Design and Durability
Size wise the Mega 6.3 is a behemoth…of a phone. But not because it’s thick like a paper back novel. In fact, it’s not much thicker than the Galaxy S4, and laying side by side there is barely a distinguishable difference in fatness. That in mind, perhaps the Mega 6.3 can better be described as an overgrown Galaxy S4 as they’re virtually identical, save for the volume and power/lock button locations.
In use, the very width of the Mega 6.3 can make typing on the keyboard more of a challenge over the 5-inch Galaxy S4 since my thumbs, while not short, struggle to reach the center of the keyboard. Taking a call on the Mega 6.3 looks outright silly thanks to its inflated size, however it is a surprisingly less cumbersome experience than that of a 5-inch or lesser handset. Why so? Hand position. It’s more natural and takes less force to grip the handset.
But that hardly negates how impractical it is to carry around the Mega 6.3 It’s footprint is just too big to pocket and not feel like an idiot carrying this thing around. Sure, stuffed into a bag that’s largely a none issue, but unless you’re carrying around a purse or backpack full time forget it, the Mega 6.3 isn’t suitable for day to day use unless your confined to your home.
My Samsung Mega 6.3 is direct from AT&T and included Samsung’s TouchWiz interface. To be candid, this is my first experience with this company’s front-end touch interface – all of my Android device’s have been of the Nexus ilk. With it comes a handful of options and features not found on a Nexus device.
Honestly, I could take it or leave the Touchwiz UI. Swiping down on the screen brings up Android’s familiar notification screen. In Samsung’s version this gesture reveals not only the usual notification, but a variety of shortcuts to toggle WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth, Call Blocking, and more, On and Off. It’s a nice touch, but one that plays contrast to the other info on the screen, which is overwhelming and cluttered feeling. Moreover, I was constantly prompted to download Samsung’s version of Peel, which allows you to control your TV.
The camera, an 8-megapixel shooter (more on that later) includes a few other bells and whistles not found on a Nexus edition handset, but they’re largely gimmicky and don’t add enough cache to make up for the TouchWiz’s bloatware like nature.
The Smart Screen feature, which in this device only include Smart Stay, is designed to detect when you’re no longer looking at the screen and put the handset to sleep. It works, occasionally, and in reality detects far too many false positives resulting in the screen staying illuminated and thus defeating its very intended purpose.
Contrary to the Mega 6.3’s size, the specs of the phablet are rather lack luster. Under the hood is a 1.7Ghz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor and just 1.5GB of RAM. And while it leaves question as to why Samsung didn’t pack in a more powerful engine and more RAM – the Galaxy S4 has 2GB – one doesn’t need to look any further than the company’s just announced Note 3. In other words, Samsung needs to position their handsets accordingly in order to charge premiums as well as offer a wide array of options, much in the same way a car company positions their models. Nevertheless, specs aren’t the complete story. What’s more important is the actual perceptual experience.
“Bottle Neck” perhaps best describes the Mega 6.3. While not outright laggy, or really laggy all the time, the Mega 6.3 isn’t a blissfully fluid experience like the Galaxy S4, or even the Moto X, a phone that isn’t packed to the gills with horsepower. Swiping from screen to screen or opening select apps can easily result in the ever so slight hiccup. It’s not teeth clenching slow, but for a now generation device it’s a disappointment. Surprisingly, videos and games play without interruption, but it’s the getting there that is the challenge, albeit a slight one.
In short order, the display on the Mega 6.3 is no slouch. Sure, it’s not 1080p, but I’m hard pressed to tell otherwise. Comparing it to Samsung’s Galaxy S4 there is no discernible difference in all together clarity. The Mega 6.3’s Super LCD display just doesn’t pop (color wise) the same way as the S4’s AMOLED screen, yet its whites are whiter. Brightness is remarkably abundant, though the Auto Brightness feature sets the screen to an almost unusable state.
Given the Mega 6.3’s rather slack jawed like performance, I didn’t expect much from its 8MP camera. However, it ain’t a half bad shooter. In fact, it holds up against the GS4 rather aptly, though it produces slightly less color accuracy and with that a smaller sized image. What’s important to consider is how impractical of a camera the Mega 6.3 is due to its rather unwieldy size.
Holy cow. Despite sporting a massive 6.3-inch screen the Mega 6.3 lasted 10.5 hours while playing back an HD video at full brightness. In actual use, I was able to get almost 2 days of light to moderate use without recharging its 3,200mAh battery. I expected less in light of Samsung’s Galaxy S4 poor battery performance, which mind you has a smaller screen yet only achieves at best one day of light use.
Shrugging my shoulders might be the most apt way for me to describe how I feel about the Mega 6.3. It’s neither a stellar device, nor is it overwhelmingly bad. But that in mind, shouldn’t a now device, a device of today offer performance that exceeds that of those of the past generation? Comparatively speaking and putting aside Samsung’s layer of TouchWizness, even my Nexus 4, a handset that is rapidly approaching it’s 1-year birthday, out performs the Mega 6.3 in day to day casual use.
Now, that isn’t to say the Mega 6.3 is an all together bad piece of kit, because it isn’t. The camera, display, and battery life were surprisingly solid despite the Mega 6.3’s laggy performance in casual use. That said, the Mega 6.3 could make for an excellent handset for non-power user just dipping their toes in phablet waters, provided of course AT&T lowers their ask from $150 to $100 or less.
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