HTC launches One Max phablet

HTC One Max. (HTC)

HTC One Max. (HTC)

Relaxnews

, Last Updated: 3:44 PM ET

After months of image and info leaks, the Taiwanese phonemaker's fingerprint reading phablet is finally official.

Based on the company's existing flagship handset, the HTC One, considered by many the best-quality Android handset money can currently buy, its big brother boasts a 5.9-inch full HD display and, like the latest iPhone (from whom HTC has been taking design lessons), it also sports a biometric fingerprint reader. However, unlike the latest Apple offering, the reader is located on the HTC One Max's rear panel, under the camera.

Also, rather than just authenticate a user and therefore unlock the device, the fingerprint scanner on the Max can recognize three different fingers from the same hand and will automatically launch a pre-determined app when it scans said finger, whether the phone is locked or open.

Quite a neat trick and one that will no doubt make the rather large device easier to use one-handed.

However, inside, the phablet has the same specs as the standard phone -- namely a Snapdragon 600 processor, HTC's own ultrapixel camera technology and its Sense custom user interface skin. Still it does offer one unique feature that its smaller counterpart doesn't.

Because it has a removable back panel (a first for HTC), the battery can be replaced and there is also space for adding a microSD card for extra storage, something that will be of vital importance for anyone who wants to make the most of the device's incredible screen performance with games and videos that traditionally eat into onboard storage.

It comes out of the box with Android version 4.3 but HTC is yet to say when it will get the upgrade to Android 4.4 which, although not yet official, is expected to launch later this month, bringing with it a host of new features.

By making the panel removable, it has caught up with Samsung and by offering a fingerprint sensor for greater security it has stolen a march on its closest competitor. Samsung is now the only phonemaker among the top-ranked three that doesn't offer a biometric sensor.

The device will launch in the UK and Europe this month before arriving in the US in November.

The launch follows that of Samsung's Galaxy Note III which officially went on sale on October 4 and which is considered by many as the device that defines the phablet market. However, as phablets start to outsell both tablets and notebooks across the Asia-Pacific region and as more and more companies from Nokia to BlackBerry start to move into the sector, competition is growing as are the steps companies are taking to make their latest handsets stand out from the crowd. As well as HTC's fingerprint sensor, LG is planning to launch a phablet with a curved screen for the South Korean market in November.


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