, they're very similar to what's already available on Samsung's other smartphones that we've covered in depth.
Surprisingly, we actually really liked Samsung's TouchWiz (though it's not really referred to that anymore) user interface on the much larger screen. We usually install third-party launchers, but felt the software worked perfectly and used the device as intended. Something about seeing everything bigger added a fresh coat of paint to it for us.
The software kept up well, even though the Mega 6.3 has a slower processor and less RAM than the Galaxy S4. We found it was adequate, though not the fastest device we've tested. There was some stuttering as we cruised through applications but apps loaded fine and played fine. The phone just didn't feel as fast as the quad-core and octa-core devices we've been testing – though that comes as no surprise.
You can run multiple apps, for sure, but you will likely need to do some app management so that you're not running too many at once.
The 8-megapixel camera on the Galaxy Mega 6.3 was average. It's not the same 13-megapixel sensor on the Galaxy S4 and we've come to enjoy the high quality images on other devices, such as the HTC One. Sure, it snaps photos just fine, and that's probably not the main reason you're buying this device. If you do want a better camera on a phablet, we imagine Samsung will pack a better sensor in the Galaxy Note III, which we expect to hit in the fall.
There's also a 1.9-megapixel front-facing camera for video chat which was adequate, but we're rarely blown away by front-facing cameras anyway.
Call Quality and Data
Call quality was right on a par with what we've seen from other recent releases from Samsung, such as the Galaxy S4. We tested the device on AT&T's network in Irvine, California, though we had an unlocked unit that wasn't built specifically for AT&T. The phone is so large that we found it almost creates an echo of your own voice while you're talking.
We found that the speakerphone wasn't that loud, so you might want to use an external Bluetooth speaker if you're frequently on conference calls using a speakerphone.
Data was on a par with what we've seen from HSPA speeds in our Irvine office, but again, our unit didn't support AT&T's 4G LTE network so we'll reserve judgment until we can test that (if it ever lands in the U.S.).
Obviously with a massive screen battery life is always a concern; after all, displays drain the battery rather quickly. The Galaxy Mega 6.3 packs a large 3,200mAh battery that easily got us through a full day of use.
We took the Galaxy Mega 6.3 off the charger at about 7:30 a.m and used it to pull two email accounts all day, about an hour of phone calls, light gameplay and video viewing, more web browsing than usual because the screen is so large, and at around 11:30 p.m at night we still had about a 50 percent charge. We found that to be incredible and applaud Samsung on being able to achieve such a feat.
We've never had so many people stop and ask us as many questions about a test unit as we did with the Mega 6.3. We were often asked exactly what it was that we were carrying, so we know it has the ability to turn heads, and we liked that.
A lot of people really appreciated the phone, especially because it's so easy to read text, browse the web and see everything that smartphones have to offer on such a massive screen. Personally, we thought it felt a little too big, though that's purely an opinion of taste and, again, we know people who buy this device are very aware of the size of the phone. Plus, if it is too big, there's always the Galaxy Mega 5.8.
If you want one of the biggest smartphones on the market with just a few hardware sacrifices, then the Galaxy Mega 6.3 should be at the top of your list.
We used the Galaxy Mega 6.3 as our daily driver for 8 days before drafting up our review and filming our video. We're disclosing this information as part of our new effort to be more transparent in our testing procedures. In the case of loaned devices, we return them after our testing is completed.