Samsung Galaxy Mega review: Big screen, but short on storage

Samsung Galaxy Mega review: Big screen, but short on storage

Summary: The 6.3-inch Galaxy Mega isn't easy to carry around or use one-handed and is short on internal storage. Having said that, it's the obvious handset for anyone who likes Samsung's 'Android-on-steroids' approach and is attracted by the Galaxy Note 3's size, but doesn't need stylus support.

SHARE:
  • Editors' rating:
    7.5
  • User rating:
    6.9
  • RRP:
    £319.00

Pros

  • Large 6.3-inch screen
  • Excellent battery life
  • Lots of Samsung extras

Cons

  • Too little internal shortage
  • Too large for easy one-handed operation
  • Moderate screen resolution
  • Outclassed by the Galaxy Note 3

Samsung is well known for producing a wide range of smartphones, 'phablets' and tablets — an approach that sometimes leads to a potentially confusing choice of similarly sized devices. So it is with the 6.3-inch Galaxy Mega, which sits in the same 'phablet' bracket as the 5.7-inch Galaxy Note 3 but lacks the latter's stylus support.

Design

The Samsung Galaxy Mega is certainly on-trend when it comes to the evolution of ever-larger smartphones. Its 6.3-inch LCD screen gives it an overall size of 88mm wide by 167.6mm deep by 8mm thick and it weighs 199g. It's not a device you'll slip into your pocket when heading out, unless your pockets are voluminous — the only pockets we found that could accommodate the Galaxy Mega are in serious winter coats.

galaxy-mega-1
The Galaxy Mega is an Android 4.2 'phablet' with a 6.3-inch screen and dimensions of 88mm wide by 167.6mm deep by 8mm thick. It weighs 199g. (Image: Samsung)

The Galaxy Mega's build is distinctively Samsung with its front physical home button flanked by a pair of touch buttons. The backplate is the usual thin affair that comes off to reveal MicroSIM and MicroSD card slots stacked one above the other. You need to remove the battery to access the MicroSIM, but MicroSD cards slot in and out fairly readily with the battery in place.

Rounded corners complete the Samsung look, and the plastic build is also telltale — other vendors might go for a more premium finish, but not Samsung. Buttons and ports are intelligently located: MicroUSB port on the bottom, headset jack on the top, power button on the right edge and volume rocker on the left. All buttons are easy to reach , but the power button benefits particularly from being on a long edge rather than on the top.

galaxy-mega-side
The Galaxy Mega's 6.3-inch screen is an LCD with a moderate resolution of 1,280 by 768 pixels, or 233 pixels per inch (ppi). High-resolution smartphone screens are now well over 400ppi. (Image: Samsung)

The specifications are straightforward rather than cutting edge, one indication of which is the LCD rather than AMOLED display. The huge 6.3-inch screen's resolution — 720 by 1,280 pixels, or 233ppi — isn't going to blow anyone away, but a higher pixel density would both inflate the price and reduce the battery life.

On-screen text is is a good size for easy reading. Web browsing is also rewarding as very little scrolling is needed to get around, and you can read desktop versions of websites without zooming. Ebook reading works well too, and Samsung's tweak of letting you have two apps running at once also works well — on smaller screens there's little point in having a web browser and notes app open at the same time, but we found it (just about) workable on this 'phablet'.

Features

The Samsung Galaxy Mega has a decent upper-mid-range specification, but there's a serious let-down on the internal storage front. Even the 8GB headline figure seems a little average, but the reality of what's available to the user is even more disappointing.

Alongside Android 4.2, the Galaxy Mega includes Samsung's apps and user interface tweaks (TouchWiz), and there's so much going on in this respect that user-available memory is just 4.7GB. That's not a lot of space when you consider that Android 4.2 doesn't let you install apps on external storage.

The Galaxy Mega's 1.7GHz dual-core processor is a long way off the leading edge, but we encountered no serious performance problems in everyday use. It responds quickly enough to taps and sweeps of the screen, and the various apps we installed and Samsung features we used were perfectly responsive.

The Galaxy Mega offers GSM/GPRS/EDGE, HSUPA/HSDPA and LTE support, along with NFC (Near Field Communications) and GPS. Local- and personal-area wireless connectivity runs to a full set of 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi standards (802.11a/b/g/n/ac) and Bluetooth 4.0 LE.

The main (rear) camera's 8-megapixel resolution is average at best these days, and it's limited to 720p video capture rather than full-HD 1080p. The front-facing camera is a 1.9-megapixel unit.

