iPhone 6(s+)

The Best Waterproof iPhone 6 Case – LifeProof vs. Seidio vs. Catalyst vs. Dog & Bone

 

No “fluff” comparison for the best waterproof iPhone 6 case?

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So are you looking for a case to protect your iPhone this summer while you vacation out by the water? or maybe you live in a wet place and need a tougher iPhone 6 case. Well, we’ve personally used 5 of the most common waterproof cases out there for the iPhone 6 and we’re going to let you know which case is the best.

Out of the 5 that we’ve reviewed, we’re giving our hat-tip to the LifeProof Nuud in general but there are certain scenarios where the Catalyst Waterproof comes out on top. Both the Nuud and Catalyst do better  than the LifeProof Fre, Seidio Obex and Dog & Bone Wetsuit!

There are a couple of waterproof iPhone cases that haven’t been released so check our comparison tool to make see if we’ve reviewed it yet! Notable cases include the HitCase Pro and the Lunatik Aquatik!

 LifeProof FreLifeProof NuudDog & Bone WetsuitCatalyst WaterproofSeidio Obex
 
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(out of 5)

Full Review

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PricePrice:
$79.99 USD

Price:
$89.00 USD (iPhone 6)
$99.00 USD (iPhone 6 Plus)

Price:
$79.99 USD
Price:
$69.00 USD
Price:
79.95 USD
Similar Cases
Top Buy Buttons
ProsPros:
- Very thin for a shockproof/waterproof case
- Feels well-built
Pros:
- Very slim for a tough waterproof iPhone case
- No screen protector!
- Includes a threaded headphone jack extension
Pros:
- No screen protector but still waterproof
- Feels very tough & well-built
- Better drop protection than other cases
Pros:
- Great design
- Waterproof up to 16.4ft/5m
- Affordable
Pros:
- Great access to iPhone's touchscreen (low edges)
- Decently sized
- Wrist-strap compatible
ConsCons:
- Back scratches easily
- Screen protector diffuses iPhone 6’s Retina HD screen
- Rain-bowing effects still exist
- Glare from screen protector 

- You can only use Apple sized accessories
Cons:
- No screen protector!
- Not as tough as other waterproof cases due to extra o-rings
- Lowers iPhone's sound level
Cons:
- Sound quality is below average
- Flash photography quality is lower
- Edges of the case get in the way
Cons:
- Case "squeaks" but doesn't diminish protection
- Screen protector reduces screen sensitivity
- Buttons on the iPhone are hard to access
- Sound is slightly muted
Cons:
- Screen viewability is lacking
- Obex has a tendency to come apart during drops
- Mutes sound/calls slightly
Potential ProblemsPotential Problems:
- O-ring falls out of the ridge easier than other cases so make sure its seated properly
- Gasket that sits in the latch can fall out
- High drops may result in the case cracking
Potential Problems:
- Potential for water damage if the seals on the Nuud aren't kept clean
Potential Problems:
- None that we've discovered/heard
Potential Problems:
- Potential for water damage if plugs are accidentally pulled out (see below in the Protection section)
- Customer service isn't the greatest
Potential Problems:
- We've heard of one instance where the dots on the screen protector have caused damage to an Android device (we're not sure for Apple devices)
- Readers/Viewers have noted that the case introduces lots of audio noise when filming (movement of fingers can be heard in the footage)
Design Rating
DESIGN

