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HTC One Max vs. Samsung Galaxy Mega vs. Nokia Lumia 1520

Review by Andrew Kameka on Friday December 13, 2013.

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HTC One Max, Samsung Galaxy Mega, Nokia Lumia 1520
HTC One Max, Samsung Galaxy Mega, Nokia Lumia 1520

Giants of the world, a phone befitting your massive hands awaits. In recent months, we've seen the release of some extra large smartphones like the HTC One Max, Nokia Lumia 1520, and the Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3. All are large enough to approach tablet territory, but which of the three is best? Let's see.

Screens and Performance

Three phone from three different companies, and they offer three very different experiences. With the Samsung Galaxy Mega (AT&T), you're getting a super-sized Galaxy S4 with minimized specs. Sure, it has a 6.3-inch HD display, but that's a 720p display with just 233.11 pixels per inch. It has a 1.7 GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor with 1.5 GB of RAM. The performance is passable on the device, but it's not next level. Compare that to the HTC One Max (Sprint), which has a 5.9-inch display with full 1080p HD. That's 373 pixels per inch, so it clearly has a more pixel-rich display. The One Max also ups the ante with a 1.7 GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor and 2GB of RAM, which tend to be a little faster than the Galaxy Mega.

Then there's the Nokia Lumia 1520 (AT&T), a 6-inch behemoth that's 1080p HD, so it has 367 pixels per inch. It also has a 2.2 GHz quad-core Snapdragon with great performance. There's no noticeable difference in terms of clarity between the Lumia 1520 and the One Max, but the Lumia has enhancements to make it obscenely bright and clearer in the sunlight. When it comes to screens and device performance, the Lumia 1520 comes out on top.

Hardware and Design

What about their designs? The Galaxy Mega is a big mass of plastic with glossy coating and a wide build. The device measures 6.60 x 3.46 x 0.31 inches. The One Max is a metallic beast that feels cool and measures 6.48 x 3.25 x 0.41. The Lumia 1520 has a smooth matte finish and a 6.40 x 3.36 x 0.33 shape. These are all extraordinarily large devices, but the One Max has the slimmest profile and may be easiest to grip in one hand. It's also the lightest at 7.05 oz, compared to the Galaxy Mega at 7.23 and the Lumia at 7.26. That's surprising because the weight of the One Max is top-heavy and the metal body makes you think it's the heftiness despite the opposite being true.

The One Max and Galaxy Mega have IR blasters and well-placed, accessible buttons. The Lumia 1520 has a dedicated camera button for quick access to photos. The Mega and Lumia 1520 have single speakers on the back; the One Max has booming dual speakers in the front. I'm very pleased with the Lumia 1520 volume and sound, but the One Max is better because of the dual speaker placement leading to sound coming directly to the listener rather than bouncing from the back. It also sounds fuller and is preferable if you listen to device speakers for music or video.

The One Max also features a fingerprint scanner that's a little shaky but can offer personalized shortcuts and unlocking. When it comes to physical design, the One Max takes a slight edge for its strong speakers, added features, and relatively smaller size. The Lumia 1520 is a close second because of its simplicity.

HTC One Max, Samsung Galaxy Mega, Nokia Lumia 1520
HTC One Max, Samsung Galaxy Mega, Nokia Lumia 1520


Software is where each phones drastically diverge. The Galaxy Mega runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and will upgrade to 4.3 in a few months. It has Samsung's trademark features like Multi-Window, a multitasking feature that splits the large display into two areas. It's great for tweeting and watching a video simultaneously or looking up information online while sending a text. The Mega also lets users hover over photos or emails to get a quick preview before tapping the screen. The trouble with the software is that it's old, and users will be waiting around for an update for a long time.

The One Max also runs Android, though it runs the faster Android 4.3 with HTC Sense. Sense is graphically better than Samsung's Touchwiz, but it doesn't have as many flashy tricks to enhance the experience. The aforementioned fingerprint sensor is good for getting quick access to certain apps, and changing settings is easy with a two-finger swipe from top to bottom. BlinkFeed is a universal news and social reader that's not very good, but the browser, dialer, gallery, and calendar apps are preferable.

The Lumia 1520 runs Windows Phone 8, so it's the ideal choice for Microsoft users and a weak option for people who rely on Google. There's no notification setting or quick toggles, but it has Live Tiles that show alerts for app updates. It also has great apps for editing and creating documents, solid navigation tools, and tons of camera apps. The strength of Windows Phone is that the flat and typographical design is fluid, has very little lag, and is the cleanest of all the options. Windows Phone sadly doesn't have as many good apps as you can get on Android, but it has the basics and is closing the gap with marquee app releases like Instagram and Vine. In the end, I'd rate the HTC One as having the best software options for people who don't like waiting on their favorite apps to gain new features.


Let me just cut to the chase and tell you that the Lumia 1520 is the best option here. It has a 20-megapixel camera with optical image stabilization and LED flash. It has clearer images than the average results found in the Mega, and the lighting is better than the Max. HTC has an "ulltrapixel" set-up that lacks OIS and overexposes some images, and the Mega has an 8-megapixel lens that doesn't do as well in lowlight. I always made several attempts at taking a photo with each device, and the lack of OIS hurt my attempts with the swinging soccer ball in one shot and my energetic niece (not pictured) at other times. Most photos are good with any device in daylight, but the Lumia 1520 has the most balanced approach.


Based on the camera, I have to say something crazy: the Lumia 1520 might actually be the best of this bunch of devices. I've made it no secret that I think Android is a better operating system than Windows Phone, and 9 times out of 10, I'd choose HTC or Samsung over Nokia. But among this set of huge phones, you can make an argument for the Lumia 1520 because of its superior camera, great screen, and Windows Phone not being as far behind today on apps. The Galaxy Mega is a distant third in the race, so if you'd like to get a large screen Samsung, sacrifice a few millimeters and get a Galaxy Note 3. In terms of this lot, it comes down to choosing between a One and a Lumia 1520. If you take a lot of pictures, get the Lumia 1520. If you tend to download a lot of apps and want them soon, grab the One Max.

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About the author

Andrew Kameka
Andrew is based in Miami, Florida.

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