Draco Design Draco One Aluminum HTC One Bumper Case Review

There was a time when the iPhone grabbed the accessory spotlight and held onto it tightly for many years, but that is quickly changing due to the surge of worthy rivals and the demand for a cut of the iPhone's wealthy selection of protective cases. We're beginning to see case manufacturers bring their best selling offerings over to encase some of today's most popular Android handsets like the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4. Truth be told, we like reviewing accessories for Android devices too. Some say the One is the best Android device out there, so why would you want to cover it up with cheap plastic instead of something that is actually up to standard?

You may know Draco Design for its extravagant, often times exotic looking iPhone bumper cases straight out of Tokyo Drift. The Draco One is the one and only all-aluminum machined, laser sculpted bumper case for the HTC One you can currently get your hands on. But will it be worth your while? Let's find out.

Our most recent review involved a couple of ordinary, inexpensive cases made by Poetic for the HTC One that we thought had a place and the right price for a lot of people who were just looking to protect their investment, and doing so on a tight budget. Using plastic cases is perfectly fine, and there's nothing wrong with it; we actually prefer them over all other materials. However, some people like to keep the playing field even at all times even when that means having to spend a pretty penny.

There's only one reason why you would want to spend $80 on the Draco One (which is considered to be somewhat affordable all things considered), and that is premiumness. The premium qualities of an aluminum bumper case like the Draco One coupled with the all-aluminum construction of the HTC One, results in something you would call a balanced breakfast. The great thing about the Draco One is that because it's a bumper, it preserves the original beauty of the HTC One so that you can continue to enjoy its amazing aluminum design without having to cover it up. And the fact that it's machined out of aluminum, curved in a unique symmetrical way, it adds a different dimension to the periphery of the HTC One in a very complementing, and elegant way.

Both the HTC One and the iPhone 5 share a common high-end industrial design, one that is strongly appreciated by us. The Draco One is merely a clone of the Draco 5, the iPhone 5 variant we reviewed a while back. And that means that the Draco One shares the same exact curvy styling, the same type of finish which we didn't think was as good as Draco Design's previous Draco IV iterations, and lastly the Draco One offers the same aesthetically pleasing look that is oh so special and original. The Draco One is a beautiful piece of precision engineering.

Identical to the Draco 5, the Draco One is a two-piece bumper that installs using two hex screws seamlessly hidden at opposing corners of the frame. A tool and additional screws are also included in the packaging. The installation process is quick, very easy to apply at first and best of all, the fit of the Draco One is spot on precise with no play or annoying button shaking noises. 

Thankfully there isn't a cutout for the SIM card slot like the one present in the Draco 5 to ruin the smooth curvy lines of the Draco One's beautiful industrial design.

You'll notice that the Draco One features two completely different types of finishes that ultimately convey sophistication. It just looks really good sitting on top of a table. Around the middle is a brushed edge detail that's polished to a shine revealing the true color of the raw aluminum underneath the black matte finish. The way the silver trim reflects light around it is really good looking and it makes up for covering up the chamfered edge of the HTC One.

While I developed a liking towards Draco Design's new direction with its bumper design, I still think the matte finish and texture isn't as good as it once was when we reviewed the Draco IV bumper for the iPhone 4/S; or as good as the aluminum finish of the HTC One itself for that matter. The finish isn't particularly impressive on closer inspection, yet it hasn't changed compared to the Draco 5. Nevertheless, the Draco One is still an impressive aluminum bumper case that has been carefully designed with the HTC One in mind. So Draco Design hasn't lost its touch all together.

The black aluminum finish is indicative of teflon coating in texture. While the finish contributes nothing to grip, the actual curvature and shape of the Draco One creates grip all on its own. Instead of straight clean lines, the curved body of the Draco One provides grip able points where your fingers naturally rest thus reducing the chances of your HTC One slipping away. Think of it like this. You're much less likely to drop a rock with a coarse uneven textured surface than you are a smooth pebble.

A small but important details is that one of the Draco One's integrated buttons is actually a clear plastic button inlay that covers the sleep button which is designed not to interfere with the HTC One's IR Blaster. The volume rocker has also been taken care of of course in the form of a sleek aluminum volume rocker, polished to fit the Draco One's brushed trim and functions as you'd expect it. Openings for the micro-USB and 3.5mm headphone ports are wide enough so not to cause any issues.

What hasn't changed is the fact that holding the Draco One isn't as comfortable of an experience as it is holding it naked. Picture yourself holding a a set of metal utensils. Not so great is it? But some would still ignor the discomfort just so they can show off like a person wearing shades in the winter or during the night. The Draco One isn't practical, but we don't think it was designed to be. And yes Draco Design does claim that its Draco One has been designed with an ergonomic grip, maybe that would be true if you were someone who didn't feel pain.

If the HTC One wasn't wide enough, using it one handed is even a more ridiculous idea now that the Draco One adds significant width to the device. While the Draco One is actually an extremely slim bumper thickness wise, it bulges out the sides instead to show off its toned body.

Unlike the Draco 5's rubbery lining, the Draco One features a good amount of interior padding to keep the HTC One from contacting the aluminum build of the Draco One, but they're made from a thin plastic material instead of rubbery to help absorb shock which is disappointing. I don't believe that there's a sufficient amount of impact protection here except for the rigidity of the Draco One's aluminum frame surrounding the HTC One. But wait, there's more to it.

The big problem with using the Draco One isn't marginal reception degradation and total LTE assassination, it's that it completely lacks drop protection. It does not provide a protective coverage around the back, letting the bulge of the HTC One's "underbelly" simply hang out in the wind, unprotected and totally vulnerable to scratches or worse if dropped. Using the Draco One as an every day bumper case is a bad idea and unless you want to push it, you can apply a protective skin.

Unfortunately, Draco Design hasn't designed anything to keep the backside of the HTC One protected like it could have done in the form of the Tech21's Impact Band bumper for the Blackberry Bold 9930/9900, or similar. The least Draco Design could have done was to include a simple clear protective back skin as an optional add-on for the $80 you pay. This is a major downside, and we cannot recommend the Draco One specifically due to this flaw.

The Draco One is a good looking, premium feeling aluminum One bumper case with no lay-on-the-table back protection

We can't shake the fact that the Draco One provides little to no protection against daily use, and if it were designed with the curvature of the HTC One in its DNA, we would have been very pleased. But as it stands, Draco Design isn't too concern about keeping your HTC One protected, but instead the company thinks you should worry about dressing up your One with a sleek aluminum bumper clearly designed to look good, nothing more. Copying the Draco 5 and applying the same exact design to fit the HTC One simply does not work in practice. It may look outstanding and even fit just the way you've envisioned it will, alas the Draco One was never designed to work with the complex industrial design sense that HTC has brought to the market with the One.

The Draco One is a good looking, premium feeling aluminum One bumper case with no lay-on-the-table back protection, and that's not good enough for us nor is it for HTC One users.