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HTC One Max Enters Super-Sized Phone Race

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- It seems as if we're in for increasingly larger and larger smartphones.  HTC announced in London on Monday its offering into the growing "phablet" class of devices with its One Max phone.

As expected, the family resemblance is easy to spot. The Max looks a lot like the well-received One and One Mini Android phones. Aside from the Max's monster (5.9-inch) high-definition touchscreen, there is one other important new feature: Max follows Apple's (AAPL - Get Report) iPhone 5s and includes a fingerprint scanner for added security. Max's scanner in on the back of the phone while Apple's is built into the button on the front of the device.

Like the original One model, the One Max runs on a Snapdragon 600 processor -- not one of Qualcomm's (QCOM) top-of-the-line Snapdragon 800 chips as seen in some other top-of-the-line new models ( Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and LG's G2 come to mind). Max comes with 2 GB of RAM (the Galaxy Note 3 has 3 GB as standard equipment). It runs on Google's (GOOG - Get Report) Android 4.3 operating system.

The rear cover on the One Max is removable (unlike HTC's smaller One models) allowing users to expand to either 32 GB or 64 GB of built-in memory with a microSD card.

The back camera is HTC's "UltraPixel" design just like the one in the smaller One phone. If you read the specs, you'll see HTC doesn't exactly mention the size. That's because in both cases the sensor measures only 4 megapixels. Despite the seemingly low number of pixels, HTC's camera module delivers terrific photos in the One; expect no less in the larger device.

HTC said it has improved its proprietary "Sense" screen look and feel. The company believes the latest version (Sense 5.5) offers a better experience over previous models. And since HTC no longer has an exclusivity deal with Beats, the One Max's super-loud stereo audio system is now called "BoomSound." I'm pretty sure this phone will continue the current trend of delivering loud sounds with over-emphasized, boomy bass.

Upon release, the One Max will have to battle a growing number of large, nearly tablet-sized phones including the Galaxy Note 3 (the current super-sized market leader) and Sony's (SNE) Xperia Z Ultra. Other super-sized smartphones are reportedly on the way as well from LG and Nokia (NOK), for instance). As phone displays approach the 7-inch HD size found in many of today's popular tablets, one wonders just how much bigger smartphones will get before they become impossible to carry or use. Those devices are approaching that limit rapidly.

Even though Apple's iPhone 5s was just released, there's talk that next year's model, the iPhone 6, will also have a much larger screen. While supposedly not in the "phablet" size range, the next Apple phone is rumored to be in early testing sporting displays in the 4.6-to-4.8 range. Current iPhone models, both the 5s and 5c, have 4-inch screens.

According to the HTC global Web site, the One Max will "begin rolling out across the globe from mid - end October." HTC's U.S. Web site has not yet been updated with information on the new phone.

Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

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