Catalyst iPhone 6 (plus) waterproof case

***UPDATE***

I have now owned three Catalyst cases and all three of them have FAILED. So why do I keep buying them? Well, I’m not anymore, I’m warning everyone to stay away. I wasn’t sure if it was user error even though I did the initial waterproof tests on all three, so to rule out user error I purchased my third case in hopes it was just me (the white case was on my wife’s phone). Sadly, this company has cost me almost $1000 in replacement costs for a new phone because their cases ARE NOT WATERPROOF! Do not go down this path. I currently have a Lifeproof case on my iPhone and then place that in a Ziploc freezer bag, which is really the only waterproof case I’ve ever owned that hasn’t failed. Yes, a Ziploc freezer bag is by far the most reliable waterproof phone case I’ve ever owned.

AVOID CATALYST PHONE CASES!!!

 

 

Introduction

Catalyt iPhone 6 Plus Case

One of four models available, this is the model that looks the most bad ass.

Beverly and I have been in search of a waterproof, shockproof, indestructo-case ever since we switched back to iPhones and found they are not as durable at larger sizes as our Samsung Note 3’s were, and disappointingly so. One shattered screen and one chipped screen in two weeks is a bad start. And to qualify that sentence, I have owned exactly 3 iPhones and one Samsung Note 3 and all of them are still in near-mint condition. Sorry Apple, but what the hell?

Anyway, I digress.

All recommendations pointed us to the Lifeproof brand of cases. Waterproof and durable, the retail store employee even threw his personal phone in a Lifeproof case across the store to prove how amazing his Lifeproof case was. Really, it was kind of impressive. But… there is no screen protection on the only Lifeproof case made for the iPhone 6 Plus, and the screen is a major weakness on the 6 plus. Plus, we just aren’t drawn to the look of the Lifeproof. So we searched and searched. I only located the Catalyst through the corporate website, the usual retailers, online and otherwise, had no results for a Catalyst phone case.

The back of the Catalyst iPhone case

See that? It’s my iPhone on the inside. It’s pretty!

The site has the usual product shots and a video demonstrating the phone and I’ve got to say I was a bit impressed. While Lifeproof has pretty much one look to all models, the Catalysts were stylish (one might even say bad ass) and had several color schemes to choose from. Better yet, the specs told a story all their own. Screen protector? Check. Functional fingerprint button through the case? Check. Waterproof? You bet, up to 15 meters (Lifeproof is 1 meter)! Functional outer buttons? Check. Functional camera? Yup. Aesthetically pleasing? You betcha! These cases are gorgeous! Yes, I realize this is an opinion and not a fact. Durable? Sadly, I dropped my phone already and I assure  you it didn’t notice a thing.

Catalyst iPhone 6 Plus iPhone case

Fully functional screen with little-to-none loss of screen resolution quality

So far, two weeks into ownership, this is a fantastic case and I’m ecstatic to have purchased one for the missus and myself ($25 LESS than the Lifeproof, btw). It’s been refreshing to worry less about our stupidly advanced and expensive phones. Better yet, it’s been wonderful knowing my phone is protected while I take it surfing or paddleboarding on the river. Plus, I can use the camera in the water! Until now I was using one of those glorified waterproof ziploc bags that was a total pain in the ass if I wanted to use my phone for anything (Map My Fitness, camera, music, etc.). But if you drop it won’t it sink? Yes! Except it also comes with an optional floaty thingie that can double as a wrist strap. I don’t use it as a wrist strap but it does keep the phone on the surface. It is black so I suggest a bright green or orange coat of paint on the floaty thingie just so you can spot it in an instant. The floaty thingie is also easily removable so you don’t have to walk around with a now green and/or orange foam block while you’re at work.

Key features

  • Waterproof: Specs that claim it is waterproof to 15 meters rather than the majority of iPhone cases that might claim it’s waterproof for 30 minutes at a meter or less.
  • Durable all to heck: This is s sturdy case and I’m certain it’s every bit as durable as a Lifeproof case.
  • Buttons that still work: All external phone buttons work as expected. The Sound Mute button is replaced by a clever knob you rotate, it’s pretty cool.
  • Fingerprint pad that still works: I suggest you create a couple of thumb prints with the case on for better accuracy but my fingerprints still function to unlock my phone!
  • 100% Screen Protection and Functionality: The case is very protected and it’s surprisingly hard to notice the additional cover when the screen is illuminated.
Volume knob. It's functional and a good idea!

Volume knob. It’s functional and a good idea!

Who should use it?

Aside from everyone? Anyone who is active and prefers to carry their phone on them. So… everyone. Those people drawn to water and soil-centric sports will especially benefit from this durable case. The iPhone 6 Plus is a $1000 phone. A $1000 PHONE. What the hell??? That’s like keeping a mid-level iMac in your back pocket everywhere you go! You might want to consider quality protection. Just maybe.

Pros

  • Waterproof to 15 meters
  • Shockproof
  • Everything (buttons, screen, ports) still functions as expected
  • Looks awwweeesssooommmeee!!! Trust me, it looks good. The back of the screen is also transparent so you can see your aesthetically pleasing iPhone within the protection. It always frustrated me Apple would create a work of art that is never seen after you pull it out of the retail box!
  • A floaty thingie.

Cons

  • Once it’s on, it’s on. This is not a case to temporarily swap for your executive model when you’re taking the boat out, once it’s on it’s best to leave it on. Not only is it a pain in the butt to install/uninstall, it will likely wear down the plastic locks over time and render it leaky eventually.
  • The volume and on/off buttons can be very stiff at first, frustratingly so.
  • The camera does take a slight hit. The exposure, the light getting in the lens, is somewhat reduced. This translates into darker, contrasty images. Not unusable mind you, but the iPhone has a pretty amazing camera and it’s a little sad to see its quality even a little reduced. Still, the camera works quite well and is screen protected.
  • The audio port is buried deep below the case and require a $19.99 adapter to continue using. The adapter does make the port waterproof though.
  • Shipping takes a LONG TIME. Seriously, almost a month to receive our cases. Granted, they came from Belgium, but I get packages sent in two days from China all the time. Additionally, the company uses a shabby delivery tracking service that is little more than a total joke. You will never actually know where your package is because they only tell you things like: Accepting shipping company has queued your item for departure. Then 7 days later you find out: Your package is in transit to your destination country. Cool, thanks. How about you just toss that bad boy in the cargo hull of a plane an rule out the transatlantic crossing by tugboat and save me a couple weeks?

*** REVIEW UPDATE ***

Since I first wrote this review, Catalyst Lifestyle has secured a domestic shipping partner within the United States. My latest order (August 27, 2015) took only two days to arrive! Congratulations to the Catalyst folks for this much needed service improvement!

Summary

We are thrilled by the look and the functionality of our Catalysts. I spend A LOT of time in the water and I am breathing a sigh of relief I not only know my phone is fully protected but it’s also fully functional. So far the case is living up to its guarantee and my iPhone appears to be pristine below it’s sturdy shell. While there are a couple of negatives to call out (slightly diminished image quality, audio port requires adapter), this case has way too many benefits to ignore. I am thrilled my iPhone will never be exiting this case and has the protection surrounding it that my active lifestyle requires.