HTC has revealed its latest smartphone, the 5.9-inch big-screen sibling of the HTC One flagship device. The new HTC One Max is well into phablet territory at nearly 6 inches, but retains the slick aluminum case design of its smaller predecessor, as well as the somewhat dodgy Ultrapixel camera. But its full 1080p screen packs an impressive 349 ppi, and it has a fingerprint sensor on the back with some interesting tricks up its sleeve.
HTC’s fingerprint scanner is programmable for up to three separate fingers, which can instantly launch up to three separate apps without requiring unlocking or a trip to the home screen. That’s a twist on Apple’s iPhone 5s, which uses its built-in fingerprint scanner in place of a passcode, and for authorizing purchases made through the iTunes and App Stores.
The One Max fingerprint sensor can also unlock the phone, and is located on the back of the device just beneath the camera lens. That seems a somewhat awkward placement for it, judging from my experience with the LG G2′s weird back panel sleep/wake button and volume rocker, but given the HTC phone’s nearly edge-to-edge display and lack of a home button, there was really very few other places it could land.
Another key improvement for the HTC One Max is that it has expandable memory – there’s either 16GB or 32GB built-in, but you can take off the rear cover and put in a micro SD card for up to 64GB more, which is a considerable advantage. Other specs include a 1.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor (same as the One) and an IR blaster. It’s set to launch in Europe and Asia in October, and then it’ll make its way to the U.S. shortly after that, likely in early November.
HTC’s strategy with smartphone releases is evidently to take its core One device and tweak it to suit the tastes of multiple consumers; the One Max offers a big-screen experience, with the flash addition of the fingerprint scanner but with a slightly worse-off camera since it lacks optical image stabilization. The expandable memory is an interesting change, and could reflect an attempt by HTC to iterate based on customer feedback it has received from previous launches, but all told I’d still suspect the One Max has a hard time doing much to reverse HTC’s recent misfortunes.