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TheStreet Open House

Samsung's Largest Smartphones and That Watch: A Review

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Samsung pioneered large smartphones for the U.S. operator market. By "large" I mean larger than 5.2 inches for the screen. I qualify the U.S. operator market as opposed to the all-cash SIM-unlocked contract-free market.

This is a review of Samsung's most significant offerings in this market -- the Galaxy Note 3 and the Galaxy Mega. I will also add my comment on the Galaxy Gear "smartwatch" that works together with the Note 3. All of my review units came from Sprint (S)S.

Of these two smartphones, one is more higher-end (expensive) and one is larger than the other. The Note 3 is the one with the higher-end specs all around and with a stylus as the outright differentiator. The Mega is larger but with lower specs and no stylus.

Let's start with the Samsung Galaxy Note 3's hardware. The screen is 5.7 inches and it has got an awesome 1080x1920 display. The battery is 3,200 mAh, which makes it the second-largest battery in any relevant phone that comes to mind (Motorola Maxx on Verizon (VZ)VZ only).

Most benchmark tests put the Note 3 at the top of CPU/GPU hardware comparisons, thanks to the Qualcomm (QCOM)QCOM 800 chip residing in such a physically large phone. I find that the Note 3 is very slippery and is simply uncomfortable to hold in one hand -- even for a person with large hands. You really want to have the Note 3 with a case, and Samsung will sell you one for $80 that's got a very elegant and practical flip-front cover.

In contrast, the Mega is even bigger at 6.3 inches. Yet, despite this enormous size, two things stand out: First, it feels less slippery in the hand. This is because of how the sides are rounded, and of the material the sides and the back are made. Still, to make it even less slippery you have the option to use it with a case similar to the one available for the Note 3.

The Mega's display, while larger than the Note 3, has a lower resolution at 720x1280. The CPU/GPU is also slower than the Note 3s flagship Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 unit.

So what does this mean from a performance perspective? In my estimation, most people will notice the superior pixel density of the Note 3's screen -- but only barely. As far as the CPU/GPU performance, not everyone will even notice the difference for most basic tasks.

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