There’s a reality behind every single successful product that has ever existed: they’ve all served a purpose. It could be the most trivial of things, like a $1 game that could entertain you so well, and yet be so inexpensive, that people just flocked to buy it, to more complicated things, like mixing the luxury of a sedan with the suspension of a truck to give you an SUV. Regardless if its entertainment or utility, products succeed when they either satisfy a need, or create a desire.
I still remember walking the streets of Barcelona in 2012 with Tony, and seeing so many of the Asian visitants of MWC with a Samsung Galaxy Note. Back then I was using an iPhone 4S and a Galaxy Nexus, so for me it was just ridiculous to carry a phone that big, since the Galaxy Nexus was already too big in my opinion. Still, not wanting to judge a book by its cover, I will admit that once I visited the Samsung booth and used one for a couple of minutes, I begun to understand that the size of this phone actually served a purpose. This phone wasn’t designed to just be a phone, and it pulled me back to the years when I carried a huge Pocket PC along with a phone, since I was one of those users that wanted more than just a phone.
Sadly I never bought the first Galaxy Note, but when the Galaxy Note II was launched, I just had to have it. Yes, I belong to the millions of people that hate TouchWiz with passion, but because of features like Multi-Window support, or the hovering features of the stylus, it became irresistible. At times when phones are getting bigger and bigger, I really didn’t want a bigger display, but I was willing to deal with it if the phone allowed me to do more with it. Back in the old Pocket PC days, apps like Seymour (remember this?) would allow features like these, and it was those little things that made us all enjoy the glory days.
Sadly, we’ve seen other companies try to compete with Samsung’s Galaxy Note line-up with some lukewarm results. LG’S Optimus G Pro looked almost identical to a Galaxy Note II, but it was just a big phone with no added functionality, and therefore, no purpose other than to be a bigger phone. The same can be said about Sony’s terrible Xperia Ultra, or even Samsung’s own Galaxy Mega line-up. I feel that the reason why these products have not succeeded is because a big phone compromises your experience handling it, unless it can do something unique that makes the excessive size logical.
Some of you might say that the reason why the Galaxy Note line-up is successful is because of you can write on it, but I tend to disagree. I’m one of those people that actually don’t use this feature that often. Still, I do admit that I love knowing that I have the option to do so. To some people, on the other hand, having the option for traditional pen input on their phone actually makes the transition into a digital device less daunting. Still, if this was the only reason, then a capacitive stylus and a tablet would leave you no reason to own a Galaxy Note. The reason why I disagree is because the S Pen is more than just a capacitive stylus, and the experience around it was designed to make it natural in ways that a typical capacitive stylus can’t be. And still, even if you forgot about it, the option to actually multi-task effectively on the device makes you want that bigger display to do so, or as I said earlier, makes the need for a bigger display to be logical.
With all this said, I’ll admit that today’s announcement of the HTC One max just makes me confused. Here’s a great company that I admire dearly, and that’s also struggling in ways I can’t understand, and yet, instead of learning of their past mistakes, and of the mistakes of competitors like Sony and LG, they still decide to launch a big phone that’s nothing more than a big phone. As much as I want to love it, I struggle with the concept, and here’s why I feel it’s going to flop.
It’s just a bigger phone, not a better one
After owning HTC’s biggest phones of their time, like the HTC Titan, I’ve always wanted a Galaxy Note on an HTC chassis and with HTC software. Some of you might not like Sense, but I actually love it. For me a device this big, with such a gorgeous display, the benefits of Boom Sound, and Sense were a big chunk of what I needed to be happy, and yet I’m not.
Seriously, I don’t want a bloated version of Twitter, or a bloated version of YouTube. I want to be able to play a video in ways that allow me to multi-task effectively with this phone, and sadly that doesn’t seem to be an option on the One max. Sometimes it seems that OEMs don’t understand that bigger phones aren’t really solving anybody’s problems unless they can do certain things better than smaller phones, which is sadly not the case here.
The HTC One max is already dated
HTC has single-handedly made your complex decision of picking between the One max and the Galaxy Note 3, or the LG G2 a lot easier. Yes, HTC and not Samsung or LG. Why? Well, the Galaxy Note 3 launched more than a month ago, and the G2 even farther back, and still, HTC decided to make the One max significantly inferior than both of its toughest competitors. Why oh why?
Some of you may say that specifications aren’t everything, but I’d agree with you before the Snapdragon 800 existed. If you haven’t used a phone with this processor, I strongly suggest that you do. Surely it’s speedy and all, but that’s not as important as the impressive battery life that you get from it. The Snapdragon 600 by contrast is good, but you can clearly tell the difference between a Galaxy S 4 and a Galaxy Note 3 by just using them for a couple of hours. Here, it doesn’t matter how big the battery is, if the rest of the internals aren’t as efficient, and on a device focused on multi-media, battery life is everything.
Once you also add things like a non-stabilized camera to the One max and compare it against the G2, or those meager 4 ultra-pixels at times when we’re all getting high-resolution displays on our computers and tablets, and the road just keeps getting steeper for the One max on its journey to my credit card.
The bottom line
This is a sad day for me. I was really looking forward to the One max, and now I’m disappointed. I feel this product has no reason for being, and will just be another cash cow on HTC’s quarter results next month. If they would’ve launched it in another season where the Galaxy Note 3 and the LG G2 were not in their growth stages in sales, this phone would probably stand a chance simply because of market timing. Sadly that wasn’t the case, and I can’t help but think that it won’t succeed, no matter how well Michael Fisher -cough- Robert Downey JR. gives me another HTC anagram on TV.
What about you? Are you happy or disappointed about the HTC One max? Please share your thoughts in the comments.