Hands on: HTC One Dot View -- who knew a case could be so cool?

I'm not usually one to spend much time focusing on smartphone cases -- heck, I don't even believe in using 'em, personally -- but HTC has created something so unusual for its new HTC One (M8) phone that I couldn't resist showing it off.

It's called the Dot View case, and it brings a refreshingly original and functional twist to the standard smartphone case. The case itself looks deceptively simple, with a hard plastic back that the phone snaps into effortlessly and a rubberized plastic front that protects the phone's face.

HTC One (M8) Dot View Case [1]

That front is where the magic lies, though: The surface is taken up by tons of tiny pinholes. When the case is attached, the phone displays cool retro-looking graphics that shine through those holes to show pertinent info.

HTC One (M8) Dot View Case [2]

You can activate the Dot View display by tapping on the front of the case twice. Doing so will pull up the current time and weather (first as an icon, then as a specific temperature). Or, if you have any pending notifications from compatible apps, it'll pull up those instead. With some notifications, you can swipe down to dismiss and move on to the next one in the queue.

HTC One (M8) Dot View Case [3]

The notifications are the Dot View's biggest limitation: As of now, the display will show only a very limited set of notifications from core system apps -- the Phone app for missed calls, the Mail app (not to be confused with Gmail) for new emails, and the Messages app (not to be confused with Hangouts) for new texts. Broader support for Android notifications would sure go a long way here.

One final function worth mentioning: When a call comes in, the Dot View case shows the caller's name and instructs you to swipe up or down to accept or reject the call. If you swipe up, you can then just hold the phone to your ear and talk normally without ever having to flip the case open.

HTC One (M8) Dot View Case [4]

You can also make calls through the case by swiping down on it when the phone is off, then following the voice prompts to speak the name of the person you want to dial. Not too shabby.

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Here's the catch: The HTC One (M8) Dot View costs 50 bucks. Whether a spiffy interactive case is worth that much -- and whether you want to cover up your new phone in the first place -- is something you'll have to decide. But as far as smartphone cases go, this is definitely one of the most interesting and innovative concepts I've seen.

More One (M8) coverage:

HTC One (M8) deep-dive review: Smartphone sophistication, refined

Hands on: The first things you notice about the new HTC One (M8)

Hands on: 6 interesting things about HTC's Sense 6 software

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