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The HTC One has been quite the smartphone for HTC as it has sold exceptionally well for the company through the several months that it’s been available. We’ve seen HTC come out with different colored HTC One devices to give you a bit of personalization for the smartphone, while also releasing the HTC One Mini and HTC One Max. The HTC One Mini brought the HTC One in a more manageable 5-inch body.

The HTC One Max, on the other hand, brings the device to those who enjoy phablets and want to be able to enjoy all that the HTC One has to offer. The HTC One features a 5.9-inch Full HD display, a 1.7GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor and a fingerprint scanner on the rear of the device to help make it even more secure.

We found both the HTC One and the HTC One Mini to be great additions to the Android smartphone market, but will the HTC One Max continue this hot streak HTC has going for itself? There’s only one way to find out and that’s through a review. So without further ado, let’s get into it, shall we?

HTC One Max Specs

Display: 1920 x 1080
Display Size: 5.9 inches
Display Type: Super LCD3
Processor: 1.7GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600
RAM: 2GB
Storage: 16 / 32GB
MicroSD: Yes > up to 64GB
Battery Capacity: 3300 mAh
Rear-Facing Camera: 4MP
Front-Facing Camera: 2.1MP
Weight: 217g
Dimensions: 164.5mm x 82.5mm x 10.3mm

Context

Before we get into our reviews, we like to take a moment to give a brief explanation as to how exactly we use our devices. For phablets, I tend to make full use of their larger screen by watching streaming videos on services like Netflix, YouTube and Hulu Plus while also enjoying the additional real estate when playing games.

When it comes to smartphones overall, I tend to not use them as phones as much as most people probably do as I would much rather communicate through instant messaging, texts or through social media services like Twitter or Facebook.

I also don’t need additional security for my smartphone, so I probably won’t get much use out of the HTC One Max’s fingerprint scanner. I’ll still give it a look for our review, but as for me personally, I could make due with just a simple passcode to unlock my devices.

Industrial Design

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The design of the HTC One is one that many people have been enjoying, and could be one of HTC’s best designs to date. The HTC One Max doesn’t offer too many changes to the HTC One’s tried and true design as it’s still completely made out of a premium-feeling brushed aluminum material, although there are a few minor tweaks that have been introduced to improved the overall quality of the device.

The front of the HTC One Max has largely been left unchanged as the only major difference between it and the HTC One’s front is the fact that the One Max has a 5.9-inch Full HD display. Below the display sits an HTC logo with two capacitive buttons that pop up when the phone is turned on. Below that sits one of the One Max’s dual-stereo speakers. Above the display is where you’ll find the second dual-stereo speaker as well as the One Max’s front-facing camera and two sensors.

The surrounding area of the HTC One Max is kept pretty simple and familiar when compared to the HTC One. The top of the One Max is where you’ll find the phone’s 3.5mm headphone jack, although a new IR blaster can be found here as well. The right side is where an aluminum volume rocker and wake / sleep button can be found towards the middle-top portion of the area. The bottom of the One Max is where you’ll be plugging the device in often as its microUSB port can be found there. The left side introduces a new feature to the HTC One Max as a small latch can be pulled to unlock the rear of the device, allowing you to access its SIM card and install a microSD card.

The layout of the rear of the HTC One Max is also left largely unchanged, with the only real change being the inclusion of a fingerprint scanner, which sits just below its main camera towards the upper portion of the device. To the left of the camera is its LED flash and above that is a white plastic strip that has a microphone hidden inside of it. The middle portion of the rear is where you’ll find an HTC logo. At the bottom-right portion of the rear, there are three circles which are used to line up the rear panel when it’s removed.

Display (excellent)

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The HTC One Max features a 5.9-inch Full HD display which means it can pump out visuals at  a resolution of 1920 x 1080. This means the device has a one of the best screens currently available on mobile devices, especially for phablets. As you’d expect, images and videos look huge on the HTC One Max’s 5.9-inch display as you’ll be able to appreciate all of the slight nuances you probably weren’t able to with “regular-sized” screens. High-definition content looks even better, so make sure whatever you do, you’re doing it in HD to make full use of the One Max’s 1080p display.

The display on the HTC One Max is extremely bright as it’s able to offer a peak brightness of 480 nits. If you know nothing about screen bright and nits, just know that it’s really bright, although we felt comfortable using it with the device’s automatic brightness setting ticked on. When using it outdoors on a sunny day, we found the display to be more than enough to keep us using it, even in direct sunlight.

HTC One Max Custom Apps

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Fingerprint Scanner

The HTC One Max is one of a few smartphones that feature a fingerprint scanner, which is located at the rear of the device underneath its main camera. As you’d expect, the fingerprint scanner allows you to unlock your phone simply by swiping your fingertips across the sensor, although the scanner tends to require several swipes in order to function properly.

