HTC One Max deep-dive review: With this phone, size matters

The HTC One Max has a gorgeous 5.9-in. display and outstanding speakers -- but be ready to deal with some serious smartphone bulk.

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The company has also corrected one previously confusing element of its UI: Placing an app's shortcut onto the home screen no longer causes the app to disappear from the app drawer, as it did in an earlier incarnation. And adding an app into the Favorites Tray at the bottom of the screen can now be done from the home screen instead of only from the app drawer, as the software had originally been configured.

All in all, HTC's user interface may seem a little busy and overwhelming at first, but it's easy to get used to -- and, after a little tweaking, is actually quite decent to use.

At a Glance

HTC One Max

HTCPrice: $250 at Sprint or $400 at Verizon (both with two-year contract)Pros: Superb 5.9-in. 1080p display; outstanding front-facing stereo speakers; great performance; excellent battery life; includes micro-SD card slotCons: Bulky and awkward to use and carry; unexceptional build quality; somewhat clunky button configuration; inconsistent camera performance

One final software-related note: Sprint has added loads of bloatware onto its model of the phone; some of the apps can be removed while others are baked in at the system level. The carrier's Sprint Zone app greeted me with an actual ad in my notification panel shortly after I first signed into the device, which didn't exactly provide a great first impression.

Sprint has also put a permanent spinning-star icon into the phone's status bar that animates anytime you're using mobile data. That level of ongoing branding-based distraction crosses a line and is really inexcusable.

Bottom line

With the One Max, HTC has sized up its critically acclaimed One phone but scaled back the premium design that made that device so distinguished. The result is a bulky smartphone with nice materials but unexceptional build quality.

Even so, the One Max has a lot of appealing qualities to offer. The phone provides a gigantic, gorgeous display; outstanding front-facing stereo speakers; and top-of-the-line performance with some of the best battery life you'll find on a smartphone today.

The biggest thing you have to consider is the phone's size. For most users -- even those sold on the concept of a plus-sized phone -- the Max is simply too unwieldy to recommend for daily use. The Max is a giant among giants; it just isn't a mainstream mobile device.

If you're okay with its heft, though, the HTC One Max delivers a commendable big-screen experience. Just be sure you're ready to start livin' large.

JR Raphael is a Computerworld contributing editor and the author of the Android Power blog. For more Android tips and insights, follow him on Google+, Twitter, or Facebook.

This article, HTC One Max deep-dive review: With this phone, size matters , was originally published at

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Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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