HTC One max hands-on

We have the “normal” sized flagships, and then we have their mini counterparts. Still, those two particular options are never enough for consumers, especially in this day and age when variety in size is increasingly becoming competitive. It’s crazy to believe it, but the HTC One has been around the block longer than most of the other flagship phones out there for 2013, but it’s just now that we’re seeing a larger sized sibling. Enter the aptly named HTC One max, which just like the HTC One mini before it, is giving HTC’s flagship smartphone some added variety by completing that trifecta of sizing options.


Okay folks, the design of the HTC One max isn’t surprising at all – and why should it be, right? Much like the mini before it, the max is simply a larger sized version of HTC’s flagship smartphone, and an even larger version of the One mini. And boy is it a beastly thing to hold or place in our pockets! Sure, we can grasp it with a single hand, but when it’s grazing close to the tablet form factor, it’s something that requires two handed operation more than anything else.

Looking at the thing, all of the exquisite qualities from the HTC One are present here – so that consists of its premium choice materials and solid construction. Relying on a mostly brushed aluminum casing, it’s no doubt wonderful to know that the max is a premium feeling thing. However, it’s not as skinny as or lighter than the Sony Xperia Z Ultra. Indeed, we would’ve have liked to see the max one-up the competition by minimizing its footprint further, but then again, it’s still a pretty good looking thing – though, it’s not something we’d consider as fresh at this point.

Interestingly enough, HTC decided to change up some things with the max. For starters, its power button is now placed on its right edge, next to its volume control. With this particular placement, we’re thrilled that it’s better accessible than what we had on the original HTC One – plus, it’s more distinct and has a better response too. However, they’ve left the IR blaster in the same location as before.

Another surprising revelation with the HTC One max is its decision of employing a removable rear casing, which gives us a sneak peek into it internals. Unfortunately, its battery is still something that’s not user replaceable – so it means that it’ll require service to replace it. Are we bummed? Absolutely. However, we’re ecstatic to find that the handset now boasts a microSD card slot, which allows it to supplement its internal capacity of 32GB.

Around the rear, we find the same “Ultrapixel” camera from before, so we’re a bit leery about this decision. Compared to other flagship smartphones, the HTC One’s “Ultrapixel” camera has shown us that it’s a weaker performer compared to the competition, so we’re not having any high hopes with the HTC One max – especially when the competition has outfitted their devices with some impressive camera gear. Obviously, we can’t make a final judgment about its quality until we actually see it for ourselves.

Finally, the HTC One max features something entirely new that we haven’t seen before with HTC’s portfolio. Placed a little bit below the camera, there’s square shaped finger print scanner that HTC refers to as the Fingerprint scan. Now, its implementation is a bit different from Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint sensor, seeing that it requires us to slowly swipe our finger down for it to read.

In fact, this particular implementation is more in common to the fingerprint scanner technology of the past. Still, HTC mixes thing up by allowing it to store up to three fingerprints, which can be mapped to launch different things – like getting us to the homescreen or opening an app. Beyond the usual security unlocking, the finger print scanner has no other purpose, but hopefully we’ll see more features down the road with it.


Frankly, everything about the screen from the HTC One is present here on the One max – so that includes 1080p resolution and S-LCD 3 technology. Being the max and all, the screen size now increases to 5.9-inches, which really pushes it into the tablet category, but it’s not as dramatic when compared to other phablets in the space right now – namely the Sony Xperia Z Ultra or Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3. Regardless of that, we’ll say it’s still one super sharp display that looks amazing!

Details are more than plentiful, while colors radiate with a lot of punchiness and vibrancy to continue catching our eyes. And since it relies on S-LCD 3 technology, it exhibits great color accuracy, wide viewing angles, and superior outdoor visibility. Even though there are some great qualities about the display, like how it’s also protected by Gorilla Glass 3, we can’t say that we’re entirely blown away by it, mainly because it’s somewhat all expected.


Knowing what’s considered as cutting edge in the smartphone space right now, we’re a bit perturbed to find out that the HTC One max is powered by the quad-core 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 SoC coupled with 2GB of RAM and the Adreno 320 GPU. Needless to say, it’s rather underwhelming to say the least, especially when other newer smartphones out there already rely on the snazzier Snapdragon 800 SoC. From what we’re told, the decision to stick with this particular processor is due to pricing and battery life. Despite that, we’re at least thankful to find its performance to be extremely responsive with this pre-production unit – albeit, it doesn’t seem as snappy as something like the LG G2.

