Samsung is about to bring a gigantic smartphone to several wireless carriers in the United States, but it’s not the one you’ve been waiting for.
Starting August 23, AT&T will sell the Samsung Galaxy Mega, a “phablet” with a 6.3-inch display, for $150 on-contract. Sprint and U.S. Cellular also plan to sell the Galaxy Mega, but haven’t yet announced release dates or prices.
The Galaxy Mega has the distinction of being an extra-large phone with extra-average specs. In terms of power and pixel density, it’s actually a bit worse than Samsung’s Galaxy Note II, which is now a year old.
It’s also less powerful than LG’s Optimus G Pro, which is just $100 on AT&T and and has a faster processor, more RAM, more storage, a sharper display and a better camera. (TIME Tech editor Doug Aamoth spent a lot of time with the Optimus G Pro, and didn’t want to let it go.)
The Note II, for that matter, is about to be replaced by Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3, and there are rumors that HTC is getting ready to launch a larger version of its stellar HTC One, dubbed the One Max. If you’re in the market for an oversized smartphone, I suggest waiting a little bit longer to see what shakes out. Or, if you’re on AT&T, you can just grab the Optimus G Pro right now.
For tech specs, the Mega has a 6.3-inch, 1280-by-720 resolution display, a 1.7 GHz dual-core processor, 1.5 GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage (on the AT&T version, at least) and an 8-megapixel camera. The Note II, by comparison, has a 5.5-inch 720p display, with the smaller screen making for a sharper image. It also has a more powerful quad-core processor and 2 GB of RAM, and it includes a stylus.
While the Galaxy Note 3′s tech specs aren’t confirmed, it will likely have a 1080p display, possibly measuring 5.7 inches, with a 2.3 GHz quad-core processor (in markets with 4G LTE), 3 GB of RAM and a 13-megapixel camera. It may also include 32 GB of storage, and it’s a given that it will include a stylus. In other words, it should be a much more powerful and capable device than the Galaxy Mega.
In my experience with the Galaxy Note and Note II, what makes these phones so attractive is that they’re workhorses. You don’t just get an oversized phone, you get a beastly device that sort of becomes a mobile office. To that end, the extra memory, storage space and processing power are all beneficial. A better camera and sharper screen are just icing.
I understand what Samsung is trying to do with the Mega. It’s trying to offer an extra-large phone at a lower price than the Galaxy Note. That’s in line with Samsung’s overall strategy of creating many devices that appeal to as many niches as possible. But phablets themselves are already niche products; I don’t really see an underpowered one as having much appeal, even if its screen is a little bit bigger.