This iPhone case will last longer than you in the water…
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Today we’re going to do the review for the Catalyst Waterproof case for the iPhone 6. This is a iPhone case will provide more than double the waterproofing of a LifeProof Fre and costs less. But is it any good?
The Catalyst looks more like a bumper than an actual waterproof case as the clear back is a nice design feature that allows you to showcase your iPhone. The entire design of the case is really nice but it doesn’t do as well in terms of access to your iPhone in terms of the screen and certain buttons. In short, the Catalyst is an above average waterproof case that will protect your iPhone but hamper the accessibility of your iPhone inside the case.
Based on our time with the case, we gave it a score of 3.8 Eh’s out of 5. It scores just as high as the LifeProof Fre and both score higher than the Seidio Obex and Dog & Bone wetsuit. We will give a slightly more detailed comparison between the Catalyst and Fre at the end of this review. If you’re wondering how this case fares against other cases, check out our comparison tool!
| Compare With other |
(out of 5)
|Top Buy Buttons|
- Great design
- Waterproof up to 16.4ft/5m
- Case "squeaks" but doesn't diminish protection
- Screen protector reduces screen sensitivity
- Buttons on the iPhone are hard to access
- Sound is slightly muted
|Potential Problems||Potential Problems:|
- Potential for water damage if plugs are accidentally pulled out (see below in the Protection section)
- Customer service isn't the greatest
- Keeps the shape of the iPhone 6/6 Plus
- Bigger than the LifeProof Fre
|Install||Ease of Installation (4.5/5):|
- Installation requires you to snap two pieces together (real easy!)
- Taking the case apart requires a coin to pop the back out
|Build Quality||Build Quality (4.5/5):|
- Nice design
- Case "squeaks" where the back of the case fits into the front. See below for an expanded explanation.
|Shock Protection||Shock Protection (3/5):|
- Average 6.6ft/2m drop protection
- Unlike the iPhone 5S version, the case stayed together from a high drop
|Water/Dust Protection||Water/Dust Protection (4/5):|
- Waterproof up to 16.4ft/5m
- Can be used with Catalyst's waterproof headphone jack (not included)
- Can be used with Catalyst's floating wrist strap accessory
|Screen Protection||Screen Protection (4/5):|
- Thick screen protector
- Holds up well against change/rocks
|iPhone Functionality||iPhone Functionality (3/5):|
- Power and volume buttons are hard to get to
- Mute switch access is really nice (rotated switch instead of flip)
- Touch ID membrane works and has a matted look (not "wet")
- Able to use larger than average cables and headphones
- Sound is muted from ear piece speaker
|Screen Usability||Screen Usability (4/5):|
- Noticeable gap between screen protector and screen
- Sensitivity loss due to gap
|Screen Viewability||Screen View-ability (3.5/5):|
- Increase glare and reflection due to the gap in the screen protector
- Diffuses the iPhone's touchscreen
- Fingerprinting isn't too noticeable (if it gets to be too much, just wash it!)
|Bottom Buy Buttons|
Design – A sleek design with improvements over the 5S version
In terms of design, the Catalyst is a fairly slim case and keeps the general roundness of your iPhone. Its not as small as the LifeProof Fre but definitely isn’t as bulky as the Seidio Obex or Dog & Bone Wetsuit. Installation of the case is fairly straightforward as you snap two pieces together but during our testing period, we did notice that the plugs at the bottom of the case may be easy to lose if you’re not careful.
In terms of build quality, we’re big fans of how it holds up over time and the clear back generally stays clear as the rubber feet on the back of the case keep it off the ground. The only gripe that we have with this case is that it has a tendency to squeak which according to Catalyst is normal and it doesn’t have an adverse effect on the case.
We have 4 cases for this Catalyst Waterproof Review and they all squeaked to one extent or another.
There are couple of improvements that Catalyst has made with the 6 version over the 5S version as the outer bumper is now rubbery instead of the hard plastic and the back plate seems to be tucked into the side of the case a little better. We’re always fans of companies that try to make their products better instead of churning out the same product over and over and over again. Otterbox.
Protection – This waterproof iPhone case is going deeper than you’ll be comfortable with
Now despite the squeaking, this case is pretty tough. We’ve put this iPhone in a Catalyst through the dishwasher, snow and concrete. With our iPhone 5S version, the Catalyst was the only case to completely come apart during a drop. We were worried that this was going to be the case for the 6 version but after dropping it a couple of times, the case stayed together which is nice. The Catalyst can be dropped from a height of 6.6 ft or 2 m which isn’t really anything special in the world of tough iPhone cases.
The Catalyst is a tougher iPhone case as it allow you to take your iPhone up to depths of 16.4 ft. which is twice as much as you could with the Fre, Nuud, Obex and Wetsuit. If you’re into snorkelling and other shallow, submerged water sports, we’d definitely go with the Catalyst. It comes with an optional installable wrist strap but if you spend a bit more money, you can get one that floats.
If listening to music while submerge your iPhone is something you like to do, get the headphone jack extension that you have to spend 15 dollars to get. As we mentioned in the design section, the plug will come out easier out of the lightning port connector when used with the headphone jack extension so be careful when you’re taking this out in the open water.
The screen protector on the Catalyst is on the thicker side and holds up well against debris, keys and coins.
Functionality – You need to compromise something for the extra waterproofing…too bad it’s the iPhone inside the case
In terms of accessing your iPhone inside the case, there are some really great points and some really awful points. Getting the the hardware ports on the case is a cinch as all you do is pull back the rubber plugs that completely seal the jacks. The cutouts are large enough to handle larger than average Apple accessories.
In terms of the buttons, we found that getting the volume and sleep buttons were tougher than average. We’re guessing that they are going to get easier over time but still, they’re not fun to use. Now the mute switch is accessed through this turning mechanism which is much easier to use that the normal rubber flip switches you find on almost all the other cases.
The TouchID membrane works and isn’t one of the clear “sticky” looking membranes which we like. Camera and flash generally work but the high edges on the flash means that the edges of your flash photography are going to be slightly discoloured which isn’t great.
Sound coming from the iPhone is noticeably quieter from the ear piece speaker but isn’t an issue for the regular speaker though we do have to point out that the sound is directed from the bottom of the case to the back so there’s less chance that you’ll mute the sound physically. We found that lying it flat on it back did improve the sound coming from the case during our Catalyst Waterproof Review.
In terms of accessing your screen inside the case, the screen protector on the catalyst does have a noticeable gap and as a result it reduces the sensitivity just a bit. It’s a very slight sensitivity loss that I’ve noticed the most when scrolling through my Facebook feed. There is a bump where the ear speaker membrane is that makes the area right under it a little dead in terms of sensitivity.
In terms of screen viewability, the gap between the screen protector increase the glare and it makes the reflections coming off the iPhone wobbly. There is a slight diffusion of the iPhone’s touchscreen but if your’e looking at the screen from a normal distance, it’s not going to be an issue. Fingerprinting isn’t a big issue but will accumulate after a bit of usuage. Good thing its waterproof as a couple seconds under the tap with some hand soap takes care of that problem.
Have questions about our Catalyst Waterproof Review for the iPhone 6/6 Plus? Please ask them on our Google+ page or on our Facebook page.