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The big One: HTC’s 5.9 inch One Max reviewed

By Leigh D. Stark | 4:48 pm 29/11/2013

If the look and feel of the aluminium HTC One grabbed you earlier in the year, but you like your phones big — and we mean really big — HTC now has an option in the 5.9 inch One Max. We know it’s bigger, but is it as good as the One?

Features

A bigger HTC One? It’s possible, and that’s close to what HTC have engineered in the One Max, a phone that adopts a bigger screen, but otherwise similar parts.

The screen is the noticeable change, so we’ll start there on the features and specs, and in this handset, HTC has made the screen measure 5.9 inches, supporting the same Full HD 1920×1080 resolution as its HTC One brother. With this combination of specifications, the screen shows a pixel clarity of 373 pixels per inch, which puts it 50 above Apple’s Retina-grade found in the iPhone 5S.

Under that screen, HTC has provided many of the same components that one can find in the HTC One, including the processor, which is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core clocked at 1.7GHz, paired with 2GB RAM, the Adreno 320 graphics chip, and 16GB storage, though the latter of these can be upgraded with the included microSD slot.

Google’s Android 4.3 runs here, with HTC’s Sense overlay running atop it, now in version 5.5.

Connections are pretty much just like the HTC One, with 4G LTE, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, DLNA, Bluetooth 4.0, Near-Field Communication (NFC), microUSB for charging and data transfer, GPS, and even the infrared port which sits at the top of the unit.

Cameras seem to be important on phones these days, and the One Max is no different, taking on the same cameras from the original One from earlier in the year.

That means the rear camera is a 4 megapixel module using the “Ultrapixel” concept with bigger pixel sizes and support for HTC’s Zoe application which takes multiple images quickly and allows you to remove objects from scenes, while the front camera is a 2.1 megapixel shooter with a slightly wider angle lens. Both cameras have the capability to shoot Full HD 1080p video.

A square fingerprint scanner (it’s actually a squircle) sits underneath the rear camera on the back of the handset.

The casing of the phone still features an abundance of aluminium — again, just like the One — though in this model, HTC has taken a similar approach to what it did in the One Mini, adopting a plastic band on the outside rim.

There’s also a new part of the design, with a switch on the side that looks like it should be a mute or lock switch, but instead springs open the metal back, which is removable on the One Max, a first for this year’s One series. With the back off, you’ll find the microSIM slot and microSD slot, too, though the battery rated for 3300mAh (1000 more than the One) is not removable.

Buttons on this handset are a little different to previous One models, likely due to the massive size of the handset. Rather than position the power button up top, HTC has moved this to the right edge, sitting just below the volume rocker. All other buttons on the handset are soft buttons, and there are only two of those, with the back button and home button sitting on the front just under the screen, flanking a HTC logo.

The back also features some form of circular charge port similar to the charging method HTC implemented on the Rhyme with its dock, though we’ve yet to hear of a dock being made for the One Max.

Performance

HTC’s One has been a popular little handset with reviewers, incorporating the same processor as what can be found in the Samsung Galaxy S4 so it’s nice and speedy, but using a screen with more pixels packed in, and a body made of aluminium that feels great in the hands.

When we reviewed it, we were impressed, but the 4.7 inch size isn’t for everyone, and with tablet-sized phones out there like the Samsung Galaxy Note series and Huawei’s Ascend Mate, there are obviously people keen for a bigger phone.

Enter HTC’s One Max, a device that is literally a bigger HTC One.

We’ll start with the look and feel, and rather than just enlarge and blow up a HTC One, the design of the Max is closer to that of HTC One Mini, a handset which offers much of the tech and design of the One, but in a smaller body. Like that handset, the Max features an aluminium front and back that is appealing to the eyes, but contained within a ring of white plastic, holding it together like a skeleton framework.

While we prefer the design of the original One — the all aluminium look — this shift is still pleasing to the eye, and quite comfortable to hold, with the shiny plastic edge more a page out of the book of last year’s One, and is still as hard and sturdy as ever.

That said, this is a very heavy handset, but we’ll get to that later.

People with bigger hands will likely find this handset comfortable, but it’s not a small device, it’s not a light device, and if you’re worried about your pants falling down from all the weight inside them and you still want this phone, buy a belt, because it’s likely to be the anchor for your pant leg.

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Price (RRP)

$816; Available on plans from Telstra;

Pros & Cons

Product Pros

Solid aluminium body with plastic edging; Power button placement is good; Excellent battery life; BoomSound speakers are very loud; Supports microSD; HTC Sense 5.5 is an improvement on the past generation, and you can now turn off BlinkFeed;

Product Cons

Heavy; Fingerprint scanner is in a silly location; The fingerprint scanner has severe problems running in darker environments; Ultrapixel camera hasn't improved at all; Back removal switch is in a silly place, and resembles more a mute or lock button; Processor isn't quite on the same level as competing premium phablets;

Ratings

Overall

Features

Value for money

Performance

Ease of Use

Design

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