iPhone 5(s) and SE

Catalyst Waterproof Vs. LifeProof Fre / Nuud and Otterbox Preserver


How does the Catalyst Waterproof iPhone case compare against the Fre, Nuud and Preserver?

[toggle title=”Watch the comparison video”][/toggle] All of these cases are waterproof and shockproof and will keep your iPhone safe from water and drops. Between these 4 cases, we’d say the LifeProof Nuud comes out on top, followed by the Catalyst Waterproof iPhone case, the Otterbox Preserver and the LifeProof Fre.

Now, the review that we’re about to do is based on our experiences with each case. Our goal at MobileReviewsEh is to provide you guys the best reviews possible, based on real usage. With these cases, we’ve dropped them all, put them into water, put the some in swimming pools and one even got swim with the turtles.

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Catalyst Waterproof Vs. Otterbox Preserver


The Catalyst Waterproof iPhone case is much better than the Otterbox Preserver. The Preserver was one of the first cases that we rated so the scoring isn’t as accurate now that we’ve reviewed several other iPhone 5S cases. In terms of design, the Catalyst is lighter, thinner but since it doesn’t have a rubber bumper, the case will show wear and tear quicker than the Otterbox Preserver.

The Otterbox Preserver is fairly easy to install and despite being the thickest case of the group, you don’t feel the thickness due to the fact that the back of the case is tapered. One of the more notable problems with the Otterbox Preserver is the area around the mute switch might become detached from the case.

The Catalyst allows you to go into water deeper with it’s 16.4 ft waterproof rating and it allows you to install a wrist-strap so you could easily use the case as an underwater camera. You could do the same with the Otterbox Preserver (we took it snorkelling) and the case fared well.

In terms of accessing your iPhone, the Otterbox Preserver offers better view ability of your iPhone’s touchscreen and it doesn’t suffer as much glare as the Catalyst. The screen protector on the Catalyst does cover the whole screen so accessing your iPhone’s swipe menus is a breeze. [divider][/divider]

Catalyst Waterproof Vs. LifeProof Nuud


One of the most important things when thinking about when comparing the Catalyst Waterproof Vs. LifeProof Nuud is that the Nuud has no screen protector. Having no screen protector is beneficial as you’ll be able to enjoy your iPhone’s touch screen like how Apple wants you to enjoy it but it also reduces the amount of protection the iPhone case provides.

Both of these cases are similar in weight and bulk, both are easy to install but the Nuud will look better over time because of the rubber bumpers around the case. We will note that the Touch ID membrane on the Catalyst looks much better than the sticky, wet-looking membranes on the LifeProof Nuud.

The LifeProof Nuud is one of our favourite waterproof iPhone cases so if you’re not too worried about your screen, or are willing to spend a few more bucks to get a screen protector onto your iPhone (LifeProof doesn’t include one) than go with the Nuud. If you plan on doing lots of watersports, go with the Catalyst as it provides more water protection (16.4 ft vs. 6.6 ft).


Catalyst Waterproof Vs. LifeProof Fre

Between these four waterproof iPhone cases, the Catalyst Waterproof Vs. LifeProof Fre comparison is the least interesting. These cases are almost identical in weight and bulk and both suffer from glare and diffusion of the iPhone screen. However, the call quality on the Catalyst is much better than the Fre and screen protector isn’t “wobbly”. The Catalyst also doesn’t suffer from any sort of rain-bowing effect.

In terms of costs, the Fre is the cheapest between the Nuud and Preserver but it can’t beat the $65 dollar prices tag the Catalyst. If you’re a person who enjoys doing things around water, the Catalyst is the case to go unless you’re looking for a way to listen to your iPhone using headphones while still keeping it waterproof. The threaded headphone jack extension on the LifeProof Fre maintains the waterproofing of the case whereas the headphone jack extension on the Catalyst will not.


Have questions about the Catalyst Waterproof Case for the iPhone 5 and 5S? Please ask them on our Google+ page or on our Facebook page.



