HTC One Max is official: step up in size, step down in design

HTC revealed the rumored large One Max device that stretches the HTC One Mini beyond the flagship HTC One. A removable back teases you with microSD, but the battery stays put.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer
HTC One Max is official: step up in size, step down in design
Image: HTC

The HTC One remains my favorite smartphone ever and I have never once thought I wanted a larger form factor with less premium design and a slightly worse camera. However, that is just what HTC announced with the HTC One Max (Verge review) as they take a step back seven months after releasing the HTC One.

I'm debating on whether or not I am keeping the Galaxy Note 3 I just bought because of my awesome HTC One with my pending decision focused on the size of the Note 3, functionality of the S Pen, removable battery, and microSD card slot. The One Max is larger than the Note 3, does not come with a stylus and applications optimized for stylus usage, and does not offer a removable battery even though the back is removable. It does offer a microSD card slot.

The HTC One is nearly perfect for holding in one hand, disappearing in your pocket, have a large usable display to enjoy, and an aluminum design and feel that justifies the expense. The One Mini added more plastic and now the HTC One Max blows up the One Mini with continued use of more plastic, a removable back cover that I think takes away from the premium feel due to more seems and movable parts, and a size that makes it more awkward to use.

HTC moved the power button to the right side, just like Samsung has for years, and that is a good thing for such a large phone. Unlike the iPhone 5S that has the fingerprint scanner on the home button that you always press anyway, HTC placed their fingerprint scanner on the back under the camera lens.

People who have tried the fingerprint scanner on the back state that the placement is unnatural and HTC still requires you to wake the One Max before you even swipe to unlock. What's the point of the fingerprint scanner than?

The scanner looks to serve as a quick launcher for up to three apps, with three different fingers. I haven't tested it out yet, but I am doubtful it can be used for purchases and passwords like we see on the iPhone 5S since this is a single manufacturer implementation. It looks to be a gimmick with limited functionality, much like previous failed attempts at fingerprint scanners on phones before the iPhone 5S.

The camera on the HTC One Max also loses optical image stabilization, which is terrible considering the size of the device dictates it is the more likely candidate to get it over the smaller HTC One. Now, OIS on the HTC One is nowhere near the quality of what we see on Nokia Windows Phones, but it does help a bit with photos and video.

I was also hoping for a higher quality ultrapixel camera. The One camera, same as on the One Max, is fine for social media shots, but lacks depth and the ability to capture detail that is found on nearly every other high-end smartphone today.

The HTC One Max comes with a removable back, but it is only good for accessing the SIM card and microSD storage card. It's great to finally see HTC providing microSD on a phone outside of Asia, but the non-removable battery will disappoint some Android fans.

Specifications of the new HTC One Max include:

  • 5.9 inch 1080p LCD display
  • Snapdragon 600 1.7 GHz quad-core processor
  • Android 4.3 with Sense 5.5
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB and 32GB internal storage with microSD card slot
  • Non-removable 3,300 mAh battery
  • BoomSound stereo speakers without Beats Audio
  • Same ultrapixel camera as the HTC One

As you may notice, the specs are mostly all the same as the seven-month old HTC One. Unlike the new Samsung Galaxy Note 3, you won't find the Snapdragon 800 processor, 3GB of RAM, or any improvements in the camera.

Sense 5.5 does add Google+ to BlinkFeed, the option to save articles for offline viewing, and the ability to disable BlinkFeed if you want. The Sense 5.5 update will hopefully be coming to the HTC One and One Max as well.

HTC One Max reviews and hands-on

A few folks have had time with the HTC One Max and offer the following:

I love the HTC One and hope that HTC can launch another compelling product, the HTC Two?, with more innovation and incredible design. The HTC One Max fills out the HTC One line that now includes a smaller and larger device that both offer less than the flagship HTC One.

The HTC One is reportedly coming to Sprint and Verizon before the end of the year. No pricing is yet available.

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