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HTC One max Review

HTC One max

Posted: , by Nick T.




When HTC announced the One, it introduced us to its much-touted UltraPixel camera technology, which was supposed to blow the cameras of the competition straight out of the water. But then we tested the HTC One ourselves and its camera failed to impress us. That's why we were a bit disappointed when we learned that the HTC One max had an UltraPixel camera as well – a camera that's pretty much identical to the one found on the HTC One, save for its lack of optical image stabilization.

The UltraPixel camera on the HTC One max relies on a 1/3' back-side illuminated sensor with native 16:9 aspect ratio, f/2.0 aperture, and 28mm lens. The pixels, being 2.0 µm in size, should theoretically improve low-light performance by capturing “more than 300% more light than most leading 13 megapixel cameras”. But since each pixel occupies extra space, not a lot of them have been fitted onto the sensor. The result is a maximum image resolution of only 4 megapixels. The produced images are large enough to be shared online or developed into small prints, but often too small to be cropped and zoomed in on effectively.

Launching the camera app brings us to a familiar from the HTC One screen with separate shutters for photos and video situated conveniently on the right. The settings menu, however, hasn't been organized in the best way possible. You see, all the modes and adjustments are placed in a single menu list with sub-menus, and because of that, finding the setting you need takes longer than it should.

Feature-wise, there is a bunch of filters and scenes to use when appropriate, including Night, Sweep Panorama, HDR, and Anti Shake adding software stabilization to the image. There's a new Dual Capture option that takes photo with both the main and front cameras at the same time, placing the latter over the former. Video modes include HDR video in full HD, 60fps in 720p HD, and slow-motion video at 120 frames per second.

Image quality is satisfactory despite the sensor's low resolution, yet below what one would expect from a smartphone of this class. Photos are often underexposed, with average details and visible digital noise even in well-lit scenes. However, one can achieve better results by tapping on the subject being photographed – that is what sets the exposure and focus right. Color representation is very accurate and we don't see the typical for smartphone cameras excessive color saturation boost. Indoor photos are a different story. They look fine as long as there's enough light provided, but even the slightest tremble of your hand is enough to add noticeable motion blur to the image. In darker scenes, colors are pretty lifeless and the digital noise spoils the whole shot. The LED flash comes in handy when a light boost is needed. If set to auto, however, it goes off only when the lighting is really poor, ignoring many low-light scenes where it would have helped as well. We weren't impressed with the HDR mode either – images turned out a bit too bright than they should be.

Image size:
Use our samples comparison tool to see photos from more phones

Camera speed

Taking a pic (sec)Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec)Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
HTC One max 3.3
No data
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 2.7
No data
LG G2 4
Samsung Galaxy S4 3.4
View all

Video quality is, again, of average quality. It is smooth, we can't deny that, but we were expecting to see more detail present in the One max's 1080p videos. As the case is with still photographs, footage may turn out a tad darker than it should be due to underexposure. Continuous auto-focus is disabled by default for some reason. When enabled, the camera has a hard time keeping the focus where it should be, as you can see from our sample video below.

As for the front-facing camera on the HTC One max, it is pretty good, actually, be it for self-portraits or for video chats. It has a resolution of 2.1 megapixels and a wide, 88-degree viewing angle, so one can fit easily in the frame, along with a few buddies.


Unlike all recent Androids by the company, the HTC One max does not offer Beats Audio sound enhancements. Another thing that's missing, shockingly, is an equalizer. The pre-loaded Music app does not have one, meaning that there's no way of tweaking audio reproduction unless you use a different player for the purpose. The player has a few notable perks, however, including its audio visualizer, the option to automatically download missing album art, to play media from a network server, and to set a selected song as a ringtone. The Music player's user interface can be confusing at first, but it just takes a little getting used to the way things are arranged. If you're not happy with the default layout, and we weren't, feel free to disable or move around tabs to your liking. All in all, the app is not perfect, but it isn't bad either. Alternatively, Google's Play Music audio player is also loaded onto the handset.

If you often find yourself listening to music straight from your phone's loudspeaker, then you'll love the front-facing Boom Sound stereo speakers on the HTC One max. The sound they produce is rich, loud, undistorted, and superior in quality to anything you'd hear from a competitor's handset. As for the stereo earphones included with the phone, they sound great as well, as long as the volume is kept at a reasonable level. However, they are of the in-ear kind, designed to be placed inside the user's ear canal. While that reduces the chances of them falling off, some users might find wearing them for prolong periods of time rather uncomfortable. Also, the tangle-free cable of the earphones should have been a bit longer.