Characteristically, Samsung has thrown a lot of Android extensions and add-ons at the Galaxy Mega, and it's slightly annoying that many of these duplicate Android's standard fare. You could relegate those you don't want to a folder where they're out of sight and out of mind, although of course they'll still clog up internal storage. Aware that the abundance of extras might confuse, Samsung includes an 'Easy mode' that offers a less cluttered experience for newcomers to its smartphones.

galaxy-mega-modes
Standard mode and Easy mode on the Galaxy Mega. (Images: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet)

DLNA, screen mirroring and Samsung's Wi-Fi-based Kies file exchange system are all present, along with the panoply of touch, motion and front-camera-based features that Samsung is so keen on promoting. Some of these we like, some we don't. We really like Smart stay, which uses the front camera to detect whether you're looking at the screen and overrides any auto screen dimming you've set up. Air view, which purports to provide information when you hover a finger over the screen in some apps, seems pointless. Why hover a finger over a web page to magnify a portion when a simple two-finger motion does the same job?

Still, there are some gems among the myriad features. We really like the one-handed operation setting that pushes the keyboard, dial pad (and a few other things) over to one side of the screen to make it easy to use the phablet in this mode. We also rather like the ability to alter colour depth to suit what you're doing — reading, watching a movie and so on (this has an auto mode, which is useful).

Battery life is a big plus point for the Galaxy Mega. With frugal usage we could get through two days without recharging, and had no trouble making it through a day of moderate usage. The device's 3,200mAh battery really earns its keep. That said, if you're going to make full use of the Galaxy Mega's large screen (for streaming content or in-vehicle satnav, for example) you'll undoubtedly need to charge it once a day.

Conclusion

The 6.3-inch Samsung Galaxy Mega isn't easy to carry around or use one-handed. It's also short on internal storage and lacks the stylus support of the Galaxy Note series. Having said that, the Samsung Galaxy Mega is rather good. It's the obvious handset for anyone who likes Samsung's 'Android-on-steroids' approach and is attracted by the Galaxy Note 3's size, but doesn't really need the stylus.

Specifications

General
Dimensions (W x H x D) 88x8x167.6 mm
Weight 199 g
OS & software
Software included Android 4.3
Processor & memory
Clock speed 1.7 GHz
Processor model dual-core application processor
RAM 1536 MB
Storage
Internal 8000 MB
Display
Display technology TFT (active matrix)
Display size 6.3 in
Native resolution 1280x720 pixels
Connections
Ports Micro-USB 2.0 (with MHL support), 3.5mm headphone jack
Slots MicroSD
Networks
2.xG GPRS, EDGE
2G GSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900
3.xG HSDPA, HSUPA
Wireless
Wi-Fi 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, 802.11ac
Short range Bluetooth 4.0, NFC
GPS technology
Antenna built in
GPS receiver yes (with GLONASS support)
Input devices
Touchscreen Yes
Camera
2nd camera rear
Flash Yes
Main camera front
2nd camera resolution 1.9 megapixels
Main camera resolution 8 megapixels
Power
Battery capacity 3200 mAh
Claimed battery life 12 h
Standby time 420 h
Talk time 17 h
Miscellaneous
Accessories AC adapter
Expand

Prices

Price
Price AUD 410
Price GBP 319
Price USD 525

Topics: Smartphones, Android, Reviews, Samsung, Tablets

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

17 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Why the inaccurate generalization about not fitting in pockets?

    I'll just say this device fits easily in all of my pockets. I'm a 5 foot 11 man of normal size and weight (185 pounds) and I can shoehorn *an 8-inch Ipad Mini* into the front pocket of about half of my pants. So I don't have to carry a bag.

    I do notice that the author is female, and maybe she wears stylish hip-huggers. Honestly, many normal phones and certain credit cards do not fit in some female pants pockets.

    For the male half of her audience, be advised that any man has a good chance of fitting *an 8-inch iPad Mini* into his front or back pockets. Sitting in a car with an iPad Mini in front pocket isn't something you'll want to do for more than about ten minutes, but not having to carry a bag makes it all worthwhile.

    Suffice to say, the claim that you need to be wearing a winter coat to pocket this phone tells you a lot more about the author than the phone. No problem for men.
    bawjkt
    • Fits in my shirt pocket too

      7.0

      It fits not only into my pants pocket it fits into my shirt pocket. When its in my shirt pocket I get questions, i.e., a lot of attention to the product, not about ne at all.
      kdjkdj1
    • Men's pockets

      7.0

      Men's pants pockets generally carry as much as a woman's purse, so I believe you could easily fit this in your pocket. Women's pockets are ridiculous. I suppose designers figure we have our purses.
      Tiffani Jones
  • Pockets

    8.0

    I have to 2nd what bawjkt said. I was at the duty free store in Dubai a few days ago and upon arrival at the electronics store I asked to see the Mega 6.3. I immediately shoved it into my back pocket with ease. Front pockets too but I would rather not do this as it was a tight fit. I also had a pair of work pants in my carry on bag and it slipped into all of the pockets with ease. If you're into fashion you may encounter pocket problems but with a run of the mill WalMart pair of jeans I had no such problem as the author states.
    u74s1r
  • Mega With Note 3 Specs

    8.0

    Samsung is notorious for bringing out limited edition phones just to see if it has a market. If Samsung were to release a 6.3 inch Mega with all the other specs of the Note 3, including stylus, I would buy it. I love the features of the Note series of phones but I gravitate to the larger screen.

