Samsung and LG's external display covers: How practical are they?

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from  Kansas City, MO
| July 31, 2013

It's not uncommon for manufacturers to try and sway you to their phone by offering some tempting accessories to go along with it. Cases, docks, Bluetooth accessories, and even back cover replacements are used as a way to make you want to purchase their new product. Although lately it feels very same-old same-old, Samsung was the first to release a very peculiar type of accessory that hadn't been seen before when they announced the Galaxy S4: the S-View cover.

S-View is essentially the smartphone's answer to an external display, like you would have seen on your old flip phone. S-View keeps a small window of your phone viewable at all times while keeping the rest of the phone covered with a thin hard flap. The viewable window also has a sheet of plastic over it, so no part of your screen is vulnerable to scratches when the cover is in use. The main purpose of the case is to allow you to use the main function of the phone - as a phone, which we sometimes forget - without having to give up privacy or lose protection of the screen. Well, sort of. You can't really use the phone in its entirety, but if somebody decides to give you a call you can accept or reject it without a hassle. You can also view vital statistics and notifications through the cut-out.

In an attempt to compete with S-View, LG released a teaser case of their own the other day for the unannounced G2 called the QuickWindow case. Even at a glance you are instantly reminded of the S-View cover, but photos of LG's cases show that QuickWindow actually gives you quite a bit more functionality than S-View does. With the LG QuickWindow you have access to your music player, alarm clock, text message preview, incoming phone calls and even weather reports.

I suppose I can see the desire to have one of these on your phone; it's one of those things that are reminiscent of those convenient external displays from phones of technology's past. However, I'm just not sure exactly how practical I can consider them for smartphones, especially in Samsung's case.

S-View doesn't do much but protect the screen from scratches, and quite frankly if the Gorilla Glass 3 wasn't enough then a simple screen protector should be able to make anybody with nails feel safe. The back of the S View cover doesn't offer much in terms of protection either, being that it's an exact replica of the original back of the Galaxy S4. I suppose it could be seen as a good thing for people who don't want to add any extra bulk and are more concerned about protecting the front of the device than the back, but the overall design of the cover is still very much flawed in my opinion.

The case really is no good when it comes to protecting the phone on either side while the phone is actually in use, and ironically, that's when I need protection the most. No matter what phone you're holding there's always those "Oh sh..." moments when your phone magically turns into a wet bar of soap in your hands. You don't know when it's going to happen, or where, but without a protective case you're at about a 75% greater risk of something really bad happening to it (I made that statistic up). But seriously though, without a case your phone is more likely to break. S-View isn't going to help you. Even when you think the front flap will at least keep your screen safe (which is the most important part - it's true that the back cover is easily replaceable) that's not much of a safe bet either considering the flap is not held down by magnets. Instead, it floats freely and needs to be conditioned in order to lay flat on the phone's front.

Aside from having hardly any protective features, there are other flaws with the S-View case; namely, the price. On Samsung's website the case sells for $59.99, which is a pretty hefty fee for such limited functionality and little protection.

LG's QuickWindow is already showing more promise when it comes to functionality of the small window, but without knowing if it's a full case or just another flap on a replicated back of the phone, whether it uses magnets to hold the flap in place, or the price of the case it's hard to tell whether LG is offering a better deal than Samsung or not. Personally, the only thing I see either of these cases being good for is offering a little bit of extra privacy if you're around a bunch of people all the time. Other than that, you can access all of the same features straight from the lock screen anyway. It really just depends on if you value privacy more than protection. In the end, for the average user, I wouldn't recommend getting this type of case. Yeah, it looks cool, but functionality wise I see no real benefit to having it over a screen protector and a case.

Readers, what are your thoughts? Have you purchased an S View case for your Galaxy S4, or plan on buying one for the LG G2? Would you recommend it to others? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Image via AnandTech

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