The One max joins a small but growing list of phones that include a fingerprint scanner for unlocking the device. I’ll leave the discussion about whether fingerprints are fundamentally usernames or passwords for another day, but fingerprint scanners seem to be in vogue right now for mobile phones. You could make the case that the perceived increase in security that comes with fingerprint scanners is both an enterprise or consumer play, again I’ll leave that philosophical discussion for another day. I remember the Motorola Atrix and its fingerprint scanner being a big deal a while ago, since then we’ve had the iPhone 5s dramatically reintroduce the fingerprint scanner and now the One max follow suit.

The One max fingerprint sensor is a swipe type, meaning there’s some kind of strip sensor inside that you swipe your finger across. Sliding your finger over this strip allows the module to scan a 2D region and extract features that are then used to identify a fingerprint. The One max hides this scanner inside a black square that’s slightly recessed on the back of the device, just beneath the camera. I’m reminded somewhat of the LG G2 and its rear-mounted power and volume buttons which also sit just beneath the rear-facing camera. Perhaps that’s a missed opportunity for LG, which could have also gone with a swipe type sensor in its power button. On the One max anyhow there’s no button, just the sensor. Although the fingerprint sensor is recessed slightly, it’s somewhat difficult to locate with just one’s index finger, something that results in inadvertent smudging of the rear-facing camera cover glass, something that didn’t happen as much with the G2 because there’s a larger lip and easily locatable bump.

The placement of the fingerprint sensor makes sense given that of the power button. As stated earlier for right handed users this means your index finger sits naturally near the sensor if your thumb is on the power button. Since the fingerprint button still requires activation to unlock the One max, you still need to press power to turn it on before you can swipe your finger and finally unlock it. I find myself wishing the fingerprint sensor was itself a button, something like the iPhone 5s, so unlocking could be as simple as pressing and swiping with the same finger. On the iPhone 5s the best activation pattern is pressing the home button and leaving the finger in contact with the button.

 

Setup requires you to set a passcode, after which a few training swipes trains the sensor for the finger you’ve chosen. Although the animation that plays shows the finger aligned along the long axis of the phone, for greater accuracy I trained the One max with my finger at the angle it would naturally be given my thumb on the power button. The only requirement given the swipe sensor is that the slide motion is straight down and not skewed.

 

The One max fingerprint sensor allows for up to 3 fingers to be paired, each able to either unlock or have the option of both unlocking and launching an application. I like the idea of fingerprints as shortcuts, something the iPhone 5s implementation lacks, but three fingers seems like a curiously low number given the ten digits humans have to work with. On the other hand, the placement of the button really limits you to middle and index fingers being viable options. In terms of functionality, although Apple doesn’t yet use fingerprints as shortcuts, Apple does use the fingerprint scanner to authenticate iTunes, iBooks, and App Store purchases, something HTC can’t quite do with the One max for Google Play purchases, at least until Google makes an API for it.

I initially trained the fingerprint sensor with my index finger being swiped straight down, and had some issues with unlocks requiring multiple swipes. Doing finger enrollment and training at an angle closer to how I actually swipe it naturally (at an angle) made the accuracy better, but the reality is that unlocking the One max still requires multiple tries more often than not. There isn’t much processing latency after a scan, but I had hoped the One max sensor would be tap and hold rather than swipe given its shape. I’m not clear what suppliers are involved for the sensor, but I’m told the One max also securely stores just the extracted features and not the fingerprint images (which is a no brainer). I haven’t delved much into the infrastructure used to secure the fingerprint features yet either. I’m also not sure whether the One max learns additional parts of the finger which wasn’t part of initial training the same way Apple’s does.

Although I don’t think anyone has totally nailed the fingerprint sensor yet on a device, the One max implementation definitely is further from perfection than Apple’s. Although it does work reasonably well, it still isn’t the transparent kind of convenience that I feel will compel users who ordinarily wouldn’t have to used a passcode to go and use the fingerprint scanner. I’ve continued using the fingerprint scanner on the One max, however.

Introduction and Hardware Sense 5.5 and Android 4.3
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  • Ruevenator - Monday, October 28, 2013 - link

    I store a lot of music on my phone. I have 16 GB internal and 64 GB external. Needless to say if I purchased a phone with 80 GB, I'd have to take out a car loan to pay for it. It's stupid to pay for internal OEM storage when you can buy if cheaper. As for "ruining the user's experience with external storage", I believe Apple is just greedy, refusing to give buyers a choice in fear that they might go somewhere else for memory. That is just one of the reasons not to buy an iPhone. Reply
  • ELPCU - Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - link

    Dude, ur argument is SO WRONG. first, slow speed of microSD card does not matter that much, because OS has to be installed on Internal flash. Except OS, there is not much real advantage of using fast speed memory. Why? Note there is thing called RAM, and ur data transfer RAM first, and data will be used after that. Unless bottleneck is happening during tranfer from storage to RAM(which does not happen most case except loading OS and large size app loading), u will not suffer from lack of speed. So what is happening? most of time, you do not benefit from those read/write speed. Oh, also, you know what? Apple's lightning cable is USB 2.0. NOT 3.0. There is huge data tranfer speed cap difference btwn 2.0 and 3.0. 160MB/s is not even useful for data tranfer from PC to iPad, because it will have a bottleneck at 35MB/s(max of USB 2.0)

    And also, most popular microSD card in market today is probably that of Sandisk, and they give 18MB/s for reading, and 12MB/s for writing. which is OK enough.

