iPhone 6(s+)

Catalyst Waterproof Review – iPhone 6/6 Plus

 

This iPhone case will last longer than you in the water…


Watch our Catalyst Waterproof Review on YouTube!

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!

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     Catalyst Waterproof
     
    Header
    (out of 5)

    Full Review
    PricePrice:
    $69.00 USD
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    Top Buy Buttons
    ProsPros:
    - Great design
    - Waterproof up to 16.4ft/5m
    - Affordable
    ConsCons:
    - 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 ProblemsPotential Problems:
    - Potential for water damage if plugs are accidentally pulled out (see below in the Protection section)
    - Customer service isn't the greatest
    Design Rating
    DESIGN
    (Catalyst Waterproof)
    Weight/BulkWeight/Bulk (4/5):
    - Keeps the shape of the iPhone 6/6 Plus
    - Lightweight
    - Bigger than the LifeProof Fre
    InstallEase 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 QualityBuild Quality (4.5/5):
    - Nice design
    - Case "squeaks" where the back of the case fits into the front. See below for an expanded explanation.
    Protection Rating
    PROTECTION
    (Catalyst Waterproof)
    Shock ProtectionShock Protection (3/5):
    - Average 6.6ft/2m drop protection
    - Unlike the iPhone 5S version, the case stayed together from a high drop
    Water/Dust ProtectionWater/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 ProtectionScreen Protection (4/5):
    - Thick screen protector
    - Holds up well against change/rocks
    Functionality Rating
    FUNCTIONALITY
    (Catalyst Waterproof)
    iPhone FunctionalityiPhone 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 UsabilityScreen Usability (4/5):
    - Noticeable gap between screen protector and screen
    - Sensitivity loss due to gap
    Screen ViewabilityScreen 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.

    43 Comments

    43 Comments

    1. Ryan

      March 20, 2015 at 7:40 pm

      Does this case effect the camera clarity without flash

      • mike

        May 12, 2015 at 7:21 pm

        The case effects the clarity of the front facing camera. It has a blurred effect. I love the case, but hate that about it so much.

        • Aaron Ho

          May 14, 2015 at 2:39 am

          Thanks for the comment.

        • Bobby

          July 7, 2015 at 1:30 am

          Ordered this today big men

    2. Santiago Perez Zapata

      March 22, 2015 at 3:35 pm

      What about the lifeproof nuud? would you review it? I´d like to know if it works fine with a tempered glass screen protector.
      THANKS!!!

      • Aaron Ho

        March 23, 2015 at 2:31 pm

        I am doing the torture tests today. For the screen protector, LifeProof says to take off all 3rd part screen protectors as the front seal might be impacted. Stay tuned for the torture tests on my YouTube channel.

      • Svari Battleborn

        March 24, 2015 at 7:53 am

        You’re better off with the Dog & Bone Wetsuit if you insist on using a 3rd party glass screen protector.
        The Nuud only has a small O-ring to provide the water resistant seal for the screen. It’s very easy/likely to have a bad seal when using a thick(er) glass screen protector as the thin O-ring might not be able to fill the 2mm gap(s) between the phone surface and the screen the glass screen protector creates. The Wetsuit has a thicker silicone/rubber boot which make sit easier to make a good waterproof seal on thick(er) glass screen protectors. Be warned though using a glass screen protector does increase the chance of a bad seal (quite a bit), even with the Wetsuit.

        These are my personal experiences with both the Nuud and the Wetsuit anyway.
        Managed to get a proper seal with the Nuud using a glass screen protector once but never was able to reproduce it. Got it working properly with the Wetsuit and glass screen protector all the time… until i dropped my Wetsuit from 4ft and it broke >_<

    3. Mike

      March 24, 2015 at 3:44 am

      I have a unique requirement that only some others do. I use my phone mounted on my motorcycle. Due to power requirements, it stays plugged in. For the iphone 5 I had, I used the Nuud case and a particular car charger that has sealed seams. the only exposed part of the cable/charger is the actual lightning connector. So, with the Nuud for the iphone 5/5s, the cutout was plenty big to fit this. Now I have the iphone 6 and i am stuck. I basically would like the nuud again but i need to use this particular charger due to the elements. I have even searched for people modifying the case to fit and it seems it cant be accomplished with any confidence in the result. I even looked at Dockstubz extender which also will not fit the lifeproof cas. I think I’ll need to go with the Catalyst as it is the only waterproof case i have seen that has a wider opening for the lightning port. The flap at the bottom of the Catalyst is a pain though because it exposes the headphone jack before you can get to the lightning port. (I can explain this in greater detail if it seems irrelevant.) Two questions prefaced by a statement:

      1) Thanks for providing the reviews. You do a very thorough job and it is appreciated.
      Q1) Is there another case that you would recommend i take a look at?
      Q2) If you think the Catalyst is the best option, do you think I could modify the rubber gasket to keep the headphone jack secured, while accessing the charge port.

