This is not a joke. Samsung (SSNLF.PK) is bringing out the big guns against Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), unveiling on Thursday the biggest smartphone to date — the Galaxy Mega — which features a massive 6.3-inch screen. For comparison, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) has a Kindle Fire tablet only slightly larger than that with a 7-inch screen.
Samsung says the size makes the smartphone ideal for watching videos or running two apps alongside each other — less ideal for carrying in one’s pocket, though, or even a small purse.
The Galaxy Mega falls in the so-called “phablet” category Samsung helped popularize with its original 5.3-inch Galaxy Note in 2011. A phablet is essentially a small tablet with the functionality of a phone.
Impractically large, the phablet shocked many in its success. But it seems the trend of shrinking down mobile devices has reversed. Even Apple has increased the size of its iPhone in order to accommodate a longer-lasting battery and have a bigger screen (though Apple’s larger iPhone is small in comparison to Samsung’s, with a 4-inch screen). With gaming and video-watching become such popular activities on smartphones — perhaps more popular than actual calls — larger screens have become assets to phone makers, in spite of their drawbacks…
“We are aware of a great potential in the bigger screen for extensive viewing multimedia, web browsing, and more,” said JK Shin, CEO and head of the IT & mobile business at Samsung Electronics. “We are excited to provide another choice to meet our consumers’ varying lifestyles, all while maintaining the high-quality features of the award-winning Galaxy series.”
However, Samsung may be pushing its luck with the new Galaxy Mega, which borders on comically large for a phone. In fact, it seems too big and too cumbersome to actually be used as a traditional telephone. While Samsung contends that the phone is still small and light enough to fit in its users’ pockets, the firm is hedging its bets with a smaller version of the Mega, which still offers a relatively large 5.8-inch screen.
There’s no doubt the phone fills a unique niche. The question that remains to be answered is whether there is enough demand for a tablet-like smartphone to justify the existence of this new market, and reward Samsung with its new entry. Only initial sales figures will tell.
Samsung will begin to roll out the phones in May, starting in Europe and Russia.