Review by Andrew Kameka on Tuesday September 03, 2013.
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Darting through the hordes of tourists and commuters who crowd the New York City streets each day, I get my first clue. I'm looking up directions on Google Maps and trying to memorize the instructions before I descend into the cell phone dead zone of a subway station. I twice fumble the massive piece of hardware in my hands and almost drop a phone with a screen barely smaller than the tablet a tourist uses to snap pictures of the World Trade Center. Then it hits me: the Galaxy Mega 6.3 is a tad too mega.
Samsung was mocked when it first introduced the Galaxy Note and it's 5-inch display because no one believed that anyone would want a phone that large. Time proved Samsung was ahead of the curve as companies began to produce 5-inchers with regularity. Samsung is once again out to quench the thirst of consumers who want a device further blurring the lines between phone and tablet, and the AT&T Galaxy Mega 6.3 accomplishes that goal. It accomplishes that goal big time.
Hardware and Design
At first glance, the Galaxy Mega looks identical to every other hunk of plastic that has exited the Samsung assembly lines in recent years. It has a shiny plastic exterior with faux chrome accents and a reflective, glossy finish that adds a bit of glimmer over the hundreds of dots on its back. A long physical power button with good feedback sits between capacitive Menu and Back buttons, but those buttons only appear when the phone is activated.
Someone could be forgiven for momentarily mistaking the Galaxy Mega 6.3 for any other Samsung device. A second moment is all it takes to quickly recognize that this is no ordinary Galaxy; the humungous size makes the Mega practically its own universe. A sizable display predictably leads to a colossal device, which is why I struggled so much when attempting to weave through the crowd and use the Galaxy Mega 6.3. It's also why I had a hard time holding the rail on the train and switching songs with one hand, holding the phone while driving with Google Maps, or going through my grocery list and pushing a cart.
Measuring 167.6 x 88 x 8mm (6.60 x 3.46 x 0.31in), the Galaxy Mega 6.3 is not ideal for one-handed operation. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's impossible because I managed to do it, but even my big mitts found the experience neither comfortable nor simple. Reaching up to swipe down notifications was awkward, and targeting buttons in some apps is harder than it needs to be because the phone is tall and wide. The lone positive I can say about the physique is that the plastic body gives the Galaxy Mega 6.3 a reasonable weight of 199g (7.02oz). The phone is wide, but not heavy.
Forgoing one-handed operation is a trade-off that many people may be wiling to make for a phone that has a 6.3-inch display. The Galaxy Mega 6.3 is not easy to hold, but once a firm grip is established, it is nice to look at. Trying to use it while standing on the NYC L train was not fun, but once I managed to take a seat on a New Jersey Transit train later that day, I was pleased to have so much extra room. I momentarily forgave all sins when I saw so many more headlines when deciding what to read in Pocket. Watching G.I. Joe or reading a chapter of Outliers seemed far more appealing on a Mega 6.3 than on a Moto X that I've been using recently.
Samsung's decision to go with such a large display has benefits that can be appreciated once looking beyond the gargantuan device. The HD Super Clear LCD reached solid brightness for those times I attempted to use it outdoors, and the screen's color profile is pleasing. My one disappointment is that the 720p resolution keeps the Galaxy Mega 6.3 from being truly amazing. While it's trivial to debate 720p vs 1080p in smaller handsets, a display this large would benefit from having higher clarity offered from a higher resolution.
A 1.7 GHz dual-core processor and 1.5GB of RAM will not spark excitement for the computing power of the Galaxy Mega 6.3. Fortunately, those lower-grade specs in comparison to other smartphones don't translate to low-grade experiences. The Galaxy Mega 6.3 worked well during the inexact science of the eyeball test. I did not experience any moments of weak performance other than the long pause it takes to bring up Google Now and Multitasking by holding down the Home button, or when attempting to use S Voice. The phone is noticeably a step behind the Galaxy S 4, but it otherwise moved at a reasonable pace and didn't seem slow.
The Galaxy Mega 6.3 has 16GB of internal storage, but as we've seen with all Android phones, a huge chunk of that is off-limits because of system memory and software. Only about 12GB of space is accessible for storing apps, photos, music, and other data. A microSD slot is included to offer more storage options.
Andrew is MobileBurn.com's managing editor. He is based in Miami, Florida.