Interface and Functionality

The HTC Sense 5 UI made the HTC One is different amongst all other Android smartphones out there, but with this latest endeavor, it sees some added new features to enhance the experience ever so slightly. Specially, it's running version 5.5 of the Sense interface on top of Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. Just like before, the minimalist UI is present here on the HTC One max. With HTC BlinkFeed, we now have another accessible panel all the way to the left that allows us to customize what it aggregates on the homescreen, but best of all, there’s now an option for Google+ – in addition to the other popular social networking services.

Additionally, improvements have been made with Video Highlights so that it’s no longer limited to a set amount of time. At the end of the day, it’s not a dramatic overhaul, but it’s nonetheless nice to see some new things present with the upcoming smartphone.

Price, Release Date and Expectations

For right now, exact pricing hasn’t been divulged. From what we’re told, however, it’ll be price competitively to other comparable smartphones – so you can probably expect it to land somewhere around the $300 mark with a 2-year contract. As for availability, we’re told that it’ll launch globally sometime around mid-October, with an eventual roll out in the US market via Sprint and Verizon in time for the holiday season.

So there we have it folks! It looks as though that the HTC One max is going to be the only new phone from the Taiwanese based company to compete this holiday season. On one hand, it’s awesome that it complements HTC’s existing portfolio of One-branded smartphones, but as a whole, it’s not something we’d consider as ground breaking or innovative in the space. Knowing that the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is highly praised and acclaimed by many, the HTC One max will seriously need to show that it can tangle on the same level. The added new goodies with the smartphone are appreciated no doubt, but in the end, it won’t mean anything unless it can perform in a stellar way in all categories.

Related phones

One max
  • Display 5.9" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 4 MP / 2.1 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 600, Quad-core, 1700 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3300 mAh(25h 3G talk time)



1. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

That is one big phone...

28. Tommy1960i

Posts: 144; Member since: Oct 11, 2013

I think it's one of the best smartphones out there. The difference is : you want a good phone? Get HTC One Max; you want a phablet? Get Note 3.

2. Gigabinzle

Posts: 37; Member since: Aug 30, 2013

htc droid eris was my first phone, loved it, maybe il walk into verizon to try this phone out before christmas

3. Gigabinzle

Posts: 37; Member since: Aug 30, 2013

honestly not to upset about the 800 being absent though it just shows htc has less money to be throwing around

11. Beijendorf unregistered

They cited the demand for S800 being too high, meaning if they had gone with the S800, this phone would have been delayed even further. But it can't be discounted that they perhaps made a projection that the demand for a mega-sized One being relatively low, meaning going with cheaper parts gives them lower losses if it flops.

15. FYLegend

Posts: 21; Member since: Sep 05, 2013

rumours suggest the next high-end HTC phone will have S800 - probably the "Butterfly 2" They should have at least gone with the 1.9 gHz Snapdragon 600 used on the Butterfly s and Galaxy S4...

20. amats69

Posts: 1527; Member since: Nov 12, 2012

HTC one runs smoothly with s600 processor..smoother than its competitor that runs the so called "octacore".so i think this is why htc put the same processor on htc one max, to get an excellent battery life and minimize the overheating issue.they also optimized the sense 5 to match the s600 for a better battery life.They focus on battery life this time...but still im disappointed on the processor for this phone..i have to wait for htc's flagship next im looking forward for a battery test of this phone..let us see if putting an old processor is really a bad move of a good move by htc..

23. EclipseGSX

Posts: 1777; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

Exactly...thank you! Well said +1

35. saffant

Posts: 274; Member since: Jul 04, 2011

Nope. The S800 is A LOT better than the S600. It isn't just faster, but also has a ton of other optimizations including better battery life.

4. HalaMadrid

Posts: 92; Member since: Sep 04, 2013

Very bad phone. Same aa One

5. PhoneArenaUser

Posts: 5498; Member since: Aug 05, 2011

HTC One is a bad phone???

17. Feanor

Posts: 1379; Member since: Jun 20, 2012

It is far from being a bad phone but it is a bit disappointing. There are two let downs, first the inferior processor and second the lack of OIS in a body which is even thicker than the One. Let alone that the One camera hasn't amazed anyone at the first place... Another small gripe is the downgraded design. Like the One mini, there are no diamond cut edges, only a big plastic frame. But my biggest problem is maybe the lack of any phablet-specific technology, neither a stylus like S-Pen, nor the Z Ultra capability of writing with everything.

19. Hyperreal

Posts: 361; Member since: Oct 08, 2013

There is capability of writing with anything. Just search for some reviews. And there is scribble aplication to make notes.

41. PhoneArenaUser

Posts: 5498; Member since: Aug 05, 2011

"There are two let downs, first the inferior processor and second the lack of OIS in a body which is even thicker than the One." 1. Talking about CPU, you are wrong because when HTC One was released Snapdragon 600 (APQ8064T) at the time was newest SoC which was used in flagship smartphones. 2. Talking about OIS, you are again wrong since HTC One has OIS. Go get some knowledge.