    Samsung should give consideration to a "Mega 2" with the following specs that are probable in next year's "Note 4."

    64 bit processor
    6.3 inch 1080p screen, rounded down the side, with zero bezel, to reduce form factor
    4 gigs ram
    64 gb storage
    4000 amh battery
    usb 3 and hdmi
    Stylus
    Android 5.0
    and include all other Note features
    jpswain48
  • GET ONE BEFORE KNOCKING THE MEGA 6.3

    3.0

    I have no idea what or where you got some of your details about the Mega 6.3. First, I live in the US and I got this phone thru Sams and paid $95 american for it and that is all. Next, a person with normal jeans or slacks can easily carry this in a pocket and I have found no problems at all with the quality of picture I get watching videos or downloaded movies. It is perfect for someone who wants a phone and a larger screen unlike the sorry new Iphone that sells for up to $300 and has a midget screen and no ability to add extra storage as I can. You people who evaluate these things should use one for a while before slamming it. It has a newer version of Android and capable of upgrade and I was not looking for a gamming computer to carry around. I think most people will enjoy using this and I am very glad I purchased it. You Apple lovers can keep you junk. They improved nothing with the new phone. I recommend this phone unless you have the money to put out for the new Note 3.
    REX MCCAMY
    • You more likely paying $800 something for your phone

      You can often save money or at least break even here in Sweden if you buy the phone outright and then get a cheap contract from the right carrier. Sometimes you can save a few $ with subsidized phone on expensive contract, but if you use it too much or too little that option will be more expensive.
      Oden79
    • MetroPCS

      3.0

      Unfortunately, for those of us that have service with MetroPCS, we have to pay full price, at $499. UGH
      Tiffani Jones
    • galaxy mega

      10.0

      I would like to know where I can get one for about $95 to $120? Thankz.
      respectme
      • Galaxy

        10.0

        At US cellular you can get any android including the galaxy mega for 100 dollars. I'm not sure if were you live has a US cellular but that's where i got my mega from, and i love it. I am a female and it is hard to fit in my pockets, but i just drop it in my purse so its no big deal. The pictures come out amazing and you can always add extra space if needed. I would recommend this phone to anyone in need of one.
        Ivory_Rayon
      • samsung mega

        9.0

        I just ordered mine for free through at&t....i have always had samsung products and want a phone with larger screen, currently using the note 2 and love it also
        dianekollodge
  • Its a perfect device

    9.0

    This is a perfect device a perfect phablet. Its gorgeous HD mega screen is the biggest advantage along with its stunning battery life. SGS 4 looks like a toy in front of this. Typing is so much easy with both hands on this device. you dont have to struggle with a tiny keyboard. The processor is so powerful tht i can run huge games on it with perfect ease. web browsing is a treat on mega's gorgeous 6.3 screen. It gives almost the same screen real estate as a 7 inch tablet which is so well designed that it can fit any pocket. its so compact and slim yet packs such a great screen. the curved edges are really a design wonder which makes the overall form factor extremely compact. iphone looks like so medieval and rock like in design in front of this. Dont think twice...its THE device to go for.
    mominwhiz
  • just got a Mega6.3, but greeted in Deutsch

    5.0

    I rated it Average, for I do not know how to turn the greetings etc into US English. Help?!
    benched
    • Galaxy

      10.0

      You can changae the languages, font, ect in your settings.
      Ivory_Rayon
  • Regetfully I purchased this phone

    1.0

    I purchased a brand new Samsung Galaxy Mega phone just four days ago. The phone quits charging, even on the new charger provided, and on all the ones in their Metro PCS store. We speak to Jose employee 8735 and he tells us we have to pay the deductible because the "7" day warranty which is supposed to be a "30" day warranty only applies to new customers, not customers who upgrade. So after shelling out $450 for the phone, $730 when accessories and everything was purchased, we now are told to put out another $129 deductible and wait for, possibly a reconditioned one, in the mail.
    Papabear765
  • Baffling

    5.0

    The Title slams the storage. The article subtitle slams the storage. The article says "serious let-down on the internal storage front.". I've yet to see this phone available in the tested 8GB configuration, only in 16GB and 32GB. Most importantly, it has an extreme capacity microSD card slot, good for up to 64GB!

    What the title of this article should scream is, Samsung bucks microSD elimination trend and offers extreme capacity storage. But that would require insight into the market as a whole and a tiny bit of research. Instead we get this.

    This Phablet may not be for everyone, but please get the facts straight. This phone is a godsend for people who want to store a very large amount of data. Getting the 32GB + a 64GB card puts you on the bleeding edge. It is not "short on storage".
    hangfirew8
  • mooner website

    8.0

    moon everybody today
    necohlousvornesg22