The HTC MAX 4G comes in a Diamond-style truncated pyramid-shaped box. Made of the same glossy plastic as the phone's front panel, the lid of the container is the best warning of what to expect in terms of fingerprint issues.
As far as contents are concerned, don't expect anything mind-blowing. HTC aren't exactly known for stuffing the box to the max. Well, WiMAX in this case. In Russia of course, proud owners are treated to a limited duration complimentary subscription.
Cutting to the chase, the list of items that ship with the handset includes a DC charger, spare stylus and a fairly mediocre wired headset. Then, there is also the mandatory CD with computer sync software of arguable usefulness.
The nice surprise about the HTC MAX 4G retail package is the included microUSB to 3.5mm standard audio jack adapter. None of its siblings is kind enough to offer this nice accessory that lets you replace the supplied headphones with your own preferred choice of earbuds.
Finally, a screen protector is included to keep that precious MAX 4G display safe against scratches.
The HTC MAX 4G stands at 113.5 x 63.1 x 13.9 mm and weighs 151 grams. A sizeable device by any standards, the MAX 4G isn't really so pocketable and single-hand use could be an issue. However, this is the sacrifice you make, and what you get in return is a massive 3.8" display to put the smile back on your face.
Frankly, the MAX 4G is the handset we like least in that generation of HTC devices in terms of styling. Now don't get us wrong - it looks alright with the giant geek-friendly display and the touch sensitive controls below it, it's just not as sleek as the HD in our humble opinion. Then again, the reason might be that the MAX 4G is noticeably thicker.
The front is almost entirely taken up by the high-quality display, though it is quite prone to fingerprint smudges. The 3.8" display just needs to be scratch-resistant, but there is no word of this on the HTC site. The unpleasant memories of the Diamond still linger - its display was so badly covered that even its own stylus used to inflict scratches, not to mention those picked up during its daily use.
The screen of the HTC MAX 4G is absolutely fabulous. Better yet, compared to other WinMo devices, touch operation is utterly smooth - the lightest touch will do, with sensitivity as good as on the Touch HD - but that's hardly a surprise now, is it?
The picture quality is also stunning, thanks to the great brightness and the high pixel density. The fact that it "only" has 65K color support will not really be an issue on too many occasions but it is still worth mentioning. However, the poor sunlight legibility will probably be something you will notice way more often.
There are even fewer controls on the HTC MAX 4G than there are on the Touch HD. Only three keys have remained below the display including two receiver keys and the Home key. It's a pity the Back button has been dropped, as there is plenty of space down there for one. It really is a curious omission.
At least the three keys have nice vibration feedback and using them is surprisingly coherent with the touchscreen haptics. Overall, the MAX 4G would've offered excellent user experience if only the Back key hadn't been skipped.
Much like the Touch HD and the prominent HTC sequels (Diamond2 and Pro2) there is no D-pad on the handset. So, the math is hardly in favor of the MAX 4G: with neither a Back key, nor a Zoom bar, the Russian does fall short of its forerunners.
Above the screen, the HTC logo and the secondary video-call camera are flanking the earpiece grill, which accommodates the proximity sensor and the status LED.
The bottom part of the phone hosts the USB port, the mouthpiece and a stylus compartment in the lower right corner. Much like on the Touch HD, the MAX 4G's stylus is active and magnetic action helps keep it in place.
All there is at the top is the pretty slim and fiddly power key. It is rather hard to press if you have large fingers and using it with gloves is out of the question. Unfortunately, the 3.5mm standard audio jack that the Touch HD has is gone. But hey, there is an adapter supplied in the package which compensates a little.
The volume rocker on the left side of the body and the loudspeaker on the right round off the available controls on the HTC MAX 4G.
At the back of the HTC MAX 4G is the 3 megapixel autofocus camera lens. It doesn't have any kind of protection, leaving it open to scratches and the accumulation of dirt. There is no flash either, obliterating any slim chances the MAX 4G might have had of taking a photo in the dark. Another serious issue regarding the photography skills of the MAX 4G is the lack of a dedicated shutter key.
The implementation of the touch-operated shutter in HTC devices is very reminiscentof the much criticized iPhone camera, where the lack of a hardware shutter key made third-party developers work hard to reassign the function to some of the other hardware keys, such as the volume rocker.