samsung galaxy mega hero 640x424Samsung has just announced the Samsung Galaxy Mega, a device that has been talked about as a rumor until now. As its name indicates, and featuring a 6.3″ display (there is also a 5.8″ version), the Galaxy Mega is even bigger than any other Samsung smartphone -even the Galaxy Note 2- and it will likely end up as being the largest smartphone available in Russia and Europe (since devices like the Huawei Mate aren’t sold there). The American version will have to wait as there is no announcement for it, yet. As Samsung Mobile leader J.K Shin puts it, the Galaxy Mega has been designed to unlock the potential of ” the bigger screen for extensive viewing multimedia, web browsing, and more”. We knew this day would come, but we didn’t know that it would come before September. We’ve got one in our hands, and here are our first impressions of the device.

6/5/2013 Update: we have used the Galaxy Mega 6.3 for one week and have published a complete review of the device.

Samsung Galaxy Mega Specs

Two display sizes: 6.3″ and 5.8″, both are “HD”, which means 720p
Dual-core Snapdragon processor (1.7GHz), 1.5GB RAM
Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
8 Megapixel Rear Camera, 1.0 Megapixel front camera
WiFi a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0
LTE 100Mbps, HSPA+ 21Mbps (will vary depending on region)
8GB or 16GB of internal storage (+microSD, 64GB max)
167.6 x 88 x 8mm, 199g
3200 mAh battery

As you can see here, the Samsung Galaxy Mega is not designed to be a top “specs performer”. I’m not sure why this is since Samsung could have used a quad-core Exynos (the Exynos Octa 5 is Samsung’s best chip right now), but I suspect that there is a difficult balancing act between processing power, battery capacity, integrated modem and cost of production.  This is really a smartphone geared towards multimedia experience — but not designed for “hardcore gaming” (if there is such a thing on mobile). I would see this smartphone more as a productivity device and a “very comfy phone” than a pure performance beast.

Industrial design (big, thin)

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The Samsung Galaxy Mega is obviously big, and it basically looks like a Samsung Galaxy S4, but is much bigger. I’ve taken some side by side photos of the Galaxy Mega next to a Galaxy Note 2 to show you the size difference (see below). It would have been fun to snap a photos with a 4″ smartphone, but I just didn’t have one with me.

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The first question that most people ask about those phones is: “does it fit in pants pockets?”. I’ve tried it (I wear 33/32 Levis jeans, for reference) and the conclusion is: yes it does fit. To be fair, the 6.3″ version of the Galaxy Mega is probably the largest smartphone that I can put in my pants pocket and sit with (and I can “feel” it at that point). The 5.8″ Galaxy Mega version should be perfectly manageable on the other hand. For women who put them in a purse, there’s really no problem at all.

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The second question is: does it fit in one’s hand. There too, I would say yes (I wear M-sized gloves — see photo earlier in the review), and it is surprisingly comfortable to hold in relation to its size. Since I got my hands on Huawei’s Mate which is a 6.1″ smartphone, I had some prior experience with this type of handsets. The Samsung design “feels” significantly smaller in the hand, certainly because its bezels are much thinner. With dimensions of 167.6 x 88 x 8.0 mm, the Galaxy Mega is a bit wider (7.5mm) than the Galaxy Note 2 (80.5 x 151.1 x 9.4 mm), but it is also 1.4mm thinner.  The Mega is 16.5g heavier than the Note 2, and this was subtle when I held both at the same time.

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The overall industrial design and build quality are close (but not quite equal) to the Samsung Galaxy S4, which is a step up from the Galaxy S3. You really have to feel both in your hands, because the photos can’t show the difference between the S3 and S4 when it comes to build quality – I was surprised when I played with the S4, and I suspect that you may be surprised too.

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Next to a Galaxy Note 2 (left)

In terms of design, this is a smartphone that has been created to please a crowd that wants to use a super-comfortable “computer” with a huge screen. When I tried it, it felt extremely comfortable to use, not only for text or image-related apps like movies, ebooks, web pages etc… but more importantly in terms for productivity purposes, since the virtual keyboard is bigger as well. This is the main reason why I use large smartphones, and I have to say that the Galaxy Mega takes things to the next level. This is almost like typing on an iPad mini, except that it is a fully featured phone in a form-factor that is usable in my hand (that’s not the case for any of those 7″ tablets).

