Secure your iPhone within a catalyst case, add a convenient attachment, and answer nature’s call.
There are two major tech events that I look forward to every year. The first is the Apple launch event each September. The second is catalyzed by my love for all things tech, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, every January. As our phones have gained new hardware, new capabilities, better screens, better cameras, etcetera, their price tags have trended upward. Ill content to leave my phone au natural, I rely on dependable cases and Apple Cares+ to protect my investment. When I attended my first CES in January of 2016, I did not realize how much ground the convention covered. While wandering around the Convention center, I happened upon an exciting booth representing the catalyst brand. I quickly struck up a conversation with Josh Wright, the Co-Founder/Chief Creative Officer, and told him about the things I did not like about many of the cases on the market. They had a unique belt clip design for their iPhone 6s Plus Case, and I immediately knew that this was a company to watch. Each case, like their packaging, was meticulously designed and styled from the inception to the final product. In fact, the company has earned an International Design Award (IDA), a Consumer Electronics Show Innovation Award, and two Red Dot Design Awards.
Around the same time as the launch of the iPhone 12 line, they released their Influence brand of bumper-style cases. Highly protective, sleek, stylish, and washable, the cases introduced four CRUX attachment points. Each case shipped with a wrist lanyard, but this was not always an ideal way to carry an iPhone. Despite a world in lockdown from the COVID-19 pandemic, catalyst brought their A-game to CES 2021. This year they released their Total Protection Waterproof Case for iPhone 12/Pro/Pro Max and expanded their CRUX line of attachments. Interestingly, the Catalyst Crux system may be the perfect case companion setup. In fact, like Tony Stark’s hall of armor, the modular, customizable format provides redundant options to a major problem that many of us struggle with but never truly appreciate: How do we carry our phones without holding them in our hands? If you navigate to the Catalyst website, you can choose amongst a variety of bundles to help you with this conundrum: Lanyard & Buttons Bundle, The Out and About Bundles Accessory Shoulder Strap, and Ring, The Explorer Bundle Coiled Carabiner, and the Class Act bundle Premium carabiner and accessories.
Each of the CRUX accessory bundles arrived in a silver-colored 3 1/2 inches wide by 7 inches tall ziplock bag. The bag’s front displayed the catalyst name/logo along the left side of a semi-translucent window. The large white-colored logo provided a nice visual contrast to the black colored product visible behind the window. You will find a product sticker-label delivered the product bundle name, a product SKU, color, and barcode on the back panel. I lifted the ziplock of the coiled lanyard kit and removed the 0.35-ounce device and the 3 1/8 inches wide by 2 3/8 inches tall product insert card. The front of the card (present in all of the packages) provided an image of the Influence case (4 attachment points), the coiled lanyard, neck strap, ring attachment, carabiner attachment, and the stick on Commuter Bundle Wallet (For Influence/Total Protection cases only). The reverse side of the card provided a large QR code that links to the catalyst accessory instruction manual (“All OUR INSTRUCTIONS CAN BE FOUND HERE.”). The Explorer Bundle looped carabiner had a 3/4 inches long attachment point and a coiled 5 5/16 inches long mid-section, and a black/silver 2 3/16 inches tall by 1 3/16 inches wide non-locking carabiner. With gentle pulling, the midsection stretched from 5 5/16 to approximately 8 inches. With moderate force, I was able to pull the coiled to about 15 inches, and with more power, I was able to extend to about 32 inches. I likely could have stretched the coil further, but the test proved more than adequate. After the pressure was released from each stretch, the rings returned to their resting state.
