I once argued that the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, with its 5.5-inch screen, was pushing the boundaries of what can really be called a phone. It was difficult to hold in one hand and it was always noticeable when you were carrying it round in a jacket pocket. It split opinion in the tech world, with some enjoying the extra space for videos, while the 4-inch iPhone-packing masses simply laughed at the ridiculousness of it.
Prepare for that argument to become even more fierce, as the Galaxy Mega comes in at a stonking 6.3 inches. It not only dwarfs the iPhone, it's considerably bigger than Samsung's own 5-inch flagship.
It boasts a 1,280x720-pixel screen, a 1.7GHz dual-core processor, an 8-megapixel camera and 4G connectivity for super-fast data speeds.
The Mega's available now SIM-free for £440 and on contracts from £27 per month. My review unit was kindly supplied by Phones 4U, which offers the phone for free on Vodafone contracts from £33 per month.
Should I buy the Samsung Galaxy Mega?
If you're after a simple phone for calls, texts and the odd bit of Facebook, the Mega is definitely not the phone for you. Its sheer size makes sending a quick text with one hand almost impossible and you'll look pretty silly holding it to your face to make calls.
It's aimed at those of you who value screen size above all else. If you mainly want a huge phone so you can enjoy videos and full-screen Web pages, the Mega is worth checking out. Its screen is far from Full HD, but it's very bold, its dual-core processor gives enough juice for the essentials and the battery won't conk out on you at lunchtime. It's not cheap though, considering its middling specs.
Alternatively, check out the Galaxy Note 2. Its performance was very similar and the screen is marginally sharper. Crucially though, it packs a stylus, letting you use its huge 5.5-inch screen as a notebook or sketchpad. It's a handy tool for work and you can pick it up for not much more money. (Wait a few months though and a
Sony's our comparison video will tell you more about these two huge phones.
Design and build quality
I'll get to the point straight away: the Galaxy Mega is an absolute giant of a phone. At 6.3 inches it blurs the line between phone and tablet almost completely. When you put them side by side, it makes the Galaxy S4 look small -- and at 5 inches, the S4 is far from small.
The Mega is really not designed to be used as a phone. Holding it in one hand is doable, but trying to stretch your thumb across the screen to type an email is awkward and uncomfortable. To use it properly you need both hands, as you would use a tablet.
Sitting on the bus watching Netflix, the Mega probably won't look out of place -- people will assume you're just using a tablet. Slap it against your head to make a call though and you'll quickly find your face turning puce with embarrassment and shame -- at least, you should feel those things. A quick poll of my colleagues in CNET UK towers concluded that it really does look ludicrous as a phone.
It measures 168mm long and 88mm wide, easily dwarfing the 5.5-inch Galaxy Note 2. At 8mm thick, the Mega is quite slender though, but its 199g weight means you probably won't want to carry it all day inside the breast pocket of a jacket. In its defence, it isn't the biggest phone around. Thecomes in at 7 inches, but I maintain that it's more of a tablet than a phone.
The Mega borrows numerous design cues from the Galaxy S4, including the metallic edging, the silver-edged home button and shiny speaker grille. The back panel shares the same black and silver crosshatch pattern. If you're keen on the S4's design, you'll be right at home here.
Build quality seems comparable to the S4 too. The back plastic panel still feels very flimsy when removed, but there's little flex from it when it's securely locked into position. The buttons all have a satisfying click to them and there are no unsightly gaps or rattling panelling to worry about. The sheer size of the screen does make it quite susceptible to scratches though, so you'll want to keep in mind which pocket your keys are in.
The Mega comes with 8GB of storage as standard, of which a little under 5GB is available for your own use -- the rest is taken up by Samsung's software.
It does have a slot for a microSD card, allowing you to expand the storage up to 64GB. You're currently only able to store music, photos and videos to the card, however, not apps. If you're a keen gamer, this might be a problem. N.O.V.A 3, for example, takes up almost 2GB of space by itself -- just a few glossy titles like that and the internal storage will quickly run out.
The new Galaxy S4 Mini and both allow some apps to be moved to an external card though, and an update to allow the same will soon be arriving on the Mega, Samsung confirmed, but it wasn't able to tell me when to expect it.
The gigantic 6.3-inch display has a 1,280x720-pixel resolution. While that would be fine on a more modest mobile, with the pixels spread so thinly over that vast screen, it doesn't have the same clarity of smaller phones with the same resolution. It has a pixel density of 233ppi -- slightly less than the Note 2's 267ppi, but pretty unimpressive compared to the S4's 441ppi.