The HTC One Max has finally been announced after months of rumors and speculation, and, to see whether it’s worthy of all of the hype, we’ve pitted it against its biggest (pun intended) competitors, the Galaxy Note 3, Sony Xperia Z Ultra, and the Oppo N1, in the biggest (too far?) spec battle yet!
HTC One Max
Galaxy Note 3
Sony Xperia Z Ultra
|Display:||5.9-inch Full HD Super LCD 3 display - 373 PPI||5.7-inch Full HD Super AMOLED display - 386 PPI||6.4-inch Full HD Triluminos display - 344 PPI||5.9-inch Full HD LCD display - 373 PPI|
|Processor:||Quad-core Snapdragon 600 clocked at 1.7Ghz, backed by the Adreno 320 GPU||LTE markets (N9005): Quad-core Snapdragon 800 clocked at 2.3Ghz, backed by the Adreno 330 GPU|
3G markets (N9000): Octa-core Exynos 5420 (Quad-core Cortex A15 clocked at 1.9Ghz + Quad-core Cortex A7 clocked at 1.3GHz), backed by the Mali T-628 MP6 GPU
|Quad-core Snapdragon 800 clocked at 2.2Ghz, backed by the Adreno 330 GPU||Quad-core Snapdragon 600 clocked at 1.7Ghz, backed by the Adreno 320 GPU|
|Camera:||4MP (Ultra Pixel) rear camera with LED flash and OIS, 2.1MP wide-angle front facing camera||13MP rear facing camera with LED flash, 2MP front-facing camera||8MP rear facing camera (no LED flash), 2MP front-facing camera||13MP rear facing (which can rotate to the front) camera with dual LED flash|
|OS:||Android 4.3 Jelly Bean with HTC Sense 5.5 overlay||Android 4.3 Jelly Bean with TouchWiz Nature UX 2.0 overlay||Android 4.2 Jelly Bean with Xperia UI overlay||Android 4.2 Jelly Bean with ColorOS overlay|
|Battery:||3300 mAh||3200 mAh||3050 mAh||3610 mAh|
|164.5 x 82.5 x 10.29mm, 217g||151.2 x 79.2 x 8.3mm, 168g||179 x 92.2 x 6.5mm, 212g||170.7 x 82.6 x 9 mm, 213g|
|Storage:||16/32GB internal storage, support for up to 64GB microSD expansion slot||32/64GB internal storage, support for up to 64GB microSD expansion slot||16GB internal storage, support for up to 64GB microSD expansion slot||16/32GB internal storage|
3G: HSPA (HSPA+) - CDMA
3G: HSPA (HSPA+) - CDMA
3G: HSPA (HSPA+)
These are all massive smartphones which border on the size of small tablets. While pocketability and handling suffer, a major advantage of owning big smartphones like these is that they offer some of the best media consumption experiences.
As media consumption devices (the Note 3 could make its case as a creation device as well), the display is a big factor in their effectiveness as media consumption devices. Luckily, none of these phones disappoint, all offering high-resolution Full HD displays.
The smallest device in this list (never thought you’d hear that said about the Note range now did you?), Galaxy Note 3 uses Samsung’s Super AMOLED technology (albeit of the Pentile variant), packed tightly into a Full HD 5.7-inch display for a pixel density of 386 PPI.
The HTC One Max and the Oppo N1 both have 5.9-inch Full HD LCD displays for a pixel density of 373 PPI and the Xperia Z Ultra has the largest display, measuring at 6.4-inches diagonally. Sony’s display, which utilizes the X-Reality engine, also uses a Full HD display for a pixel density of 344 PPI.
Bottom line: All of these displays are top of the line, and in the end it’s going to come down to personal preference. Some will prefer the pure blacks and saturated display of the Note 3’s Super AMOLED, while others prefer the more neutral LCDs on the Z Ultra, One Max and Oppo N1. Display size will also be a factor, as some will prefer the compact (at least when compared to the other phones in this comparison) Note 3, while others will prefer the maximum screen real estate offered by the Z Ultra.
Over the past year or so, phone performance has become less about pure power and more about software optimization. The HTC One and the Oppo N1 both use the slightly older Snapdragon 600 SoC clocked at 1.7 GHz and backed by the Adreno 320 GPU and 2GB of RAM. While the Snapdragon 600 is no longer the fastest SoC on the market, it is still very fast and, if we use the HTC One as a benchmark (it uses the same SoC as the One Max), we are sure you won’t find any lag in these smartphones.
