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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The HTC One Max comes with the same package as the One in terms of being able to shoot Zoe footage, a mode on the camera that takes 0.6 seconds of HD footage before you press the shutter button and three seconds afterwards, meaning you get a 'moving photo' to give all manner of information about what's actually been happening.

In reality, it's more of a quirky feature that does at least take on the notion that you have to have still images in the gallery all the time, as instead of loads of people staring blankly at you from a grid of snaps, the gallery is an orgy of motion as cats bounce about, people walk out of shot and blinking brings a tidal wave of eyelids.

HTC One Max review

It's a cool idea though, although one big issue is that you have to hold the camera up for a while to capture the Zoe properly, and while many people are used to posing for a while for a cameraphone snap, three seconds feels like an eternity while you wait for that red bar to fill up while the image/movie is captured.

There are some good points with the HTC One Max compared to the system that launched on the One. The main problem that the One had was that Zoes are fairly large, and could take up a lot of space on the limited internal storage.

This is mitigated now by the microSD slot, which really helps when a single Zoe is around 30MB for three seconds' footage. The other improvement is that the Zoes are now no longer stored as hundreds of individual shots, so only the primary thumbnail is shown. This makes it much easier to keep Zoe mode on and still auto-upload onto Dropbox or similar.

The downside of the One Max is that without optical image stabilisation the performance of the Zoe can be quite juddery, which makes your shots look a lot more amateur. Steady hands are definitely a requirement, although that's even harder with this larger device.

HTC One Max review

Now, let's get onto the good stuff, and that's the ability to see your memories in a really fun 30 second video highlight reel. The HTC One Max will look at your snaps and auto-create the short video based on a date or location for the photos being taken (if you've enabled geo-tagging of your snaps).

The results are really rather pleasing, meaning a few pointless snaps of a cat or your Mum being, frankly, hilarious are turned into something that looks a lot more professional.

There are now loads more themes to choose from, and you can extend the footage over 30 seconds and add in your own music too. It's quite a powerful little package now, and HTC has certainly come good on its promise to bring these elements into the Zoe family.

Finding said video highlights is a lot easier too, as when you open the gallery, items are sorted by events (around dates, time, or location if the data is tagged) or just grouped by camera or cloud storage.

From here a side swipe takes you to the video highlights section, where you can choose content, themes and music. It's a world apart from the orinmginal Zoe editor, and we're glad HTC has put some real thought into it.

Zoes are a really, really neat feature, and being able to share them to Facebook with a simple tap is nice. You still have to go through the rigmarole of uploading the video to HTC Share, where there's only 250MB of free space. Why you can't use the 50GB of free Google Drive, we don't know, nor why you can't find a video file once saved and then upload that to YouTube.

A Zoe is no use if you like to share specific snaps, as you'll need to go into the short video and choose a frame to save as the photo - only have the Zoe idea turned on if you like making highlight reels.

It's a good system, and it's an improved one – but it's still a little complex for some people and all the features aren't easy to understand.

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.