Since the HTC One max is supposed to be an outstanding multimedia device, we find the lack of a dedicated video player simply ridiculous. Instead, movies are played from the gallery, which would have been fine if the app didn't list files by date. In other words, video files are scattered all over the place instead of being neatly sorted in a dedicated list. Video playback is smooth and most of the popular file formats are supported. DivX is an exception, but third-party video players are able to rectify this.

The HTC One max is one of the very few smartphones that come with an infrared blaster. With the help of a pre-loaded app, it transforms the handset into a remote control for your TV, home theater system, and set-top box. What's even cooler, that same application has a built-in TV guide so you can easily see what's being broadcast; if you pick a show, the app will switch over to the channel it is on. Note that this service doesn't work in all countries and with all service providers.

Audio output

Headphones output power (Volts)
Higher is better
HTC One max 0.65
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 0.43
LG G2 0.29
Samsung Galaxy S4 0.38
Loudspeaker loudness (dB)
Higher is better
HTC One max 79
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 76
LG G2 66
Samsung Galaxy S4 77
View all

  • Options

posted on 04 Nov 2013, 09:21 9

1. _Bone_ (Posts: 2155; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)

Trying to figure out how did HTC manage to mess up this one. No SD800, no OIS or a better camera sensor, actually worse build than the HTC One and really, really big and not so comfortable design.

posted on 04 Nov 2013, 20:13

14. chocolaking (Posts: 495; Member since: 22 May 2012)

i WANT this bad boy to by my new show off gadget!!!
the most acurate and amazing screen ever for 5+ inches!!

yes, my htc one is gerat. but this beast is on steroid!!!

posted on 04 Dec 2013, 02:32

25. chocolaking (Posts: 495; Member since: 22 May 2012)

Yes, as i said i want it.
then I got it on Friday...

posted on 04 Nov 2013, 09:32 8

2. proto (Posts: 59; Member since: 12 Sep 2012)

HTC One max...everyone who thought this will be killer of Note series...must be disappointed. It is just a big phone with big screen. no added functionality to take advantage of it. That fingerprint scanner...what the ****? why they didn't do it way like apple did? why they removed OIS? why they still think that ultrapixel gimmick is great? why not to use S800? oh damn..HTC why?!
When we will have competition to Note series?

posted on 04 Nov 2013, 10:06 3

4. Taters (banned) (Posts: 6474; Member since: 28 Jan 2013)

LG couldn't get the heat dissipation and battery life to a desirable level using the S800 on the pad 8.3 and that is much MUCH more well designed than this monstrosity. LG is also a much MUCH better manufacturer and engineering company than HTC.

So there was no chance in hell that HTC could use the S800 even if they wanted to. Unless they made it soft touch like the HTC 8x and dumped the all aluminium heat sink.

Apple had to use two large pieces of glass for 1.2 ghz A7.

posted on 04 Nov 2013, 10:11 2

5. Commentator (Posts: 3722; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)

I think you forgot a "MUCH" in there somewhere.

posted on 04 Nov 2013, 10:01 5

3. Taters (banned) (Posts: 6474; Member since: 28 Jan 2013)

How did this get an 8.3? It is so undesirable that it is at Nokia and WP8 level of undesirability. Not a chance it should get an 8.3.

posted on 04 Nov 2013, 10:12 2

6. Commentator (Posts: 3722; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)

Right? HTC's CEO should've been dumped on the spot for green-lighting this thing. It's like they're not even trying any more.

posted on 04 Nov 2013, 10:19 6

7. Jason2k13 (Posts: 1310; Member since: 28 Mar 2013)

htc one max is almost a downgrade from HTC ONE, no OIS, no S800, too big and heavy, lazy programming on the fingerprint scanner, and basically no software difference, no beats audio, no equalizer, bad colour reproduction... only good thing about it is the audio position and battery, i would give it a rating of 7.

posted on 04 Nov 2013, 15:09

10. woodshop20 (Posts: 459; Member since: 14 Sep 2013)

Audio positioning? The top and bottom speakers don't even line up in the first photo.

posted on 04 Nov 2013, 10:37 2

8. csoulr666 (Posts: 116; Member since: 04 Nov 2013)

I don't see how having a Snapdragon 600 processor is a disadvantage. A normal end user wouldn't even know the difference between them, plus people usually change phones in about 2-3 years nowadays, even in that time these processors will have the juice to perform extremely well.

posted on 04 Nov 2013, 15:12

12. woodshop20 (Posts: 459; Member since: 14 Sep 2013)

Yeah, but for the price you expect something better. Paying for less is just like buying an iPhone (or a Moto X, for that matter...)

