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Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 Review: Titantic phone, petite tablet (AT&T)


Review by Andrew Kameka on Tuesday September 03, 2013.

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Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3
Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3

Software and Apps

As gimmicky as Samsung's software may be, Touchwiz actually provides some welcome additions to Android, and the Galaxy Mega 6.3 is usually a good platform to showcase them. The Galaxy Mega does not support Air Gesture, but it does support Air View, which allows users to hover over a Gallery thumbnail with a finger to see larger previews. It's sometimes shaky and rarely in use, but still nice to have. There's also Multi-Window, which splits the phone into two panels that someone can use for multitasking. A 6.3-inch display is exactly the kind of phone that benefits from being able to watch YouTube or browse the web in one panel and take notes or check email in the other. If there's a case for Touchwiz, this is it.

The usual suspects for Samsung's software are also present other than the hardware-dependent Air Gesture features. An IR port enables WatchOn to use the Galaxy Mega as a remote control, there are plenty of shortcuts in the notification window, S Memo is great for note taking, and the Music app is gaudy but has an enjoyable Music Square for mood-based playlists. The visual changes to core Android apps aren't very appealing, but having the ability to replace them with Google's editions makes that a non-issue. AT&T's 10-app stable of bloatware is also present, but it can be disabled.

Camera

The Galaxy Mega 6.3 doesn't have a great camera compared to other smartphones, but it has a great camera when compared to tablets. It's all about perspective and the glass being half-full or half-empty. Photos in lowlight conditions tend to be rather noisy and the LED flash barely helps matters. Daylight photos tend to be much better, but even they have issues with balancing light properly.

The 8-megapixel rear camera and 1.9-megapixel front camera have their shortcomings, but Samsung's bundle of camera tricks tries to dress it up by including lots of editing options and eight different camera modes. The HD video recorded seems very clear, though the audio can be poor because the microphone can be easily overwhelmed when recording video in loud settings like a pub. Here are some photo and video samples to show what the device can do.

Communication and Data

AT&T continues to grow its stable of 4G LTE cities, which is good news for potential Galaxy Mega buyers, but network speeds and performance will vary by location. The phone also supports HSPA+, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, MHL, and USB 2.0 host. Call quality and clarity is favorably reminiscent of what I experienced on the Galaxy S 4. The microphone picks up solid quality for the person on the other end of the phone, and the earpiece does well for incoming audio. The large size may make some smaller people feel strange holding such a big device up to their head and need to adjust how they hold the phone. Otherwise, I had no issues calling, downloading, or uploading.

Battery

Oh, that's why Samsung went with a 720p resolution instead of 1080p. Powering such a large display at a higher resolution would have been hell on its battery life. The compromise makes sense considering the results. The Galaxy Mega 6.3 has only a 3,200 mAh battery, which is barely higher than last year's Galaxy Note II. In terms of frequent use, I managed to eek out less than 10 hours of battery life on the device. The staying power stretched to 26 hours when I pared down my usage to just 40 minutes of phone calls, a few texts, several hours of listening to music, and occasional checks of Google Maps and Twitter. The Galaxy Mega should be able to support a full day of average usage as long as the user keeps the brightness below 70 percent and limits the amount of video watched.

Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3
Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3

Conclusion

Do you want a smartphone or tablet? The Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 is the closest anyone has gotten without making people choose - in the U.S., at least. There are plenty of phones with large screens that blur the lines, but most are just phones with above-average display sizes. The average continues to climb, and the Galaxy Mega 6.3 is the better option of devices trying to bridge that gap. It has a screen big enough to make reading eBooks more enjoyable yet remain small enough to fit into a large jeans pocket. It may not be the most comfortable fit, but it's a fit.

Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3
Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3

Samsung kickstarted the big phone trend with the first Galaxy Note, and is it prepares to launch the third iteration of that device, it's trying to really get into the mini-tablet, mega-phone category. Samsung managed to deliver a good enough experience that someone could easily tolerate its comparative shortcomings or not notice them at all. Certain aspects of the phone don't amaze, but they are serviceable. Why spend hundreds of dollars on two devices when you can spend hundreds on one?

For someone who carries a phone and a tablet, the Galaxy Mega 6.3 is serviceable enough to meet the basic needs of both devices. One need, the tablet, is met more than the other. I never got over how challenging it is to use such a massive device, even though I sometimes couldn't help but enjoy the ability to read more and scroll less, or have a wider screen to watch video. In the end, I needed a phone more than I needed a tablet, and the most important aspect was sometimes hard to enjoy with the Galaxy Mega 6.3. I once said that the Galaxy Note II is as big as a phone can get and still comfortably support phone activities, and I've been more convinced of that until now.

Samsung Galaxy S 4 vs. Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3
Samsung Galaxy S 4 vs. Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3

 
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About the author

Andrew Kameka
Andrew is MobileBurn.com's managing editor. He is based in Miami, Florida.

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