HTC One Max review
Android 4.3, 5.9in 1,920x1,080 display
When designing their latest phone/tablet hybrids, phablets, or simply huge smartphones - whatever you want to call them - manufacturers seem to take a number of different approaches. With its Samsung Galaxy Mega, for example, Samsung created a 6.3-inch monster with a lower-resolution screen than the 5-inch Galaxy S4, but at a lower price. Sony went the other way with its 6.4in Z Ultra, which kept the 1080p screen of the Xperia Z1 for a reasonable premium. And then of course there's the latest version of the original phablet, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, which is different again thanks to its stylus. With the HTC One Max, HTC seems to have simply taken an HTC One and made it bigger and more expensive.
It's quite remarkable how similar the One Max looks to the smaller model. Both have all-metal bodies, with a white strip around the edge and various white strips on the rear. On the front, both phones have silver speaker grilles top and bottom and a front-facing camera at the top-right. Nestled under the camera at the rear is a fingerprint reader. This works differently to the reader build into the iPhone 5S , which can unlock the phone and authorise purchases from the App Store. The One Max's reader, on the other hand, can learn up to three different fingerprints, which can either just unlock the phone, or unlock it and launch an app. We found the position on the back of the phone wasn't as convenient as having it at the bottom ready for your thumb, as on the iPhone 5S, but it's certainly a more secure way of unlocking a phone than using a passcode or unlock pattern.
The One Max shipped with Android 4.3 and HTC is now pushing an update to Android 4.4 KitKat. It isn't able to run Android with the same effortless smoothness as we’ve seen on Snapdragon 800 smartphones; the animation when opening up the app tray is slightly jerky, for example. We also found there was a slight hesitation between flicking our finger to move around a web page and the page starting to move, but this didn’t really affect how much we enjoyed surfing the web.
In the 3DMark benchmark, the One managed 6,928 in the Extreme test, which is looking a bit weedy considering the phone's price; the Xperia Ultra walks all over it with 17,899. The One Max is still significantly quicker than the cheaper Galaxy Mega, which saw just 2,782 in the same test. We noticed the slower 3D performance when playing games; Real Racing 3 was noticeably less smooth than it was on a Google Nexus 5, for example.
The update to Android 4.4 KitKat does give the One Max some much needed new features. Compared to Android 4.3 the latest version of the operating system is slicker and runs faster. There's also full support for Google Now. This lets you control the phone using your voice for things like making calls, sending messages and searching the web.