      I am not interested in taking this thing underwater, I merely need to keep the rain out. I tried the new trent case on my iphone 5 and during the first brief rain, there was water inside so that is what led me to the lifeproof case initially.

      Thanks in advance.

    4. Kurtis

      April 4, 2015 at 4:05 pm

      Amazing case, very thin and feels really durable. The squeeky noise it makes can make you feel on edge about the waterproof factor, but it doesnt affect it at all. I really like this case coming from a Lifeproof Nuud.

      • Steve Francisco

        April 7, 2015 at 4:57 am

        How noticeable is the squeak?

        • kurtis

          April 13, 2015 at 8:02 pm

          It is fairly noticeable at first, but after a couple weeks you don’t really notice it much at all.

          • Steve Francisco

            April 15, 2015 at 4:57 am

            Alright cool, I ordered mine up a week ago. Hopefully it comes soon. I spend a lot of time at the beach and the nuud just isn’t great with the sand.

    5. Steve Francisco

      April 7, 2015 at 4:58 am

      Do you think this phone case could be used with a glass screen protector on as well??

    6. Matus Bizon

      April 21, 2015 at 7:46 pm

      Hi. First of all, thank you for your reviews. I got my Catalyst Waterproof for iPhone 6 recently, but I would like to use it only occasionally, when going fishing etc. I have front screen protector (from TheBestSkinsEver) on, and I would like to ask you whether I can use my phone in Catalyst case with this screenprotector without being afraid of leaking water in it, or not. Thank you in advance.

      • Aaron Ho

        April 25, 2015 at 10:52 pm

        I personally wouldn’t but if you can fit your iPhone into the case, you’re probably going to be ok.

    7. Bettina

      April 23, 2015 at 8:39 pm

      I tend to plug my headphones into my phone quite often (listening to music when I work out or snowboard)- I did notice it’s just one giant plug at the bottom. Will this stay plugged in the charging port if I plug in headphones? Do you think this kind of bending will degrade the plug?

      • Aaron Ho

        April 25, 2015 at 10:52 pm

        The plug is very flexible. I don’t think it will degrade the plug.

    8. Ravi Bacchus

      April 28, 2015 at 5:53 am

      I got iPhone 6 Plus version of the case today and I have only one complaint: the front facing camera doesn’t have a special cutout and is extremely blurry as a result. Did you find that to be the case with the iPhone 6 version of the case? I’ve been impressed by everything else about the case but this is potentially a major flaw as the picture quality is abysmal from the front-facing camera (the back-facing camera is perfect). I’d be interested to hear what you have to say about this.

    9. Tracy

      May 3, 2015 at 11:41 pm

      Should I also purchase a tempered glass protector for the catalyst?

    10. RandyJC

      May 7, 2015 at 5:21 am

      Hello did you notice when you take a picture with the flash, the photo gets to much light? You see the light bouncing of the case when you’re taking the picture :-/

    11. Randy

      May 7, 2015 at 4:02 pm

      I have problems with the flash exposing to the camera, i’ve contacted Catalyst support Team. and it appears they have a bad batch where that appears.
      When you have this also, contact Catalyst Team. I’ve had White/Silver iPhone6 case.

      Email from Catalyst:
      Hi Randy,

      Thanks for you providing the photos to us. We can clearly see the issue. It seems the most recent batch of products has a slight issue for some cases in the camera lens assembly. To ensure you have the best product possible we are going to send you a brand new case back from our newest production run that will be available in 3 to 4 weeks. You do not have to take any further action, your contact details have been collected and as soon as this new part is available you will be automatically contact for you new part delivery.

      We are sorry for any disappointment this issue has caused. Our commitment is first and foremost to making a quality product. We appreciate you patience in resolving this matter with you.

      Sincerely,

    12. Larry

      May 14, 2015 at 6:06 pm

      I don’t recommend this it’s nice but leaks water and back cover cracked in half removing phone out of case tried to contact catalyst and no reply !!! Buyers beware

      • Aaron Ho

        May 14, 2015 at 8:19 pm

        Sorry to hear it didn’t work out for you.

        Keep trying their customer support. They are a little slow to get back to people and if they do, they are going to charge you restocking fee’s and such (brutal, I know)

        • Colt

          June 24, 2015 at 11:17 pm

          I’m seeing the same issue with the camera flash. My case arrived today! Still think they have a “bad batch”? Emailing support team now.

    13. Jo

      May 29, 2015 at 1:09 am

      PLS can you tell me what the headphone port is like? I recently bought a Lifeproof Fre case and having to always use an adapter to use my headphones drove me crazy!

      When the cover is pulled back on the catalyst can I use standard headphones? I gather without an adapter the waterproof aspect may well be compromised but that does not bother me.

      • Tyler

        June 2, 2015 at 9:10 pm

        I’m anxious to hear this answer as well. I love lifeproof cases but for my job I need use of my headphones with their microphone, and the lifeproof adapters are utterly terrible. The most use I would get out of an adapter would be two weeks before it began to short out. I’d be thrilled if this case gave an option to have a case like this without compromising use of headphones.

