HTC One Max review: Supersized

Orlin Milinov, 14 October 2013.
Pages: 123456789101112

Tags: HTC, Android

Introduction

It's phablet o'clock on HTC's watch and they're shifting gear and changing direction. Done expanding the One portfolio towards the compact end of the spectrum, HTC are going the other way with the aptly named One Max. It builds on a proven formula emphasizing media consumption and looks, while bringing a few welcome new features to the lineup.


HTC One Max official images

The expandable storage deals with one of the chronic liabilities of the One, so you're no longer limited in your selection of videos and songs to enjoy on the excellent speakers and the now even bigger screen. There's also the latest Android release powering the whole thing, coupled with the most up-to-date edition of HTC's proprietary Sense UI.

Key features

  • Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE support; 3G with HSPA; LTE
  • 5.9" 16M-color 1080p Super LCD3 capacitive touchscreen with 373ppi pixel density
  • Android OS v4.3 Jelly Bean with Sense UI 5.5
  • Quad-core 1.7 GHz Krait 300 CPU, 2 GB RAM, Adreno 320 GPU; Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 chipset
  • 4 MP autofocus "UltraPixel" camera with 1/3" sensor size, 2m pixel size; LED flash
  • 1080p video recording @ 30fps with HDR mode, continuous autofocus and stereo sound
  • HTC Zoe
  • 2.1 MP front-facing camera, 1080p video recording
  • Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct and DLNA; Wireless TV-out (Miracast)
  • GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS
  • 16GB/32GB of built-in storage, expandable via a microSD slot
  • MHL-enabled microUSB port
  • Bluetooth v4.0
  • NFC
  • Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
  • Accelerometer and proximity sensor
  • Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
  • Sleek aluminum body
  • Front-mounted stereo speakers with BoomSound tech
  • Class-leading audio output

Main disadvantages

  • 4MP UltraPixel camera has less than stellar performance in good light
  • Non user-replaceable battery
  • Poor video and audio codec support out of box
  • Fingerprint scanner let down by software support
  • Snapdragon 600 chipset is no longer the snappiest around

The choice of Snapdragon 600 over its more capable Snapdragon 800 sibling is bound to raise a few eyebrows, but realistically, the Snapdragon 600 is no slouch either and it has never left an impression of being underpowered. And with the resolution unchanged over the HTC One, there will be no extra strain on the GPU to worry about either.

HTC One Max HTC One Max HTC One Max HTC One Max
The HTC One Max at ours

So what we need to find out now is whether the Sense UI 5.5 is as good as HTC touts it to be, and whether the fingerprint scanner can be a key selling point. We already saw an excellent hardware implementation of the feature by Apple in the iPhone 5s, but the software failed to make proper use of it. We now set out to find what HTC did differently and how well it works.

But first thing - first. The HTC One Max is getting a proper physical examination right after the break.

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