  1. Richard

    September 23, 2014 at 8:25 am

    Ok..so despite your multitude of fine reviews I am still not convinced of one case or another.

    We have decided to skip the 6 and buy 5S…so. Is there a case or a few that would do this.

    Offer some good shock resistance. We have a toddler..the phone will get dropped.
    Some kind of water resistance. We are not going swimming with it..but stranger things have gone into a toilet. It would be nice if it could survive a drop into a kiddie pool or toilet.
    Not weigh and be the size of a dump truck. I want to actually to be able to put it into my pocket and I don’t wear parachute pants.
    Since again..toddler. Screen protection is probably necessary.
    And..hopefully doesn’t sound like I have my phone in a sock puppet all the time because its muted.

    Thanks for the vids and any help you can provide.

    • Aaron Ho

      September 23, 2014 at 12:48 pm

      That’s a good plan with the 5S, way more accessories for the 5S than the 6 and it’ll be like that for the next half year while everybody gears up.

      Based on your situation with a toddler, I’d go with a Catalyst or the LifeProof Fre. I personally prefer the Nuud but it sounds like you need a bit of screen protection which the Nuud does not offer. The Catalyst or Fre can easily be washed off after getting dirty and will protect your iPhone5S from basically anything on a day-to-day basis.

      Keep in mind that I don’t think either case will last more than a year under heavy usage. I’ve known warehouse and landscaping guys get a Fre every year because the the glues on the cases come apart.

      • Richard

        September 23, 2014 at 3:09 pm

        Hey thanks for the response.

        We have been pretty avid otterbox fans with our 4S devices…oddly we had 2 4S take a spill into water just recently, and although both phones seemed to make it unharmed..I somewhat feel we were lucky. We have been using the Otterbox Reflex cases..because I needed to be able to remove the case to dock it. Of course with the new lightning connector this isn’t a requirement.

        I can say though that the Reflex has lived up to expectations regarding shock/drops etc. But its no longer offered anyway.

        Have you done any Real tests with the nuud and its so called screen cover? I know I know it goes against all things to put a screen cover on the Nuud..but if the rest of the case is solid and its the only thing lacking..why not. I guess I am mainly interested in knowing if the screen cover you buy from them is junk or not. I’ve been pretty happy with whatever the otterbox folks use. They have been responsive and pretty resistant.

        Now if I can only find a catalyst for the 5S. Or at least the one that lets you use the ID. The one I see on Amazon at least seems to only work for the 5 ..unless I don’t plan to use the ID.

        • Aaron Ho

          September 23, 2014 at 3:16 pm

          I’ve never tested the Otterbox Reflex. I’ve got a pile of Otterbox iPhone 6 cases on my desk right now and I’m really not too impressed with them.

          Screen cover? Do you mean the screen protector that LifeProof includes?

          Catalyst for some reason doesn’t have their newest cases on Amazon. The only place that I can find them is on their site. The case is 20 bucks cheaper than your average LifeProof case which is quite a deal in my opinion. Once the new Griffin+Catalyst case comes out, I’ll review it but I think it’s never coming since that page has been there for the last 6 months and with the iPhone 6 out, I don’t know how much sense it would be to release an iPhone 5/5S case.

          • Richard

            September 24, 2014 at 12:33 am

            I guess I mean this thing.


            You say it comes with the Nuud? I’m curious if its junk or actually a decent screen protector. I might be sold on the Nuud if the protector is pretty decent.

            I do like the Catalyst..but I’m nervous about the case flipping apart scenario. I do want the water resistance/proof but it should for the most part see more drops than dunks. I half think (in my mind) that the catalyst might be perfect if it had rubberized corners to help absorb drop impacts. But hey..i’m not designing these things.

            The one thing I can say I liked about the Otterbox Reflex (discontinued) is that it saved my phone more than one time. I did go through 3 of them for my 4S as of now. Serious drops have cracked part of the case..so case fail but saved my phone. I think Otterbox might of replaced it..however it would of cost me as much to return it as just buying a new one. It was also convenient that I could slide off just the bottom half of the case to put it in my alarm clock dock. However..I defer to your mass amounts of case experience and its possible I could find the same protection in many other forms.

