Review by Andrew Kameka on Tuesday April 08, 2014.
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I can understand why HTC would want to build the One M8 Dot View case; it's tougher for me to understand why anyone would want to buy it if they knew how the case performs on a daily basis.
The HTC One M8 Dot View is very enticing. The flip cover case offers something that no other phone has by appealing to our nostalgic sensibilities. The front of the case has a soft rubber mesh that lets light shine through the front of the display and a tiny proximity sensor that alerts the phone to the case's open or closed state. Tapping twice on the front of the case activates the One M8 to show a block 8-bit typeface that when viewed through the mesh looks like a bunch of dots. Those dots form to reveal the time of day and weather conditions in most scenarios, and they alert the user if new email or text messages have arrived. I was suckered into loving the way the case looks simply because of the novelty of tapping to see the time and the retro way that information is displayed.
It's also easy to get wrapped up in the way that the Dot View case adapts to common situations. The screen uses the same dot effect to alert users to incoming calls, allowing them to swipe down to reject the call or swipe up to accept. You can also put the phone directly to your ear and don't even need to flip the case open because you can carry out a conversation as if the case weren't even there. The Dot View case even lets users initiate calls by swiping down and using Voice Dial to reach out to one of their contacts.
So what's not to love about something that appeals to your happy youth, looks beautiful, and doesn't get in the way of phone calls? Well, how about not loving the way that the case gets in the way of everything else? To be clear, all of the features that I just mentioned can be done even without the case. Dot View merely provides a whimsical way of using features already built into the One M8 and adding some protection to the device. Dot View might look fantastic, but it feels like ordinary plastic. It's comical that HTC devotes all of its energy to tell the world how great and awe-inspiring is the aluminum build of the One M8 yet its case hides all of that design marvel. The hard plastic feels fine and I was happy that it protected the phone from a few scratches, but the material doesn't feel premium.
Then there's the issue of trying to do anything one-handed. The One M8 has a curved back and the Dot View case has a flat front cover that doesn't curve with it very well. Because the hinge on the phone is designed to snap back all the time, trying to pull back the case to type or navigate with one hand is annoying. It always feels awkward. Don't even think about taking portrait photos with one hand because the front flap would block the rear camera, so take pictures with two hands or have the flap hanging down in landscape.
The Dot View Case looks awesome and has a very interesting way of using the phone. However, caller ID, time, and weather can be shown on the standard lock screen without a case. I can get the same information by tapping on the HTC One M8 screen, and I don't have to pay $50 to get it. I think the Dot View case is interesting and fun to play with, but when the realities of the case set in, you'll probably want to view something else.
Andrew is based in Miami, Florida.