Phabletsí are smartphones that are so big they almost qualify as tablets. The HTC One Max is one of the latest phablets available and itís certainly a whopper, with a big 6in screen and weighing in at a hefty 217g. Itís thick and large, even by phablet standards, due in part to its curved metal back and the stereo speakers at the top and bottom.

Itís so tall that when we carried in a jeans pocket, it poked out very conspicuously. The Max is so large and unwieldy that itís impossible to hold and use single handed unless you have massive hands - attempting to stretch our fingers across the width of the 6in screen proved to be an awkward pain.

We attempted this on a train and almost dropped the Max as a result. Image quality is great though. The screen is very bright with vivid colours. Reading is easy on the eyes too as the high 1920x1080-pixel resolution makes text look very crisp. At least the substantial weight and bulk have been put to good use.

The speakers are the best weíve heard on any phone or tablet with surprisingly clear and rich sound. Battery life is also impressive. When used for making calls, browsing the web, GPS and taking photos, the Max lasted 31 hours on Vodafoneís 3G network in Mumbai Most smartphones last for around 24 hours at best.

Click image for larger version. 

Name:	HTC One Max, HTC’s Supersized Smartphone With a Fingerprint reader.jpg 
Views:	143 
Size:	97.0 KB 
ID:	1522

One new feature that no other current Android device has is a built-in fingerprint reader. Itís used instead of a passcode for unlocking the phone, but it can be awkward to reach and swipe Ė depending on your hand size Ė as itís located just underneath the camera on the back of the Max. We did find it to be more versatile than the fingerprint reader on the iPhone 5s it successfully recognised our fingers even after the skin had been wrinkled after a soak in the bath, something the 5s didnít do. Swipes from different fingers can also be used to open different apps. For example, unlocking the phone using your forefinger can take you straight into Chrome, but using your middle finger can take you to the camera.

The four-megapixel camera sounds primitive, but in our tests the large sensor made low-light shots look clearer and better lit than shots taken on other smartphone cameras. The low megapixel count did mean that photos were noticeably less detailed, though, especially when cropped or zoomed in.

Call quality on Vodafoneís network in Mumbai was disappointing. Callers reported that we sounded muffled and distorted, especially when the background-noise cancellation kicked in to block out the rumblings of a nearby construction site and traffic. As with other One-series phones introduced in 2013, the Max comes with HTCís Blink Feed. This addition to the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean interface shows all your news headlines and social-network updates in one screen, to the left of the first home screen. Itís a useful addition, but it can be turned off if you donít like it. HTC has confirmed the Max will be updated to Android 4.4 KitKat in January 2014

The 1.7GHz quad-core processor didn't have any trouble with our demanding 3D graphics and webpage-loading benchmark tests. The Android interface did sometimes feel sluggish, though, with the touchscreen lagging behind our finger movements. The 4.4 KitKat update, with its numerous under the- hood performance tweaks, should improve this.

The size of the HTC One Max means it wonít be for everyone. Weíd much rather have a separate tablet and a more sensibly sized phone, but if you can handle the Maxís girth then itís a good choice as itís one of the best phablets available.