I say it’s not for everyone because there is still a large crowd that wants a one-handed smartphone, or thinks that beyond 5″, it’s really “too big”. It’s a legitimate choice, and the good news is that there are plenty of smartphones that would get the job done with a wonderful set of features. But it’s simply impossible to push the envelope on such a large design, and please everyone at the same time. This is a game that cannot be won, and it’s been proven that there is a sizable market for super-large phones. The question is where is the limit.

Finally, I know that some folks just love aluminum bodies (I like them too!), and may be disappointed by the use of poly-carbonate here. The thing is: synthetic materials also have great advantages, like being flexible (removable battery), light and less prone to scratches. Now, it’s really a matter of taste, so if you really need a metallic body, then there are a few great choices about to hit the market. That said, I highly doubt that one could get this type of screen size, with an aluminum body and a reasonable weight.

Display (very good)

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Upon turning it on, one can see that the display is an LCD display since it doesn’t have the typical deep black of the AMOLED displays. It’s not surprising, since AMOLED is very nice, but also harder to build in that kind of size, and it does require more power as the surface area increases. It’s probably too early (or too expensive) to build a mass-produced 6.3″ AMLOED display right now, let alone a 1080p one. Yes, that’s right, the Galaxy Mega display is “HD”, which means 720p. It’s clear that the 6.3″ could really have used a 1080p screen, but there won’t be any products with a 6.3″ 1080p display when this comes out, so there are no real alternative anyway.

Resolution aside, the image quality of the display is excellent, just check the photo above. I’m not quite sure that this display is as good as the best IPS displays out there, but the view angle etc was quite reasonable, so we’ll have to compare side by side before reaching any conclusion, but regardless, differences should be subtle anyway.

Performance (dual-core)

As I’ve said before, the raw performance of this smartphone will be less than the Galaxy S4, and possibly even less than the Galaxy Note 2 — we haven’t had a chance to run any benchmarks since this unit was not the final hardware. What we can say at the moment, is that we don’t expect it to score very high.

Update: Samsung has confirmed to Ubergizmo that the Galaxy Mega is powered by a “dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor”. While the exact model isn’t known, I think that it is probably a Snapdragon S400 chip, since it came out recently, and would fit the overall hardware specs of this smartphone which was designed to offer a lot of real-estate, without becoming a leading-edge device from a specifications standpoint. Performance-wise, it should lag smartphones equipped with the faster Qualcomm S600 processor, which is itself slower than Samsungf’s own Exynos Octa 5.

It was difficult to guess what kind of synthetic performance it would get since most of the user interface, and basic apps run similarly to the Galaxy S4 or the Note 2. Those apps simply don’t demand enough resources to put the dual-core chip of the Galaxy Mega in a difficult situation. We’ll know more than we will work on the complete review, but hopefully, the numbers will confirm our current guess.

Conclusion (impressive)

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We suspected that Samsung was working on  a 6.3″ smartphone, and frankly, we thought that it was the Galaxy Note 3 until recently. While it is just about certain that the Samsug Galaxy Note 3 will come in due time, the arrival of this Galaxy Mega is quite a surprise, and mostly a good one. The smartphone design looks great, and it has little to envy to the Galaxy S4, it is really like a close relative.

The Galaxy Mega is not meant as being the new high-end specs performer. Instead, it is a smartphone that was designed to maximize the utilization comfort and the productivity of key visual apps that can run very well on a dual-core processor (like email, web pages, reading, typing, photos).

We wouldn’t be surprised if in the future, Samsung would press harder in this category if the success is as great as the company hopes it will be. The Galaxy Mega may not be a “specs” phone, but in most cases, when it comes to large display smartphones, the Samsung Galaxy Mega is the new king of the hill.

Filed in Cellphones >Reviews . Tags: Galaxy Mega 6.3, Phone Reviews, Samsung and Samsung Reviews.
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