Roomy, crisp display; Best-in-class audio; Long battery life; Smooth performance; Fingerprint scanner
Cumbersome size; Software not optimized for larger screen; Camera blows out some images; Expensive
The HTC One Max packs a ginormous 5.9-inch display, impressive sound quality and a fingerprint sensor, but it's a bulky device.
Do you like the design of the HTC One but think its 4.7-inch screen just isn't big enough? Then the HTC One Max ($299 for Verizon Wireless) may be more your style. This phablet sports a roomier, 5.9-inch display while maintaining the aluminum design and BoomSound speakers we praised when reviewing its smaller brother. The Max also includes a fingerprint reader, making this device even more secure. But is this phablet really worth as much as the Galaxy Note?
Calling the HTC One Max big is an understatement. The 5.9-inch smartphone feels more like a miniature tablet than it does a smartphone -- and it's heavier than your average phone, too.
At 7.7 ounces, the One Max is heftier than the 7.26-ounce Nokia Lumia 1520, the 7-ounce 6.3-inch Samsung Galaxy Mega and the 5.9-ounce 5.7-inch Samsung Galaxy Note 3. That's largely because the Max sports an aluminum frame, while Samsung's devices have plastic backs. Measuring 6.5 x 3.2 x 0.41 inches, the HTC One Max is slightly thicker than but not as wide as the 6.5 x 3.5 x 0.3 Galaxy Mega. It's also noticeably longer, wider and thicker than the Galaxy Note 3.
There is one feature of the One Max that you won't find on its smaller siblings. HTC placed a fingerprint scanner on the back of the device, just underneath the camera. The scanner itself is barely noticeable when you run your finger along the back of the phone. Still, we find the TouchID fingerprint reader built into the iPhone 5s' home button more convenient.
However, the Note 3's 5.7-inch display was brighter and bolder than the One Max's screen. In a close up scene of Leonardo DiCaprio's face, we could see the subtle creases more easily on the Max than on the Note 3. While the Note 3 brought out the reds in DiCaprio's cheeks, the Max's colors looked more natural.
At 451 lux, the HTC One Max boasts one of the brightest phablet displays available. It outshone the smartphone category average (401 lux), the Nokia Lumia 1520 (328 lux) and the Samsung Galaxy Mega (427 lux). It trails the 555-lux Galaxy Note 3, though.
As is the case with the 4.7-inch HTC One, the One Max's front-facing dual BoomSound speakers deliver best-in-class audio. The monstrous handset pumped out cleaner and deeper tunes than its large-screened rivals by a long shot.
When listening to "Roar" by Katy Perry at full volume, we appreciated how well balanced the pop tune sounded through the One Max's speakers. The vocals and accompanying instrumentals sounded crisp and clear during the chorus. By comparison, the same song sounded tinny and bland coming out of the Note 3, Galaxy Mega and Nokia Lumia 1520.
The One Max blasted music at 83 decibels during the LAPTOP Audio Test, which is slightly louder than the 80-decibel smartphone category average, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 (79 decibels) and the Galaxy Mega (82 decibels).
If BlinkFeed isn't your style, you can opt to use it as a secondary home screen. Pressing and holding on any blank area of a home screen will pull up thumbnail views of all of them. From here, you can select which one you want to use as your primary home screen.
Pulling down from the top of the display with two fingers reveals the One Max's quick-settings menu, which features shortcuts to settings such as display brightness, Bluetooth, Airplane Mode and Wi-Fi. HTC offers 12 options in this shortcut menu, while Samsung's TouchWiz UI includes 16.
Setting up the scanner is simple. The HTC One Max's Settings menu houses a "Fingerprint Scan" option that lets you enroll and assign tasks to each finger. It takes four swipes for the device to successfully save a finger, and from there you can choose to just unlock the device, launch the camera or navigate to the Home screen, among other actions, by swiping your finger.
While you can do more with the One Max's fingerprint scanner than you can with the one on the iPhone 5s, which only lets you unlock the phone, we found its placement to be awkward. Those with smaller hands will have to stretch their fingers up the back of the phone to reach the sensor.
