Welcome back to Design Story, where we share how your favorite products are designed and created. Following on the release of the HTC 10, this time we’re looking at an innovative accessory designed specifically for HTC’s flagship phone: the HTC Ice View case.
As the HTC 10 took shape in our design labs, we took inspiration from our award-winning HTC Dot View Case to create the perfect accessory for the new flagship phone—Ice View, a stylish protective flip case with a solid fit. It accentuates the phone’s design and advances novel methods of interacting with everyday information.
As a protector, the Ice View’s thin frosted front repels nicks and scratches when the phone is in a pocket or bag, but is translucent enough to reveal the phone’s screen. When the cover is closed, an array of information—notifications, battery status, music controls, alarms, incoming phone calls, weather and more—are rendered in a clear, visible way unique to Ice View. And because the cover is touch-sensitive, the owner can act on that information immediately.
At the beginning of the design process, we started with the idea of the entire phone covered in a soft, protective material. This form would safeguard the phone’s screen, but also allow interaction using a unique visual effect.
Taking advantage of a new TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) construction method, we were able to realize our vision and create the illusion of a second skin, while providing necessary quality and durability. A key aspect of this was controlling the material thickness of the case in several areas. The sidewalls are thicker to offer protection where it’s most needed, and the bulk of the back surface has been reduced to a minimum, carefully maintaining the design language of the HTC 10. The metal HTC logo in the lower corner of the cover enhances the premium feel of the product, but also conceals the discrete magnetic interaction with the phone.
“Ice View feels as if the whole phone has been submerged in a protective layer, almost like a frozen block of ice,” said Mathias Hintermann, industrial designer.
To achieve the best aesthetics and functional performance, the design team spent a great deal of time exploring and refining the color of Ice View. Once a color palette was selected, we fine-tuned the material properties and textures to get the right balance of frost and feel. While the texture on the back needed to be soft and inviting, the front needed to let one’s finger slide smoothly to interact with the device. This frosted appearance of the material gave the case its Ice View name.
Design for a Different Context
At first glance, the clean, borderless design of the modern and minimal graphics adds an element of surprise and a refreshed new aspect to the phone. Like its predecessor, the HTC Dot View case, Ice View takes advantage of the unique hardware and software interaction afforded by the properties of the case. When the cover is closed (as sensed by the magnetic connection between the phone and the HTC logo), edge-to-edge graphics reveal essential information in an easily-understood design language.
The new borderless real estate challenged the design team to harmonize the interplay of all elements, such as the iconography and typography, throughout each screen and notification. The clean and minimal graphic design, from fonts to symbols, was specifically tailored to be legible and correctly proportioned when viewed through the case’s frosted front.
That holistic design of both graphic and hardware enables Ice View’s signature interactions. The touch-sensitive flip cover allows the owner to immediately respond to notifications and calls, control music playback and even quick-launch the camera and capture a snapshot. The cover becomes an extension of the screen itself, with the flexibility to accommodate future motion gestures and displays of information.
The Ice View case is an evolution of both industrial design and user experience. It opens the door to develop more motion gestures, playful applications of CMF (color, materials and finishes), surface explorations and customized themes for future products.