  2. Richard

    September 23, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    Something to look for in the future.


    • Aaron Ho

      October 9, 2014 at 6:19 pm

      LOL. That’s awesome.

  3. Mary Huston

    October 30, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    I had a lifeproof Fre on my iPhone 5 and was satisfied with it. However, I really didn’t like the rainbow effect and having to use the headphone dongle to attach headphones. I understand why I had to, and if I were using it in water, I’d want it…but I wasn’t so it was a nuisance.

    Now I have an iPhone 6 and I’m interested in the catalyst, but you mentioned that it shows wear and tear a bit more than the others. I’m also needing to know what the slip factor is. The 6 in and of itself is a bit slippery. Right now I have a New Trent Trentium 6S which isn’t waterproof but is an acceptable case for the price. However, I know the Trentium is more slippery than the Axium (also by New Trent) which has a rubber edging around it.

    I’d also like to know if the rubber seal for the headphone jack and charger port is completely removable or is it attached. Does it also require a dongle for the headphone jack (like the Fre) or does it just plug in?

    Thanks for your time,

    • Aaron Ho

      October 30, 2014 at 11:49 pm

      Mary, I don’t think they have the Catalyst for the 6 yet. For the 5S version, there isn’t a dongle you have to use.

      In terms of the “grippy-ness”, it is a little slicker than the Fre but I wasn’t too bothered by it since the edge of the case does have a bit of texture. In terms of wear and tear, if you drop it, the ding is going to show whereas the Fre’s rubber bumper would take the brunt of that damage.

      Hope that helps.


  4. Andrew

    December 23, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    I don’t get it.

    How does a case with no screen protection (LifeProof
    Nuud) rank higher than other cases with no screen protection?

    One lesson I learned with my current Otterbox Armor for my iPhone 5S is the importance of screen protection. I made the mistake of putting my phone with new case in the same pocket as my keys. Not the smartest thing to do, but that’s why I got the case. The result was a very noticeable scratch in the screen protector and no damage to the phone.

    Does the screen protector the Nuud mentioned above plus Nuud case work as well as the others here? Does it compromise water protection?

    • Aaron Ho

      December 28, 2014 at 4:35 pm

      It ranks higher because it scores better in the handling of the iPhone in the case while offering almost the same level of protection as other cases. Our score is broken down into 9 categories so the Nuud performed better than other cases.

      The screen protector included with the Nuud is cut to fit the nuud exactly (right along the cutout on the front plate).

      • Andrew

        December 28, 2014 at 10:30 pm

        Have you re-tested the Nuud with the screen protector?

        Does it compromise water protection?

  5. Belinda Wurn

    December 29, 2015 at 11:59 pm

    Hi Aaron

    I have watched quite a few of your videos, and really appreciate all of the time and energy you have put into them!

    I have had an iPhone 5 for 3 years that I had in a LifeProof Nuud, and I got a very thin glass screen protector that fit, that got lost while we were on vacation. I bought another (apparently thicker) glass screen protector, and it cracked the Nuud at the bottom of the case. The phone was 3 years old, only 16 GB, and the battery was dying faster and faster (having to be recharged 4X/day). So- I bought a new iPhone 6s a month ago. Life proof has not yet made a Nuud for my iPhone, so I bought a cheap case- waiting for the one for my new phone to be on the market.

    Long story short- my old phone never got dropped into water. 2 nights ago, my new (unprotected) 6s fell into the toilet, I grabbed it out immediately, dried it off, and did the rice thing in a sealed ZipLoc baggie.The apps appeared to be working ok, but I couldn’t send or receive calls. Luckily, I purchased the premium upgraded insurance, so they are sending me a new iPhone 6s 64 GB in a few days.

    My question to you is- if I get another LifeProod Nuud for my iPhone, is there a thin enough glass screen protector that will work with the case, not break it, and keep my new phone waterproof?

    Thanks in advance!

    Best regards,

    Belinda Wurn, PT

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