Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3: A phablet to consider

Looking like an overgrown Galaxy S4, the Galaxy Mega was made for phablet fans -- despite a few performance snags.

Aloysius Low Senior Editor
Aloysius Low is a Senior Editor at CNET covering mobile and Asia. Based in Singapore, he loves playing Dota 2 when he can spare the time and is also the owner-minion of two adorable cats.
Aloysius Low
4 min read
Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3
Meet the Galaxy Mega 6.3. Aloysius Low/CNET

The Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 was reviewed by CNET Asia, CNET's sister site. For CNET Asia's star rating and full-size photos, visit the fully-rated review at CNET Asia.

Yoda once said: Size matters not. Based on the size of the Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3, it's pretty obvious that the chaebol was never a Jedi Knight or a student of the Dagobah resident. The large 6.3-inch phablet is the largest smartphone I've seen from the Korean electronics giant, though I do note that it has a 7-inch tablet that can make phone calls.

The first thing that catches your eyes is the large 6.3-inch full-HD TFT display, Unlike the S4 or the Note 2, the Mega doesn't use an AMOLED panel. Depending on your preference, some users may actually prefer the TFT screen. I found the screen to be pretty bright and sharp, so I have no issues there.

The Mega greatly resembles the smaller 5-inch S4 and makes that phone look puny in comparison. The handset has a very solid heft, and it feels like a phone you can throw and injure someone with. Luckily, it's not as large as the 7-inch Asus Fonepad, which I found to be on another level of ridiculousness altogether.

Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3
Android 4.2 gives you additional toggles. Aloysius Low/CNET

Since it resembles the S4, you'll find that everything is the same. From the home button to the placement of the speaker on the rear, the Mega is really a bigger version of the Samsung Galaxy S4. That's not necessarily a bad thing; after all, I mentioned in my review of the S4 that it was a much better product compared with the S3.

The Mega has a large, replaceable battery with a 3,200mAh capacity. This means you can swap it out for a fresh battery when you run dry. Strangely, even having so much space, Samsung still decided to stack the microSD card slot on top of the micro-SIM port. This feels like a very clumsy arrangement, and it can be quite hard to remove the micro-SIM card as it doesn't have a spring mechanism.

Running on Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean), the Mega comes with some of the software features loaded on the S4. You'll get customizable lock screens and the quick settings found on the drop-down notification bar. It also comes with Samsung's Air View, Smart Screen, screen mirroring and S Beam functions.

What it lacks are the scroll detection, auto-pause and gesture controls that let you control the screen with your hands to browse Web sites. Interestingly, it's possible that these features can be easily added via software , so I won't be surprised to find an enterprising developer coding these tweaks in a custom ROM.

Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3
Not all the software features from the Galaxy S4 are included in the Mega. Aloysius Low/CNET

Connectivity-wise, it packs the usual options such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and A-GPS. The 6.3-inch version comes with LTE, which the 5.8-inch model lacks.

It uses an 8-megapixel camera, and I found that it performs decently in well-lit environments, but the Auto mode seems to have problems trying to take pictures in low-light situations. It appears that the shutter isn't opening long enough to capture the image, resulting in an image with details that are hard to make out. Do check out the shots below for proof.

The dual-core 1.7GHz processor of the Mega did a good job of keeping the phone moving quickly most of the time, but we noticed odd moments of sluggishness where the Mega would suddenly slow down during transitions. Also, I encountered three random reboots during our review period, though we weren't able to replicate the reason this happened. In the 3DMark benchmark program, the Mega scored 5,273 and 2,777 for the Ice Storm and Ice Storm Extreme tests, respectively.

I managed to get a full day of use with the Mega, which I feel is pretty good. The large 3,200mAh battery does help to keep the phone alive. Based on the settings page, the handset's main power draw is the large 6.3-inch display. The battery test was conducted with CNET Asia's usual test settings of having two e-mail accounts, Twitter, and Facebook on push with Wi-Fi turned off.

I didn't encounter any issues with the voice quality, and I found the phone's speaker to be remarkably loud, as befitting the phone's size. In fact, I advise anyone getting this phone to turn off the haptic touch tones -- the liquid "bloop" sound can get annoying fast.

The Mega isn't the next Galaxy Note despite its size, but it does have its charm -- especially if you like the S4's design. Those who don't want to wait for the Note 3 have a viable alternative in the form of the Mega, though it's not as powerful. The Mega, at S$798, does seem a tad expensive for the handset's performance, but bear in mind you're really paying for the large display, which is a key feature for those who want to consume media on their smartphones.

Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3
Outdoor test shot. Aloysius Low/CNET
Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3
Macro test shot. Aloysius Low/CNET
Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3
Indoor test shot. Aloysius Low/CNET
Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3
Low-light test shot. Aloysius Low/CNET
Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3
Indoor test shot with flash. Aloysius Low/CNET
(Credit: Aloysius Low/CNET Asia)