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!
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.
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 Z Ultra can sense a variety of objects to be used as a stylus. Even a key will work!
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?
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Fixed! Thanks for the catch :)
Happy that HTC added a removable cover for SD card slot, but still no removable battery…
It’s a freaking 3.3 Ah Battery :)
the Z Ultra is also waterproof and claims to be the worlds thinnest full HD smartphone, you seem to have missed those out when you mentioned the additional features.
Updated to make it clear that the Z Ultra is waterproof. There isn’t any real benefit of being insanely thin, after about 10mm it makes very little difference. I would’ve much rather it be thicker with a larger battery or better camera (with LED flash would be nice).
I am completely with you on the thickness side but just thought i should mention it, if im honest with you the two most comfortable phones i have owned are the Xperia play and the LG Optimus GT540 which were relatively thick phones.
Nonesense, I never use the flash on my Note 2, again, never. And I can definetly use some slimness in my pocket and help make it look awesome design-like. I can always use more battery for sure but no biggie.
you dont need water proof unless your so stupid to wet your phone… you can also use otterbox or lifeproof just to make your phone waterproof so its not a very good advantage..
It doesn’t take an idiot to wet a phone, it can be done through silly mistakes but since the Z Ultra is a “tough phone” of sorts it is way more likely that someone of possibly an outdoors career would buy the phone, and there is always the risk of water damage in such a career.
Waterproof smartphone is great for multiple reasons. You can take a shower with it if you want, but the major use of it is in case you accidentally drop it in the sink when you are washing stuff or lose it in the ocean at the beach. Just because you don’t need it, doesn’t make anyone who does stupid.
It sounds stupid, but i know 3 different people who have somehow managed to drop their phone in the toilet.
Ya, my little girl put my wife’s phone in her puppy’s water bowl. Lol.
Z Ultra is ridiculously thin that makes it look very fragile.
it seems like they should have made it a little bit thicker, and focused on making the bezel as small as possible and on cramming in a bigger battery.
OPPO better than the One MAX. Well look at that :)
Note 3 or Oppo easily
btw my brother has a sony xperia go and the rubber siding started to leak after 1 and half yr sony service claims that its not on warranty anymore…
I may be wrong, but I felt that the article was slightly biased towards Note 3. Not too hard cos it IS a great phone (my mom owns it).
In a specs comparison where the Note 3 is a clear winner in many sections, it’s hard not to be a little bias :). However, a lot of the sections are also subjective, and the only reason the Note 3 wins the Camera section is because we’ve yet to get some quality hands on time with the Oppo N1.
Until that happens, Note 3 is clear winner in the processor and camera sections, and it comes with a quality display and great features which make use of that big display meaning it pushes out the One Max, Z Ultra and the N1. But you’ll be happy regardless of what phone you choose, because they are all great.
When purely looking at specs, Note 3 wins. I’d still pick Z Ultra if it had a better camera
sony uses that nasty plastic screen protector that rubs off its coating after a few months. The plastic screen protector do not offer the same kind of protection that gorilla glass have. Also if you try to replace it you will forfeit the warranty as well as lose the sony logo.
That doesn’t bother me, I’d just take the protector off and be happy
You don’t lose the logo. That only happened with older versions of Sony phones. Check Youtube you can see people removing the plastic it leaves the logo. I also don’t ever remember reading anywhere that it would void the warrenty. Althought, I do know, they will viod it quick fast and in a hurry if you fuck with your boot loader. Stupid Sony :(
there you can clearly see the sony logo is gone and I don’t think sony sell these
That’s the Z1. Z Ultra does not.
I just bought the Z Ultra a few weeks ago. I was going to go with the Note 3 but the Ultra just wins in every department. I was also afraid of the Camera not having a flash until I realized that in the last 3 phones I’ve had the only think I ever used the flash for was a flashlight now and again I can never remember actually using it when taking a photo. You don’t miss it at all.
I looked at bother the ZU and GN3… Ended up getting the note 3 for the following reasons.
