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IRL: Another look at the Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3

Welcome to IRL, an ongoing feature where we talk about the gadgets, apps and toys we're using in real life and take a second look at products that already got the formal review treatment.

So you say a phone's too big to live with? Challenge accepted. In this week's issue, Jon takes the Galaxy Mega 6.3 for a spin to see if it's prohibitively large, or just stupidly so.

Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3

IRL Another look at the Samsung Galaxy Mega 63Engadget has already reviewed Samsung's Galaxy Mega 6.3, but I wanted to know what it's like to live with such a massive smartphone for a long stretch of time. Would it simply be too big, or would I eventually get used to it... and maybe even like it?

From an ergonomic perspective, the Mega still feels as colossal as ever. While I can fit it in my pocket, it's not exactly discreet. Let's put it this way: the Galaxy Note 3 appears dainty by comparison. And the Mega is clearly a two-handed device -- at best, I can only reach two-thirds of the screen with one thumb. This is a mini tablet that happens to take phone calls, and there's no pretending otherwise.

The size does have its advantages, though. The gargantuan screen is ideal for videos, and Samsung's multi-window feature really comes into its own with such a large display; apps have room to breathe. As you'd imagine, the big battery is equally handy at times. I have yet to consume a full charge in one day, even though I spend entirely too much time on Instagram and Twitter. I would definitely consider the Mega if I couldn't justify purchasing both a phone and a tablet, as it does both jobs reasonably well.

The smartphone's real weakness is its mid-range performance. It's usually fine, but there are a few too many reminders that the handset isn't a flagship -- an interface hiccup here, a slow-loading web page there. The camera is also disappointing, and performs poorly even in daylight. I've seen numerous instances where the 8-megapixel sensor botched the color reproduction or lost details in highlights. At least I can't fault Telus' network. While I've been stuck on 3G more than I'd like, I've had better coverage and overall performance from Telus than I'm used to in my region.

The Mega is a fine handset, but you really need to value screen size above all else for it to make sense -- and I don't. There are plenty of smaller devices that strike me as better deals. The Galaxy Note II is still available at a similar price on Telus' network, and it's more capable overall. It's also tough to resist the siren's call of the Galaxy Note 3 -- its performance may just be worth the added expense. Much as with the Huawei Ascend Mate I reviewed in the spring, the Mega is a specialized tool. It won't have trouble pleasing its target audience, but most of us are better off with something more compact.

-- Jon Fingas

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