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Review: Samsung Galaxy Mega – Carrying around a 6.3-inch tablet as your phone isn’t as crazy as it seems

Size comparison between Nexus 7, iPhone 5s and Galaxy Note 2 and S4

“Is that a Samsung Galaxy Mega in your pocket?”, is how the joke usually starts.  Samsung, never content with having the biggest phone out there, released its crazy ‘Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3‘ contraption with a whopping 6.3″ display on AT&T customers in the US recently and I wanted to see if I could actually get by with it, and it alone, as not only my “Internet Communicator” but also my phone.

I should probably preface this with the fact that I’m a very sparse phone user. I rarely give my number out and even when I get a call, I rarely answer it. When I’m at my desk, I use Google Voice, Hangouts, Skype and iChat for voice communications. When I’m on the road, I’m on a cheap unlimited data plan which affords me 100 minutes of talk time a month. I usually use about half of that IYSWIM.

So with that in mind, how were my few weeks with the Mega?

Not bad at all.

I’m not a skinny jeans guy so I *can* fit a Galaxy Mega in my pants.  But that doesn’t mean I often chose to. It’s fall here in New York so I’m often wearing a light jacket or hoodie, where the Mega often rides.  It is, afterall, more tablet than phone. I’m sure a woman would find a purse an excellent carrying option.

When I do take the odd phone call (if I’m expecting it especially) I try to pop in some headphones before taking it or I’ll answer the phone and I need to talk for a bit, tell the person on the other end to hold on while I get headphones or apologize for putting them on speaker. I know it looks silly putting one of these up to your cranium to talk but it works just fine from a practical standpoint so there are lots of options out there.

As a small tablet, it is hard to complain about this thing. It is waaay smaller than any 7 inch tablet (Nexus 7, Kindle Fire, iPad mini) on the market yet it has some of the best specs out there…and again, it makes calls.

It doesn’t have all of the Stylus crap that Samsung’s Note line has on it but otherwise it is basically just a *ahem* Mega version of the S4 or Note 3. Or maybe if you consider the Mega’s generation old specs perhaps it is better compared to  a Note 2 and Galaxy S3.

The screen here is obviously the selling point here but it is noticeably more pixelated than the higher PPI Galaxy cousins. You get a 6.3-inch 720P display (instead of 1080P) that is bright and colorful, a battery that lasts way over a day and into the second day, solid specs all around and it is only $150 (or less) with a two year plan on AT&T.  Sure it is plastered with Touchwiz and AT&T’s nonsensical Navigation and other apps.  But so is every other carrier phone outside of Nexus and iPhones.

Reception wise, calls are clear and the LTE antennas perform better than most phones. I live right near the line of the reach of AT&T’s LTE towers. Most AT&T phones including my wife’s iPhone 5 can’t pick up the LTE from my house but the Mega does, and does so reliably.

The cameras here aren’t quite GS4/Note 3 levels – think something like the Galaxy S3 – which is to say very good for a phone and off the charts if you are comparing other tablets. Most tablets top out at 5 megapixel cameras and are pretty horrible across the board. Not only does the Mega take great pictures, you can instantly tell how great they are on the big, beautiful display.

For some reason, it includes the phone versions of Google software like Gmail rather than the tablet versions I would have preferred. Still though it is hard to imagine being quicker on two finger typing than I am on this thing (just forget about one-handed typing even though Samsung does offer some keyboard tricks to help you get by.

My eyes are still pretty good but I imagine if your site isn’t what it used to be and you don’t want to have to reach for your glasses to use your smartphone, the Mega would make a lot of sense.

The Mega 6.3 certainly isn’t for everyone, and I concede I am an outlier that is way more pre-disposed to liking this kind of device. It is huge and unwieldy for the quick on the go communications that phones have traditionally enabled.

But, for watching videos (Netflix looks great but the interface is wonky), reading ebooks, checking mail, navigating in the car or browsing the web, it is hard to beat this display on a phone.

And more importantly, the Mega is a 6.3 inch tablet that comfortably fits in your hand and sometimes your pocket, this is an understated winner, not a freakshow other folks would want you to think it is.

The Galaxy Mega 6.3 from AT&T starts at around $112 for new customers at AT&T (A steal).  You can also get an unlocked version for around $400 (also a steal).

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