HTC One Max.

Armed with the new Sprint 'Spark' LTE data, this large phone is largely unchanged from the European model.

Behold, the Sprint HTC One Max! This is the first iteration of the third — and largest — member of the reborn HTC One family to grace these United States. We've already taken a pretty good look at the phone in its European form, including the new and improved Sense 5.5. And, physically speaking, Sprint's version is unchanged, save for the radios.

That means what we're looking at in the Sprint HTC One Max is what we'd generally call a "5.9-inch phone." But that's the display size and diagonally, at that. The HTC One Max is big. More than an inch taller than the original HTC One. It's more than a half-inch wider. It's bigger than the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. You have to go to the likes of the Sony Xperia Z Ultra to find a bigger "phone."

It's big.

The Sprint HTC One Max unboxing and video walkthrough

The apps: Bloat — lots of it — but bloat you can get rid of

HTC One Max.

Software is where Sprint's changed things up a little bit. Actually, not so much software — this Max is also rocking Android 4.3 and the new Sense 5.5 — but the apps that Sprint's added. We had a few phones from Sprint in 2013 that didn't contain much bloatware, Sadly, that trend has already died out. 

Here's a list of preloads brought forth by Sprint:

  • 1Weather
  • BaconReader
  • CBS Sports
  • eBay
  • Facebook
  • KeyVPN
  • Lookout Security
  • Lumen Toolbar
  • Messaging+NextRadio
  • Scout
  • Qualcomm Enhanced Location Services
  • Sprint Music Plus
  • Sprint TV & Movies
  • Sprint Worldwide
  • Sprint Zone

The good news is that at least a handful of them can be easily uninstalled. That's better than nothing, and, in all honesty, it's a nice compromise.

But, in addition to all that,  you'll find a widget on your home screen filled with stub apps. They're not actually fully loaded applications — just links to download. 

Introducing Sprint Spark

HTC One Max.HTC One Max.
A boring old 3G logo on the left, and the Sparkerrific new LTE logo on the right!

Probably the most interesting thing about Sprint's HTC One Max involves data. This is one of the first four devices to be on Sprint's "Spark" LTE network. That's a new tri-band LTE deal that promises theoretical peak speeds of 50 Mbps to 60 Mbps. (Do note the use of the words "theoretical" and "peak," of course.) At the time of this writing, there are only five cities that take advantage of this new service — New York, Los Angeles, Tampa, Miami and Chicago.

Along with Spark comes a new sparky logo — and Sprint's also using this as the data indicator in the system bar. A happy sun we'd be OK with. But this thing just spins and spins and spins, and it's damned annoying. If it doesn't bother you, great. But to us, it's far more distracting than the more subtle animations in just about every other data indicator we can think of.

Also interesting is that the Spark logo is spinning even in areas that don't have Spark. I officially have Sprint LTE here in Pensacola, but not Spark. But here the logo spins. And spins. And spins.

Is it a huge deal? Nah. It's just annoying in the same vein of Verizon slapping its logo onto anything that's big enough to contain it — and in a few places that aren't — and it's a little fun to poke at.

We're going to take a more proper look at Spark data in New York City, so stay tuned for that.

Other odds and ends

The short version? It's a HTC One Max, on Sprint's new Spark LTE network with a bunch of bloatware.

As for the Ultrapixel camera and Boomsound speakers, expect what we also experienced in the Euro version. The speakers are a little bit more full than the smaller HTC One — and still better than anything else you'll find in a smartphone. Of course, that's at the expense of an even larger phone. In something the size of the HTC One, that's not a bad trade-off. It makes the Max seem even larger than it is, though.

The camera — check out our full rundown — still sports that 4-megapixel "Ultrapixel" getup. Great in low light, decent during the day, but still sometimes confused by changes in contrast. Remember that the Max is lacking optical image stabilization, though.

The "fingerprint" scanner is really a take-it-or-leave-it feature for me. I've found it to be awkward and a bit slow. But if it works for you, more power to ya.

HTC One Max.

One feature a lot of folks will be happy to see is the addition of the microSD card slot. That'll let you expand the 32GB of on-board storage — of which you have about 26GB to actually use — another 64GB.

The Max's battery remains at 3,300 mAh. We'll have to see what Sprint's network — which long has been a sore spot for battery life on its phones — does with that, though. 

See this post for complete HTC One Max specs. We'll have a bit more on the Sprint HTC One Max coming up. 

 

Reader comments

Quick look: The Sprint HTC One Max

50 Comments

Phil you are nice enough to say that spark logo doesn't bother, but really only carriers can design ugly stuff like that.

