HTC One Max review: HTC One Max

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent

Average User Rating

4.5 stars 22 user reviews
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Big, bright, bold display; Sense 5 interface is attractive and easy to use; Good battery life; Enough power for most tasks.

The Bad Older processor doesn't compete well against competition; Too big and heavy for most people's needs.

The Bottom Line The HTC One Max's huge, Full HD display and metal body make it the ideal phone for those of you craving the sleek design of the normal One, but wanting a bigger screen for movies and games. Its older processor, however, is disappointing.

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The HTC One was one of our favourite Android phones around, pairing the luxurious metal body more typically seen on the iPhone with a bigger screen and the customisability of Android. Apparently it wasn't quite big enough though, so HTC has given it a stretch.

The One Max, as it's aptly named, looks rather like the One, but comes in at a beefy 5.9-inches on the diagonal, blurring the line between what we'd call a phone or a tablet.

HTC hasn't confirmed exactly how much the phone will cost, but it's safe to assume it's not going to be dirt cheap. Expect prices to be somewhere between the £500-£600 mark, SIM-free, or on contract from around £35 per month. 

Vodafone will offer the phone with a £49 up-front charge on a £47 per month, 24-month contract . That does get you 4G speeds, although you'll have only 2GB of data per month to play with, so be careful how much video you're streaming. 

Should I buy the HTC One Max?

If you've been eagerly eyeing up your mate's HTC One but also fancy the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 for some big screen movies, the One Max will be right up your street. It pairs the metal stylings of the One with a whopping 5.9-inch Full HD display. HTC's Sense software looks as cool as ever, but has been updated, so you can get rid of the Blinkfeed news panel if you don't want it.

HTC One max
That's one hell of a screen.

On paper though, it doesn't stack up as well against the Note 3. It has an older, slower processor, and its camera -- while good -- doesn't quite have the pin-sharp resolution of the Note 3's 13-megapixel snapper. The Note is also smaller and lighter. If you want to play specification Top Trumps, the Note is the phone for you.

If big screens and metal bodies are on your wish-list then go for the One Max, but for most of you the standard One is a better option. It too has a Full HD display, as well as the same processor and camera but won't require you to attach extenders to your thumbs.

Design and build quality

With a 5.9-inch display shoved into its frame it should come as no surprise that the max is an absolute beast. It measures a whopping 163mm long, easily beating the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, which is by no means a small phone. It's 82mm wide too, making it somewhat difficult to wrap your hand around and its 220g weight is noticeable in your pocket.

HTC One max
The 4-megapixel camera is the same as before. The pixels are physically larger than normal, so it can manage to capture some great shots.

The Max is not a phone for those of you just looking for a good all-round Android phone for everyday use. The 4.7-inch One or indeed the 4.3-inch One Mini will both be much better options to consider. The enormous display does make it a great choice for movie addicts though.

There's no hiding its HTC heritage as it has a near identical design to its smaller siblings. The grey metal back is in place, as are the dual, front-facing 'Boomsound' speakers. The max shares the same plastic edging seen on the Mini. It's a good looking piece of kit, but I think its vast size detracts from the understated elegance seen on the smaller models.

It has the same metal casing from the One, but the max's back is removable in order to give access to the microSD card slot. The card slot lets you expand the 16GB of internal storage -- including saving apps to the card -- although the battery is not removable. On my early-build review model the back casing was extremely difficult to put back into place but HTC says it'll have it fixed before it goes on sale in the next few weeks.

HTC One max
The dual, front-facing Boomsound speakers are on board again and they're just as powerful.

I sincerely hope it does as it really let the build quality down on my test model. Both the One and the One mini had extremely solid bodies thanks to the one-piece construction, but the max doesn't have quite the same secure feel.

Fingerprint scanner

When Apple unveiled its fingerprint sensor on the front of the iPhone 5S, it obviously wasn't going to be long before other companies slapped fingerprint scanning tech into their own phones. HTC reckons its is different to Apple's though, as it's more focussed on quick access to apps than it is on securing your phone.

Swiping your finger over the sensor will unlock the phone though, so I'm not sure why HTC says it's not a security feature. Crucially, however, you can program up to three different fingerprints to automatically load certain apps when they're scanned. Swipe your index finger, for example, and it can automatically load the camera. It's handy to give quick access to any app you might want to jump into without having to navigate around the phone first.

HTC One max
It looks almost identical to the HTC One, except for that fingerprint scanner.

The sensor is positioned below the camera, apparently in the place where your index finger will naturally rest -- but it really depends on how you feel most comfortable holding such a large phone. It was in the right place for me, but my friend tends to hold phones lower down so couldn't easily reach the scanner. Once you do find it, it manages to accurately recognise the prints you've saved most times.

Display

The 5.9-inch display packs in a 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution. That's Full HD to me and you. It's also the same resolution you'll find in the standard One, meaning the Max is slightly less sharp as the same number of pixels are being spread across a larger display. The max has a pixel density of 373 pixels per inch, undercutting its smaller sibling's 446ppi.

Sure, it's less, but in reality I highly doubt you'll ever notice the difference. The Max's screen is still very well defined with icon edges looking pin sharp and small text being easily readable. You have to look extremely closely to tell any kind of difference and even then I doubt you could pick them apart.

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Where to Buy

HTC One Max

Part Number: 803S
Pricing is currently unavailable.
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