(LifeProof Fre)
DESIGN
(LifeProof Nuud)
DESIGN

(Dog & Bone Wetsuit)
DESIGN
(Catalyst Waterproof)
DESIGN

(Seidio Obex)
Weight/BulkWeight/Bulk (4.75/5):
- LifeProof Fre is very slim when compared to other tough cases
Weight/Bulk (4.5/5):
- Keeps the shape of the iPhone 6/6 Plus
- Lightweight
- Slightly bigger than the LifeProof Fre (just by a sliver)
Weight/Bulk (3/5):
- Dog & Bone Wetsuit is fairly large
- Adds quite a bit of bulk
Weight/Bulk (4/5):
- Keeps the shape of the iPhone 6/6 Plus
- Lightweight
- Bigger than the LifeProof Fre
Weight/Bulk (4/5):
- Seidio Obex is smaller than most tough cases (such as the Otterbox Defender)
- Larger than the LifeProof Fre
InstallEase of Installation (4.5/5):
- Fairly easy to take apart/install
- O-ring pops out easier so take care when installing the case
Ease of Installation (5/5):
- Installation requires you to snap two pieces together (real easy!)
- Taking the case apart doesn't require a coin (its easier with a coin)
- Headphone plug is attached to the case
Ease of Installation (3/5):
- Installation is straight forward
- Taking your iPhone out is a little tough
- Three parts to 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
Ease of Installation (4.5/5):
- Standard "snap together two pieces of plastic"
- Be careful with the mute switch, there is a piece that falls out easily
- Taking the case apart is simple/easy
Build QualityBuild Quality (3.5/5):
- Despite the great fit, the back of the case scratches easily
- The LifeProof Fre broke during a 6ft drop (LifeProof did provide a warranty case)
Build Quality (4/5):
- It isn't generally compatible with 3rd party screen protectors
- Feels solid
Build Quality (5/5):
- Great feeling case
- Everything fits together really well
- Fairly scratch resistant
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.
Build Quality (4/5):
- Great feeling case
- Rubber edge improves handling
- Rubber strips on the back minimizes sliding on flat surfaces
Protection Rating
PROTECTION

(LifeProof Fre)
PROTECTION
(LifeProof Nuud)
PROTECTION

(Dog & Bone Wetsuit)
PROTECTION
(Catalyst Waterproof)
PROTECTION

(Seidio Obex)
Shock ProtectionShock Protection (3/5):
- Drop-rated to 6.6 ft (standard for shockproof cases)
- Case didn’t come apart during drops
Shock Protection (3/5):
- Average drop protection at 6.6ft/2m
Shock Protection (3.5/5):
- Drop-rated to 6.6 ft (standard for shockproof cases)
- Case didn’t come apart during drops
- Multiple layers offers better drop protection than average cases
Shock Protection (3/5):
- Average 6.6ft/2m drop protection
- Unlike the iPhone 5S version, the case stayed together from a high drop
Shock Protection (2.5/5):
- The Seidio Obex is drop-rated to 6 ft (average for shockproof cases)
- Case came apart slightly during drops
Water/Dust ProtectionWater/Dust Protection (3/5):
- Waterproof up to a depth of 6.6ft
- LifeProof doesn’t provide a headphone jack extension that allows you to use waterproof headphones with the case
Water/Dust Protection (3/5):
- Average water protection at 6.6ft/2m
- Headphone jack extension is threaded ensuring a waterproof seal
Water/Dust Protection (3/5):
- Waterproof up to a depth of 6.6ft
- Unique design will result in water getting between the sleeve and outer shell (this is normal)
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
Water/Dust Protection (3/5):
- Waterproof up to a depth of 6.6ft (average for waterproof cases)
- Includes a headphone jack extension that maintains the waterproofing of the case
Screen ProtectionScreen Protection (4/5):
- Thick plastic screen protector
- Protected the iPhone’s screen from face first drops on a rocky parking lot
Screen Protection (3.5/5):
- LifeProof includes an optionally installable screen protector
- Fairly thick
Screen Protection (3/5):
- No screen protection other than the edges of the case
- Optional screen protector is included
- Large edges on the case provide decent clearance for iPhone's touchscreen
Screen Protection (4/5):
- Thick screen protector
- Holds up well against change/rocks
Screen Protection (4/5):
- Built in screen-protector
- Edges of the case are fairly low
Functionality Rating
FUNCTIONALITY

