Samsung has created a truly terrible smartphone and a downright dazzling tablet in the Galaxy Mega, available now on AT&T
Whispers. Crook-eyes. The occasional point-and-laugh. These are some of the things I’ve endured on a daily basis for the past week while using AT&T's Galaxy Mega as my main smartphone. Whether I’m making a call on my morning commute or shooting off a message while walking down the street, it’s been hard to escape judgment while carrying Samsung's latest Galaxy iteration.
And who can blame the skeptics? At 6.3 inches, the Mega is conspicuously larger than just about everything else consumers are making calls on. It’s not only the largest phone on AT&T’s shelves, but it’s one of the largest phones in the world, and never for a second pretends to be anything other than just that. Samsung can finally check the “6.3-inch” box off its to-do list, at the expense of unknowingly absurd-looking Galaxy fans.
Unfortunately, the Galaxy Mega is not only one of the largest phones on the market, but it’s also one of the worst. Shooting off an SMS takes brute strength and two meaty paws; making a phone call looks and feels ridiculous, despite what anyone graciously might tell you. The Mega is the most polarizing device in Samsung’s arsenal, and the tough love it’s been receiving from the skeptics as a poorly designed and gimmicky smartphone isn’t entirely unwarranted.
But perhaps all of us — consumers, Samsung, and AT&T — have got it all wrong. Maybe the Galaxy Mega is being unfairly judged as an awful smartphone when, in reality, it’s a fantastic tablet.
For every point against the Galaxy Mega as a smartphone, it earns two points as a tablet. Awful at making phone calls, yet picture-perfect for reading books and magazines; an impractical messaging tool, but a fantastic multimedia device. Where Samsung has failed here isn’t in the device itself, but just its nomenclature. Alex was spot-on in his in-depth review: maybe the Galaxy Mega does indeed make more sense as a tablet than it does as a smartphone.
Samsung has finally created the perfectly-sized tablet – large enough to comfortably consume content, yet small enough to live in your pocket.
Approaching the device from that perspective, it's clear that the Mega shouldn’t be shamed for being too large, but actually should be lauded for being perfectly designed. After countless iterations, Samsung has finally created the perfectly-sized tablet – large enough to comfortably consume content, yet small enough to live in your pocket.
And don’t take that for granted. Sure, the Nexus 7 might have a nicer display and a better stock-Android experience, but just try to fit it in your jeans. Same thing can be said for Samsung’s own Note and Galaxy tablets – even the Galaxy Tab 3 7.0, a mere .7 inches larger than the Galaxy Mega, is just large enough to need a spot in your bag, or at the very least its own unfashionable cargo pocket. The Mega, on the other hand, fits comfortably in just about any pants in your wardrobe.
And because of where it lives — on your person, that is — the Galaxy Mega takes on brand new sense of usability and function that traditional tablets haven’t been able to pin down just yet. You’ve got books, magazines, movies, music, television, games, and more on your person at all times, on a massive, easy-to-view display, rather than in your bag or at your desk. The Galaxy Mega is never more than an arm’s length away —when was the last time you carried around your "full-sized tablet" without interruption and consistently within reach for an entire day? Despite a few flaws, including a last-gen processor and display, its convenience and portability are enough to deem the Galaxy Mega the best tablet Samsung has ever created.
But regrettably, labeling the Galaxy Mega a smartphone rather than a tablet is a bell that Samsung cannot unring. Now, thanks to AT&T’s differentiation between smartphone data plans and tablet data plans, you’re tied to paying inflated smartphones rates on the Galaxy Mega, regardless of whether you choose to use it as a companion device as Alex recommended. And, though there’s no use crying over spilled milk, it’s hard not to lament over the inability to add the Galaxy Mega to your plan as a data-only, $10/month device.
So the decision for AT&T customers to purchase or pass on the Galaxy Mega comes down to one simple factor: your usage habits.
Heavy talkers and messaging fiends should run, not walk, away from the Galaxy Mega; these users will find better call quality in the Galaxy S 4, a friendlier size in the Moto X, and an overall smoother, more polished experience through and through in the HTC One. Those who rely on pumping out messages, whether it be a friendly text or a business-related email, will see their productivity dip and their blood pressure rise with the Galaxy Mega.
Unfortunately, labeling the Galaxy Mega a smartphone rather than a tablet is a bell that Samsung cannot unring.
But for those AT&T customers who value content over communication, the Galaxy Mega just might be the device to beat. It downright dwarves the displays on just about every other smartphone – don’t ever expect to go back to a 5-inch or smaller display and enjoy that movie, book, magazine or game as much as you did on the Mega. And don’t ever expect to find a tablet as comfortable to hold, and as carefree to carry and store – your Galaxy Tab is about to feel bulky and underpowered. There's simply nothing on AT&T's shelves -- not the Note 2, not the Optimus G Pro, and certainly not the Note 8.0 -- that strikes the balance between portability and size as well as the Galaxy Mega does.
It’s a shame that Samsung’s roll of the dice landed in favor of releasing another smartphone rather than another tablet, as the Galaxy Mega would have really shined had it been labeled as the latter. As a smartphone, a ringing endorsement is much more difficult to earn, especially considering that the Mega shares shelf space with two of the best smartphones in the world, the Moto X and the HTC One. For now, I agree with Alex in that the Mega will have to settle for being a niche device aimed at multimedia junkies, avid readers and diehard gamers -- albeit one of the best on the market today.