HTC is wading into the ever expanding phablet market, launching the HTC One max, a device which looks set to be a contender to the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. The One max is a stylish device which sticks very close to the recent design trends seen from the Taiwanese firm. We took a trip to HTC’s UK headquarters to spend a short time with the handset, to get a feel for how it performs.
The device actually looks like a larger version of the recent HTC One mini, having a similar plastic bevel around its edges – something that wasn’t seen on the HTC One. In a move away from each of those devices, the smooth aluminium backplate is removable, giving access to a microSD card slot that supports cards up to 64GB.
Mounted on that backplate is a fingerprint scanner, which can be used to unlock the handset and quickly launch apps. The scanner’s functions are managed from within the settings menu and it is useful as a quick way of jumping to the camera app, for example. We found its positioning to be slightly awkward but there is little doubt about the added level of security that it brings.
On the front is an expansive 5.9-inch display, a bigger offering than Samsung’s recent phablet could manage. The device gives you a huge amount of space to play with and all elements of the user interface are upscaled so that they appear large and striking. HTC’s recent handsets have all had outstanding screens and the One max continues this trend well.
That UI is Sense 5.5, that latest version of the software that brings in some new features and improves others. Widgets have been added to the lockscreen, meaning that a swipe to the left when the device is locked brings up extra screens to which the likes of music player controls or the calculator can be added.
BlinkFeed appears again, in a revamped version with settings now mounted in a menu that swipes out from the side of the display. Extras services have been added, including Instagram and Google+, making it even livelier. Importantly, HTC has also added the simple option of turning BlinkFeed off, with the UI then taking on a more standard Android appearance.
HTC’s UltraPixel camera is also in place, the same kind seen on the flagship HTC One, featuring the full suite of Zoe functions as well. HTC has also added a dual-capture function which merges images from both the front and rear cameras, in the same way that Samsung did with the Galaxy S4. However, the One max goes a step further and this idea works with video as well as photos.
We’ll be taking a more in depth look at the HTC One max soon, fully testing its features and functions. For now, its looks like its makers have created an impressive handset with a great user interface that will no doubt stand as some stiff competition to other firms dabbling in the phablet world.