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HTC One Max review

  • HTC One Max
  • HTC One Max
  • HTC One Max
  • HTC One Max
  • HTC One Max
  • HTC One Max

Verdict:

A huge phone with a great screen, but the camera is poor and performance only middling for the price

Review Date: 16 Apr 2014

Price when reviewed: £564

Supplier: http://www.handtec.co.uk

Reviewed By: Chris Finnamore

Our Rating 3 stars out of 5


UPDATED 16th April 2014

The HTC One Max has come down in price since we first reviewed it last November, dropping around £60 in the intervening five months to £504 (available from Handtec) from £564. This moves it further away from the superior Samsung Galaxy Note 3, our current reigning phablet champion, which has remained nearer the £550-600 end of the scale if you're looking to buy it SIM free.

This makes the HTC One Max a slightly better buy now than it was at launch. But when a phone costs this much upfront, most people will want to get it on a contract so they can spread the total cost of ownership over a longer period of time. Unfortunately, the One Max doesn't fare particularly well when it comes to contracts, as these are all still rather expensive.

One of the cheapest contracts currently available is a £28 per month deal from Phones4U . This will get you 1,000 minutes, unlimited texts and 500MB of data, but increasing this to £35 per month will raise your data allowance to 1GB - an important thing to consider if you're going to be using the One Max as your main media consumption device.

The Note 3, however, is available from the Carphone Warehouse on a £33 per month contract that nets you unlimited texts and minutes and 1GB of data. This is much better value, as the Note 3 is not only quicker and has better battery life than the One Max, but it also has a much more capable 13-megapixel camera. The One Max, on the other hand, only has a 4-megapixel sensor.

So if you're looking for the best Android phablet around, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is still the phone to buy.

ORIGINAL REVIEW

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.

HTC One Max

Supersize my HTC One

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.

DESIGN

However, while the HTC One is a unibody design which you can't open, the One Max has a removable aluminium rear cover. Strangely, this doesn’t mean you can replace the battery; the cover just gives you access to the microSD card and SIM slots. This means that you lose the neatness of a unibody design without gaining the flexibility of being able to replace the battery, which is a shame. You shouldn't need to carry a spare battery, as the One Max lasted for a huge 15h 45m in our video battery rundown test, but it will limit the overall useful lifespan of the handset.

HTC One Max

The rear cover comes off, but you won't find much underneath

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.

PERFORMANCE

The One and One Max have the same major internal components, with quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processors running at 1.7GHz and 2GB RAM. This leads to performance which, while strong for early 2013, now looks decidedly mid-range. The One Max completed the Sunspider JavaScript benchmark in 1,182ms, which compares poorly to the Snapdragon 800-equipped Xperia Ultra's 860ms, and the 706ms of the up-to-the-minute Google Nexus 5.

The One Max couldn’t run Android 4.3 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.

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