Samsung Galaxy Mega with LTE - A Phone Fit for Giants

Launch SRP: S$798 Latest Price From: S$570

Performance and Conclusion

Performance 

The Galaxy Mega is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 dual-core 1.7GHz processor and 1.5GB RAM.  As a quick refresh, Qualcomm introduced the Snapdragon 400 processors in February to target the mid-tier smartphones. It comes in two CPU options: 

  • dual Krait CPUs running up to 1.7GHz per core 
  • quad ARM Cortex-A7 CPUs running up to 1.4GHz per core

Since this is the first time a Snapdragon 400-powered device with an unorthodox 1.5GB RAM arrived in our labs, we are eager to see how the Galaxy Mega fares against the competition in the Quadrant benchmark. The test evaluates CPU, memory, I/O and 3D graphics of Android devices. In this comparison, we pit the Galaxy Mega against the Huawei Ascend Mate and Galaxy Note II. The Galaxy S4 and PadFone Infinity are included on the sideline as they are the latest 5-inch phones to enter the market. 

How the Phones Stack Up

Device Samsung Galaxy Mega with LTE Huawei Ascend Mate Samsung Galaxy Note II Samsung Galaxy S4 ASUS PadFone Infinity
CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 dual-core 1.7GHz Huawei Hi-Silicon K3V2 quad-core 1.5GHz Exynos 4412 Quad
quad-core 1.6GHz
Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core 1.9GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core 1.7GHz
GPU Adreno 305 Vivante GC4000 Mali-400MP Adreno 320 Adreno 320
RAM 1.5GB 1GB 2GB 2GB 2GB
OS Android 4.2 Android 4.1 Android 4.1 Android 4.2 Android 4.1

 

Despite being a dual-core processor, the Snapdragon 400 outperformed the Huawei Hi-Silicon K3V2 quad-core processor in the Ascend Mate by a significant margin in the Quadrant benchmark. As highlighted in the review of the Ascend Mate, we found the K3V2 processor to be a generation behind current quad-core processors such as the Snapdragon 600 and even the dated Exynos 4412 Quad. 

Synthetic benchmarks aside, we found navigation on the Galaxy Mega to be much better than that of the Ascend Mate. The extra 0.5GB RAM may be a plausible reason for better performance, but it could also be that Samsung does a better job at optimizing the hardware and software on the Galaxy Mega. Having said that, the Galaxy Mega is not without its flaws. While the interface transitions were generally smooth, it cannot be compared to the likes of the LG Nexus 4 or even the HTC One. 

 

Multimedia Performance 

Let's get the most important feature out of the way first - the 6.3-inch Super Clear LCD display. Just like the Ascend Mate, the display of the Galaxy Mega sports a resolution of 1,280 x 720 pixels. This works out to a pixel density of 233ppi, which is decent compared to the 1080p displays we've seen from the 5-inch phones. Color reproduction is good but the LCD display is certainly not as vibrant as its AMOLED counterpart.

For those who are deciding between the displays of the Galaxy Mega and Ascend Mate, you will not go wrong with either one as the displays are comparable. As iterated in the review of the Ascend Mate, devices with 6-inch and above displays make excellent multimedia devices for gaming, watching movies or web browsing. The only concerns of using a device with such screen sizes are the loss of personal privacy and inviting weird stares from people around you.

Compared to the Ascend Mate which has only 8GB internal storage space, the Galaxy Mega comes with 16GB internal storage. Samsung also one-ups Huawei by providing microSD support up to 64GB (versus 32GB on the Ascend Mate). With a total combined storage capacity of up to 80GB, users can't complain of insufficient space to store their video and music files.

 

Imaging Performance 

The Galaxy Mega is equipped with an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 1.9-megapixel front-facing camera. This puts it somewhat on-par with what Huawei offered on the Ascend Mate. We put its rear camera through our standard imaging test and found that image quality is not bad for an 8-megapixel camera.