(LifeProof Fre)
FUNCTIONALITY
(LifeProof Nuud)
FUNCTIONALITY

(Dog & Bone Wetsuit)
FUNCTIONALITY
(Catalyst Waterproof)
FUNCTIONALITY

(Seidio Obex)
iPhone FunctionalityiPhone Functionality (4/5):
- Cutouts for the lightning port and headphone jack will fit only Apple-sized accessories
- Sound is slightly muted
- Small hack that allowed you to attach a wrist-strap has been removed
- Touch ID membrane works well as long as the sensor is clear of fingerprints before installation
- Cutout for the flash is large enough for the True-Tone flash (it wasn't on the first few versions of the iPhone 5S Fre)
iPhone Functionality (3.5/5):
- Buttons are fairly easy to use
- Lightning port cutout & headphone generally only fits Apple accessories
- Sound is muted from earpiece speaker
- Sound is slightly muted from bottom speaker (though its easier to hear)
iPhone Functionality (3/5):
- Cutouts for the lightning port will fit larger cables
- Headphone jack will fit only Apple-sized accessories
- Sound is muted/sounds "crackly"
- Wrist-strap compatible
- Touch ID works but edges around the sensor are noticeable
- Flash cutout isn't large enough
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
iPhone Functionality (3/5):
- Cutouts for the lightning port/headphone will NOT fit larger cables
- Sound is muted
- Wrist-strap compatible
- Touch ID works well
- Camera/Flash aren't hindered by the Seidio Obex
Screen UsabilityScreen Usability (4.5/5):
- A small gap between the screen protector and touchscreen
- Sensitivity isn’t reduced
- Easy to access swipe menus on the iPhone
Screen Usability (5/5):
- No screen protector (Perfect screen usability)
- Optionally installable screen protector also offers perfect screen usability
- Edges do not get in the way of accessing your iPhone
Screen Usability (4/5):
- Edges get in the way
- Swipe menus are a little more difficult to get to
Screen Usability (4/5):
- Noticeable gap between screen protector and screen
- Sensitivity loss due to gap
Screen Usability (4.5/5):
- Great access to your iPhone's screen
- Very small gap between screen protector and iPhone
Screen ViewabilityScreen Viewability (5/5):
- Wobbly reflections due to the fact that the screen protector doesn’t sit flush on the iPhone screen (Better than the screen on the 5/5S versions)
- Glare is pretty bad
- Screen protector diffuses the iPhone’s Retina HD screen
- Minor rain-bowing effects
Screen View-ability (4.5/5):
- No screen protector (Perfect screen viewability)
- Optionally screen protector doesn't fit 100% which means edges of the screen protector will diffuse the iPhone's touchscreen slightly
Screen Viewability (5/5):
- No screen protector? No viewability issues!
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!)
Screen Viewability (3.5/5):
- Grid of dots can be seen (dots suppose to reduce rain bowing)
- Occasional rainbowing
- Wobbly reflections
- Minimal glare
Bottom Buy Buttons

 

Design – The LifeProof iPhone cases come out on top

In terms of design which deals with the size/weight, how easy it is to install and build quality, the LifeProof Nuud comes out on top followed by the LifeProof Fre, Catalyst Waterproof, Seidio Obex and the Dog & Bone Wetsuit.

The size of the Dog & Bone wetsuit is really what lowers the score for the case as its really not that easy to take apart which is annoying when it gets wet. The build quality of the Wetsuit is higher than the other cases as it has a nice soft-rubber feel to it and held up well during our drop tests.

The LifeProof cases score the highest here as they are slim,lightweight and easy to install/remove. However, if you’re thinking about using a Nuud with screen protector that doesn’t fit the cutout, it’s not going to be waterproof anymore. If you need a better explanation, check out the torture test video in our LifeProof Nuud review for more information.

The Catalyst Waterproof and Seidio Obex are pretty nondescript in terms of design as they’re slightly larger than the LifeProof cases but and don’t wear as well over time as the other three waterproof iPhone cases.
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Protection – The Catalyst Waterproof is the clear winner

We’ve discovered a couple of differences between these iPhone cases even though they’re all rated to the same drop height. The only iPhone case of note is Seidio Obex which had a tendency to come apart during drops. The iPhone never came flying out but still, in the off chance that you drop your Obex on a dock and it bounces into the ocean or lake, you’re iPhone is going to get wet. On the flip side, the Wetsuit has an extra layer so that IF the case came apart, your iPhone is still going to be protected (slightly).

The LifeProof Fre, Nuud and Catalyst all performed like they should, staying together which means that your iPhone stays happy. We did have an issue with our first LifeProof Fre cracking during our 6 ft drop but LifeProof was quick to replace it with another case that didn’t crack during a 6ft drop.

In terms of water protection, there is one clear winner which is the Catalyst since it provides water protection up to depths of 5m or 16.4 ft. All the other cases provide water protection up to 2m or 6.6 ft. With the depths aside, you cannot attach a wrisstrap to any of the LifeProof iPhone 6 cases which minimizes the usefulness of the LifeProof cases in water situations. The Catalyst, Wetsuit and Obex all have attachment points for wrist straps.

The Dog & Bone Wetsuit is a tougher case to take apart which may become an issue for some as the insides of the case between the sleeve and outer shell is going to get wet (this is intentional). Water is going to get between the sleeve and outside shell so you’re going to want to take your case apart to dry it because a wet iPhone case in your pocket is going to be uncomfortable.

For screen protection, there are two cases that don’t use screen protectors but still are still waterproof and shockproof. In our opinion, the Wetsuit and Nuud though LifeProof and Dog and Bone are pretty awesome feats of engineering but if you’re a little concerned about the your iPhone’s touchscreen, use the screen protectors provided by LifeProof and Dog & Bone.