- N3 is comfortably pocketable. (the ZU is 28mm longer, 13mm wider and 44g heavier)
- N3 has great battery life, ZU doesn’t (75 vx 52hrs, web is 9:00 vs 5:20, video is 13:30 vs 8:45)
- N3 has removable battery
- N3 has up to 64GB internal, ZU is 16GB
- N3 has the Spen & associated features
- N3 has USB 3.0
- N3 has 13MP camera with a lot more features
- N3 has 4K video
- N3 has barometer, temp and humidity sensors
- N3 has features like Air view and Adapt audio
- N3 screen is a lot, lot better in the sunlight and better in general.
- N3 can be used with gloves
- N3 has better loudspeaker and earphone audio quality
- N3 has flash for camera and torch
- N3 has multi window, pen window, mini screen*, infrared port etc
Oppo N1 is in this list, but not LG G2? It may not be the most powerful, but it is surely a flagship of LG. In addition, I would wait until Nexus 5 gets announced so you could add that to the list as well, as N5 should be just days away from being officially announced.
smaller screen…it is not a “phblet” I think this is the only reason it is not here…
Not large enough i bought one and so far the best phone I’ve had.just worried about the longevity and updates.
Samsung rules again!
For me Samsung = Tizen… I don’t trust Samsung anymore.
WTF their all greedy money suking corp. You buy the best device that fits your needs with the money you have. Never trust any company.
Nothing ground breaking about the Max. I’d choose the Z Ultra or the Note 3 any day.
Would be great if you can do a review of Pantech Vega Secret Note!! it looks like Note 3 (stylus, air view) + LG G2 (something like QSlide) + iPhone 5 (fingerprint reader and you can press it – I think-) + Oppo N1 (back touch panel) mixed… maybe it could listed here too!
And it comes at a note 3 price!
So they mixed things from different phones just to get the phone not many people would buy…
It doesn’t look bad! that’s why I’m posting if AndroidAuthority could review it or make a post about it because it is part of the competition!
It doesn’t look bad. But that’s nothing serious. I mean, the status bar is like the one on G2, the launcher is Touchwiz, the design is Note 3, the fingerprint scanner is placed similar like on the One Max, and a TouchPanel from OPPO N1. It’s just a pizza that contains every single ingredient on this world. It’s my opinion though, Your’s of course, may vary.
it looks like the Oppo N1 is the best competitor of the Note 3…
no LTE, so it’s a non-starter.
maybe next years update will be able to compete.
The Note 3 wins in my opinion – it’s got actual features to take advantage of the larger screen compared to the others.
htc one max really needed the s800 to compete wtf were they thinking?
it’s a mystery. i can’t understand it either.
Probably for pricing and they cant afford manufacturing it with S800… But will it come in Black?
No it doesn’t the average consumer isn’t a techie and doesn’t know diddly squat about clockspeed and ram
#1 rule that consumer uses: bigger is better
When it comes down to specs, the Note 4 is the winner. When it comes down to my personal preference, I would go with the HTC One Max.
The Note 4? Wow, Samsung are releasing phone so fast…
Sorry, mistyped that. Thanks for the heads up! Now corrected.
I was waiting for the official announcement before choosing my next phablet, cos I really wanted to go with the One Max. But it just doesn’t compete with the Note 3.
Spec-wise yes, but for me, the One Max is the way to go. I hate touchwiz and I hate faux leather. That’s why I would go with the One Max if buying an new phone. Too pity they took the OIS out of the camera.
Htc last years specs dissapointing
Which smartphone had those specs last year ?
The 600 is exactly a year old yet but why would you put a 600 when a 800 is avaluble.
Which device came out with the S600 a year ago, if we follow your logic the S800 is 8 months old. While the S800 is said to be available Qualcomm is having trouble filling all the orders + for sure manufacturing issues and price, I guess HTC had two choice either taking the left over of the S800 and get into production issues ‘(and they had plenty enough of those) or get an S600 which a good SoC and lower the price of the device, not to mention that in the list above the One Max (from my One experience) has the smoothest and snappier day day performance of the lot (till of course you install a custom rom on the Note 3 but that’s another story)
You sound like an employee. I for one would not buy this phone when better spec,camera, removable battery and larger ram is available for what im sure will be close in price. If this phone came out 8 months ago i may have considered it.