 

Battery Mileage

Our standard battery test for mobile phones includes the following parameters:

  • Looping a 800 x 480-pixel video with screen brightness and volume at 100%
     
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity turned on
     
  • Constant data streaming through email and Twitter

 

Test Phones Compared
Specs/Device Samsung Galaxy Mega with LTE Huawei Ascend Mate Samsung Galaxy Note II Samsung Galaxy S4 ASUS PadFone Infinity
Processor
  • Dual-core 1.7GHz
  • Quad-core 1.5GHz
  • Quad-core 1.6GHz
  • Quad-core 1.9GHz
  • Quad-core 1.7GHz
Display Size
  • 6.3-inch
  • 6.1-inch
  • 5.5-inch
  • 5-inch
  • 5-inch
Display Type
  • Super Clear LCD
  • IPS+
  • Super AMOLED
  • Super AMOLED
  • Super IPS
Display Resolution
  • 1,280 x 720 pixels
  • 1,280 x 720 pixels
  • 1,280 x 720 pixels
  • 1,920 x 1,080 pixels
  • 1,920 x 1,080 pixels
Dimensions
  • 167.6 x 88 x 8.0mm
  • 163.5 x 85.74 x 9.9mm
  • 151 x 81 x 9.4mm
  • 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9mm
  • 143.5 x 72.8 x 6.3 - 8.9mm
Weight
  • 199g
  • 198g
  • 180g
  • 130g
  • 145g
Battery
  • 3,200mAh
  • 4,050mAh
  • 3,100mAh
  • 2,600mAh
  • 2,400mAh

The Galaxy Mega managed a battery uptime of 7 hours and 38 minutes, which is an impressive feat for a device with a 6.3-inch display. Although it lasted an hour lesser than the Ascend Mate, it is important to note that the Ascend Mate has a slightly smaller display at 6.1-inch and is backed by a huge 4,050mAh battery. In comparison, the Galaxy Mega has a 3,200mAh battery. 

Having the biggest display ever on a phone has its drawbacks too. The Galaxy Mega has one of the highest power consumption at 1.59W but it managed to keep a step or two behind the Ascend Mate. The Galaxy Note II and Galaxy S4 drew the least power among the phones compared due to their AMOLED displays, which are power-efficient by nature. 

It is not a surprise that the Galaxy Mega ranked among the last in the Portability Index, where each device is assessed on its ability to balance battery mileage with its size and portability. Despite its better-than-average battery performance, the massive dimensions and weight simply dragged the phone down in this comparison. This just establishes the fact that phones of this size are simply not as portable as the smaller counterparts.

While our battery test is quite strenuous and is used to help us establish a base line for comparing between various smartphone offerings, in an actual usage scenario, we were able to get close to slightly more than a day of usage. This included our regular weekday schedule of calls, email, web-surfing and social media usage. We reckon that the Galaxy Mega is able to last more than a day and a half if the Power Saving mode is enabled. 

  

Conclusion

Will the Galaxy Mega take off as well as the Galaxy Note series did in the past two years? There's a possibility since consumers today seem to show an insatiable appetite for bigger displays. However, there must be a line drawn between form and functionality. 

In all honesty, the Galaxy Mega functions more like a tablet than a phone. First, you can't perform much tasks on the Galaxy Mega in one hand, which fits the typical usage pattern of a tablet. Second, the main objectives of having a phone is to stay connected. Can you reply or send text messages comfortably in one hand? Can you swipe to answer incoming calls in one hand without fear of the Galaxy Mega slipping out of your hands? Can you reach to the top of the screen to pull down the notification menu with just one hand? Third, can the Galaxy Mega slip in your pocket and be whipped out with ease? 

If your answers to most of the above questions are mainly "yes", you probably belong to a very niche market segment where consumers have big hands or do not mind the inconvenience of carrying a mega-sized phone around to take advantage of its large screen and perhaps not even needing to purchase or carry around a dedicated tablet. Like a tablet, the Galaxy Mega seems to be more of a multimedia device where a large display is desired. 

Having established who are applicable for these ultra large smartphones, choosing between the Huawei Ascend Mate and Samsung Galaxy Mega with LTE is not as difficult as it seems. If you want the latest connectivity options and good overall performance, the Galaxy Mega is a better choice. It has 4G LTE connectivity, an easier to adapt UI and better software support. Don't get us wrong, Huawei is emerging as a very strong powerhouse in the mobile scene and is embarking on a three-phase plan to conquer the smartphone market in the next four years. The Ascend Mate is just the tip of the ice berg and it only provides a glimpse of what the Chinese company is capable of.

The Galaxy Mega may command a more premium price (S$798), but the smoother performance and bigger display are worth the extra $160 that you are forking out for. However, if you are on a budget and do not mind a slightly sluggish interface (which may be resolved via future software updates), the Huawei Ascend Mate can be considered value for money.

8.0
Design
7.5
Features
8
User-Friendliness
7.5
Performance
8
Value
7.5
The Good
Good battery life
Nice display
Great overall performance
4G LTE connectivity
The Bad
Overwhelming size and weight
Too easy to trigger the phone off
Slippery back
Premium price