posted on 05 Nov 2013, 01:33 1

17. stealthd (unregistered)

Paying for less specs, but getting an overall better phone, more like.

posted on 06 Nov 2013, 06:17

22. batman888 (Posts: 37; Member since: 06 Dec 2012)


posted on 04 Nov 2013, 20:26 1

15. scsa852k (Posts: 331; Member since: 16 Oct 2012)

You're right. Snapdragon 600 would still get the job done for most users. But the fact that all of its competitors already released phablets with Snapdragon 800 makes it a disadvantage for One Max.

posted on 04 Nov 2013, 11:02 3

9. fouadqr (Posts: 326; Member since: 21 Nov 2012)

Nokia Lumia 1520 ..

posted on 04 Nov 2013, 15:11

11. woodshop20 (Posts: 459; Member since: 14 Sep 2013)

Why they didn't include a Snapdragon 800 and 8mp camera is beyond me. Instead the design team chose to be lazy, and blow up the One.

I doubt HTC will sell many of these...

posted on 04 Nov 2013, 18:14 1

13. TreyTreyTaylor (Posts: 709; Member since: 21 Dec 2010)

Decent high end phablet. But I still chuckle at the posts a while back like "screw this note 3 i'm getting the max" or "the max is gonna destroy the note 3". How's that working out for you guys.

posted on 05 Nov 2013, 16:38

19. Doakie (Posts: 2227; Member since: 06 May 2009)

I would laugh along with you, but I was one of those people hoping the Max would be a better phone. In the end I bought a Note 3 because of the overall size of the Max being a monster, the Snapdragon 600, and the lack of OIS. But in the end my Note 3 takes blurry pictures because it has trouble focusing. I'll tap the screen and it'll focus up then pop out of focus. I'm still unsure how to get it to improve on this.

posted on 05 Nov 2013, 17:45

20. orielwindow (Posts: 109; Member since: 23 Sep 2010)

Ditto. I was much happier with my Note 2 camera, it "just worked". But I'm struggling with the higher pixel Note 3 camera.

posted on 04 Nov 2013, 22:50

16. sarge77 (Posts: 202; Member since: 14 Mar 2013)

Iquite a few will get this because one thing I dont likr what manufactures are doing is dropping sd cards atleast in my its a quad core and its still a smartphone with descent specs.

posted on 05 Nov 2013, 21:43 1

21. zhangyamysaga (Posts: 6; Member since: 20 Aug 2013)

HTC one, My friend buy it. He told me this smartphone is very perfect ! But for me, yesterday. I bought MYSAGA M2 .But next month, i want to buy HTC one too.

posted on 07 Nov 2013, 09:52

23. Sondae (Posts: 291; Member since: 02 Jan 2013)

I sure hope HTC will work more of there camera and making the battery accessible since you can open the back cover. Finally i have seen Nick T he's cute hehehehe :).

posted on 08 Nov 2013, 03:49

24. aerowild (Posts: 1; Member since: 08 Nov 2013)

Nothing to say more as so mush has already been said, just one thing...
"Why HTC couldn't go with a fingerprint sensor that doesn't require swiping"...Probably to stop accidental misuse of FR.

posted on 26 Jan 2014, 12:11

26. hasank94 (Posts: 4; Member since: 26 Jan 2014)

I'm using my HTC One Max since a month and I've to say that this is the phone, I was always looking for. The design is beautiful like the user interface, the HTC Sense 5.5. I love the highlight features like HTC BlinkFeed, which helps me to get all important news because of my school. My gallery lives thanks to HTC Zoe. It's great to capture in Zoe Mode. I don't need to mention HTC BoomSound! It's just fantastic! I love the sound. No smartphone has such an amazing sound quality and it's also very loud. The battery life suprises my every time. Its 3300mAh battery allows me to use my Max 2 to 3 days. That's just brilliant. HTC, I want to thank you for this amazing phablet! It's the ultimate phone for me. I love my Max! :)

posted on 30 Jan 2014, 10:04

27. usman14 (Posts: 1; Member since: 30 Jan 2014)

I see Htc One Review Very Nixe Sharing Admin
Htc One Max Review

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HTC One max

HTC One max

OS: Android 4.4.2 4.4 4.3
view full specs
PhoneArena rating:
Display5.9 inches, 1080 x 1920 pixels (373 ppi) S-LCD 3
Camera4 megapixels
Qualcomm Snapdragon 600, Quad-core, 1700 MHz, Krait 300 processor
Size6.48 x 3.25 x 0.41 inches
(164.5 x 82.5 x 10.29 mm)
7.65 oz  (217 g)
Battery3300 mAh, 28 hours talk time

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