"THE SCANNER TENDS TO REQUIRE SEVERAL SWIPES IN ORDER TO FUNCTION PROPERLY"  

When setting up the fingerprint scanner, you can choose which finger you would like to have scanned, with its fingerprint stored for later use. You can choose any of your fingers, although the One Max recommends using your index fingers. Not only can you unlock the One Max, but you’ll also be able to automatically launch the device’s camera or a number of other applications by using a particular fingertip.

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Kid Mode

If you have a child who tends to play with your smartphone more than you do, then the HTC One Max’s Kid Mode will allow you to give complete access to your device without worrying of any of your apps or personal information from being accessed. When accessing Kid Mode, you’ll be met with an overlay of Zoodles, which allows you to create several accounts for your children and is even able to recommend videos and activities depending on their age.

If you have any applications that you feel your child would enjoy, let’s say Angry Birds, you can always add those into Zoodles as well so they can have more games to play, especially ones that you personally know would be fun for them to play.

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Scribble

Phablet owners know having the ability to jot down notes through a notebook application can be important if you prefer to write things down rather than type them out on a virtual keyboard. The HTC One Max includes Scribble, which allows you to jot down notes as well as create several other documents from its included templates.

Scribble allows you to capture text written from the virtual keyboard, a pencil as well as several other pen tips which includes a crayon, paint brush and a marker. You can even capture photos, audio clips and input some clip art, if whatever you’re writing requires such a thing.

Killer Apps

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Virtual Keyboard (very good)

The on-screen keyboard for the HTC One Max fills up the entire bottom half of the screen when the device is being held in landscape mode, which certainly makes it feel more comfortable and natural to type on. Since the sides of the One Max is made of plastic, the device doesn’t need to be held with a strong grip in order to ensure it doesn’t slip out of your hands during use. In landscape mode, the One Max still feels comfortable to type on as it almost feels like you’re typing in landscape more on a phone with a smaller screen due to how wide the phone’s screen is.

The keyboard also has secondary keys available from the first page as you’ll be able to input numbers and often-used characters by simply holding your finger over the key for a second or two. This should help make your typing be a little more time efficient as you no longer will have to change pages in order to input a number or some characters.

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Facebook (excellent)

With a 5.9-inch display, you can get some serious Facebook-ing done on the HTC One Max as you’ll be able to see more of your news feed, images, videos and everything else you use Facebook for. With the One Max’s 1080p display, some shared stories will have some really eye-popping images. From time to time, you’ll come across a blurry image, but that has more to do with the source of the image and less the actual Facebook app as when high-quality images are shared, they look great.

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Google Maps (excellent)

You really shouldn’t be surprised that we consider Google Maps on multiple devices to be excellent as Google has certainly offered an amazing experience that millions of people use on a regular basis. On the HTC One Max, Google Maps works flawlessly as you’ll be able to view maps in your immediate location as well as around the world. You’ll also be able to see more details on a particular location such as its Street View, and if it’s a business, its website, ratings and its hours of operation among others.

Entertainment (very good+)

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Video Playback (very good)

Playing local videos on the HTC One Max will give you a pretty standard experience. You’ll be able to play videos stored locally on your One Max, which thanks to its dual-stereo speakers, will sound great. But there aren’t too many bells and whistles included in the default video player as you’ll be able to play videos from your phone on another connected device, edit and share the video and even take a snapshot of what’s currently being shown.

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Gaming (excellent)

For the purpose of our review, we played three games: Candy Crush Saga, Temple Run 2 and Riptide GP2. All three of these games are able to give us a pretty good understanding of how well a device would perform playing a wide variety of games. During our time with all three games, the HTC One Max didn’t even give a hint of slowing down as they all performed exceptionally well.

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Speaker Quality (excellent)

There aren’t many speakers on either smartphones or tablets that impress us as manufacturers tend to skimp on offering a worthwhile speaker in order to save on costs. The speakers on the HTC One impressed us, and the HTC One Max continues to impress us as the device’s dual-surround sound speakers offers a nice range of highs, medium and low-level sounds.

We listened to a wide variety of music and each track sounded great with the HTC One Max’s speakers. If you’re the kind of person who will use their smartphone’s external speakers to listen to music or videos, then you can’t get any better than the HTC One Max’s.

Digital Imaging (very good)

The HTC One Max shares much of the same hardware as the original HTC One, one of which is its 4MP Ultrapixel camera. So if you enjoyed the camera of the HTC One, then you know exactly what to expect from the HTC One Max.

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Camera Application (very good)

The camera application on the HTC One Max has been unchanged from the HTC One and the HTC One Mini. The application allows you to change several camera modes such as the scene, Night mode, HDR, Sweep Panorama, Dual Capture and Anti-Shake. You’ll also be able tweak some of its settings such as a self-timer, crop, video quality and white balance among others.

