Expectations for the HTC One Max were high even before it landed on my doormat, mainly due to the success of it’s little Brother, the HTC One. The ‘Max’ however, with its 5.9 inch screen and front facing stereo speakers, is a different kettle of fish and certainly not one for the faint hearted. My first impressions are good, the brushed aluminium exterior is well crafted, the back of the device is curved (like it’s little brother), and there is also a slot for expanding the memory (via SD Card). However, the only physical buttons (power and volume) are almost flush with the side of the phone so finding the right one can initially be a bit tricky.
There is a couple of touch-style buttons too. I didn’t think you needed these anymore but HTC still seems to like them. One for ‘back’ and the other is the ‘home ‘button. First switch on (Dat bootsound!) It’s LOUD! Despite the volume it’s very crisp and clear. One thing that did strike my curiosity was a little black square on the back under the camera lens, but more on this later…
The ‘Max’ is running Android 4.3 with HTC’s sense bits and adaptations on top. Stock Android is already good, but HTC go to great efforts to integrate social networks and their own backup and security type stuff into their phones. They can’t resist tweaking some things, e.g. the ‘Dialer’, ‘Email’ and ‘Contacts’ to fit with their own style and some of the changes are welcomed. Take the keyboard for example, the predictive text is great and all the buttons show.
Their long press alternative so typing is very quick. On the other hand, others seem to be done just for the sake of it, maybe to keep the boffins busy between tea breaks.The first boot-up starts off the setup process. Once you are connected via Wi-Fi you’ll have the option of logging into a million-plus social networks and email boxes. This kicks the Max info life. The default home screen, BlinkFeed is made up of tiles from across your gallery, email, SMS and social networks. These update during the day and are good for when you want to just gaze at your phone for a bit. It’s filled with the people you know and what’s going on with them, so it’s very handy. Despite using lots of resource intensive pictures and animations it doesn’t lag, although I’m still undecided if I would use it very much long term as my main home screen.
I tested the lovely 1080p screen with an episode of Top Gear in HD. It is gorgeous (the screen, not Jeremy), bright and crisp, and if you’re going to have a full HD screen on a phone, the bigger the better for me. The speakers on the One series are probably the best sounding around at the moment, more bass-y than you would expect, they also handle the high tones well. Be warned, when it ‘boots’ up, or if the alarm goes off, the noise will scare the life out of you, I promise.
So that little black square I mentioned earlier, it turns out this is a fingerprint scanner. I set it up for 3 different fingers, one to unlock, one to open the camera, and the other to start navigation. It does acknowledge the different fingers well enough and the technology is great, but actually getting it to recognise me the first time was a bit tricky. It could probably do with being in a better position too.
Shooting in HDR mode brought added depth to my photos and the phone has all the filters and effects you’d expect from a high-end device like this. I took a couple of low light pictures (when most people take pics) and these came out very well, although it’s still not quite in the same league as a decent digital camera. There is also ‘Zoe’ mode. This can help you make videos of some of your snaps. Another cool feature on its little brother, and here again is the Infra-red Transmitter. With the help of the TV app you can control many of the devices you have at home. TV, Sky, DVD players, home theatre. The list goes on. Useful, if like me you can never find the remote.
I’m also glad to report that although it’s non-removable, the battery lifewas excellent and lasted longer than any phone I’ve tried. I was able to do a day’s work and come home with my battery still at 50%. And I consider myself to be a heavy user.
Size is everything
So in summary, the One Max is fairly well designed, has great battery life and good premium software. Probably the main issue for some people will be the same thing that others love about it – the shear size. A big screen is perfect for video / web browsing / productivity, coupled with the front facing speakers – the trouble is it’s heavy and won’t fit into all pockets. If you can cope with using both hands the HTC One Max gets pretty much full marks everywhere else and is definitely ‘One’ worth checking out.
Tech Specs – HTC One Max
Screen: 1080 x 1920 pixels, 5.9 inches BoomSound dual front stereo speakers
microSD, up to 64 GB Internal Memory: 16/32 GB, 2 GB RAM 4 MP Camera