If you read my piece on why you should get a case from your smartphone, then you’ll have known I purchased an S View Cover for my Samsung Galaxy S4. And now that I have had a few weeks to use it, I thought I might share my thoughts and experiences with the rest of you Galaxy S4 owners to see if it’s for you.
When I watched the launch of the Galaxy S4 and its accessories, I found the idea of the S View Cover — a cover with a see-through panel in it to view the time and notifications — very appealing, and a little bit cool. Because of the Super AMOLED display in the Galaxy S4, the entire display doesn’t have the be using power to display information in the visible area. This means there’s less battery use if you’re always powering on the display to check the time and notifications. While the battery saving might be miniscule, it’s a positive nonetheless.
The display area shows you the time/date as well as the normal notification panel at the very top as well as slightly larger icons at the bottom for any messages, emails or missed calls. Speaking of calls, you can answer or decline calls through the transparent panel with the cover still closed. This is the only time you can interact with the touch screen. I found that not having to open the cover when I got a call to be a great idea; the cover just doesn’t get in the way.
The notification area was always visible regardless of the light source I was viewing it in. This is because the display is automatically set to 100% brightness with no impact on battery life due to the small number of pixels being displayed. When using the Galaxy S4 in the dark the quick change from 100% brightness to your predetermined setting can be unsettling if viewed at close range, other than that there’s no problem there. In the settings menu of the Galaxy S4 you can turn off the option to have the display turn on when you open the case.
For those wondering how the case actually fits onto the Galaxy S4: it’s one whole thing, in that the front — made from some type of cloth — is attached to a back cover by a piece of plastic, and that back cover then replaces the one already on your phone. It’s all quite clever.
In terms of protection, the S View Cover doesn’t provide much, if anything, to the sides of the device they’re left bare. So if the device were to fall on its side, you could be in for a bad day regardless. It does, however, protect the display from direct impact such as a face-down fall or items in your pocket.
I found 3 main things I find a tad annoying about the S-View Cover, none of which warrant me to replace it. It’s staying. However, here they are.
1. It hardly sits flat**: After having the cover opened and sitting at the back of the device, the plastic between the front and back covers seems to seize-up in that position which stops the cover from sitting flush on the front of the device when you set it down. It kind of sits on an angle just off the top off the display. Not a huge problem, but it may annoy some.
**: We’ve been able to confirm that if the cover doesn’t sit flat *at all* you can get a replacement/refund.
2. Getting to the volume rocker: With the cover in a closed position, it’s easy enough to figure out where the volume rocker is and it’s then just a natural gesture of pushing against the plastic of the cover to change the volume. The problem is when the cover is open. Trying to then get to the volume rocker becomes a Kama Sutra-like challenge which is hard to perfect. Again, not a deal breaker, but something to think about.
3. The price: As expected for an official accessory, the S View Cover sells for $50 from Samsung. It’s sure as hell isn’t cheap and I don’t find the price justified for what you’re actually getting. Sure, being able to see your notifications and time without having to turn on the entire display is cool, but it’s not $50 cool. If you flip that on its head, however, $50 is a much better price to pay than $300 to replace a display that you’ve scratched, cracked or incinerated.
As I’ve stated, this case costs more than it should due to the fact it’s an official accessory. On the other hand, it’s very cool, even if the functionality it adds is minimal. It doesn’t have the side protection that other cases offer, but those other cases also don’t offer the notification window. So it’s up to you where you want your money to go and protection to be based. Personally, I’m more than happy with the S View Cover.