42. amats69

Posts: 1527; Member since: Nov 12, 2012

I think he is refferring to htc one max pau

43. PhoneArenaUser

Posts: 5498; Member since: Aug 05, 2011

Unless he talks about HTC One Max, then he says true.

6. khmer

Posts: 95; Member since: Jun 21, 2012

Galaxy Note 3 is a better scrap plastic than the scrap metal on One Max. Low spec. on One Max can't beat Note 3 is rebooting in 10 seconds. Not a lot of people listen to loudspeakers in public they are using headphone. Failed One Max another lost profit next quarter for HTC.

24. Martin_Cooper

Posts: 1774; Member since: Jul 30, 2013

Rebooting your phone is something you do a lot that it matters? LOL! Loudspeakers are useless now? You must have done some great research to say that. Otherwise you are well trained Samsung marketing machine sheep that makes anything non Samsung seem bad and old. Not to mention that one has fingerprint scanner that note doesn't which makes a big plus as big as the NOTE 3 stylus. Also it looks ten times better than that plasticky crap you have that pretends to be leather and stitches on the back. If and I say if the MAX is priced cheaper than Note 3 it will do well as well ONE did. The only thing that seems you actually know is that HTC is continuing with the negative financial every quarter.

36. saffant

Posts: 274; Member since: Jul 04, 2011

Go read verge review. This phone and it's gimmicky implementation of the finger print scanner is a FAIL. Alas.. the One was such a great phone.

38. taikucing unregistered

Yep, the bloatwares in Samsung makes Note 3 a bit lag. Not a lot of people use the bloatwares.

7. oister85 unregistered

Htc one max here I come. Lol

8. EarnYourLeather

Posts: 87; Member since: Feb 14, 2012

So it's a really big HTC One then, but this time with a fingerprint scanner? I guess HTC is to Apple what, people say, LG is to Samsung. But I am excited to see an aluminum device with a removable back–that is a serious gamechanger. If that takes off as a trend, we could start to see Aluminum devices with removable batteries and expandable storage. I never saw boomsound speakers as practical for the HTC one because of its relatively unenviable screen, but I think they'll be great here. This looks like the first attempt at a mobile fidelity media consumption device. They should've included a premium micro sound card and 24-bit/192kHz playback.

9. MistB

Posts: 581; Member since: Jul 07, 2012

Honestly im not too bothered about the s800 seeing it in live video. Id say theyve done an ok job but the footprint is quite large! If they had a gold or black version count me in!

10. newbey123

Posts: 702; Member since: Mar 19, 2012

Only thing I don't care for is the plastic around the edges, wish it was like the original one. However, it won't stop me from making it my next phone.

12. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

Fail hard HTC. A giant mini and an even more giant relative to the competition max.

13. andhraking17

Posts: 59; Member since: Jul 06, 2013

you are reviewing htc with samsung galaxy gear on your hand

14. twens

Posts: 1180; Member since: Feb 25, 2012

Honestly the phone is beautiful now that I look at it very feels fast also.s600 is not bad all. I still feel the note 3 has a more business and classy look though this looks more beautiful. HTC did giving credit when it's due. It's a big phone for people who just want a beautiful big screen phone.

16. greathero1

Posts: 584; Member since: Jun 13, 2008

I have to say that overall I am very disappointed in this overall package. This was their first introduction into the phablet-sphere and they needed an absolute home run seeing as what Samsung did with the Note 3. This is just a large phone and lacks substance. I don't see any mentioning of software enhancement to compete with the Note 3. It's just an oversized HTC One which I have and I enjoy but their absolutely no reason for me to upgrade to this and choose this over the Note 3. Maybe my expectations were a little high but I just figured they were going to try to dethrone the King Note. Not just rush another big phone to the market that's definitely going to get lost in the sea of other phablet a that bring nothing new to the table other than larger display.

25. Martin_Cooper

Posts: 1774; Member since: Jul 30, 2013

I totally agree with you. They rushed this phone and this is the result. Yes its a great phone but its not WOW to compete with the other giants. I was hoping that cause HTC is in trouble it will actually make even better phones to try and stand on its feet. Instead they are just rushing without even realising that Samsung has tons of cash for marketing that it will crush them. Having cpu that inferior to Note 3 will be great marketing for Samsung and their internet sheeps. I know it runs super smooth with the 600 but everyone will make a huge deal of it and thats just negative marketing for ONE MAX.

37. saffant

Posts: 274; Member since: Jul 04, 2011

S800 also has better battery and optimizations with memory and LTE/wifi networking packets.

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