HTC One max: For big and deep pockets

The HTC One max is more than just the larger, fatter, and heavier version of the One. Yes, it carries over some good stuff from its predecessor, but it also introduces a few key differences. Do these changes make the One max a better smartphone than its predecessor? Here’s what I found out… Unlike the One’s gorgeous aluminum unibody, the max has a removable back cover that gives you access to the microSIM and microSD card slots. There’s also a white polycarbonate trim around its edges that add grip. This phone is solid, and by that, I mean it’s really heavy. The dimensions are enormous; I dare you to take phone calls with this massive slab stuck to your face. The gargantuan display is a great size to watch videos on. And with the front-facing aluminum speaker grilles with BoomSound, watching movies is as immersive as it can get on a handheld device. The One max’s camera is great in taking low-light shots. However, I feel limited by the low-megapixel count in that pictures are smaller and details are fewer when compared with 8MP shooters or higher. HTC also got rid of the One’s OIS It’s a bit disappointing that HTC got rid of optical image stabilization. This phone is heavy and it’s hard to hold perfectly still when shooting. Also, there’s no dedicated camera button even if there’s still plenty of space on the phone’s right side for one. The One max rocks a fingerprint scanner just beneath the rear camera. It’s quick to set up: simply swipe your finger to unlock your phone and launch specific apps. You can enroll up to three digits. Right now though, I don’t find any real, practical use for it—except if you’re the type to easily forget passwords. It would be interesting to see how third-party apps will optimize this feature. HTC Sense 5.5 features a more customizable BlinkFeed and has better integration with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+. I’m so spoiled by BlinkFeed that I find no use for Flipboard or any other aggregator. Compared to the Samsung GALAXY Note 3, the One max seems a generation behind with its Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor clocked at 1.7GHz. The good news is that performance doesn’t lag. But HTC could have done better and made this a killer device by outfitting it with monster specs to match its size. The non-removable 3,300mAh battery lasts for a day and a half on moderate use. If you opt to buy the optional Power Flip case, you’ll get an additional 1,210mAh of juice. And a stylish cover for your phablet. Verdict Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. The One max is a niche device. This phablet is for people who devour content and don’t mind the extra weight. Review by Katrina Rivere-Diga First published in Speed January 2014

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