The Galaxy Note 3 and the Xperia Z Ultra both use the latest Snapdragon 800 SoC backed by the Adreno 330 GPU. The processor in the Note 3 is clocked at 2.3GHz and offers 3GB of RAM, while the Z Ultra is clocked slightly lower at 2.2GHz and offers 2GB of RAM.
Bottom line: All of these phones are insanely fast, and you’ll struggle to find any lag, but if the absolute fastest phone on the market is what you’re looking for, then the Note 3 is the one you want.
While these smartphones have been neck and neck in the past two sections, here’s where a gulf in the class emerges. The HTC One Max uses the same 4MP Ultra Pixel camera on the HTC One, and while it offers great performance in low light, it’s likely that the One Max will suffer from a slight lack of detail in good lighting, just like the HTC One does.
The Xperia Z Ultra also fails in this section — its photo taking ability is decent with its 8MP shooter, but nothing groundbreaking, and the lack of an LED flash is especially concerning for low light shots.
The Note 3 uses the same proven performer found in the Galaxy S4. The 13MP camera might lack OIS, but it is a very good camera and offers 4K shooting as a measure of future proofing as well.
The Oppo N1 is also of the same class as the Note 3, at least on paper. With Dual LED flash and a 13MP camera, it looks to be a great performer. It also offers a 206 degree rotating camera unit, allowing you to flip the camera over for a high-resolution 13MP selfie. We have yet to review the Oppo N1 in depth, so we’ll reserve full judgement until then, but, on paper, it’s certainly looking good.
Bottom line: While the HTC One Max is likely to offer great shots in low light, the Note 3 is once again the winner here. Its camera is a proven performer, and until we get some quality hands-on time with the Oppo N1, the Note 3 takes the cake.
Software and additional features
The HTC One Max uses the latest version of Android in Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, with a new, slightly modified version of HTC Sense. Sense 5.5 brings improvements to BlinkFeed, with support for Instagram and Google Plus, as well as more customizable topic categories.
The One Max also offers the fingerprint scanner that it was rumored to contain. This fingerprint scanner allows you to unlock the device, as well as open three of your favourite apps by assigning three different fingers to open each app.
The Oppo N1 runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean with its own ColorOS overlay on top that you control with the touchpad on its back. Dubbed “O-Touch”, the touch sensitive back can be used with multiple gestures to open apps, change songs and more.
The Xperia Z Ultra runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean with the Xperia UI on top. As far as changes to stock go, this overlay has the lightest touch on this list, but it still manages to offer features like Small Apps, Sony’s version of multi-tasking that is sure to come in handy on that 6.4-inch screen.
The Z Ultra also lets users employ various objects as a styluses, such as keys, regular pencils, or even paintbrushes. It’s also the only smartphone on this list that’s waterproof (rated at IP 58, meaning waterproof up to 1.5 metres for 30 minutes in freshwater) as well as dust resistant.
The Galaxy Note 3 runs Android 4.3 Jelly Bean with Samsung’s TouchWiz Nature UX 2.0 on top. On the outside, the overlay looks very similar to the one found on the S4, however, there are additional features to take advantage of the Note 3’s biggest feature, the S-Pen. These additions include a new and improved Multi-Window, Scrapbooker, and Action Memo.
TouchWiz is known for being feature packed to the point where some would write off some features as bloatware, but many of these additions appear to be genuinely useful.
Bottom line: While it’s hard to go past the Note 3 and it’s amazing S-Pen, some won’t get the appeal of a stylus. This is another section where it’s really going to come down to your personal preference. Some will like the similar to stock appearance of the Z Ultra’s overlay, while others will prefer the flat look of Sense 5.5.
If you’re in the market for a large screen smartphone, the HTC One Max, Galaxy Note 3, Oppo N1 and Xperia Z Ultra are the best in class, and you really can’t go wrong with either of them. But they all have their advantages and their drawbacks.
The biggest drawback for the Oppo N1 is its availability and the lack of LTE, although it’s sure to get a niche following thanks to the “CyanogenMod version” which is said to be coming soon.
The Z Ultra falls short due to its sub par camera, while the One Max will be praised for its brilliant metal design, but at the same time blasted for being just the HTC One in a bigger frame, with a fingerprint scanner added on.
The Note 3 offers great features, performance, the much revered S-Pen, as well as a solid camera. Some still dislike TouchWiz and the Note’ 3’s faux-leather and stitching appearance. However, when you’re in the market for a high-end large screen smartphone, the Note 3 is still king, at least in this spec battle.
Which large screen smartphone do you prefer and why?