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And he says "Is it a huge deal? Nah. It's just annoying"

I can't stand unnecessary animation in my field of view. I have yet to see this icon in action, but if it is as annoying as it sounds.... yes, it really COULD be huge deal for some people (myself included). Even more annoying if it is fake, as he seems to indicate it could be...

I agree it's pointless and unnecessary, but how does it lie?I think they purposely made it vague enough that it at least doesn't outright lie in the same vein as AT&T displaying 4G for HSPA+ etc. AFAIK no one at Sprint has issued a press release saying "hey, this vaguely sun looking spinning thing means LTE" (or Spark, or anything)

Yeah you could say I'm splitting hairs but so is trying to find any more evil intent to the thing... Saying it obfuscates your data connection status would be the most accurate stance, and everyone's doing that. No one likes admitting if you get bumped to 2G in the boonies (or even 3G at this point) so they all alter their status indicators...

Not to mention all the monkeying around with the scale of signal bars (if they're even showing data signal strength, it's often voice). Some of HTC's own stock indicators are just as annoying IMO. The pointless NFC and geolocation icons waste a chunk of notification bar space (two of the first things many ROMs first kill), vast majority of people always have both on so they're pointless.

The fact that their alarm clock icon is always up there if you have any recurrent alarm is another irritation... Sounds like I'm hating on Sense but I actually like a lot about it and a lot of Android's better features were cribbed from past Sense iterations.

Anyway, I do wonder if Sprint will manage to get this spinning ninja star of data on other OEM's phones or if it'll be an HTC thing... This kinda thing is usually wildly inconsistent, which is just as bad.

Sprint probably reduced the bandwidth and tricked people by claiming its a true 4G network. ISPs do it all the time.

Sent from the Android 5.0 Milkshake

I have an iPhone 5 through Sprint for work and I consistently see 10-20 mbps and peaks of 35mbps. My personal phone, a DNA on Verizon, usualy gets under 10mbps on LTE but sometimes peaks at 40. Obviously, VZW has been on LTE longer and has more congestion but still, 2mbps is not an accurate representation of Sprint LTE. I have seen 45kbps in congested Verizon LTE areas as well so if you try you can make any network look bad, the norm is a different story.

So in one spot sprint works fine. Nice. For every one spot you name I'll name five where it doesn't.

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That's debatable, AT&T never deployed HSPA to the level that Tmo did so they can't really make the same speed claims, and you'll never get LTE-like pings on HSPA... Very early on they also had phones with HSPA down only and no upload. It was never recognized as 4G by a standards body either, 3.5G is more apt IMO.

If you want to talk about the standards body then the LTE we have now is also not 4G.

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To a point I agree but ISPs deploy bandwidth throttling in order to regulate network traffic in specific regions.

Sent from the Android 5.0 Milkshake

To a point I agree but ISPs deploy bandwidth throttling in order to regulate network traffic in specific regions.

Sent from the Android 5.0 Milkshake

It's a nice phone I just wonder who HTC is marketing this too. Why would someone would get this over the note 3.

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Doesn't want Samsung, likes the design, wants HTC phones only. Just to name a few.

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The overall size very much fits that description. Maybe even more so than the Note 3. (But the Note 3 and Max are different devices, IMHO.)

Yeh one being a Htc and the other being a Note 3 of course they are different but im guesing that was sarcasm phil lol The One Max is good but Htc got the pricing totally wrong in that it now costs more than a Note 3 eh that is bad business little wonder Htc struggle.

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And on a phone this size, especially if you are going to use it as phablet the s pen features I think a ton of people would want.

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I agree, although tbh I think more buy the Note for the size than the digitizer... The Note class of devices are the default choice for a lot of people with larger hands or poorer eyesight (more content on screen while zoomed way in).

Exactly Andrew- but the Htc is one big device and i think that they missed an oppertunity in that if they gave it more thought it could have been a Great device, if it had the 800cpu and a stylus or at the very least that option that one can be used like the xperia z ultra then maybe it would then be worth the price point thst it is in. However they didnt and my only real gripe aint really any of the above its the fact that Htc released it at a higher price than the Note 3 and as we all know Samsung are just goood at making the best use of the large display phones, so then why Htc then thought that the one max is worthy of more is daft and that will reflect.

Not a great business move Htc cant rely on that build to keep the price high.

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I think that its being pushed as a media consumption device with its boom sound speakers and larger display and battery its basically a portable tablet great for games and watching videos and movies. The Note 3 has a more business like approach with its multi window /multi tasking and s-pen note taking. For me personally I don't need the s-pen features but I like watching videos and playing games so the Htc Max makes more sense for me. I think anyone who chooses a Samsung Mega 5.8 over this would be making a mistake. The note 3 is the best choice overall it has a great display just wish it had better speakers.