sound like an employee what’s that supposed to mean, you are just derailing now as you can’t answer me and check out my first comment before speaking non sense (the one above)
even if we buy the supply issue line of reasoning, why not jump to 3GB RAM, or even jump ahead to 4GB RAM?
but why? it useless if the software and the rest of hardware take advantage of it, maybe it would more feature prof, but again with an S600 or even an S800. with the device priced 100€ cheaper I find it well priced knowing that prices drops quickly, but from a personal perspective I find this whole category useless, too big, too heavy, the 4.7″ One is more than enough for me
I think the Oppo wins hands down due to it performance/price factor but the problem with it is availability and brand recognition, followed by the HTC One max, although not as cheap as the Oppo it’s cheaper than the Sony and the Note while still offering a better build quality and seamless software, I’m not convinced by the device it self (why would want you this instead of an Original One that is getting cheaper and cheaper -personal opinion-) and the fingerprint scanner is meh useless gimmicks and speaking of useless gimmicks the Note 3 has tons of them, it is the powerhouse in terms of specs of the list but again it is penalised by it software and that build quality…. Omg that fake stetching is sooo cheezy (but this last part is a personal opinion) not to mention it cost 750€ here in France that’s 100€ more than the One max annouced price….As for the Sony on paper it should have the better camera but apparently that’s not the case in real life (software issues?)
One max for best android pleasure..i defenitly pick up one max.
You could have added the Acer Liquid S2 to the comparo. Its specs look fantastic.
I’ve been enjoying a Note 2 for almost a year as my personal phone; I love the large screen when on internet or media consumption and a little anoying when driving and in my pocket. Still, I’d go for the Ultra if I hadn’t a very strict policy of no phone changing in less than two years.
Z Ultra hands down the winner for me, came out 1st of the 4 and everything is great except camera, but who uses phone cameras seriously?
Hence, Note 3 is still king and it will.
It simple sense, Samsung Galaxy have solid feature software + world’s best hardware. No other competent even developed similar high end features or functionality. Other company, for comparison first implement that can come near to Galaxy’s devices.
They all are good devices, but the Note 3 is unfortunately the only Great device of the lot. The One Max will obviously appeal to audiophiles and the style conscious, although a good headset will make any of these devices a great music device.
The One Max is unfortunately let down by it’s camera more than anything else.
The Ultra too could have had a much better camera, and the size is very close to that of a tablet, which will make it difficult to carry around and use in certain situations. It will make for a great media consumption and gaming device though, but as a “phone” it’s a bit out there.
The Oppo is perhaps closest to the Note 3…
I’m sortve getting annoyed by everyone stating that it can’t compete with lower speced internals….really? Do you think the millions of people that buy the device are going to care about clockspeed or actual real world usability? S800 and a integrated stylus with a complimenting software suite wouldve been nice ,but alas here we are and it’s going to be ok folks. Lag free is lag free .
HTC one max doesn’t have OIS, you may want to update the table at the top.
The Note 3 also has a 16GB variant.
1- Galaxy Note 3 Great Features and 4k resolution recording put it on top
2- Xperia Z Ultra Better Camera needed for number one position.
3- Oppo N1 Its swiveling cam with dual flash is good but the availability and Snapdragon 600 put it tied with the HTC One Max for 3rd
- HTC One Max Lack of Snapdragon 800 and the Camera could do with some tweaking for normal photos in light
Although I dont think the One Max is really aimed at the tech enthusiasts but more at the casual guy that doesnt know all that much of specs and i think thats why the Snapdragon 800 isnt present ??
think will come down to price for a lot of people. The Note 3 has the best specs (other than the waterproofing of the Ultra and arguably the size), but it’s also likely the most expensive.
If the HTC: One Max is cheaper than the Z Ultra’s $250 pricetag on contract (Bell Canada), it will be a VERY attractive option.
Note 3: $299
Z Ultra: $249
HTC Max: ???
Oppo N1: Not available on contract, and there’s no way I’m paying off-contract prices.
Note 3 FTW!
Even though I hate samsung they make the best BIG phone.