HTC One Max.

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."

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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.