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Adding an sd card is good but why take away the OIS camera? It's a big plus on the One and really helps in low light.

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Bacon reader, 1weather, and cbs sports are all from 1louder apps, which Sprint now owns, so it makes sense that they are all on there. They are all good apps (sorry, I have a buddy that is a qa tester for them, so I have to plug them).

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Doesn't matter if they are good or bad. There is no excuse for bundling ANY non-stock Android app that can't be removed (or at the very least disabled).

Except for system apps. I understand stuff like bacon reader, but you cannot have people just turning off things that can cause problems with other things.

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I think we all need to be used to it the way screen sizes are going I would be shocked if the note 4 display isn't at least 5.9" -6" next year. I'm with you I find my G2 to be the perfect size at 5.2", I have a nexus 7 2013 for when I get home if I want a larger display.

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16 megapixel eh Phil? Lol just giving you a bad time. I was filming a review the other day and called an IR blaster an RF blaster

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Good to point out the battery life stress that the Sprint network can put on phones. Very unscientifically I've noticed that friend's phones on other networks have noticeably better battery life than any of mine.

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Some CDMA phones are also worse than others in this regard... Specially phones that keep multiple radios active like the last two EVOs or the SGS3. The advantage of that was you got simultaneous voice and data but it was still often a toss up whether it'd work. Spark phones are more efficient in this regard...

The disadvantage is that you lose SVDO/SVLTE and some Sprint markets to the west/north (those being upgraded by Samsung rather than Alcatel or Sony or whatever) will actually run into issues where a Spark phone (One Max, G2, N5) will not switch from 3G to LTE whereas older phones will.

I hope the Nexus 5 never gets that Spark logo. I would root my phone just to get rid of it which should be pretty easy. I would imagine you could just throw the previous LTE symbol back in the systemui.apk but it requires rooting the phone. Even removing the animation from the spark would be fine.

However, if it only spins when data is being transferred then at least the spinning would serve some sort of purpose.

On a side note, is spark like the new Wimax? Are we going to be told this awesome thing called "SPARK" is coming only to have it never really get here? Last time I checked, or looked at my phone, regular "old fashioned" LTE isn't even available, unofficially or otherwise, in most of the country on Sprint.

Yeah, I'd mod my systemui to remove it if they ever plastered it on the Nexus... If it only spins while transferring it's not too bad but I'd rather be able to tell 3G/LTE apart at a glance, as well as upload/download. It'd be slightly annoying since I haven't made any mods right now and that might interfere with OTAs... Not that it's hard to undo.

As for Spark or 800/2500 freq deployment, S4GRU is the place for that info, specially their message boards. They never inflated their forecast, at least not on the Puerto Rico/Virgin Islands thread I frequented. I can only hope the rest of the country sees the kinda progress I've been seeing around here, as I do travel to Boston and Maryland often.

Spark seems like a much more sound strategy than Wimax ever was though, it's sort of an evolution of Network Vision. Wimax was an ill fated collaboration with a second party (Clearwire). NV and Spark are all in house, Spark repurposes old Clear & Nextel push to talk airspace for diversified LTE deployment on multiple bands (some have better building penetration, others have batter range, etc).

Not sure if regular LTE markets on the schedule have seen big delays but Puerto Rico went pretty much like clockwork, VI (far smaller) had issues but they went live a few months later too (part of their backhaul goes thru PR anyway).

Great review Phil! Thanks for letting us know that the SPARK "Indicator" indicates Sprint's "NEW SPARK LTE" network; unfortunately it indicates SPARK 4G LTE is available in places ( like your Pensacola ) where it "ain't"!!!
Maybe instead of "bragging about this NEW & UNIQUE Sprint 4G LTE, Sprint ought to ACTUALLY build a RELIABLE "regular" 4G LTE network! I know many people who either have jumped or are going to jump off the Sprint ship because of its TERRIBLE 3G/4G network...

I really like this device except a few aspects sprint put on it. The only real thing bugging me to no end is how some of the Bloatware is locked down as System essential processes when they're clearly not related to the OS or Kernel at all, specifically the Lumen bar which is nothing short of Datamining Adware. I'd kill to uninstall it and it's the one thing pushing me to consider rooting the phone i have. While Tallahassee is relatively new to LTE, going from 3/4 MBPs with full strength signal on 3G to average 6.5 (one bar) to 20+ MBPS (full strength)on non spark LTE it's a huge improvement for me though I can't compare those speeds to other carriers in the same scenarios since I just don't know. Overall, coming back to Android from an iPhone I'd say it's at least on par system and hardware wise and superior media consumption wise to any iOS device.