    14. Peggy

      June 15, 2015 at 8:14 pm

      Case shipped slowly from Hong Kong. It failed the water test. Catalyst expects me to ship it back at my expense and wait for them to send another one after they receive the defective one. This is unacceptable. They quit responding. Lousy customer service. Stay away from this product.

    15. Jessica

      July 27, 2015 at 6:42 pm

      In the drop test video for the catalyst iPhone 6 case, although the phone case does not completely separate, it looks like something does come flying off. What was it? That worries me .

      Also, I have heard that the lifeproof cases muffle phone calls (for both mics, incoming calls and outgoing, also the speakers muffle music when not using headphones) . I was wondering how people are finding the sound quality with the catalyst?

      Thank you

      • Aaron Ho

        July 28, 2015 at 10:08 pm

        It was a rock..wasn’t part of the case.

        • Jessica

          August 17, 2015 at 11:30 pm

          Thank you!

          And sound quality is good ? Compared to the lifeproof where you have to open the charger port when you talk on the phone…

          • Aaron Ho

            August 20, 2015 at 10:03 pm

            Sound quality is a little worse than the LifeProof.

            • Jessica

              August 21, 2015 at 9:13 pm

              Thank you!

    16. Tyler

      September 13, 2015 at 7:01 am

      Hey man I just thought I should let you know I just had to send my catalyst case back because the membrane peeled off I’ve had it less than four months! Important for people to know

    17. Ryan

      October 7, 2015 at 6:40 am

      Is this particular case compatible with the iPhone 6s plus?

      • Aaron Ho

        October 7, 2015 at 9:10 pm

        It closes but Catalyst says that it might not work. They’re re-tooling the case to fit the 6S.

    18. Brian

      October 7, 2015 at 7:24 pm

      I recently received the iPhone 6 Plus Rescue Ranger case. I was using a Seido Obex case but, purchased this case because of claims that there would be “No watermarks on touchscreen film (rainbow pattern)”. Unfortunately, I am getting watermarks on my touchscreen film. I am wondering what I can do to eliminate this.

      • Aaron Ho

        October 7, 2015 at 9:14 pm

        I find that taking the iPhone in and out of the case several times help only because a bit of dust collects on the screen protector which removes the rainbowing. I know its not a great answer but that’s what I’ve found from my experience with all the waterproof cases I’ve used.

    19. Nathan

      December 25, 2015 at 7:33 pm

      is it safe to use a screen protector under it or does that make the case no longer waterproof?

    20. Jacob

      January 21, 2016 at 4:46 pm

      I just got my catalyst case for my iPhone 6S last week and am currently loving it. However, I did notice that there is a slight bump where the cover is for the ear speaker, and it was bugging me until I read on your review for the iPhone 6 case that you found a bump also. Do you think there is any trick to installing the case to make the bump go away or is simply the design of the case?

      thanks,

      Jake

    21. Benoît Fortier

      April 22, 2016 at 3:04 pm

      Just received mine and the bump is there, think it’s a design thing. One thing I notice is that the case bends a little when my 6s is in making the case not flat when it lays on a table. Don’t know if it a design flaw or something

    22. Svante

      June 1, 2016 at 10:04 am

      Hey. Biiig problem. Summer i here a couple of months since I bought my case for iPhone 6

      It’s overheating all the time. And I don’t mean shutting down – I use it and it gets really sliggish and “stops” working. Put it on ice and back to bussiness.

      What to do?? This is the case, I can’t imagine anything else now after using it for a long time. The safery, relaxation if dropping, water and so on.

      Does anyone have a tip or resolution for this? Someon to contact? I have built a sun protector in my car when using it as GPS but this is a real problem.

    23. Jonathan W

      September 9, 2016 at 12:01 pm

      I have had this case for over a year now. Being in Alaska and Arizona have given it a run for it’s money. I have been in and out of water so much with it, it is insane that it has never leaked. I am going to try out the Ghost, only because a piece of malachite that I placed in my pocket, and the riding a rockslide 600 feet down, caused my the catalyst screen to get a little scratched up, but it still looks fine. I thought the rock was on the backside of the case before we hiked up 900 feet to get more malachite from an open vane. Anyways, I have dropped this case so much and never worried about it even for a second. Headphone jack can be a pain sometimes and the selfie camera is distorted, but if you like hunting, swimming, rock climbing ect. the 6 plus version is awesome. I actually got this case cause at the time Aaron was recommending it above the others and he was not wrong.

    24. Paul

      February 9, 2017 at 2:45 am

      I have dropped my I Phone 6 a couple of times since buying Catalyst case and have not damaged my phone so have been loving protection provided. However when using phone to make calls they can’t hear me unless I take the back of the Catalyst protector off. Really strange because I cant see how this removal affects the sound transmission for calls.
      Can anybody help me?
      Regards
      Paul

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