Overview, Design and Features
The unveiling of the 6.3-inch Galaxy Mega with LTE (and the 5.8-inch Galaxy Mega) in April helped Samsung reclaim its title of having the biggest display on a phone from Huawei, which briefly stole the limelight with its 6.1-inch Ascend Mate.
In our review of the Huawei Ascend Mate, we assert that phones with screen displays above 6-inch are not practical for the average consumer. Then again, we said the same when Samsung introduced the 5.3-inch Galaxy Note in 2011, and the rest is history.
With more than two years of experience making such devices, will Samsung prove us wrong again with the Galaxy Mega with LTE? Is it better than the Huawei Ascend Mate? Read on to find out more. Before that, here's a quick look at the specs of the Samsung Galaxy Mega with LTE:
Key highlights of the Samsung Galaxy Mega with LTE
The Galaxy Mega looks like an enlarged variant of the Galaxy S4. You can see similar traits such as the design of the home button and the rounded corners. Like most Samsung devices, the Galaxy Mega is predominantly made up of plastics and for once, the decision to use plastic is reasonable as it keeps the weight of the device to a minimum.
A phone of colossal dimensions, it will be interesting to see how the Galaxy Mega measure up against the other Samsung devices and of course, the Huawei Ascend Mate. We let the numbers and pictures speak for themselves:
|Device||Samsung Galaxy Mega with LTE||Huawei Ascend Mate||Samsung Galaxy Mega||Samsung Galaxy Note II||LG Optimus G Pro|
|Size||167.6 x 88 x 8.0mm||163.5 x 85.74 x 9.9mm||162.6 x 82.4 x 9.0mm||151 x 81 x 9.4mm||150.2 x 76.1 x 9.4mm|
It's quite impressive how Samsung managed to streamline the Galaxy Mega to a mere 8.0mm, which is 1.4mm and close to 2mm thinner than the Galaxy Note II and the Huawei Ascend Mate respectively. To emphasize this point further, it is just a hairline thicker than the 7.9mm Samsung Galaxy S4.
The most important question on everyone's mind will be whether the Galaxy Mega can be operated in one hand. Like the Ascend Mate, it is near to impossible for anyone to operate the phone with one hand. You can hold the phone in one hand, but when it comes to performing your everyday tasks such as messaging and web browsing, it becomes very apparent that devices of this class are best suited for two-hand usage.
For example, you either have to shift your hand higher or use both hands to reach for the pull-down notification bar on the device. Reaching for the opposite corner of the 6.3-inch display proves to be too much of a stretch for our hands too.
We could still slip the Galaxy Mega into the pocket of our jeans but it is hard to ignore the bulge it caused. As we advised in the review of the Ascend Mate, it is highly recommended that you do not keep the phone in the pocket when sitting down as it really does get uncomfortable.
Between the two gigantic phones, we felt that the Ascend Mate provides a better handling as it has a matte back which provides a better grip compared to the slippery plastic back of the Galaxy Mega. Although the Ascend Mate has a slightly shorter and narrower chassis, we consider both phones to still be out of reach (literally) for most consumers.
In terms of looks, the Galaxy Mega has a more polished look and a more unique patterned design. When it comes to accessibility of the buttons and controls, both phones are equally matched. Samsung has thoughtfully shifted the Power button slightly down towards the middle of the right side of the Galaxy Mega so that you do not need to stretch your thumb too much to access it. However, this may be a concern for right-handed users as their finger (usually the thumb) may inevitably press onto the Power button during phone calls and accidentally shut down the phone. And yes, we did experience that personally and it wasn't pleasant. Samsung should either have placed the power button in a spot that requires a slight stretch or the power button should be redesigned so that it doesn't get engages accidentally (cue the Sony Xperia Z).
Like many of the recently announced Samsung mobile devices, the Galaxy Mega runs on Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean with some of the bells and whistles of the latest TouchWiz.
It has some Samsung's exclusive features such as Sound & Shot (a camera feature that captures 9 seconds of sound and voice together as the picture is taken), Air View, Multi-Window and Pop Up Play (you can read more about these in our Samsung Galaxy S4 review). Being an Android 4.2.2 device, you also can expect lock screen widgets and quick settings, although Samsung modified the latter to include a total of 18 toggles.
Compared to Huawei's Emotion User Interface (UI), Samsung's TouchWiz seems less of a challenge to the average consumer. First, unlocking the screen on the Galaxy Mega is similar to most Android phones; swipe from left to right, or in any direction. For the Ascend Mate, you are restricted to just swiping down. For iOS users and other Android users switching to the Ascend Mate, it may take some time for them to train their finger to swipe in the correct direction.
Second, Huawei removed the app drawer on the Emotion UI which may be a bugbear for seasoned Android users. Samsung TouchWiz, in general, sticks to the layout implemented by Nexus devices or most other Android devices.
Both customized UIs have strengths of their own. For example, both come with preloaded with one-handed operations feature which optimizes certain functions such as dialing pad for one-hand usage. It's strange that Samsung did not enable the one-handed feature for its keyboard, which it did for the other large screen devices such as the Galaxy Note II.
Huawei gives you the option to hide the navigation bar on the display to maximize the use of the 6.1-inch display, which we felt is a really handy feature. Samsung, on the other hand, has Smart Stay to keep the display lit when you are reading long emails or browsing the Internet.
Overall, both customized UIs are unique in their own ways but we felt Samsung has a slight edge in this aspect due to the familiarity of its UI. Hence, consumers switching over to the Galaxy Mega wouldn't encounter as steep a learning curve as compared to switching to the Ascend Mate.