The HTC One Max is a big and beautiful Android smartphone. The feel of the materials, and the way they fit together, is top of the market.

But it is big. Big and solid. You wouldn't buy this smartphone if you wanted something svelte and petite. For more see: HTC One Max review - huge Android phone is a stylish heavyweight performer.

  • 164.5 x 82.5 x 10.3 mm
  • 217 g

The One Max is a solid workhouse that is also stylish. And you won't need a case.

HTC One Max: specs and performance

With great size comes great power. We found the HTC One Max to be perfectly snappy enough, but not perhaps as impressive as was the original HTC One. This is borne out by the synthetic benchmarks which suggest a quick device that isn't the quickest.

  • Quad-core Qualcomm APQ8064 Snapdragon 600 processor, 1.7 GHz
  • Adreno 320 graphics
  • 2GB RAM

Performance wise the HTC One Max is good in parts, very good in others, but not great overall.

Other key specs include a choice of 16 or 32 GB of storage, with a MicroSD slot offering expansion up to a further 64 GB. The HTC One Max takes a micro SIM and offers 3G and 4G LTE connectivity. (See also: The best phones you can buy in 2013).

HTC One Max: display, audio

The HTC One Max is built around a 5.9 in super touchscreen with a very sharp resolution and pixel density.  

  • 5.9 in super LCD3 capacitive touchscreen
  • 16 million colours
  • 1080 x 1920 pixels, 373 ppi

In essence the HTC One Max's display is simply a stretched version of the HTC One's. As such it is great to look at, superb for watching HD movies or viewing photos - it's out there at the forefront of portable displays you can buy. But you don't get any more detail than you would on the smaller handset.

The HTC One Max's multitouch screen is responsive, and it is constructed of Corning Gorilla Glass 3 so it will stand up to a beating.

You get dual stereo front-facing speakers with HTC's comically named 'Boomsound' audio technology. Suffice to say that if you like to play music without headphones or a separate speaker you could do a lot worse than the HTC One Max. There is of course a 3.5mm jack for your actual headphones. Oh, and pro tip: although they are far from audiophile quality, HTC's bundled headphones are a lot better than the average tat foisted on to Android smartphone users.

HTC One Max: cameras

With the HTC One, HTC made a bold move to redefine what we should expect from a smartphone camera. It tried with some success to get away from the megapixels arms race and focus on larger pixels in order to allow for greater light absorbtion. Or, to put it another way, it has only a 4Mp camera at the rear and a 2.1Mp, 88 degree wide angle lens with HDR capability at the front.

4Mp Ultrapixel camera

And it made for a good camera, one  that is exactly replicated in the HTC One Max. This is a decent smartphone camera. The faster sensor means you can quickly capture shots - critical for a smartphone snapper. And there are good options: you can change exposure and contrast, tweak ISO levels and adjust sharpness. There's also an HDR mode, but you don't get the shot-selection modes offered by other high-end phones, however.

Pictures taken were pretty good: occasionally noisy which we didn't expect from a camera with such a low pixel count, but good in low-light conditions. It's not a camera for serious photographers, but it will let you take multiple decent snaps in a timely fashion - even in a dingy bar.

We liked the HTC One's camera and, well, this is the same one!

HTC One Max: software

The HTC One Max runs Android 4.1.2 with full access to the Play Store for apps and media, but it is heavily customised with HTC Sense and a new content-flow feature.

As part of the relatively simple HTC Sense interface, now upgraded to Sense 5.0, HTC has introduced a new service called BlinkFeed. Sense is part of all HTC phones, and makes the Android experience clean and simple - although it is very different to a traditional Android interface. I like it, but it is a personal thing.

BlinkFeed offers a cascading flow of all updates and media similar to the Hub in BlackBerry 10 or Windows Phone 8's messages feed.

The initial setup process is slick, but may feel intrusive to some. When you first use the HTC One you are pushed into synching various social and email accounts, and selecting your news preferences, via a web app on your PC. It's the slickest setup of an Android phone I have experienced - all your contacts and accounts on your device within a couple of minutes. But it does feel unavoidable, and it is possible you may not want to be tied into all of your accounts in this way. (See also: The UK's best Android phones of 2013.)

HTC One Max: fingerprint scanner

Something new! In addition to a maxed out version of the HTC One, we get a fingerprint scanner.  Placed around the back below the camera this scanner allows you to store up to three fingerprints, and can be overridded via a password. Honestly we found it a little annoying to use as you can't see the back of the phone when you are using the scanner, and it never seemed to recognise our finger. It just didn't feel as intuitive as TouchID on iOS devices. Your experience may differ, of course, and you don't have to use it.

HTC One Max: verdict

It won't be for everyone, but if you want a big phone (and we mean BIG), you could do a lot worse than the HTC One Max. This is a serious performer that is built to look good and last. We award four stars. (See also: The 7 best high-end smartphones of 2013.)