While the issue of size creep in Android phones hasn't exactly been ignored, big devices have become so commonplace that the discussion is largely academic at this point—the vast majority of high-end Android phones are simply big. Deal with it, as a certain former Microsoft employee might say.
Nevertheless, the announcement of Samsung's Galaxy Mega line is a clear indication that it's time to revive the discussion.
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There's an argument to be made that the titanic devices are the results of engineers running amok—designed with total focus on wow-worthy feature sets, and zero consideration of the possibility that people with hands smaller than Dikembe Mutombo's might not dig the 6.3-inch form factor.
Bigger, but not beefier
The Megas, strangely, have less impressive hardware than Samsung's own Galaxy S4—despite the outsized dimensions, the devices lack quad-core processors, 1080p screens, and pack 1.5GB of RAM instead 2GB. (Oh, and despite Samsung's emphasis on camera features, the Galaxy S4 has them beat there, as well.)
That's not to say that they're bad devices, exactly—a big screen is still a big screen, even at 720p, and they look to be powerful enough to provide a good user experience even on their ever-so-slightly downgraded hardware. And the 6.3-inch model, at least, packs a beefy 3200 mAh battery, which should provide solid endurance.
The Megas' appeal may come down to pricing, which Samsung didn't reveal in its announcement. If the asking price is less than that of, for example, the Galaxy S4, the case could be made that the Megas represent a good value if you're a particularly enthusiastic mobile media consumer.
But, like all tweeners, the Megas run the risk of being neither one thing nor the other—either it's a big, awkward phone or it's a small, potentially expensive tablet with a mobile subscription. I guess if you need a tablet that does 3G/4G and also fits in your pocket, the Megas are the devices for you. Samsung says they'll be rolled out first in Europe and Russia in May, with other markets to follow.
Next, something smaller?
Samsung may also be headed in the other direction, sizewise, if a rumor reported by SamMobile is to be believed—the Galaxy S4 Mini will hit retailers' shelves around the end of May or beginning of June.
It's not going to be all that small, according to the rumor site—which points out that, with a 4.3-inch screen, the Galaxy S4 mini will be the same size as the full-size Galaxy S II.
The Galaxy S III Mini was a fairly uninspired offering, so here's hoping Samsung has decided to make sure the latest "mini" version is a little bit closer to its namesake in terms of performance.
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This story, "Should Samsung put its smartphones on a diet?" was originally published by Network World.