I’ll be honest. I am not a huge fan of cases. When I buy a phone I don’t want anything to add to the bulk of that phone. Every now and then I will flirt with cases. I will buy them, use them, stop using them, etc. For the most part I just end up not using them. Sometimes my feelings on a case depend on the case and the device. Some devices are so ugly that they demand a case (I’m looking at you G2.) Some devices are so pedestrian that cases add excitement but I still fall back into that hatred of extra bulk. Then there are devices that are so beautiful that it almost seems criminal to put a case on them. Last year’s HTC One fell into that last camp and this year’s HTC One (M8) falls into that camp even more.
Now let me introduce the conflict: I am in love with the idea of the HTC Dot View case. The first time it was leaked by @evleaks I was mesmerized. Is it the visual similarity to a Lite Brite (everyone loves to point to this)? Was it just the fact that it looked retro? Was it that I like the idea of flip cases, including those made by Samsung and LG but found this to be a bit more clever? I don’t know for sure but it was probably a combination of all of those things. So my choice was clear. With my acquisition of the HTC One (M8), I was left with no choice but to garner a Dot View case as well.
The HTC Dot View case, if you haven’t heard, is a case made by HTC for the HTC One (M8). It has a cover that flips over the front of the device from the left hand side and snaps onto the back of the M8. The back of the case is a thin hard plastic that snaps on to the corners of the M8 and has cut outs for the cameras, flash, and microphone. The top, bottom, and right side all have cut outs for buttons and ports. The left hand side begins the start of the piece that flips over the screen. That piece is a stiff but bendable rubbery feeling material. That front piece has a grid of dots that appear to reveal the screen of the M8 but actually is just recessed to a thinness that will allow the screen to show through. It still maintains the protection but has translucency. The dots on the case that are over the BoomSound speakers are actual holes though, allowing the sound to pass through unmolested. There is also a small spot for the HTC logo and a cut out for the front facing camera on the front.
The case uses magnets to communicate with the phone. There is a magnet on the case that lets the phone know that it is in a Dot View Case and a magnet in the cover that lets the phone know when the front flap is open or closed. When you open the front flap the screen awakens, bypassing (unless security locked) the lockscreen and when you close it, the screen turns off. The reason the phone needs the other magnet to tell it that it is in the Dot View case is to engage the part of the case that makes it so attractive, the data displayed through the case.
The HTC Dot View case will show information from the screen through the front flap. This we can tell from pictures. What it displays changes depending on the situation. The front flap is also capable of passing through touches and taps on the screen. If you give the front flap a tap, it will show you the time and an e-mail icon if you have any e-mails. If you don’t have any e-mails it will show you a simple icon for the weather and after a brief second it will show the current temperature (rotating back and forth through those.) Another double tap on the screen and it will turn back off. If you get a phone call the screen will show the contact and will show you instructions on answering the device without opening the flap (slide up to answer or down to reject.) It will show you how to hang up when you pull the phone away from your head as well. These are some really cool features and look cool but are they really helpful?
Your thoughts on that last question will come down to you as a person. My draw to this device was that it would offer some protection to a beautiful piece of hardware while also offering a unique look and feature set. I was really attracted to the way the case looks but it is not without shortcomings. If you open the flap and want to take a picture, the flap covers the cameras on the back. This makes picture taking difficult. The front flap is very stiff on the side which is nice in that it encourages the flap to stay closed, however it is so persistent that it can make typing a headache. Typing with the flap folded back works like you are typing on a spring. With time it breaks in and it seems to be getting better but it is still a bit of a nuisance. The back piece is thin which is great if you don’t want extra bulk but the trade-off there is that it may not be that great of a protective device. The corners where the device latches in are minimal and feel like they may let the device out if there was a bounce on the ground. The notifications offered are from apps built by HTC. On top of all that the regular price is $49.99.
All in all, I really like the case. I was able to snag one at Verizon with a discount to wiggle the price down. Unfortunately, only one color was available (more colors are listed as out of stock on HTC.com.) As someone who is not typically a fan of cases much less flip style cases, this is about as good as it is going to get (for me) but that is primarily because of style, not function. Ultimately I will probably take the case off and go back to a naked device and if I decide I’m concerned about the screen I will consider a screen protector. If you are looking for something more than style and the limited functionality this may not be the case for you but if you can’t just resist the look then you may find yourself happy with a purchase. Keep in mind though that with a little time, third party case makers will surely start releasing similar and maybe cheaper versions that do the same thing. There’s nothing unique to the magnets.