Now, if you really want to keep your screen protector (glass or plastic) on your device and need a waterproof case and don’t want to use one with a built in screen protector, go with the Wetsuit as it offers a better chance of water protection but its not guaranteed. Again, we personally wouldn’t use a third party screen protector with the Nuud or Wetsuit as we believe the waterproofing is going to be compromised but if you really needed to, go with the Wetsuit.

We only know this because our Nuud test for the iPhone 6 Plus failed with a Sir Lancelot Holy Grail screen protector. Which leads to a point we made earlier in terms of the actual toughness of the Nuud as the extra set of o-rings on the case means that there is a higher chance of the case failing.

The Obex, Fre and Catalyst all have plastic screen protectors that are fairly thick and will protect your iPhone’s touchscreen.

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Functionality – iPhone cases with no screen protectors win!

In terms of using your iPhone inside these waterproof iPhone cases, the ones with no built-in screen protector come out on top while the toughest case, the Catalyst, makes it a little more difficult to access your iPhone.

When it comes to handling, which we define as getting to your iPhone inside the case, every one of these cases will reduce the functionality of your iPhone slightly. Here are a few notable points:

– sound is generally muted for all the cases
– using larger 3rd party cables only works on the Wetsuit
– the camera flash gets clipped significantly on the Wetsuit (cutout is too small)
– TouchID works on all cases

In terms of screen functionality, every case generally works. The only case with a perfect score is the Nuud since it has no screen protector. You’d think the Wetsuit would be perfect as well but the edges of the case are really high which makes it harder to use the edges of your iPhone. The other three cases, all have gaps that are fairly noticeable which generally leads to a reduction in screen sensitivity though no case reduces your ability to access the swipe menus in the case.

When it comes to screen viewability, the LifeProof Fre is the worst of the bunch. The diffusion, glare and rainbowing on this case is so very awful. There’s nothing more frustrating to us than to take the wonderful Retina HD screen of the iPhone and covering it with something that makes it look like it come from 2008.

The Catalyst and Obex all suffer a bit of diffusion, glare and rainbowing but it’s pretty minor when compared to other cases and you almost don’t notice it when compared to the awful Fre’s screen protector.

[divider][/divider]

So that’s all we have for the best waterproof iPhone 6 case. We’re big fans of the LifeProof Nuud but if spending time in the water is important, we’d suggest you check out the Catalyst Waterproof.

Have questions about the best waterproof iPhone 6 cases? Please ask them on our Google+ page or on our Facebook page.

26 Comments

26 Comments

  1. Ryan

    April 4, 2015 at 8:47 pm

    Did lunatik ship you a aquatik already because it still says preorder

  2. Svari Battleborn

    April 5, 2015 at 8:35 am

    Thule will also come with the Atmos X4 and Atmos X5 in May/June. Wonder how they will perform as the Atmos X3 is pretty good and still one of the highest rated cases. The Atmos X5 seems to get pretty bulky though with the latch system to open and close the case from the two pictures that I’ve seen of the Atmos X5.

    • Aaron Ho

      April 6, 2015 at 4:43 pm

      I hope they stick to the May/June timeframe. We’ve been waiting for a while for these cases to show up. I was told a couple of weeks after the X3 for the iPhone 6 came out. 🙂

  3. Santiago Perez Zapata

    April 8, 2015 at 4:58 pm

    Please! Do a review on the redpepper waterproof case!

  4. simon kay

    May 6, 2015 at 8:28 pm

    hi can u tell me what is the best waterproof case for the iphone6 to use on holiday ie- using in the sea and pools and using underwater ? please

  5. Jen

    June 6, 2015 at 7:23 pm

    I bought a Lifeproof nuud for my 6 plus but I’m uncomfortable with its lack of screen protection. (Haven’t opened the box yet, I can return it.) Catalyst now sells a case for the 6 plus. Do you think it’s safe to assume their 6 plus case will have basically the same pros/cons as the iPhone 6 case you tested? (Thank you for your reviews/videos – they are terrific.)

    • Aaron Ho

      June 12, 2015 at 1:59 am

      I’ve been using the 6 Plus version for a few weeks now…same issues as the 6.

  6. Adam

    July 4, 2015 at 10:52 pm

    Great review. I’m going on vacation and want to get one of these to use with my iPhone 6 Plus on the beach and in the pool. I like the Catalyst the best as the Nuud still makes me uneasy about how the bare screen would be affected by salt water and chlorine. I’d feel safer with full coverage.

