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

Using the One Max is just like using most other Android handsets, and with HTC’s Sense 5.5, the experience is beginning to feel tighter than it has on past HTC handsets.

For starters, you can unlock the screen into either the home screen or one of four programs of your choice, with these coming from the icons you change on the shortcut dock.

Yes, you can change the icons in the shortcut dock, something Samsung still seems to struggle with in its Australian smartphones.

Multiple homescreens are supported, too, just like on other Android devices, and HTC’s BlinkFeed is here too, but now can be turned off, which is a great thing because not everyone needs it.

For those caught unaware, BlinkFeed is HTC’s answer to a built-in version of the news and social network reading information system that is Flipboard, and it will scan your connected social networks, calendar, image gallery, TV guide, and topics from websites HTC selects (which means your favourite site may not be there) and display them in a grid like fashion very similar to Flipboard.

While Sense 5.5 brings some neat changes to BlinkFeed such as the better social network integration, you’re still limited to the selection of topics and services based on what the providers of the technology want, and that can be quite limiting. For instance, we wanted to receive news articles from The Age and The Guardian, but BlinkFeed’s only choices for us consisted of AAP, CNN, NYFP, and News Limited.

This lack of control for your news feed was a problem we cited with the original One, and while HTC has made some improvements, it’s unfortunate to see this issue still present on the One Max.

Performance wise, the phone is practically identical to what the One was like, with similar benchmarks, and likewise similar performance across whatever you do.

There’s virtually no lag or slowdowns as you jump across from app to app, and it’s a speedy handset altogether.

Multitasking works exactly the way it would on the other HTC handsets (double tap the home button), and some of the other features that were spread across the system work just as well too, such as the very loud BoomSound dual-front speakers which are even louder on this handset than on previous models, and the infrared port up top which lets you control your TV and even take programming information from remotes when the TV brand isn’t supported.

Mobile connection performance is more or less the same, producing high 4G speeds across town, and generally responding as well as some of the other phones we’ve had in here.

Likewise, the battery was very, very impressive, and with a full 1000mAh than its little brother, the One Max is able to get two full days of performance, and that was while surfing the web, listening to music, making calls, watching videos, testing the fingerprint scanner, taking photos, emailing, and generally using the handset.

Those of you who are heavy users will likely see a day of life, but the rest of us who use the phone frequently but not every waking second will see two, so that’s impressive.

The screen is great, too. Bright, sharp, and viewable from all angles. It’s not quite the mind blowing 469 pixel per inch monster that HTC used in the One, but it’s still excellent here, and it makes social networking, websites, and watching videos much easier as you view them on a lovely screen.

HTC’s repositioning of the power button is also good too, and with a 5.9 inch device, it’s much easier to switch the smartphone on and off by just gripping the handset, rather than forcing you to stretch your fingers all the way to the top.

But basically, the HTC One Max is just a big One, and nothing more.

HTC One Max with a 5.9 inch screen on the left, HTC One with a 4.7 inch screen on the right.

Actually, that’s not quite true. There is something more, and that’s the weight, which is very noticeable, and makes it one of the heaviest phones you’re ever likely to try and throw in your pocket.

In fact, HTC’s One Max has a slightly bigger screen than the Note 3, no pen, and yet weighs almost 50 grams heavier. At 217 grams, we’re approaching the weight of some small tablets, which doesn’t bode well for pockets or hand bags.

Make no mistake, this is a heavy phone. It’s a well built-phone, sure, and the aluminium and plastic body really feel sturdy, but it is very heavy.

We’re not impressed by the location of the back removal switch, and we’re pretty sure HTC could have implemented this in a better way.