HTC Zoe is also included with the HTC One Max, which is a specific camera mode that allows the you to take several photos at once to then tweak what you captured in a number of ways. Zoe allows you to create GIFs, sequence shots and even allow you to give your subjects smooth skin and the options don’t stop there. You’ll also be able to draw on your photos, crop and rotate your photos as well as throw in a bunch of frames around it.

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Photo and Video Quality (good+)

As we mentioned in the start of this portion of our review, HTC decided to feature the same 4MP Ultrapixel camera they included in the HTC One. As you can see from our photo samples using both the HTC One Max and the HTC One, there certainly is no difference between either camera. Our photos were taken on a rainy day indoors using indoor lighting, and they capture the subject pretty well as there’s a nice amount of detail and color in the captured image.

Performance (very good)

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The HTC One Max unfortunately doesn’t increase its internal specs to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, which has been a favorite for a number of phablets over the past several months. Instead, HTC decided to keep the 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor that was made available in the original HTC One. The processor is certainly a good one, but considering how much more powerful other phablets with the Snapdragon 800 are, we certainly are curious how the HTC One Max performs when compared to other larger handsets.

Antutu 3.x is an overall system performance benchmark which takes into account everything an Android device has to offer, including its CPU, GPU, and storage. The majority of Android devices tend to fall into a comparable performance footprint, which means unless you need to do something very specific with your device, like gaming, then you can expect a similar performance across the board.

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The HTC One Max scored a total of 25254 in our Antutu benchmark test. This score is certainly better than how the HTC One performed in the same test, although compared to other phablets, the HTC One Max that feature a Snapdragon 800 processor. To compare, the LG G2 scored a 31077 and currently sits atop our list of phablets as being the most powerful handset currently available.

GFXBench 2.7 was designed to stress the Android device’s graphics processor by running a game-like demo which features a fight between various characters in a number of different environments.

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We recently changed over to GFXBench 2.7 over GFXBench 2.5, and as a result, the HTC One Max scored a total of 15fps. This may seem on the low side, but when you consider how much more demanding GFXBench 2.7 is over the previously used 2.5, 15fps is still a pretty decent score.

Battery (very good)

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The HTC One Max introduces a larger size for the original HTC One, which means its battery size has also increased as it features a 3300mAh non-removable battery.

Moderate Usage (excellent)

For our moderate usage test, we used the HTC One Max off and on for about an hour performing tasks that weren’t exactly going to push the smartphone too hard. We checked Facebook, corresponded to emails, read some news stories and other activities that you’d consider to be typical for most people while connected to a wireless network. After an hour, we noticed the battery of the HTC One Max dropped a total of 4%, which means you should expect roughly 25 hours of battery life under these conditions. Those who use the HTC One Max’s 4G LTE, expect your battery life to drop.

Video Streaming Test (excellent)

For our video streaming test, we streamed a 1080p video for one hour with the display set to 50% of the HTC One Max’s full brightness. After streaming the video for an hour, we noticed a drop of 12%, which means you should expect a little over 8 hours of battery life under these conditions.

Intense Usage

For our intense usage battery test, we played Riptide GP2 for an hour, which is a 3D racing game that pushes the HTC One Max’s hardware to its limits. After an hour of playing Riptide GP2, we noticed a drop of 21% in the HTC One Max’s battery. This means you should expect over 4 hours of battery life when playing games or performing other intense activities.

Charging Time (average)

As important as knowing how long a battery will last is, we find it’s equally important to know just how long a battery will take to recharge itself. In the case of the HTC One Max’s 3300mAh battery, we noted the device recharged itself by 32% after leaving the phone plugged in after an hour. This means you should expect it to take a little over 3 hours to fully charge your HTC One Max if you’ve completely run its battery dry.

Conclusion (good+)

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If you enjoyed the hardware of the HTC One and want that same experience in a phablet, then the HTC One Max is a device we’re sure you’ll enjoy. It has the same internal specs, Ultrapixel camera, dual-stereo speakers and same feel of the HTC One, but just in a larger phone. The only real external difference between the two is the fingerprint sensor, which at times can be finicky.

"THE HTC ONE MAX IS A SOLID PHABLET THAT WILL MAKE FANS OF THE HTC ONE HAPPY"  

The phablet world is certainly heating up with some serious competition, such as the LG G2 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, and in a world where these kinds of devices are leading the pack, the HTC One Max doesn’t feel like it’s keeping up with those and similar devices. Its processor and camera are both considered old by today’s standards, although they certainly do a good job when it comes to gaming and being able to keep the device feeling smooth during use.

The HTC One Max is a solid phablet that will make fans of the HTC One happy. On the other hand, if this is your first time in the phablet show, there are certainly other phones that have impressed far more than the HTC One Max did.

Overall product rating: 7/10
Filed in Cellphones >Featured >Reviews . Tags: HTC, HTC One Max and one max.
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