HTC Unveils One Max Smartphone with 5.9-Inch Screen

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2013-10-14

HTC Unveils One Max Smartphone With 5.9-Inch Screen

HTC officials are coming out with their One Max oversized smartphone a day early, showing off an Android device that comes with an oversized screen and fingerprint scanner.

The company reportedly unveiled the device Oct. 14 after details of the One Max were released early on the Internet. HTC officials were expected to launch their latest offering Oct. 15 during a press conference in China.

Despite a change in the release date, HTC executives were buoyant about the new device, which helps move the company into the burgeoning “phablet” space and round out the company’s lineup of HTC One mobile devices.

"The addition of the HTC One max means that we now have an HTC One phone for everyone,” HTC CEO Peter Chou said in a statement. “The family has been built on quality and game-changing innovations and the HTC One max is certainly no exception."

HTC officials are hoping the One Max will help the company regain more solid financial footing after a fiscal quarter that saw HTC post its first losses ever. HTC, which has a reputation for making solid products that continue to have difficulty competing with Apple’s iPhone and mobile devices from Samsung, lost $101 million during the most recent quarter and has had to deal with news stories in which anonymous company executives pointed to Chou’s management style and vision as key contributors to the company’s financial issues.

HTC also has become the subject of various rumors about its future—most recently speculation that Lenovo, the world’s top PC maker, was interested in buying the company, and that officials were talking with Microsoft about possibly expanding the operating systems it supports and offer Windows-based devices in the future.

Despite all that, HTC executives are hoping the One Max will propel the company forward, with Chou saying the new features—from the fingerprint scanner to the larger screen size to the addition of the new HTC Sense 5.5 user interface software—will enable the phablet to deliver “the size and power required to do everything you want, and more, without compromise.”

The device, powered by Qualcomm’s ARM-based 1.7GHz Snapdragon 600 chip, includes a high-definition 5.9-inch screen, 32GB onboard memory that can be expanded, and HTC’s BlinkFeed (home screen), Zoe (photos) and BoomSound (audio) features. The built-in fingerprint scanner is located on the back of the device and is designed to make it more convenient for users who tend to check their phones multiple times during the day. Users can lock or unlock the screen using the reader, and quickly launch up to three favorite apps by assigning an individual finger to each one.


HTC Unveils One Max Smartphone with 5.9-Inch Screen

An optional HTC Power Flip Case will give the device longer battery life and more protection, according to officials.

The One Max will be available globally starting in mid-October, and it will be available in the United States from Sprint and Verizon Wireless in time for the holiday season.

HTC has made a number of moves over the past year in hopes of boosting its sales and its standing against Apple and Samsung. That has included hiring a new head of marketing, retiring its “Quietly Brilliant” tag line and bringing in actor Robert Downey Jr. for a series of commercials. In addition, HTC officials have said they will focus less on the United States market and more on those in Asia and Europe.

They hope pushing a phablet design also will help. Bob O'Donnell, IDC's program vice president of clients and displays, told eWEEK last month that the trend in tablets is toward smaller screens—seven and eight inches, rather than 10—while smartphone screens are getting larger, growing beyond five inches and creating phablets. O’Donnell said he sees a time in the future when—as the screen sizes for tablets and smartphones get closer—people start questioning whether they need both devices.

"If I've got a five-and-a-half-inch smartphone, why the hell would I buy a tablet?" he asked.

Analysts at IHS have said that they expect phablet sales to grow from 60.4 million this year to 146 million by 2016, while Barclays said sales of phablets will jump to 230 million in 2015.

IHS reported that 25.6 million phablets were sold in 2012 and estimated that these figures would grow to 60.4 million in 2013 and 146 million by 2016. (Barclays projects sales of phablets to rise to 230 million in 2015.)

Other smartphone makers are beginning to offer phablets. For example, Samsung sells the Galaxy Mega, LG has the Optimus G Pro and Huawei Technologies has the Ascend Mate. Some analysts believe Apple will offer larger screens on their upcoming iPhone 6 devices. In addition, the latest update to Windows Phone will support larger screen sizes.


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