But when I opened the box and got my first look at the smartphone, I couldn't help but laugh in disbelief. That's the same reaction I got from all of my co-workers.
Simply put, Mega is gigantic. At 6.3 inches, it's just 1.6 inches smaller than an iPad Mini. I had to keep telling myself this wasn't an oversized comedy prop that Gallagher would use in his act.
Other "phablets" seemed huge at 5-plus inches, but the Mega strains the concept of a modern portable phone. Not to mention my pants -- it just wouldn't go into the pocket on one pair I owned, though it fit into another.
Yes, making a phone call on it feels bizarre with the large hunk of plastic covering the side of your face. I felt like a criminal trying to shield himself from the cameras during a perp walk. And using it with a single thumb just isn't going to happen.
Yet with all the awkwardness, there are advantages to its huge size. The bigger space for the virtual keyboard makes typing easier, and applications, websites and videos show up big and clear. It comes close to rivaling a traditional tablet experience.
Unfortunately, that experience is lessened by Mega's display. The picture quality is OK at best, and colors aren't nearly as vivid as I've seen in other models. It seems like a wasted opportunity to truly blow people away with size and sharpness.
A similar sense of mediocrity pervades every other aspect of the phone. The body is a giant version of every other Galaxy phone out there -- that's why I kept thinking it was a comedy prop -- and still features the same almost-cheap-feeling plastic back that's overdue for an upgrade.
Samsung's take on the Jelly Bean version of Android runs well and hitch-free, though it's not as buttery-smooth as the less-altered Android on the Nexus and Moto X phones. Basic functions perform solidly, though the midrange processor doesn't have the same oomph as top-of-the-line phones.
Snapshots produced by the Mega's 8-megapixel camera look fine, but the camera software is utterly stripped of extra options found on other Samsung smartphones. Adequate point-and-shoot is about all you'll get.
There is an additional attribute other than its dimensions that makes the Mega stand out. Its battery is surprisingly strong. Maybe Samsung used all the extra space to cram a jumbo power source in there.
All in all, Mega is a midrange phone with gigantism. The good news is that it's priced to match at
Samsung Galaxy Mega
Pros: Gigantic, decent performance, surprisingly strong battery, inexpensive
Cons: Gigantic, limited camera options, unimpressive screen quality
(c)2013 Tulsa World (Tulsa, Okla.)
Visit Tulsa World (Tulsa, Okla.) at www.tulsaworld.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services