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Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3-inch phablet, hands-on

The march of the phablets continues - so does the Galaxy Mega 6.3 and its mammoth screen deliver?

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1 of 5 Ben Woods/ZDNet

Samsung has decided 2013 is the year of the phablet and is wasting no time in bringing a wealth of new devices to market.

The Mega line currently has two different sized devices, though both (as the name would imply) are far larger than a 'normal' sized smartphone.

I've had some hands-on time with the most recent addition, the Galaxy Mega 6.3 - the 6.3-inch 720p screen is, but is perfectly adequate for the mid-to-high end of the market that the Galaxy Mega will likely be priced to attract.

Key hardware specs include a 1.7GHz dual core processor, internal storage of 8GB or 16GB, 1.5GB RAM and support for  microSD cards up to 64GB.

But, like many of Samsung's recent phones, it will hoping that the software rather than the hardware provides the compelling purchasing argument. To that end, it has included some of the more sought after features from the S4 and Note II, although not all the same goodies are on board.

Firing up the handset takes you to the usual array of Android apps found on the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean build. Samsung is obviously particularly proud of its weather app, as it takes up around half of the total homescreen size.

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2 of 5 Ben Woods/ZDNet

Having all that extra screen real-estate to play with gives Samsung a few extra options with the Mega 6.3. The image above shows the notification bar pulled down with quick access to the system options. Rather than just showing things like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and perhaps one or two other options, the Mega 6.3 lets you switch most of the system functions on or off without needing to delve into the menus.

In addition to the standard Android options that you can change: multi-window mode, S Beam, Air View and Smart Stay can all be switched on or off directly from the notification bar. that wanted those software features specifically will be pleased to find them included on the Mega 6.3, although Air Gesture is not present.

Air View is Samsung's way of allowing users to see a preview of a text message or email (or quick dialling) without needing to open the message, or even touch the screen. Similarly, Smart Stay is the feature seen on previous generation Galaxy devices that keeps the screen awake as long as you're looking at it.

Other Samsung specific features like Group Play, WatchON, ChatON and S Translator are present on the device too.

With a release date pegged for May and no retail price yet announced, the software on the Mega is not quite yet perfect — twice in the ten minute period I was using the phone, it popped up a message to say that the TouchWiz UI had crashed and needed to reboot.  

 

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3 of 5 Ben Woods/ZDNet

To put the Mega's 6.3-inch display in context it is pictured above with a BlackBerry Z10 sat atop of the screen.  The BlackBerry's screen is 4.2 inches, while the total length of the Z10's chassis is just over 5.1 inches. The Mega really is a monster.

Oddly, and presumably as it would make it just too similar to the Note family, there is no stylus on the Mega 6.3.

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4 of 5 Ben Woods/ZDNet

Despite being huge, the Mega manages to keep a slimline frame that is just 8mm thick. The BlackBerry Z10 sat on top of the Mega 6.3 is 9mm thick, for comparison.

Around the outside of the chassis is a metal band, adding a touch of refinement to an otherwise plasticky feeling device, mitigated somewhat by having a textured rear.

 

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5 of 5 Ben Woods/ZDNet

While it shares many of the software features of the soon-to-be-released , the Mega 6.3 drops the camera resolution from 13-megapixels to 8-megapixels.

That said, many of the camera specific features coming to the S4 are also present here, including: Drama Shot, Sound and Shot, Rich Tone and Sports. Unfortunately the Dual Shot mode that lets you use the front and rear cameras simultaneously didn't seem to be present.

On the front of the device there's a 1.9-megapixel camera for video calling or stills.

Ultimately, if multitasking is your thing, or you do a lot of creation (rather than consumption) on your smartphone/tablet then the Mega could well appeal to you. However, if you're just looking for a large smartphone that's good to watch the occassional movie on, then there are better devices out there.

 

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