HTC One Max review

The One gets supersized - but does it impress?

HTC One Max review
Remember HTC: bigger isn't always better

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Media on the HTC One Max is something that's hard to typify as the handset is clearly set up for such an activity, and yet makes it quite hard to use at times. The first thing we'll deal with is BoomSound – HTC's excellent name for its combination of internal amplifier and front facing speakers.

BoomSound is the combination of the two front facing speakers and the inbuilt amp to help boost the sound through your headphones - and both chuck out fantastic sound, and it's even improved over the HTC One.

HTC One Max review

The latter really does boost the volume levels to a give as more even tone to your tunes, while the former is simply amazing when you're showing off videos to friends and loved ones. As you always do, you bore, you.

Actually, that was one of our biggest criticisms of BoomSound and the two front-facing speakers - we didn't think many people would ask others to crowd around a phone screen that often, thus rendering the technology pointless unless you're alone in a hotel room and want to make the sound of the female actress you're watching sound all the more accurate.

But over the past few months we found ourselves showing off the quality of the front speakers on a number of occasions - always the newest version of that meme (you know the one, the one that all the kids are talking about. Yes, that one). Each time, the bass and clarity of the music was so impressive, unlike anything we've heard coming from a mobile phone.

Also, with the addition of HTC Zoe video highlight reels, you'll find that showing off your work at splicing together pictures is used a lot more often too, and the sound quality really adds to the show. So while it's perhaps not the most important thing in the world to have on a smartphone, BoomSound works.

In fact, we've lost count of the amount of times we were asked whether the music being played was from a phone, and the questioner being genuinely impressed that it was.

With the uprated sound from the larger speakers on the One Max, BoomSound is even better. Well done, HTC.


The music ability of the HTC One Max is something not to be sniffed at, and is easily the equal of anything else out there.

For all your tunes, there's a pre-loaded folder with all your music and media bits in one place, which leads to the lovely and confusing Music and Google Music, both apps denoted by a headphones icon, living side by side.

HTC One Max review

The former is just the onboard music player, the latter the service from the search giant that lets you upload your tunes to one place and stream them back down again.

Both offer high quality sound, and more importantly, both can run on the lock screen, along with the likes of Spotify, to give great control over the tunes you want to play. However, Google Music, for all its power, still needs a data connection unless you're thinking of caching music in a rather complex way (Spotify, it is not).

Soundhound integration is back as part of the music player too, so you can get info on what the song is, and whether there are any gigs or YouTube videos that are relevant to the sound.

On top of this are visuals and lyrics to songs if they're available (providing the song information is correct and GraceNote can access it).

HTC One Max review

It's a fun feature for when you're trying to work out the real words (turns out it wasn't 'wipe in the Vaseline') but unless you've got aspirations of making it BIG on the professional karaoke circuit, this isn't going to be a lot of use. Good when combined with the BoomSound speakers though.


One of the key features of any Full HD phones these days has to be the performance of the video player, and to that end, most are successful.

The Sony Xperia Z1 uses the X-Reality Engine to bring clear, crisp images; the LG G2 simply just offers bonkers levels of clarity, brightness and colour saturation. And of course Samsung is going to continue with the, like it or hate it, Full HD Super AMOLED screen.

The HTC One Max has a slightly improved screen over the One, with brightness and colour showing more impressively than before. This could have been managed through software tweaks, as the underlying technology doesn't look different, but is something of a relief.

HTC One Max review

However, while HTC has taken a step forward, perhaps past the Xperia Z1, it's still massively behind the likes of the G2, with its breathtaking edge-to-edge display.

Also, while the range of codecs you can use is impressive on the HTC One Max, including AVI (but not DivX) there's still – still - actually no obvious way to play them. Really - unless you want to dive through the HTC TV app or the Google Play Movies function, you'll have to download a dedicated player to achieve your goals.

The videos don't even show normally in the Gallery - and all this despite HTC telling us that it will be bringing the ability to play back your own clips through the Watch app.

The screen on the One Max, being larger and seemingly a touch brighter, makes it a better media proposition than the One, and we're glad that this has been addressed.

It's not the best for watching footage, as the likes of the Note 3 and the G2 both outperform it visually, but combined with the excellent front-facing speakers it's among the best out there.

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.