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HTC One Max review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £564
inc VAT

A huge phone with a great screen, but the camera is poor and performance only middling for the price


Android 4.3, 5.9in 1,920×1,080 display

The HTC One Max has a 4-megapixel camera. This is far fewer pixels than the 8- or 12-megapixel models we’re used to seeing from modern smartphones. When it launched the One, HTC claimed that the sensor used what it called Ultrapixels, which are bigger than normal smartphone sensor pixels. These bigger pixels can capture more light, so can help the camera perform better in low light.

HTC One Max

The Ultrapixel camera fares well in low light

The One Max certainly takes impressive low-light photos, with more detail and less noise than we’re used to. However, we were very unimpressed with its daylight images. These were well exposed, but had blurry details, leaving them looking like the images were smeared with Vaseline. They’re certainly far below the standard we expect from even a budget smartphone – the One Max is certainly a phone to avoid if you’re even vaguely serious about photo quality.

HTC One Max

But daylight photos lack detail and have a smeary quality

Whether or not you want a phone this big is a matter of personal taste. If you have a 6in smartphone you really don’t need a tablet, as a phone this size is perfectly big enough for casual web surfing. However, it does poke out the top of a jeans pocket, and you’ll find you often can’t sit comfortably without taking the phone out and putting it on a table. It’s also not particularly comfortable to hold for long phone calls, and it’s not really practical to use the touchscreen one-handed.

If you’ve made your mind up and really want a super-sized smartphone, the HTC One Max is a reasonably impressive example. We like the design, the screen and the battery life, but the phone’s performance is only middling considering its premium price, and the camera is substandard.

The HTC One Max has come down in price since we first reviewed it last November, dropping around £60 in the intervening five months to £504 (available from Handtec) from £564. This moves it further away from the superior Samsung Galaxy Note 3, our current reigning phablet champion, which has remained nearer the £550-600 end of the scale if you’re looking to buy it SIM free.

This makes the HTC One Max a slightly better buy now than it was at launch. But when a phone costs this much upfront, most people will want to get it on a contract so they can spread the total cost of ownership over a longer period of time. Unfortunately, the One Max doesn’t fare particularly well when it comes to contracts, as these are all still rather expensive.

One of the cheapest contracts currently available is a £28 per month deal from Phones4U . This will get you 1,000 minutes, unlimited texts and 500MB of data, but increasing this to £35 per month will raise your data allowance to 1GB – an important thing to consider if you’re going to be using the One Max as your main media consumption device.

The Note 3, however, is available from the Carphone Warehouse on a £33 per month contract that nets you unlimited texts and minutes and 1GB of data. This is much better value, as the Note 3 is not only quicker and has better battery life than the One Max, but it also has a much more capable 13-megapixel camera. The One Max, on the other hand, only has a 4-megapixel sensor.

So if you’re looking for the best Android phablet around, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is still the phone to buy.

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Main display size5.9in
Native resolution1,920×1,080
CCD effective megapixels4-megapixel
Internal memory16384MB
Memory card supportmicroSD
Memory card included0MB
Operating frequenciesGSM 850/900/1800/1900, 3G 900/1900/2100, 4G 800/900/1800/2600
Wireless data4G


Operating systemAndroid 4.3
Microsoft Office compatibilityWord, Excel, PowerPoint
FM Radioyes
Accessoriesheadset, data cable, charger
Talk time28 hours
Standby time24 days

Buying Information

SIM-free price£564
Price on contract0

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