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Samsung Galaxy Mega: 'It doesn't fit in my pants'

Florence Ion | Aug. 29, 2013
It's like trying to put a cutting board in your pocket.

Camera performance on the Mega's 8-megapixel rear sensor and 1.9-megapixel front-facing sensor is merely acceptable. Zoom produces blurry lines, while videos come out shaky. White balance and color aren't always accurate, but it's never a problem that a few touch-ups can't fix. Samsung also packs the phone with settings for low-light situations and making Cinemagram-style animated images. The biggest roadblock for taking photos with the Galaxy Mega is its large size, as your subjects might lump you into the same category as that annoying guy who takes photos with his iPad.

In battery life, the Mega is impressive, lasting longer than many of its competitors. During anecdotal testing with power-saving mode engaged, its 3200-mAh battery survived for an entire weekend without needing a charge. Our official battery tests stated otherwise, though: The Mega managed only 10 hours of constant streaming video before it petered out. That's about an hour less than the results of our previous tests with the Galaxy Note II. The Note II had a similar-sized 3100-mAh battery pack, but it was running the less resource-intensive Android 4.1 with Samsung's last version of its TouchWiz overlay.

I mentioned that you'll look silly making phone calls with this device, but call quality is clear, and you can turn up the sound loud enough to hear it over a noisy car ride. The Mega also makes a pretty decent music speaker if you're in a quiet area.

Bloatware galore
For the uninitiated, Samsung's TouchWiz Nature UX 2.0 is the cartoony, blue-hued interface that Samsung overlays on top of Android. Although it's perfectly functional, it is not aesthetically pleasing. It can also be a bit of a pain to work with if you're used to stock Android, since you'll have to get accustomed to flipped hardware buttons, a segregated Settings menu, and extra features like AirView and Smart Screen that are mostly marketing ploys. Samsung has included its own Samsung Apps store, meant to steer you away from aquiring apps through Google Play. You don't have to use it, but you can't remove it either.

To its credit, TouchWiz Nature UX 2.0 isn't all bad: The interface is manageable, and sometimes it goes a step further with its offerings than Google does with stock Android. The applications drawer, for instance, provides additional settings for creating folders, completely removing applications from the system, and hiding those extra apps you can't completely remove. It also has extra widgets, ready and waiting, that you would otherwise have to download from the Google Play store.

Bottom line
The Galaxy Mega's size and reasonable $150 (on contract) price might work for a student looking to cram a phone and a tablet into a very tight hardware budget. But unless Samsung manages to carve out its own niche market for absurdly big phones, I can't see the Galaxy Mega making waves. In the end, it guarantees that Samsung has a smartphone of every single size imaginable—but is that a good enough reason to unleash yet another phone into the wild?

 

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