Ask a geek what makes the HTC One M8 a great phone, and you’ll get back a list ranging from build quality to internal specs to benchmarks and battery tests. Ask a non-tech person, and they’re likely to fall asleep discussing benchmarks. Toss an HTC Dot Case on the One and demo it, and suddenly you have everyone’s attention.
If you aren’t familiar with HTC’s Dot Case, it’s a simple flap-style case for the HTC One M8. The back half is form-fitting plastic, and the front flap is rubbery with translucent dots. There is a discreet HTC logo on the flap that hides a small magnet, and the back says HTC as well. Since this is HTC’s own case, it’s no surprise it fits the phone perfectly. All four sides have some exposure since the case only clips on at the corners, though the hinge of the flap would likely interfere with repeat access to the SIM slot. The magnet isn’t strong enough to hold the flap onto the screen, but gravity keeps it in place unless you flip it over. The hinge is also stiff enough that the flap will naturally fall into place unless it’s laid out perfectly flat or folded behind the phone. Unfortunately, the flap is a bit stiff so it doesn’t fold perfectly; you can still hold the phone one-handed, but it can be a bit fatiguing after a while since it doesn’t bend with the curve of the phone or your hand.
But the reason to own the HTC Dot Case is for when the flap is closed. Double tapping brings up a retro, dot-matrix style screen that shows the weather and time. Swiping down brings up voice dialing, though I found it to be a bit hit or miss at understanding me. You can actually answer and hang up calls through the flap, by swiping down to answer and again to hang up. Since the flap digs into your hands if you hold it back too long, this makes long conversations more comfortable. It also keeps face sweat and grease off your phone, a nice bonus. Finally, if you have missed calls you can view the notifications through the flap, another neat trick that makes it easy to check without having to unlock the phone. It’s a little bit gimmicky, but I’ve shown it to die-hard iOS users and their jaws have dropped; there’s something futuristic and fun about the way it looks and how it works that makes the features capture your attention.
All this is possible thanks to the magnet embedded in the flap, and that also allows the HTC Dot Case to function like a Smart Cover for the iPad. Opening the flap unlocks the phone and closing it locks it again, handy if you can’t reach the power button or just want to make sure your phone doesn’t get accidentally unlocked in your pocket. So if you don’t have a password lock on your phone, it’s simple to pick it up and start working by just flipping it open and tapping away.
The Dot Case is great, but it has two main drawbacks (well, there’s a third, but we’ll get to that in a moment). One, the flap issue I mentioned above. It’s really irritating to have a stiff flap that doesn’t fit comfortably around the back of the phone, especially since it tilts the phone at an awkward angle even on a flat surface. The other main issue is the rubbery flap material. It’s a magnet for dust, pocket lint, dirt, and anything else that it might touch, and because of the dots it’s nearly impossible to get it truly clean. I’ve actually rinsed the case a few times, which has helped, but then before I know it there’s more dust and random lint stuck on the flap. In addition, the dots leave an impression on the screen, so you get a lovely smudgey dot pattern if you look at the phone in direct sunlight. Obviously, a quick wipe with a microfiber cloth takes care of that, but it looks gross.
Should you buy the Dot Case? If you’re a fan of book-style cases I think the pros generally outweigh the cons. It offers a tremendous amount of functionality even when closed, and if you want to give the screen a little extra protection it’s a great choice. If you’re looking for simple and thin, there are better minimal cases, and if you’re looking for serious protection there are rugged choices as well. What may really tip the decision, though, is the cost. At $49.99 this is not a cheap case, so if you can find one in a carrier store to try before you buy, I recommend doing so. When you can get a simple case like the STM Grip 2 for $19.95, or spend the same $50 and pick up an Otterbox, the Dot Case falls into a weird middle ground where it really comes down to how much you like the functionality and aesthetics.
MSRP: $49.99 from HTC
What I Liked: Lots of notification options with the phone locked and closed; smartcover style lock and unlock functions; fits the phone quite well; protects the screen.
What Needs Improvement: Flap is quite stiff and doesn’t fit well behind the phone; rubber is a lint/dust/finger oils magnet.
Source: The HTC Dot Case was a personal purchase