The HTC MAX 4G is equipped with a 3 megapixel snapper with autofocus which can manage resolutions of up to 2048 x 1536 pixels. HTC don't seem to have particularly nice 3 megapixel cameras on their devices and the 4G camera is no exception.
In terms of camera features, the HTC MAX 4G doesn't have the best equipped camera we've seen. It still offers a self-timer, white balance presets, as well as color effects and a viewfinder gridline.
Geotagging is not available in the camera software but it can be enabled via a simple hack. We'll get to that in the Tweaks&Modding section.
A peculiar setting was the option to put timestamps on the photos - date and time. It's similar to what some point-and-shoot cameras do.
With the MAX 4G you can shoot macro images easily without needing to change modes. In one or two shots the camera failed to focus properly at very close range but those were fairly rare.
There is also a panorama mode that offers on-screen framing guidance. After all the individual shots for the pano are taken, the 4G stitches the images automatically. The downside here is that in Panorama mode each individual image is shot at about 480 x 480 pixels. Plus, the stitching of the images isn't completely seamless.
The settings menu is rather uncomfortable - you need to flip through the options, so it takes quite a few clicks to get the scene setting you wanted. The options in the Advanced settings menu are separated into pages - why HTC decided not to use thumb scrolling like everywhere else in the UI is something of a mystery.
The image quality is decent but it's not the best 3 megapixel snapper we've seen. The colors are a bit oversaturated, there are clear signs of oversharpening going on and the contrast is rather low. Noise levels are kept down at the expense of detail resolution.
As far as video goes the HTC MAX 4G captures CIF resolution videos (352x288 pixels) or QVGA (320x240) at 15 frames per second. The quality is just right for an MMS but that about exhausts its uses.
The HTC MAX 4G offers tri-band GSM and all the standard local connectivity technologies - Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP, Wi-Fi with 802.11 b/g, USB 2.0 through a miniUSB port (ExtUSB actually, but miniUSB cables work just fine).
It's a pretty standard full package, so we'll get right to the top stuff - forget those "sluggish" 3G networks, the MAX 4G jumps a generation (as the name implies). It doesn't use the GSM version of 4G, called LTE, but a different technology instead - WiMAX.
Let's run over a few basics of 4G and WiMAX. First off, there's no dedicated voice channel in fourth generation networks. They connect a device to the internet and that's it. The way around that is simple - VoIP. Many desktop chat clients can do it and mobile devices are advanced enough to handle those protocols.
The 4G standard set to compete with WiMAX is LTE (it stands for Long Term Evolution). The two provide incredible theoretical speeds - up to 70Mbps for downlink in WiMAX, over 100Mbps for LTE.
Keep in mind that Wi-Fi 802.11g does "only" 54Mbps. And there are already upgrades in the working stages for even greater speed. Real-life speeds will of course be lower, for now Russia's Yota offers 10Mbps downlink.
The main difference between the two standards is deployment. So far, WiMAX has been deployed by several major networks, while LTE is still in the testing phase.
HSPA and HSPA+ are sure to keep things rolling for a while longer for the 3rd generation of GSM. WiMAX may have gotten the jump on LTE but GSM operators might favor LTE and move to it when HSPA+ runs out of steam, as the upgrade to the infrastructure from HSPA+ is easier.
Sprint in the US for example is rolling out WiMAX support but - more importantly for this handset - Russia's Yota already have it in place.
Some laptops come with a 3G adapter built-in and there are units that sell separately. WiMAX modems are not as popular but worry not: the MAX 4G solves that problem. Every time you plug in the USB cable, the handset prompts selecting between ActiveSync and USB Mass Storage and Modem connection. The Modem connection option allows the phone to act as a WiMAX modem.
Actually, there are two versions of the modem connection - WiMAX modem and Internet sharing, which shares whatever access to the Internet the phone has (e.g. EDGE, Wi-Fi) with the computer, but that's not as useful.
Finally, the HTC MAX 4G has a microSD card slot which - given the fact that you have a card reader around - can grant you the fastest data transfers available - over short distances only though.
The HTC MAX 4G is equipped with the popular Opera browser, which is significantly better than the default WinMo option - Internet Explorer Mobile. The Opera 9.5 browser is extensively touch-optimized and seems heavily inspired by the iPhone Safari browser.
The WVGA resolution display scores a point for the device in the web browsing department. When the browser loads the full website preview, the minute text is still quite readable. Almost the whole of our website can fit on the display and the content remains recognizable.
The browser also has a nice download manager and copy/paste functionality. As the MAX 4G offers automatic screen rotation only inside the web browser, the Opera 9.5 is pretty much the only place by default where a landscape QWERTY keyboard is available for text input.
A double tap on any paragraph on screen zooms it automatically in until it fills the screen. Much like on the Touch HD, there's the Zoom slider at the bottom left. Much like the new touchscreen slider on the second generation Touch Diamond, you can use it to comfortably zoom in and out by dragging your thumb from left to right.