Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 Review
Phone Set Up17/20
Camera & Video17/20
Samsung Galaxy Mega: is it a tablet or a phone?
The Samsung Galaxy Mega is Samsung’s mid-range offering to the phablet market. The phone comes with a tagline “Stay smart, live large”, but will the 6.3-inch device offer anything more exciting than just a big screen?
As you can see, the Samsung Galaxy Mega is almost identical in design and build to all other Galaxy devices. It has the same rounded shape and physical home button; the only thing that makes the Mega stand out is its huge dimensions. In fact, during the course of the Mega’s road-test, a friend and I decided to refer to the device as the ‘Samsung Galaxy Huge’…
With a 6.3 inch screen, the Samsung Galaxy Huge [or Mega] is nothing short of enormous. Its dimensions are just 0.7 inches smaller than a bona fide tablet, and this doesn’t go unnoticed when you’re handling the device, let alone putting it to your ear to take a call. While it passed the pocket test, I found myself having to store the phone in my Kindle case because the pocket usually reserved for my phone was too small.
That said, the phone is pretty slim line, measuring just 8mm thick- almost the same as the Samsung Galaxy S4 which is a whole 1.3-inches smaller. As a result of its thinness, the Galaxy Mega is also quite light; while its 199 grams might put it at the top of the chart when it comes to weight, considering the device’s size, it doesn’t feel heavy at all, especially when compared with 7-inch tablets (which are nearer in size than most smartphones).
Like all Samsung Galaxy devices, though, the Mega gets its slim line, lightweight feel as a result of its flimsy plastic casing, which, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, makes the phone feel that little bit cheap.
One element of the Samsung Galaxy Mega that I was keen to test out was its internal memory. The device is advertised as offering either 8 or 16 gigabytes, though after much controversy over bloatware on the Samsung Galaxy S4, I wanted to see if the Galaxy Mega shared the same downfalls.
And much to my disappointment, it did. Considering the model I was reviewing came with 8GB of internal storage, by the time I switched it on, it only had 4.78GB remaining due to the wealth of Samsung-own apps already installed on the device. That said, I didn’t mind so much, because in many ways the bespoke Samsung apps are what make the Galaxy Mega-like the S4- stand out from all the other smartphones on the market.
Phone Set Up
In terms of set-up, the Samsung Galaxy Mega is in many ways like any other Android, and is kitted out with Jelly Bean 4.2.2- the most up-to-date version of Android available for Samsung devices at the time of writing. The phablet also has a dual-core 1.7GHz Krait processor, which isn’t too bad for a mid-range device, and in practice was pretty fast, handling using multiple applications at once with ease.
Another feature that I liked which is directly linked to the Mega’s humungous dimensions is the phone’s keyboard; the 6.3-inch screen means that not only are the keys slightly larger than most ordinary smartphone keypads, but the Mega also displays numbers from 0-9 on the main keyboard, making it much quicker to type messages and emails without having to scroll through the two or three keyboard screens.
There are also a few more positive features about the Samsung Galaxy Mega, mainly due to its large screen; the phone’s app screens are on a continuous loop, meaning you don’t have to flit through the same pages to get back to the beginning again when searching for specific apps. Also, unlike smaller smartphones, apps such as the calendar can be displayed in full, allowing you to glance at your upcoming schedule without having to actually open up any applications.
Finally, despite the Mega only featuring a 255 pixel per inch pixel density compared with the S4’s 441ppi, the Mega’s display is really sharp and certainly didn’t disappoint.
I was pleased to see that the Samsung Galaxy Mega offered the majority of Samsung apps that the flagship S4 does. These include S Translator and Story Album (to read about these apps in full take a look at the Samsung Galaxy S4 review).
Group Play is Samsung’s attempt to enhance its devices’ audio quality. It works by placing more than one Samsung device- including the S4, the S4 Mini and the Mega 5.9- together which turns the phones into a stereo, amplifying the sound in such a way that it doesn’t sound tinny or muffled.
Like I have mentioned before, while it’s great that Samsung is offering Group Play on more devices than just the S4 flagship, I still think that Group Play as a feature is a bit gimmicky, especially as you need more than one device to make it work, making the phone’s speakers nothing more than ordinary when using the device on its own.
It’s the first time that I’ve seen S Travel, which is a collaboration between Samsung and Trip Advisor. The app essentially allows you to select any city, town or country throughout the world to receive hints and recommendations for places to visit. Whether you’re planning to embark on a romantic trip to Paris, or want inspiration for your next holiday, the app is a really useful guide to planning your journey. Because S Travel sits on your home screen, you can absent minded flick through countries and excursions without having to manually search for them.
S Planner is another handy Samsung-built app which makes full use of the Mega’s large screen and decent voice recognition. Simply schedule in your week’s meetings and appointments using the keypad or your voice and the Mega will automatically record them, sending you reminders when tasks are due. Like the Mega’s calendar app, because of the phone’s 6.3-inch display, you can glance at the day’s schedule without having to manually open it up to plan your day ahead, which makes the phone suitable for business use (though you might need to buy a new briefcase to fit it in…).
Last but not least is Samsung WatchOn, an app which essentially goes old school by making use of the phone’s infrared to allow you to use it as a TV remote. While this has been seen as gimmicky, I do think that having one remote which controls your TV and Freeview or satellite box is handier than grappling with a number of separate remotes. WatchOn also offers you recommendations according to what you like to watch, which is really handy when you find yourself with a few spare hours on a Sunday afternoon with nothing to do.
Camera & Video
The Samsung Galaxy Mega features an 8 megapixel rear-facing lens, similar to that of the Samsung Galaxy S3. However, in practice, when I compared photos taken with the Mega to those taken on the S3, the 6.3-inch beast of a smartphone won hands down, producing much sharper and brighter images.
|Galaxy Mega||Galaxy S3|
Not only were the photos taken with the Galaxy Mega really impressive, but displayed on its 6.3-inch screen, they looked even more superior to most other smartphones. When viewing your photos, I also liked the fact that you could flit between various albums without having to close one folder to enter another, which is a nice touch.
Similarly to the Samsung Galaxy S4, the Galaxy Mega features many camera modes, pushing the phablet up even higher in my estimations. From Auto, Beauty Face, Best Photo (out of a series of continuous shots) and Best Face, the Mega makes taking portrait shots really easy and professional-looking.
Another quirky mode which is offered by the Mega is Sound & Shot which records a short audio clip which plays behind still images that you take, allowing you to record more than just a photo in your phone’s gallery.
In addition to selecting from a variety of camera modes, the Mega also lets you get creative by editing your photos. Add different coloured filters, various artistic effects, and even fun stickers to your images, or, if you’re feeling particularly arty, why not use the Draw mode to layer your own designs over the top of your images!
On paper the Samsung Galaxy Mega has a superior battery to the Samsung Galaxy S4: 3200 mAh vs 2600mAh, though in practice, having a larger mAh count doesn’t always equate to a longer battery life.
That said, I wasn’t disappointed by the Mega’s battery performance at all, and even after taking a number of photographs, flitting through the phone’s camera modes and Samsung-apps built into the device, the battery saw me through almost two days during its road-test, which not many smartphones can attest to.