HTC One (M8) case roundup: STM, OtterBox, and Tech21

The HTC One (M8) is the latest smartphone from HTC and there are already several case alternatives for this slick smartphone. Take a look through these three new choices.

Topic: Mobility
1 of 11 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Four case options for the new HTC One (M8)

I like to test out cases on my phones and use them from time to time to add color and expand my phone functionality. It seems I always go back to carrying my phone "naked" and when I get new phones that is how I roll until cases are made available.

The new HTC One (M8) is an amazing piece of hardware and, like the iPhone 5s, it is really tough for me to cover up the design with a case. However, the new One is also VERY slippery and many other reviewers have mentioned how many times it has fallen out of their hands. It has slipped a few times on me, but so far I have been able to make a fast recovery and catch it before it hit the ground.

A few manufacturers were able to get cases for the HTC One (M8) out rather quickly and HTC sent samples along to test out. I already wrote up my and while the notifications functionality is cool, the flip cover bothers me too much to use the case regularly.

Other cases I had the chance to try out and that you will see in this image gallery include the Impact Mesh from Tech21, the OtterBox Defender, and the Harbour 2 from STM Bags. All three are well made cases that offer some drop protection for your HTC One (M8) while also offering a better holding surface than the slick naked One.

Related coverage:

2 of 11 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

STM Bags Harbour 2 for the HTC One (M8)

I looked at several STM Bags cases in the past and have always been very impressed with their designs. The Harbour 2 for the HTC One (M8) arrived in charcoal with orange highlights. They also have red and black cases for the new One.

You flip down the bottom of the front and then slide your phone up and in the case so that you have serious holding power around the edges. The case is made from a dual density TPU to provide drop protection with little added bulk or weight. The orange highlight material is found inside the case, around the camera, and on the hinge stripe.

You can also use the hinge part as a vertical stand, but I would love to see it work as a landscape stand for watching video content and it just might with a bit of maneuvering and placing something behind the flap so it doesn't close on the One.

3 of 11 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Back of the STM Harbour 2

You get access to all ports and buttons with clear openings for the cameras and flash. The back has a matte finish that definitely improves the grip of the One and if you don't have something on it I can almost guarantee you will drop the One. Maybe this is why HTC is providing one free screen replacement in the first six months.

The STM Bags Harbour 2 for the HTC One (M8) can be found at Amazon and other retailers for $29.95.

4 of 11 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

As a ship designer, I often travel to visit ships and perform measurements and capture information to use for modifications on those ships. Thus, I like having rugged cases available to protect my smartphones in the field. OtterBox is one of the most popular rugged case brands and they were quick to launch the OtterBox Defender Series for the HTC One (M8).

The green case with black camo back arrived with the other cases. It did not come in the retail package so the holster with kickstand was not included, but the three piece case is complete. There is a front piece with integrated screen protector that has openings for the front facing stereo speakers and front facing camera, a back frame piece that snaps into the front piece with several clips and is lined with foam to protect the back of your HTC One, and a back silicone shell piece that fits over the two clamped pieces to provide grip and more protection.

5 of 11 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

There are openings in the back frame piece for the cameras, power button/IR port, and a covered opening for the headphone jack/microUSB port on the bottom. There are raised buttons on the right for the volume controls. There is a woodland forest camo design on the back of the shell piece that is made of black silicone material. It is very easy to get your HTC One into this case, but you can tell it is very secure in the snapped together plastic inner frame.

6 of 11 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

OtterBox cases definitely add bulk to your device and with the new HTC One (M8) being so long the whole package is big. However, this bulk provides serious protection from drops. Given the front and back openings it doesn't provide complete water and dust resistance. There is some level of protection due to the coverage and port fittings, but please do not try dunking your HTC One in this particular OtterBox. They do make waterproof Preserver Series cases, but they don't have one yet available for the One (M8).

7 of 11 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

The OtterBox Defender Series is available in a number of covers for $59.90. I see it is also available at Verizon and other carrier stores for $49.99 so check around before your make your purchase.

8 of 11 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

You can get up to 36 different color combinations for this Defender case. They also have a bit lighter Commuter Series for $39.90. I like seeing that you can also now purchase the individual pieces by themselves if you want to change colors or something happens to break.

9 of 11 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

I first saw the Tech21 Impact Mesh in clear on an HTC employee's One (M8) and asked for the name of the case so I could track one down. I am a fan of the color orange and like that Tech21 has rigid orange pieces around the frame that offer corner protection for the One. The rest of the case is clear plastic. While I see Impact Shell and Tactical cases on their website I don't yet see the Impact Mesh one like this, but you may want to check your local wireless carrier store.

10 of 11 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

While the back is glossy clear plastic, it has a rubberized feel to make it less slippery. The orange rigid pieces are embedded in the clear plastic and add some color to the device while also making it much easier to hold in your hand. There are openings for the power button, cameras, mics, headset jack, and microUSB charging port. There are integrated buttons that map over the volume buttons. The front is completely open and unprotected.

The case goes on rather easily, but you will have to do a bit of work to get it up and over the edges of the last side you put into the case. I like that it takes a bit of effort to secure it since that also means it isn't coming off easily.

11 of 11 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Camera performance is not impacted at all since the openings are spacious and the case thickness is minimal on the back. I like that the back is covered in holes below the solid clear back as that provides additional shock/drop protection and gives your HTC One a rather cool look. The mesh design is from a TPU formula combined with D3O material to give your serious impact protection.

The Tech21 Impact Mesh is available online for other smartphone models for $34.99. Of the four cases I tested so far, this is my personal favorite.

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