HiSense wins the biggest phone award with the 6.8″ Maxe X1

MWC 2014: Big, bigger, and biggest phones, now with a remote

HiSense logoHiSense had the largest phone SemiAccurate saw at MWC this year, the 6.8″ Maxe X1 complete with Bluetooth remote. If you are thinking that the phone size wars are getting a bit silly, well this one is the silliest but it isn’t as unwieldy as you might think.

Make no mistake about it, the HiSense Maxe X1 is a huge beast but it isn’t as clunky as you would expect a 6.8″ phone to be. Better yet HiSense is not making up silly terminology to try and turn this phone in to something it isn’t, they just call it a phone. That said it has a remote that looks like an old candy-bar phone…

HiSense Maxe X1 6.8" phone

The Maxe X1 front and back compared to an LG G2

The X1 is unquestionably massive at 192.2mm x 95.6mm x 9.2mm but the aspect ratio seems a lot slimmer than most smaller phones. It certainly is higher than that of the current crop of 7″ and 8″ tablets on the market, and this leads to a rather curious effect. The X1 feels smaller than it is, you can hold it in one hand and it fits fully in the pocket of the author’s jeans. Where a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7″ barely fits and feels large, the X1 seems a bit, well, unobtrusive. In short the form factor works, at least it works for me.

What does this uber-phone have for specs? Things start with a Qualcomm quad-core MSM8974AB SoC running at 2.3 (likely 2.26 rounded) GHz backed by 16/32GB of flash and 2GB of RAM. The screen is only 1080p but it is a high quality looking cap touch IPS one so it should do OK for reading and movies. Anything more and the 3900mAh battery would feel the strain so “only” 1080p may be a wise trade-off.

On the comms side, the Maxe X1 supports 3G(900/1800/1900MHz), WCDMA(900/2100MHz), and LTE(800/1800/2100/2600MHz), essentially everything you likely need. On the camera side it has the standard 13MP rear but the front camera is an unusually generous 5MP. On the down side there are only two slots, a SIM and a microSD, we expected more given the physical size of the phone. All of this runs Android 4.4 as you would expect, it basically hits all the check boxes for hardware and software.

HiSense Maxe X1 phone remote

Yes phones now come with a wireless phone… err remote

What you probably didn’t expect before we mentioned it was that the Maxe X1 comes with a remote that looks like an old school cell phone. It is a Bluetooth device with a dial pad, minimal screen, and a few messaging and music control features. In short it comes with a cordless feature phone so you can leave the main unit in your bag without missing a call. Sigh.

When we first saw the X1 at MWC, the only thing we could think of was that the phone size wars have gotten completely out of hand. We were prepared to mock it, then we tried it. It fit in a pocket without problems, the screen was decent enough, and the OS was snappy and crapware free. The more we played with it, the more it seemed like something we could carry on a day to day basis. It may not be the right thing for everyone but if you are going to carry an ~5″ phone, a 6.8″ beast seems to make a bit more sense. That and it will fend off marauding rodents of unusual size with more aplomb.

In all seriousness if you are going to carry around a phone and a small tablet, something like the HiSense Maxe X1 could be a better bet. With the CPU power, screen size, and radios in the device, you could easily use it as a laptop replacement with only a Bluetooth keyboard. It won’t replace a PC for a power user but it is one of the better single devices out there to do it all with.+ Not having had much time to really run the X1 through it’s paces we won’t recommend it yet, but the paradigm it represents has much more value than SemiAccurate would have thought prior to our hands on.

The HiSense representatives at MWC were a little unsure about MSRP and launch regions but the device should be out in mid-March somewhere. Given that the company makes rock bottom priced devices, you might have seen their ~$1500 4K TVs at Costco recently, it probably won’t cost as much as a premium phone. Add in that the specs are in line with a high-end phone, not a high-end 7″ tablet, and the Maxe X1 could be quite affordable. I for one would like to play around with it, the idea of a single inexpensive device to replace two premium ones has merit.S|A

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and SemiAccurate.com. SemiAccurate.com is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of SemiAccurate.com, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also a council member with Gerson Lehman Group. FullyAccurate