Samsung Mega 6.3: Enter the PHONDLESLAB
Big, but a nice bit of kit into the bargain
Review Some made-up words deserve a place in the popular lexicon. I’m thinking about “friscalating” or “omnishambles”. Others, like the wholly wretched term “phablet”, most certainly do not. So from now on I’ll be calling smartphones with screens between 5 and 7 inches VLPs, or Very Large Phones. Anyone using the word phablet in my earshot will be getting a punch on the hooter.
Samsung’s Mega 6.3: big screen, narrow frame
At the moment Samsung’s Galaxy Note 2 rules the VLP roost pretty much unchallenged but the competition is hotting up. Sony’s 6.4-inch Xperia Ultra and the 5.7-inch Samsung Galaxy Note 3 are due soon while Asus has the 6-inch FonePad Note up its sleeve. Doubtless all three being flagships will cost a pretty penny and that leaves space for the likes of the Huawei Mate 6.1 and the Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3.
At the moment you can pick up unlocked examples of the Mega 6.3 for around £375, while the Huawei Mate seems to be generally available for around £30 less. That’s a fair bit cheaper even than the 2012 Galaxy Note 2.
With the Galaxy S4 being only a few months old and the Note 3 just around the corner, the Mega 6.3 has clearly been specified with an eye on not stealing sales from its betters. To that end it has to make do with a 1280x720 rather than a 1920x1080 display, a dual- rather than quad-core CPU, and 1.5GB rather than 2GB of ram.
Slim‘n’smooth profile offsets size... a bit
But let’s start by considering the size of the thing. At 167.6 x 88 x 8mm the Mega 6.3 is noticeably taller and wider than the (hardly petite) Note 2. Granted, it’s 1.4mm thinner, but that really doesn’t make much difference. At 199g it’s 16g heavier than the Note 2 – or, to put it another way, nearly the weight of two iPhone 5s.
So it’s a big and heavy lump but is it unusably big and heavy? That depends on how you’ve been conditioned. After the Asus FonePad it’s certainly not too large or too weighty, and to anyone moving on from a Galaxy Note 2 the differences soon become inconsequential. But come to the Mega 6.3 from a device with a 4 or 4.3-inch screen and you may catch your breath.
That said, I have two minor complaints about usability. Firstly, the smooth-edged hyperglazed plastic body sometimes felt a little too keen to slip out of my grasp. And secondly, though the power button on the right is placed low down to facilitate easy thumb-reach, the volume rocker on the left is too high.
The UI has been tweaked for easier one-handed usage
The Mega has some handy software tweaks with a view to improving the single-handed user experience. These take the form of a reduced-size phone dialler that’s two-thirds the usual width, and a floating keyboard. Between them, you can make calls and type messages using the thumb of the hand you are holding your Mega in.
The Mega 6.3 ploughs a design furrow that’s becoming a little too familiar. Put it next to a Galaxy S4, Note 2 and Note 8.0 and you have to ask yourself if Samsung has decided it can do without a design department altogether. The physical home button looks more dated each time I encounter it and it's never been a design that I've particularly liked.
The Mega 6.3’s 92,160 pixels are scattered across a 6.3-inch TFT LCD panel with a pixel density of 233dpi. Not surprisingly that’s a lower figure than the Note 2 boasts - 267dpi, thanks to its 1280x720 5.5-inch display. It’s a more cleverly packaged device than the Note 2 though. According to my back-of-an-envelope calculations, the fascia is 20 per cent larger while the screen is 30 per cent bigger.
Traditional Galaxy controls at the bottom.
All this big screen and medium rez malarkey means that while the Mega 6.3’s display isn’t the sharpest you’ll ever clap eyes on, the sheer size of the thing makes everything bigger and that brings its own rewards: you don’t have to squint at it if your eyesight isn’t perfect, and even the most random of finger-stabs tends to hit the right target. I suspect users who have failing senses or who are just plain clumsy will appreciate the Mega’s 6.3’s huge screen.