Review : HTC One Max : The Big One


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.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
  • 4 MP autofocus “UltraPixel” camera with 1/3″ sensor size, 2µm 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)
  • 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

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

Design :

The HTC One Max is an instantly recognizable member of the company’s high-end lineup. It offers the same combination of metal, high-quality plastic and glass as the One mini and provides the same premium feel as the other two members of the One family. The entirely plastic sides are certainly not as cool at the metal edges on the original One, but they are certainly more durable and since they don’t take too much away in terms of looks, we find this a good solution.
Of course a device this big can’t quite match the sophistication of the mini (or even the original One), but once you hold the One Max you will immediately know that it’s a premium offering. And while the weight might take its toll on the usability it certainly contributes to the solid vibe the phablet gives.
And, yes, the fingerprint sensor doesn’t sit as pretty on the silver back as it did on the home button of the iPhone 5s, but that’s mostly nitpicking. Bottom line is the HTC One Max is a sleek smartphone, which you’d feel proud of owning (once you get past the usual “is that a phone or a tablet” jokes).
Of course, the HTC One Max has dual front-mounted speakers and a 0.2″ larger screen to show for it, and it’s up to everyone to decide for themselves whether the trade-off is worth it.
The fingerprint scanner aside, the HTC One Max features the same set of controls as the other two members of the One family. A strip of glass right below the display is home to the two capacitive keys, Back and… well, Home. A long-press the Home button launches Google Now, while a double tap brings up the task switcher.

Display :

The HTC One Max has a brilliant 5.9″ IPS LCD screen, that has an image quality quite similar to the HTC One 4.7-incher. The extended diagonal has caused the pixel density to drop to just 373ppi, but at this point the difference is rather hard to spot.HTC has been putting out some excellent screens recently and the One Max’s display is just another example of this. The contrast is impressive and the viewing angles are extremely wide – there’s no shift in colors and only a slight contrast loss at extreme angles.
The screen is laminated too, for a maximum close fit between individual layers, bringing the image as close as possible to the surface of the glass.
The only area of the HTC One Max screen performance that could be improved is sunlight legibility. It’s not doing bad by any means, helped by its good brightness levels, but it’s not quite up there with the best either.

Camera :

The HTC One Max uses the same 4MP UltraPixel sensor that was introduced with the HTC One, except without the optical image stabilization (OIS). It’s about the size of most smartphone camera sensors (1/3″) but thanks to its lower resolution it has much bigger pixels. On the up side, bigger pixels have better performance in poor lighting conditions.When viewed at 1080p resolution, the photos look pretty good, but there’s very little room for cropping.The HTC One Max has HDR support for both its still image and videos. In stills, HDR mode gives shadows a good boost, but it tends to wash out the highlights. At least the effect isn’t as exaggerated as on the HTC One. Note that HDR photos do have some extra smearing as the phone has to align and compose a couple of different exposures.

Conclusion :

The HTC One Max is a solid phablet – there are no two ways about that. The awesome screen is nicely complemented by the front-mounted stereo speakers and excellent battery life to round off one of the best devices around for gaming and watching video. Granted, the built-in video player is rather limited in terms of codec support, but that’s nothing a quick trip to the Google Play Store can’t fix.
There’s also the metal unibody, which makes sure that the One Max is one of hottest looking phablets you can get (and it would look even sharper in black, if there ever is a black version).
Unfortunately, even a solid foundation like this one is not always enough considering the kind of competition that the One Max is facing. With a price-tag matching that of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, the HTC phablet can’t afford any compromise if it so much as hopes to win this around. Sadly, it does make a fair share of those.

Alternatives :

Samsung Galaxy Note 3:

The Samsung’s phablet is among one of the most successful flagship phablets out there. The Note 3 sports a 5.7 Inch Super AMOLED 1080p display and packs a 13 MP snapper at the back. The powerful Snapdragon 800 beast is a certainly better choice than that of One Max’s Snapdragon 600 processor. But unlike the One Max it lacks a fingerprint sensor. The Note 3 will cost You around ₹ 45,000 at its cheapest.

Sony Xperia Z Ultra:

The Sony Xperia Z Ultra packs a massive 6.44″ Triluminous display, which makes it the biggest fish in this pond. Sony hasn’t been particularly careful with the bezels either, but the Xperia Z Ultra packs a Snapdragon 800 chipset and costs around ₹ 40,000, being waterproof at that, so it’s certainly worth a second look even if it’s the most unwieldy of the phablet species. The worst thing about it is that it lacks an LED flash.

Final Words :

So in the end, the HTC One Max is a solid device that has more than enough to keep you happy, but it may have a hard time luring you into the store in the first place. Unless HTC delivers a prompt upgrade that makes the fingerprint scanner a real game-changer, it will probably have to cut the One Max’s price a bit to keep the phablet relevant.


20 year old someone who loves watching football and cricket. Smartphone Aficionado. FIFA Addict. Currently using HTC One (M8) as his daily driver.

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