The HTC One has been handed a super-sized upgrade. After an unending deluge of leaked specs and photos, HTC has unveiled its One Max with a whopping 5.9-inch touchscreen and fingerprint scanner to boot. It joins the growing phone-tablet hybrid brigade of phablets that offer the functionality of a phone in a tablet-like form factor.
Originally predicted to launch alongside Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 at IFA 2013, the One Max is similarly aimed at mobile users who think bigger is very much better. Certainly, this portly phone comes with a sizeable battery, plenty of storage and the latest version of HTC’s Sense software. But do its key features make for an irresistible phone? Read on to find out.
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HTC One Max – design
The HTC One’s aluminium casing made for an elegant handset and the One Max is no different. As you’d expect for a phablet, this is a big phone to carry around and weighs 217g. That’s 49g more than Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 and a whopping 74g heavier than the original HTC One, so the Max might not sit too comfortably in your pocket.
If you’re buying this sizeable handset, you’ll be doing so for its screen and the Max’s 5.9-inch HD display is unlikely to disappoint. Certainly, it will prove more than good enough for 3D gaming apps and movies. That said, there’s no Note 3-esque stylus to help navigate around all the abundant touchscreen real estate.
HTC One Max – five key features
Fingerprint scanner – like Apple’s iPhone 5S, the HTC One Max offers users extra identity protection with a fingerprint scanner for unlocking the handset. Unlike Apple’s iPhone 5S, the One Max’s scanner is mounted on the back of the phone instead of its home button. This strikes us as a significantly less convenient position for the feature.
A 4-megapixel camera – rather than offering an upgrade on the HTC One’s ‘UltraPixel’ camera, the One Max has the same snapper minus its optical image stabilisation tech. Our lab testing will show how the Max proves in shaky conditions but this lack of functionality isn’t ideal.
25 hours talk time? – because of their hulking size, phablets feature bigger batteries than ‘normal’ phones and can offer more talk time turn. HTC is claiming the One Max’s 3300mAh battery allows for more than a days talk time. That’s an impressive figure, if it stacks up.
A new Android skin – Sense 5.5 is HTC new user interface and it’s pretty much the same as its former incarnation. BlinkFeed has been refined to make catching up on the latest news easier, and both camera and gallery apps are updated. Most importantly, you can expect all the latest apps to work just fine with the One Max.
Expandable storage – the One Max comes with either 16GB or 32GB of storage included, which can be expanded by up to 64GB with a MicroSD card. If you’re going to be storing a lot of video on the One Max, it’s worth taking advantage of this.
Which? expert verdict – ‘Not bad… for a phablet’
No pricing details are available for the HTC One Max yet, so it’s impossible to judge whether it will offer better value than the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Otherwise, the One Max is larger in size than 5.7-inch Note 3 and its battery has a bigger capacity – so you should get more talk time out of it.
I think it looks a lot better too. Samsung’s predilection for plastic may make for lighter phones but they never seem particularly desirable. HTC’s One range could proudly grace a catwalk alongside the iPhone 5S.
Where the One Max seems to be lacking is outside its core features – including what should be a blisteringly quick 1.7GHz quad-core processor. A fingerprint scanner is a nice touch, but I wasn’t a fan of the LG G2’s rear-facing power button – it was just too hard to reach. It’s unlikely the One Max will implement a similar concept any better. A lack of optical image stabilisation in its camera is also a concern.
Ultimately, if you want a phone with a big screen and brilliant battery life then the HTC One Max fits that bill. Otherwise, you’re better off getting the original One or one of its many competitors.
Rob Leedham – writer