The HTC One A9 is many things. Grippy is not one of them.
While you may be fond of carrying your phone au naturel, if you're going to be carrying the HTC One A9 for long, you're going to want to find yourself a case for it. You'll want that case if for nothing else than to try and mitigate just how ridiculously slippery this slim, metal-bodied phone is. I've been carrying the A9 for two months now with a variety of cases, finding what works and what doesn't when it comes to keeping this phone protected and maintaining its functionality, while striving to be — at times — fashionable.
Here are the cases I've tried, and what I think of them. Some are great. Some are not.
1. Nagebee Heavy Duty Rhino Kickstand Case/Belt Clip Holster Combo
Holster cases, while not my preferred method of cell phone transport, are fast becoming unavoidable given my tiny lady pants pockets and ever-growing phone sizes. And with the Nagebee, we get a twofer: a kickstand case and a holster that also turns into kickstand. It's not a perfect combination, but for those of you who are constantly propping your phone up to get a better view without having to hold it like a barbarian, having a built-in stand is wonderful. The kickstand in the holster is adjustable, and much more stable than the one in the phone, but in a pinch, the in-case kickstand will get you by for some Netflix in your cubicle.
The Nagebee also has great grip, thanks to the rugged ridges on the back around the kickstand. Buttons could be better defined, but at least the power button stands out a little from the volume buttons. This definitely isn't a pretty case by any means, but it gets the job done.
2. Amzer Dual Layer Hybrid KickStand Case for HTC One A9
The Amzer's kickstand case is a much more robust than the in-case kickstand on the Nagebee, and supports propping the phone up in either landscape or portrait, another bonus. The downside of that robust kickstand is that there's a hole in the protective silicone layer to accommodate the extra thickness without unnecessarily bulking up the case.
It feels great in the hand, and has the best button layout of the cases I tried. While there are very small markings on the volume buttons, which are separated rather than one rocker; the real distinction between the buttons comes in the gap between them. The volume up button is very pronounced, with a deeper gap on each side of the button. The volume down has one deep gap on one side, and is near flush on the other. The power button is near flush on both sides, and while this has led to me accidentally turning on the screen a time or two while in the process of picking it up or shoving it in my pocket, this arrangement has helped me find the proper buttons in the dark quickly and easily.
I would definitely recommend this case if you need a good kickstand but aren't interested in a holster, or if you're looking for a case with proper button distinction. The hexagonal pattern for the case helps the Amzer have a subtle amount of flair while not drawing too much attention.
3. HTC One DotView Ice Case
I am not a fan of folio cases, and the HTC DotView Ice is a folio case with quite a few quibbles, which is dismaying given its exceedingly high price tag.
The front of the case is covered in colored plastic, which has been prodigiously perforated in order to let the DotView displays shine through. As with previous DotView cases, the DotView Ice's holes are not through-and-through holes, but rather tiny windows of transparent plastic. The top few rows, though, are actual holes for the phone speaker, as are a few near the microphone. The flap also has a small magnet in the corner, turning on the phone when you flip it open, and off and activating the DotView screens when closed.
The DotView Ice's distinction from its M-series predecessors comes around back, where rather than a soft rubber case, we have a clear plastic case to show off the A9's lovely lines. Sadly, like most clear plastic cases, it's prone to scratches and shows every nick and scrape. In fact, this case came with scratches out of the box. And while the phone should be protected from small drops and bumps, I doubt how well this case would protect the phone inside from any real abuse. Given that the port cutouts on bottom leave almost the entire bottom of the device exposed, I'd also hate to see how this case handles a drop directly on its tuckus.
The rubberized part of the case feels good, and the clear plastic back provides some grip in the hand. And while DotView doesn't strike my fancy as much as Moto Display or Ambient Display, it does add a bit of flair to your device. If you have to have this scratch-prone DotView case, at least wait for it to go on sale.
4. LK TPU Gel Rubber Soft Skin Silicone Protective Case Cover for HTC One A9
The LK Silicone was the first case I received for the A9, and going from slippery naked phone to this grippy TPU case was like night and day. This case has all the cutouts where they're supposed to be and then some, as they have a cutout for the black plastic bar at the top of the phone, where IR blasters would sit on other HTC models. But there's no IR blaster and no black window for one on the A9, so the top of the phone is exposed for no reason. It's not noticeable, but it does mean that the bare of silicone stretching across the top of the screen is thin and easily wiggles back and forth under your finger.
As far as TPU cases go, it's thin, it's grippy, and it offers some nick and bump insurance. If I have any real gripe about it, it's that the texture on the power button isn't replicated, and the volume up and down buttons are separated on the case. Instead of one long smooth volume rocker and a textured power button, you have three smooth buttons, making it hard to tell by touch alone which button you're hitting.
The LK Silicone is thin, squishy, and great for light-duty protection that won't break the bank, and I find myself coming back to it between bulkier cases. The soft purple tint also helps the case stand out without being loud, like our next case...
5. Tauri Studded Rhinestone Crystal Bling Hybrid Case Cover
This is actually one of my favorite cases, showy though it may be. I tried out two hybrid cases, a teal Tauri one and a purple/black model from L/K with a grippy-looking small hexagonal pattern on the back. The L/K, while certainly adequate, is not quite as comfy in the hand as the faux-quilted pattern on the teal case. The silicone half of the case on the Tauri is also a bit less floppy.
The color is a bit bold, so the case stands out, but it takes a beating. The silicone grips well when putting the phone in a pocket, or propping it up against a monitor, and the lines where silicone meets rigid plastic are smooth. While I has some concerns when I ordered it that the rhinestones on the back would catch, scratch or otherwise mess things up, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the fake gems are recessed, giving the case a smooth feel on the back rather than a bumpy one.
These cases may not be the thinnest, but they get the job done and they give it a bit of style. Matter of fact, I'll sometimes mix-match the two cases, using the black silicone with the teal plastic to match a few of my favorite ensembles. If you're only buying one case for your phone and are bold enough to rock the bling, take the rhinestone model.
We hope these cases help you find your smartphone some much-needed grip and protection. If you have a case you swear by for your own HTC One A9, share it with us in the comments below! We're always on the lookout for that perfect case.