The One Max also performed well on synthetic benchmark tests. During the Quadrant benchmark, which tests the CPU, I/O and graphics of a given device, the One Max scored 11,709, which is higher than the 7,884 smartphone category average. The Samsung Galaxy Mega, which runs on a 1.7-GHz dual Qualcomm MSM8930 Pro processor, scored a lower 8,203, while the Snapdragon 800-powered Galaxy Note 3 scored the highest at 22,279.
On Geekbench 3, the One Max's score of 1,867 outperformed the smartphone category average (1,634) and the Galaxy Mega (1,098), but the Note 3 again came out on top (2,883).
It took the One Max 7 minutes and 44 seconds to transcode a 204MB video from 1080p to 480p using Vidtrim. That's faster than the category average (8:15) and the Mega (9:15). Once again, though, the Note 3 proved faster, finishing in 5:15.
The Max scored 10,938 on the 3DMark Unlimited graphics test, which measures mobile chipset graphics and physics performance using OpenGL ES 2.0. This is higher than the 9,940 smartphone category average and the Galaxy Mega's score of 4,552, but the Note 3 scored a monstrous 18,808.
Camera and Camcorder
The Lumia 1520's 20-megapixel camera remains unmatched, however. Not only did the Windows Phone phablet produce richer greens, but the subject also looked noticeably sharper than in the rest of the bunch.
The One Max's 1080p camcorder captured clear and colorful footage of a busy New York City street. However, the footage suffers from the same issue as the camera and renders sunlit areas too bright.
The One Max's front-facing, 2.1-MP camera produced decent images, but white shades looked way too bright. While the red colors in our hair and the pink and green bits of our skirt looked accurate, the wall behind us looked extremely blown out.
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In addition to Google's suite of first-party apps, the One Max also comes preloaded with Amazon, Slacker, Audible and IMDb.
LTE and Web Browsing
Verizon boasts the largest LTE network in the United States, with nearly 500 markets, but that doesn't mean its service is always the fastest. We saw mixed results during our testing, with data speeds varying wildly.
Download speeds averaged an exceptional 57.6 Mbps when we used the Speedtest.net app in Old Bridge, N.J. Upload speeds averaged 16.1 Mbps in the same location. However, in our New York City office, the HTC One Max averaged a terrible 350 Kbps for downloads and a worse 100 Kbps for uploads.
We also experienced inconsistent Web surfing speeds in our office over LTE. During our first try, we could barely load websites using Chrome on the One Max. Laptopmag.com took an average of 18.27 seconds, while both The New York Times and ESPN.com failed to load for 25 seconds. The next time we tried visiting these websites, however, they popped up more quickly. Laptopmag.com loaded in 9.3 seconds, while ESPN took 3.4 seconds and NYTimes.com 2.8 seconds.
The $299 Samsung Galaxy Note 3 makes better use of its display's roomy real estate by providing an S Pen stylus and split-screen multitasking. Plus, it boasts longer battery life and a faster CPU in a lighter design. Ultimately, the One Max is worth a look for those who want a supersized One, but HTC will need to do more to win shoppers away from Samsung.
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|Phone Display Size||5.9|
|Form Factor||Candybar Touchscreen|
|Operating System||Android 4.3|
|Networks||Verizon LTE: 800/1900 MHz, EDGE/GPRS/GSM: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz, HSPA/UMTS: (850/900/1900/2100 MHz)|
|Data||EV-DO Rev. A|
|CPU||1.7-GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor|
|Processor Family||Qualcomm Snapdragon 600|
|Memory Expansion Type||miniSD Card|
|Display (main)||5.9-inch 1920 x 1080 Super LCD 3|
|Bluetooth Type||Bluetooth 4.0|
|Front Camera Resolution||2.1MP|
|Camera Resolution||4 MP|
|Audio formats supported||OGG|
|Audio formats supported||AAC+|
|Audio formats supported||MP3|
|Audio formats supported||AAC|
|Audio formats supported||MIDI|
|Audio formats supported||FLAC|
|Audio formats supported||AMR-NB|
|Audio formats supported||WMA|
|Audio formats supported||AMR WB|
|Audio formats supported||WAV|
|Audio formats supported||AMR|
|Video formats supported||WMV|
|Video formats supported||MPEG-4|
|Video formats supported||H.264|
|Video formats supported||H.263|
|Talk / Standby Time|
|Size||6.5 x 3.2 x 0.41 inches|
|SAR Rating (Head)|
|SAR Rating (Body)|