    Where can I buy the Catalyst in Canada? Is it only available via Catalyst’s website? I can’t find it on amazon or any Canadian big box stores.

    • Aaron Ho

      July 8, 2015 at 11:55 pm

      I bought them from the site directly. I don’t think they sell them in Canada in any store.

  7. Louis Battaglia

    July 10, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    Hi Aaron,

    I’m about to pull the trigger on an iPhone 6 case, but I’m very torn with the Nuud and the Catalyst cases. Every review I’ve read of the Nuud laments it for the horrible audio quality you get when speaking on the phone, but this didn’t seem to be a big issue in your review. Could you go a little more in detail on how you thought the audio/call quality was with the Nuud?

    • Aaron Ho

      July 13, 2015 at 2:47 pm

      In short, it sucks. For the Catalyst, it sucks.

      Every waterproof case reduces the sound quality significantly. But the Nuud is the lesser of the two evils.

      If I remember correctly, the Catalyst really muted the sound whereas the Nuud was not as muted but sometimes the calls would be “crackly”.

  8. Silas Garrison

    July 28, 2015 at 2:38 am

    Do you know when Catalyst is coming out with the Ipod 6 case?

  9. Jaime

    August 10, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    Hi Aaron!
    I’m between life proof fre and Nuud and the catalyst. You say in your videos that if you are not into watersports go life proof, that’s me, but I’m a worried in the fact that Nuud doesn’t has a screen protector, it sounds awesome but I’m a little bit esceptic in the protection without a screen protector, and then you say that fre version takes me to 2008 because of the bad hd resolution… I’m confused right now… I just want a case that let me take pictures in the pool, protect my iPhone from drops and good usability, which one do you recommend me?
    Thank you!

    • Aaron Ho

      August 11, 2015 at 2:22 am

      The Nuud comes with a plastic screen protector that you can install. Subsequently, you could install a glass screen protector from Tequii.com. They have ones that fit the screen area of the iPhone in a Nuud.

      If you’re looking to use it everyday, I’d go with the Nuud. If you’re going to be using it occasionally by the pool, the Fre is the probably your best bet.

  10. Nancy

    September 5, 2015 at 4:49 pm

    Hi Aaron,
    I recently watched one of your videos where you used an iPhone 6 plus with the glass screen protector in the life proof Nuud case. Unfortunately, because of the glass screen protector being thick, the case didn’t close properly and water had entered the inside. I currently have an iPhone 6 plus with the glass screen protector but I am considering buying a catalyst case because I spend a lot of time swimming and at the beach. By any chance do you know if I have to take off my glass screen protector for the catalyst as well??

    • Aaron Ho

      September 9, 2015 at 3:43 pm

      I would. The case fits tightly already and I would take the risk of having the case fail.

  11. Clinton

    September 21, 2015 at 5:40 pm

    Hi! Big fan, I am leaning towards a Catalyst case but I have one thing stopping me and I wanted to find out from you since I can’t just go to the store and look at one.
    My question is about the outside of the case is the rubber design like a silicon that will get dirty and ill have to live with an off white case or is it more of a TPU style like the life proof that won’t get yellowed and dirty looking? Thanks!

  12. Jrod

    September 22, 2015 at 2:02 am

    Any word on the Atmos X5 yet? I am very excited to see a review of that case.

  13. Jrod

    September 22, 2015 at 2:03 am

    Any word on the Atmos X5 yet? I am very excited to see a review on it.

  14. Joanna

    September 22, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    the only time I would need a waterproof case is for my honeymoon in hawaii (one week out of the next 2-3 years I’ll have the phone.) It will most likely never be near water/sand again. Do i go with the Fre for that one instance or do I go with the Nuud for more everyday use. Also, lately i’ve dropped my phone like every other day. I have yet to break the screen on any iphone/ipod *knock on wood.* Does the optional glass screen protector provide enough protection?

    • Aaron Ho

      September 23, 2015 at 2:06 pm

      The optional screen protector is plastic. The Nuud will be better screen usability but both cases will suck in terms of sound and call quality. Unless you’re taking it out into the ocean, you could get away with just a plastic bag.

  15. Glenn Humpfrey

    December 3, 2015 at 11:48 pm

    Here’s another interesting fact: if you take a photo in the dark with the iPhone 6 and the flash in the catalyst case it washes out the photo in white. Take the same photo in the same dark conditions only with the phone inside the Fre, you get a perfect photo. Try it yourself.

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