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When Samsung launched Galaxy Note in 2011, everybody ridiculed it for being too large device for size of a phone, but not only it went on to become a runaway success, it also gave way to new range of devices called Phablet- hybrid between phone and tablet. Two years later phablets are quite a rage with one or more offerings from every mobile manufacturer. Companies are also not shying away in trying even more large sizes in the name of phablets and thus coming dangerously close to the tablets territory. We take a look at three recently launched phablets- Huawei Ascend Mate, Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 and Sony Xperia Z Ultra; and compare them against each other-
Huawei Ascend Mate features a plastic body with metallic rim on the sides, making it look very compact. It is 9.9 mm thick and weighs 198 g. Due to on-screen navigation buttons, majority of the front is covered by screen and secondary camera and few sensors are above it. The power key and volume rocker are found at right side, while left has a slot for microSD card. At the top, it has headphone jack and microSIM card slot, and microUSB port for charging is available at the bottom. The back of the smartphone is soft-tapered making it easier to grip. It is non-removable and houses a primary camera.
Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 carries the design language of its Galaxy brethren with a complete plastic body and metallic strip at the sides. The device is just 8 mm thick with 199 g weight. Apart from the screen, it has Samsung's standard set of navigation buttons for Back and Menu, with physical Home button in between them and front-facing camera and few sensors at the top. The volume rocker is available at left side and power key is at the right. The top houses a headphone jack, while microUSB port is at the bottom. The back has a patterned glossy plastic and removable to reveal battery, microSD and microSIM slot.
Sony Xperia ZU have a nice design with metallic curved edges and back available in three colours- Black, White and Purple. It's ridiculously thin with just 6.5 mm, though weighs a little more than others at 212 g. The front has only screen and secondary camera with sensors at the top as the navigation buttons are present virtually. The right side houses a headphone jack, microSIM slot, aluminium power button and volume rocker. MicroUSB port and microSD slot is available at the left side, while the top and bottom sides are devoid of any elements. The back is non-removable and sports a primary camera, but being glossy it's a fingerprint magnet. Like recent devices from Sony, Xperia ZU is IP 58 certified making it dust and water proof.
Winner: Xperia ZU for its ultra-slim body with distinctive and rugged design.
Huawei Ascend Mate flaunts a 6.1 inch IPS display with a HD resolution of 720 x 1280 pixels, resulting in impressive 241 ppi pixel density. The screen is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass technology. Galaxy Mega 6.3 as the name suggests carries a 6.3 inches LCD display with the same resolution as of Ascend Mate giving pixel density of 233 ppi. Xperia ZU trumps them all with the massive 6.44 inches TRILUMINOUS display (Sony's proprietary display technology) with Full HD resolution, equating to brilliant pixel density of 344 ppi. The display is shatter-proof and scratch-resistant to protect against damages.
Winner: Xperia ZU for its display size and quality.
Ascend Mate is powered by Huawei's own K3V2 quad-core processor clocked at 1.5 GHz coupled with 2 GB RAM. For memory, it has 4 GB internal storage which can be expanded up to 32 GB. It offers usual connectivity options of 2G/ 3G network support, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi and GPS. It's fuelled by massive Li-ion battery of 4050 mAh.
Samsung has packed Galaxy Mega 6.3 with 1.7 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon dual-core processor along with Adreno 305 GPU. It has .5 GB RAM, 8/ 6 GB internal storage which can be further expanded up to 64 GB. In terms of connectivity, it has support for 2G/ 3G/ 4G networks, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS and NFC. It has a Li-ion battery of 3200 mAh.
A powerful and latest Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor of 2.2 GHz powers the Xperia ZU. For processing graphics, it has Adreno 330 GPU. In memory department, it has 2 GB RAM, 8/ 16 GB ROM which is expandable up to 64 GB. For connectivity, the smartphone can run on 2G/ 3G/4G networks, and provide Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, NFC and GPS. A Li-ion battery of 3050 mAh gives juice to the device.
Winner: Xperia ZU takes the cake for packing in such powerful hardware in a device.
For shutterbugs, all of the devices offer an 8 MP rear camera with autofocus and LED flash and usual features of touch focus, HDR, panorama, etc. They are also capable of capturing Full HD videos at 30 fps. However, the difference becomes apparent when talking about front-facing camera with Ascend Mate having paltry 1 MP sensor, Galaxy Mega 6.3 with 1.9 MP and Xperia ZU packing 2 MP sensors. Though, Samsung has added some software enhancements like Story Album, Sound & Shot, Drama Shot, etc. for bettering the experience of shooting pictures.
Winner: There is no clear winner in this round as all of them provide similar features.
Software and Customizations
All three devices are loaded with Android OS, though Ascend Mate has little outdated version 4.1 and both Mega 6.3 and Xperia ZU having latest 4.2 JellyBean. All of the companies have customized the software to suit the large screen experience and enable one-handed operation. They've also added some of their own enhancements and apps with Huawei's Emotion UI, Samsung's TouchWiz and Sony's modifications. Some of the notable enhancements are Samsung's addition of features like Air View, WatchON, Group Play, etc. and ability to use any kind of pencil/ stylus (with soft tip) in Xperia ZU.
Winner: There can't be clear winner in this round as all of these software enhancements may or may not be liked by the user.
In the end, everything boils down the price, and that's where the equation is totally reversed. Huawei has priced Ascend Mate at mid-range price of around Rs. 25000, and Samsung's Galaxy Mega 6.3 costs approximately Rs. 31000. Although, price of Xperia ZU is not announced officially, we can safely assume it to be at high-end range like Xperia Z.
Winner: If price is crucial decision-maker in making the choice, then Huawei Ascend Mate seems to be the most value for money choice.
It's clear that all of these companies targets different kind of customer with their offerings. Ascend Mate is Huawei's flagship device featuring excellent mix of good hardware, display and price. Samsung's Galaxy Mega 6.3 is for those who're looking for a large screen, and can compromise in terms of hardware as it's easily beaten by lower-priced Ascend Mate in this aspect. Xperia ZU is truly for those who want to have really powerful hardware, excellent display and don't worry about price.
The article is written by Sanjay Kumar Negi, working at 91Mobiles.com.