It’s been 11 days since I last wrote about my experiences of using the Galaxy Mega 6.3 as my one and only mobile phone. Now that I’ve had this thing for nearly two weeks, and my “Test Notes” document is close to hitting 600 words, I figure this is the perfect time to update you on my relationship with the biggest smartphone that Samsung currently ships.
Now before you continue reading, here’s are links to the two articles I’ve already written about the device. “Day 0” focuses on my smartphone history and how I transitioned from Symbian to Android to iOS and then back to Android again. “Day 2” explains the thinking that went into my most recent smartphone purchase, the Galaxy Note II, and why I was so interested in reviewing the Mega.
With that out of the way, let’s get to the meat.
For some strange reason, Samsung decided that the camera module on the Mega should stick out. That means if I have the phone sitting next to me on the table, and I tap one of the four corners of the screen, it wobbles. I’ve gotten used to this, but in my opinion it’s still a product planning failure.
My Galaxy Note II doesn’t wobble, but then again my Galaxy Note II has one of those Samsung flip-covers that slightly increases the thickness of the device. If you own a Samsung phone that supports a flip-cover, then you should buy one, period. It makes holding the phone easier, it protects the screen, and when you fold the front cover behind the device, it forces the sound coming out of the speaker to exit through the sides.
Sure, official Samsung flip-covers are “expensive”, but if you’re buying a 600 Euro smartphone, then why would you complain about buying a 30 Euro piece of plastic to keep it safe?
Moving on to the screen, I’m not going to lie to you, the first two to three days were rough. Going from 720p on a 5.5 inch AMOLED to 720p on a 6.3 inch LCD was far more difficult than I thought it would be. Is the screen on the Mega bad? Not at all. The colors are great, it’s super bright, and boy oh boy, it’s nice to see what real white looks like again.
Do Samsung’s AMOLED screens really not display white accurately? I can’t speak for the Galaxy S4 since I haven’t handled one for more than a handful of minutes, but with the Note II, I didn’t realize how much it sucked at reproducing whites until I started using the Mega. It really is night and day.
So LCD is better than AMOLED? Again, it’s not that simple. One of the main things I do on my phone is watch video. From three minute music videos to 90 minute documentaries, I’m all about the moving image. And Samsung’s AMOLED screens, to my eyes, are better for that. Meanwhile, LCDs are better for reading text, bar none, which makes my life difficult since I spend as much time consuming the written word on my phone as I do the latest videos from sites like Pocket-now.
While I’m the subject of video, I’d like to confess that I was one of those people who thought putting an infrared blaster inside a phone was a stupid idea. I would officially like to retract that statement since WatchON has become one of my favorite apps. I can sit on the couch, turn my TV on, see what’s on, browse the internet on my phone during commercials, and if I find a really interesting article to read, I can mute my television’s audio.
Some of you can read while there’s ambient noise. Congratulations, I can’t.
How about music, how does the Galaxy Mega 6.3 sound?
The speaker, unfortunately, isn’t as good as the speaker in my Note II. It gets as loud as the speaker is on my Note II, but the sound it emits is just not pleasurable to the human ear. It almost hurts.
On the other hand, phone calls are amazing. I’m not sure how or why this is possible, but the Mega 6.3 easily bests my Note II in the phone call department. And I don’t think it has anything to do with reception either. There’s a bridge I have to cross to go downtown, and the Mega 6.3 will lose signal for a second or two as I ride across it.
This behavior is definitely not present on my Note.
But again, to turn the tables, the Note II has terrible WiFi performance in my bedroom. It’s to the point that I can’t watch HD videos on YouTube without a bad case of the buffers. Not so on the Mega. It has a WiFi antenna that’s even better than the one in my MacBook Pro, at least in terms of download speeds.
On the topic of performance: How is the Snapdragon 400? The one sentence response is that it’s a chip I wouldn’t mind if it was inside my phone. Is it slower than the quad-core Exynos inside my Note II? Yes. How often do I notice the difference? Not very often, it’s mainly when I try to download large files and use the phone at the same time that some lag will occur. The thing is, when I download large files on my Note II, they’re going straight to my microSD card, whereas on the Mega I put them on the device’s internal memory. That might have something to do with it.
There’s also the issue of heat dissipation. I don’t know if I should blame the Snapdragon 400 or the LCD backlight, but the Mega 6.3 gets really warm to the touch. Not uncomfortably warm, but warm nonetheless. It’s a sensation that’s new to me. My iPhone 4 used to get warm if I was using it while simultaneously charging the device, but the Mega 6.3 just gets warm period. Long reading sessions make the phone output heat, but the same can be said when playing intensive games.
Speaking about gaming, the Mega 6.3 sucks. I tried to play “Despicable Me“, but it was horrible. You could count the frame rate using two hands. Toes not required. The Adreno 305 just stinks.
What else have I noticed about the device?
The microUSB cable that came with my Note II will not charge the Mega. I don’t know why, but it just doesn’t work. The microUSB cable that came with the Mega feels like it’s better built, so I’m wondering if it’s a question of being able to support the necessary power output.
Battery life scared the living bejesus out of me at first. When using the phone, you can watch the remaining capacity dwindle in real time. Sounds bad, right? Yes and no. Since the screen is huge, it takes less time to read an article since you’re not constantly scrolling, forcing your eyes to adjust, and so on and so forth. Don’t get me wrong, the Mega 6.3 doesn’t perform as well as my Note II in the battery life department, but it’s far from what I would call terrible. It’s average, maybe even slightly above average, but don’t look at the 3,200 mAh battery and think you’re going to last into the morning. You’re not.
My biggest gripe, which can be solved with a flip-cover, is the power button being far too easy to press when taking the phone in and our of your pocket. The phone is so large that your hand naturally wants to hold it just a little bit tighter to get a firm grip. Most times I pick up the Mega, I’ve either inadvertently opened an application or reached the shutdown/reset menu. This is going to sound odd, but maybe Samsung should have shoved the power button on the top of the device?
Any more complaints?
The notification LED is useless. It’s so dim that it may as well not even be there. I depend on the LED quite a bit since I leave my phone on my desk during my work day and use that light as a way to see if anyone has emailed me or called me. Samsung could fix this by putting in a brighter light, but honestly, I’d rather just see Google make an app that can send the notifications on my phone’s screen to Chrome on my laptop. Yes, I realize there are third party applications that already do this, but I prefer waiting for an official Google solution.
So here’s the part where I need you: If there’s anything I didn’t address or there’s something you want me to discuss in greater detail, please do leave a comment below. I will try my best to answer your request in a future article. My goal is to write a piece, preferable later this week, but it might slip to next week, with my final thoughts on the Mega 6.3 and to describe a future product I’d like to see the company release.