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HTC One Max: Cover removable, but not battery. Why?

The lack of a removable battery on HTC's new phablet is a missed opportunity. CNET explains why HTC made the call to keep its battery sealed.

Now playing: Watch this: HTC One Max joins the phablet fray

It's like HTC is taunting us with the One Max.

The One Max is the company's latest product and a super-sized addition to HTC's aluminum-clad smartphone family.

Beyond the 5.9-inch display and fingerprint sensor, the biggest difference in the One Max is the removable back. Somehow, the company was able to keep the all-metal body but allow users to pry off the back, allowing for the addition of a micro-SD card for expanded memory. Unfortunately, users still aren't able to swap out the battery, which remains sealed up.

The lack of a removable battery represents one of the biggest blown opportunities for the HTC One Max. The company was this close to balancing the fine line between design aesthetics and usability. It was able to offer the metal back cover, but also the option to remove it. While the expandable memory is welcome, many more users would have greatly appreciated the ability to replace a dying battery with a spare one.

Samsung Electronics and LG, for instance, have opted for plastic removable covers in past flagship devices because they say their users require the ability to swap out their batteries. LG told CNET that one of the biggest complaints it had received from the Optimus G was the sealed up body.

When removing the back cover, there's a rectangular area in the back that actually looks like a battery -- even though it isn't. An HTC representative told CNET that the unique architecture of the device -- in which the battery is right behind the display and then the processor and other components are right behind the battery -- make it impossible for the battery to be replaceable. The One Max rocks a large 3,300 mAh battery, which HTC said should be hefty enough to get through a workday.

HTC opted to stick with the same design architecture of the HTC One, preserving the aesthetic appeal of its original flagship phone, the representative said. He added that the option for expandable memory via a micro-SD card slot was a higher priority than a removable battery.

Perhaps HTC will get it right with the next flagship phone. Rivals such as Samsung and LG must certainly be looking at the One Max's removable metal cover as a design cue as for future high-end phones.

For now, though, it's a cruel tease to be able to open that back cover and not be able to do anything about a dying battery.