    BACK TO MAIN ARGUMENT, the advantage of having microSD comes from the fact that phone manufacturer does not give enough storage with REASONABLE PRICE. Most people, who are interested in microSD slot, wants microSD slot because their phone does not have enough storage or manufacturer charge ur money SOO MUCH, and guess what? Apple charge u 100 bucks for every storage upgrade. Because Apple do not have microSD card slot, customers are FORCED to buy those expensive extra storage. It is clear Apple will NEVER add microSD card slot no matter what kind of performance microSD card give. Do you know how much money Apple make out from that?

    There is homepage called iSuppli. Go and look their data. They show u number called Bill of Material(BOM), and BOM difference btwn iphone 5s 16GB->32GB is 9.4 dollars. and 32GB -> 64GB difference is 10.2 dollars(not even close to twice of 9,4 dollar). Although BOM does not include AS cost, marketing cost, cost from transfering, licensing, etc, iSuppli generally call zero margin if BOM is about 66% of market price. In other words, if Apple cost u 15 bucks for increasing each level of storage, they will not lose any money. Considering they have HUGE margin rate, thanks to deceptive number of 2-year contract phone, upgrading phone storage without losing money is NOT a super-generous thing. BUT INSTEAD, they charge u 100 bucks. wow. they are making 85 bucks margin with 15bucks cost if u just see storage. this is TERRIBLY RIDICULUS. If u do not know this BOM number, 100buck looks ridiculus, but if u see BOM number, it looks TERRIBLY RIDICULUS. more than 550% margin rate? wow. With this level of ridiculus price, there is no way reasonable customer even try to UNDERSTAND storage policy of apple.

    u said u can understand apple? I can not understand u dude.
    Reply
  • TheinsanegamerN - Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - link

    Ok, first of all, it's "you" not "u".
    Second, most of your argument is wrong.
    "Why? Note there is thing called RAM, and ur data transfer RAM first, and data will be used after that. Unless bottleneck is happening during tranfer from storage to RAM(which does not happen most case except loading OS and large size app loading), u will not suffer from lack of speed"
    What do you think the SD card is going to be used for? movies and music eat up more space than most apps, making your point completely rubbish. The whole argument was that cheap SD cards are slow to load data, then you say that it is not a problem, by stating that unless you are loading lots of data, there is not going to be an issue. The whole point is that SD cards are slow.

    Third, the BOM argument makes no sense. If it only costs $15 to go from 16-32 GB, then why do they charge $100 for the upgrade? why not $25 or $30 or something like that? They would still make money. Or are you suggesting that most consumers are too stupid to figure out that apple is ripping them off?

    Fourth, and finally: work on your English. You cannot make a long, legitimate argument if you type the same way that Peggy speaks in those credit card commercials.
    Reply
  • flyingpants1 - Thursday, October 31, 2013 - link

    Wow, what an asinine comment. What he said is completely accurate. All you could manage was this gem:

    " Third, the BOM argument makes no sense. If it only costs $15 to go from 16-32 GB, then why do they charge $100 for the upgrade? why not $25 or $30 or something like that? They would still make money. Or are you suggesting that most consumers are too stupid to figure out that apple is ripping them off?"

    Seriously.
    Reply
  • Homeles - Monday, October 28, 2013 - link

    "It will be nice once they go out of business to be able to stop hearing from that tiresome segment of pretend geeks who treat their cellphones like how divas treat their purses - as fashion accessories."

    Textbook "No True Scottsman" fallacy right there.
    Reply
  • Dentons - Monday, October 28, 2013 - link

    You're absolutely right about Anand and Brian sometimes being "pretend geeks". If you think they're bad in these written reviews, you should listen to them on their podcast, or not.

    In far too many Anandtech podcasts, Brian and Anand banter for ages, (and in dreary detail) about their preferred metal skinned devices.

    They could just as easily be hosting a podcast on the virtues of exquisite jewelery. It's terribly odd for writers who are so well versed in the underlying technology to morph into a fashionistas the moment smart phones are mentioned.

    The shame of it is that Anand and Brian really, REALLY know their technology. Yet for whatever reason, they don't realize their metal skin fetishism is not a priority for most technology centered folks. One suspects that most of the readers on a site like Anandtech are far more interested in the underlying capabilities of a device than the exquisite luster of the diffused, metallic outer casement.

    Diminish the fashion guys, get back to the tech.
    Reply
  • cbrownx88 - Monday, October 28, 2013 - link

    Can yall get off the fashion rant? Perhaps the metal preference is for a more ridged chassis/device or to achieve a desired weight/feel?

    Personally that's one of the reasons I love Macbooks - I hail from windows camp but after you see a MBP tumble down a flight of concrete stairs and not be absolutely shredded afterwards... you start to desire more designs that share those aluminum/steels/magnesium attributes.
    Reply
  • superflex - Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - link

    I'll venture a guess you own a plastic phone manufactured by a SK giant?
    Validation is a bitch, especially when your cheap ass phone is the kickball.
    I'll venture another guess when Samsung intros a metal phone, you'll shut the fuck up and quit whining like a bitch.
    Reply
  • Richard Paguirigan - Monday, October 28, 2013 - link

    Lol,Samsung's flimsy, cheap-looking plastic phones are some of the ugliest phones around, they have that bluish tinted amoled screen and still manage to stutter although they have the latest chips. Their build quality is mediocre and their speakers suck, suck SUCK! I could care less about sd cards or removable batteries which ARE going by way of the dodo. get with the times... Reply
  • cryptech - Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - link

    I spend most of my day in a cli and have 7.8GB available out of 16 on my mobile device. Go ahead and call me a pretend geek but I find it hysterical that just because you carry your video collection around on your phone you think you know a damn thing about the IT industry. Reply

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