The HTC One Max: A Wicked Review

Recently, I had the opportunity to spend a month playing with the new Verizon HTC One Max.

HTC One Max from Verizon


I’ve never had a cell phone or ANY mobile device deliver the kind of booming sound this little guy packs. It’s the main thing that made me reach for it instead of my own phablet!

Two speakers and serious deep tones means that even when I was in the kitchen cooking and banging and making noise, I could watch a movie and never had to rewind it to hear what I missed. Simply Awesome! I did a little research, and discovered that it also has an amplifier — not something run-of-the-mill for a smartphone!

During the entire test period, I left my external bluetooth speaker at home! (And I share content a LOT!) I can’t overstate how wonderful the sound is from this little guy!

The Camera

The camera makes nice photos and does a suitable job of recording video. It does not, however have the software built in to zoom in as much as I’m accustomed to being able to zoom onscreen to look at the photo you just took. Once I take a photo, I love to zoom in to tight pixels and check the focus, but I can’t do that on the HTC One Max. It does do a good job of low light photos, however.

The “burst” feature called Zoe on the HTC allows rapid-fire photo taking which, to an untrained eye, looks more like a video clip than anything fancy. It “stitches” together several stills to create a moving image — but I don’t really see the point of selecting that option over using a short video clip — except for the ability to select one of the many shots and have the option to remove objects from that shot to create the best shot from the series as a still frame.

The dual capture is cool, although I don’t know why I would ever need to have a front facing and a rear facing shot in the same capture — other than to grab a selfie for Facebook if I were someplace amazing. It is neat that I can put the framed box of the front-facing camera to anywhere I want on the regular shot.

The portrait touch-up tools can smooth wrinkles with targeted blur, remove shine, brighten eyes and even slim your face (they call it contour, but it’s really whittling away at any overly ample face and/or chin) and “eye enhancer” which actually makes you eyes larger. See the image below to see this in full-blown, exaggerated, (and scary) use:

Scary Me

If you ever wondered how I would look as a pixie-faced frog… now you know! 🙂

You can add all your gallery shots together (and even add music!) for a Zoe gallery album uploaded to the HTC Zoe Share page, providing you with a link to share on social media or by email or other means for 180 days.

You can also take a photo WHILE shooting video (cool tool!), change video playback speed, capture a sweeping panoramic shot for a 360-view of wherever you are, and take three shots in sequence at various exposure rates to combine them for the best shot. You can also add “sequence” shots into a merged photo — which is beyond the norm. All a little fancy for my normal use, but interesting options.

I find getting around in the camera app mostly easy, but far beyond what I really want — which is excellent photos and good video in a drop-dead simple GUI. (The HTC does offer this on the first page of their camera app — and I seldom went beyond that screen).

If you are someone who really enjoys maxing out the editing use of your mobile device, you will probably love the HTC One Max.

Fingerprint Scanner

This has a “cool-whiz-bang” factor, but my paranoia means I didn’t even test it. I don’t like the idea of recording my fingerprints anywhere — so I don’t. Ever.

For someone who isn’t quite as “tin-foil-hat” as I am, it could be a convenient feature.

The Screen and Menu Buttons

OMG, it’s beautiful, bright, clear and even larger than the Note 3 I carry every day. It’s simply lovely. Seriously. I could happily use this screen for hours on end — and I have!

I’ll be frank, the lack of a menu button drives me nuts. Sure, in some apps the information is available in the upper right hand corner (represented by three vertical dots), but I want and need it to be on the main touch navigation. It took me ages to learn to look for the three dots and even after a month, I still hate this.

The home button (on the left instead of in the center as is the industry norm) functions as a home button and when double-tapped will display your open programs to switch between them. A “long” press on the home button pulls up Google Now.

I may be a creature of habit, and perhaps if I’d not become accustomed to the standard home button in the middle and a menu button visible, it would have been easier for me to acclimate to this new methodology.

Charging, Battery Life, Antenna

This phone charges really quickly. Lightning fast. It holds a charge for more than a full day, even with heavy use, streaming, and other demanding applications. The antenna is fair. It’s no Motorola, but it’s pretty good.

Special Features Worth the Price of Admission

  • Blink Feed – A great little built-in app that lets you pick from the feeds (social, website, and news). It renders beautifully and keeps all your favorites on one page. I didn’t use it for my homepage as intended, but did keep it to the left for quick access.
  • Kid Mode – A built-in setting to allow control over limiting access to the device’s features for the younger set.
  • The TV app – combines cable, airwave, and Internet subscription TV (like Hulu Plus) all in one easy application — and gives you the opportunity to use your phone as a remote for your TV too. It offers a Visual TV guide. You can also set reminders — with a single tap — so you don’t miss your upcoming favorite shows. Kinda cool!!
  • Pinch Feature – a quick pinch on the homescreen automatically launches your apps/widget screen. That’s pretty handy.
  • Music – Enjoy visualization features and the ability to see lyrics when you play your music.

That’s it for this device. Great display, cool photo editing options, the integration with TV and video entertainment, additional music options and the BIG screen makes this a lovely Phablet for those who prefer a larger device!