HTC announced Monday the One Max, a giant 5.9-inch Android smartphone with a fingerprint sensor conveniently nestled on the back of the device. The fingerprint scanner allows users to lock and unlock the screen, and, "quickly launch up to three favourite applications by assigning an individual finger to each."
HTC One Max - The Fingerprint Sensor is That Square Thing on the Back
We don't cover many Android device launches, but this is the first Android device to ship with a fingerprint sensor since the release of the iPhone 5s in September. Accordingly, the One Max is getting a bit more attention than it might have otherwise.
Allow me to point out up top that Apple didn't invent fingerprint scanning, and it wasn't the first company to bring the concept to smartphones when it released the iPhone 5s. Motorola did it with the Atrix in 2011, though that device didn't gain much traction. Accordingly, HTC isn't copying Apple by offering a fingerprint sensor on the One Max.
Apple was the first company to get it right—Apple's Touch ID is a convenience feature with hooks into the hardware and software in ways other companies are going to have a hard time matching, and that includes HTC. I'll happily bet dollars to donuts that few people remember the One Max for this feature or use it longer than a few days.
For one thing, the sensor's placement on the back seems silly to me, and allowing users to assign app launches to up to three fingers is one of those features in search of a problem. No one is going to use that. Of course, this isn't a review—I haven't tested this or even held a One Max in my hands, but I'm comfy with the prediction.
What users may remember the One Max for is the 5.9-inch display, which makes it one of the largest smartphones on the market. HTC has been struggling to compete with Samsung in the Android market, but the One Max may find adherents in the phablet fan club.
The display is a full 1080p display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. At 5.9-inches, it's big enough that watching movies could be practical. HTC doesn't talk much about the display, however, and it remains to be seen if it comes with the usual tradeoffs larger smartphones tend to have in terms of color and other issues.
The device is powered by a quad-core 1.7GHz Snapdragon 600 processor, which isn't the most powerful processor on the market, and it comes with either 16GB or 32GB of storage (expandable via a microSD slot). It has a very large 3300mAh embedded battery to power all that display, and it offers up to 28 hours of talk time, according to HTC.
In addition to saddling the HTC One Max with proprietary features no one wants ("HTC BlinkFeed™, HTC Zoe™ and HTC BoomSound™), the device also comes with Sense 5.5, a new version of HTC's interface that sits on top of Android—4.3 Jelly Bean in the case of the One Max.
HTC, like Samsung, slathers its idea of how users should interface with Android on top of the operating system. It's a product of both companies being desperate for a way of differentiating their Android products from competing Android products, but in my opinion both of them should leave it to Google. Stock Android for the win every time if you're going with Android. Your mileage may vary.