To install the lanyard onto my iPhone 12 Pro Max Influence Case (also Vibe or Total Protection Cases), I pinched the thin attachment-point string into a point, inserted the tip into the lower opening, then pulled the line through. Once a section of the loop was through the case’s attachment point, I looped the cable’s larger end through the smaller area and created a Lark’s Head knot. When combined with a secure attachment point within the case, the lark’s head knot ensured a strong attachment. I could attach the carabiner to my belt loop on my pants, onto a lashing point on my backpack, and onto a loop on my jacket. As an added feature, I could hook the carabiner into the smaller attachment string to create a lanyard bracelet. This reminded me of the coiled bracelets that one may receive at water/theme parks for locker rentals. I am not sure if this was designed to be used in this manner, but knowing the team worked as intended. Of the provided accessory kits, this one was the most versatile for my need and provided a nice upgrade to the wrist-lanyard that was included with the case. My only wish for the carabiner setup was an option for a locking carabiner. The included carabiner was not a poor choice, but there could be a chance that something pressed inward on the metallic clip during an activity. Although the odds are not high, I would hate to lose my phone due to a rogue tree branch.
The 0.38-ounce neck strap and 0.1-ounce ring stand arrived in a similar package to the lanyard bundle above. The neck strap had dual 2 1/8 thin nylon attachment straps and a centralized adjustable 7/16 inches wide nylon neck strap. One of the attachment straps had a quick release buckle, while the other one remained affixed. I removed the quick release buckle to install the strap, inserted the thin strip into one of the Crux attachment points, and created the lark’s head knot. I then inserted the fixed end into the second attachment point and pulled the strap through. Once both points were attached, I reconnected the quick-release buckle and draped the neck strap over my neck like a passport holder. I was able to tuck the phone/strap into my jacket, and I could drape it over my sweater when desired. You can extend the strap from 27 1/2 inches to 55 7/8 inches by moving the included strap adjustment. I loved the thin nylon strap and found that it did not cause my neck to sweat like some thicker straps. It was convenient to have my hands free, with the phone secured around my neck. I found that I could lift the phone, use it to answer/make a call, snap pictures, answer a message, or use other apps/features.
With Crux attachment points at a premium, I found that the ring stand, like the carabiner clip, was a more useful add-on for my needs. The device had a 4 inches long thin attachment strap and a 1 13/16 inches long by 1 1/4 inches wide ring clip. To install the add-on, I slid the attachment strap through the Crux attachment point and created the lark’s head knot as above. Once installed, you can place your finger through the hoop as an extra method of drop protection, or you can use it as a landscape phone stand. When the ring was fully opened, it created a 90-degree base/backstop that allowed my Influence case and Total Protection case to rest securely in landscape mode. The design of the stand was rather ingenious. The two halves collapsed into a smooth dual ring, but they provided a lower frontal lip along the base when lifted. This prevented the phone case from sliding forward and thus securely held the phone in landscape position. I have found that I have alternated between the standard wrist lanyard and the carabiner with the lanyard while simultaneously attaching the ring stand attachment. It was rather convenient to have a lightweight phone stand without looking for a way to prop up my phone. I have used paperclips historically, as well as a Night-Ize wallet stand. However, this setup allowed me to travel a bit lighter without giving up any functionality.
The last attachment setup that I used was the carabiner and crux attachment. The device arrived in the same bag as the other devices above and had the identical product insert. The main difference was the included Crux carabiner plus dual attachment brackets. I have not tested the new catalyst VIBE cases, but I have tried the Influence and Total Protection cases. This attachment will clip to a belt loop, backpack strap, jacket strap, etc., just like the lanyard carabiner above. The main difference is that this device uses a flush anchor point instead of the attachment strap and will not work for the Total Protection Case. I inserted one half of the clip into the crux attachment point and then inserted the other half into the other side of the case. When both halves of the attachment bracket were in place, it created a loop that the carabiner could pass through. Thanks to the design, the carabiner prevented the two halves from separating and backing out of the case. The attachment was firm and entirely secure. If using the Vibe/Influence case, you could theoretically use the neck strap, the ring stand, and one of the lanyards or the Crux attachment. If you desire a more flush mounting option, one that does not have any coil/bounce, this setup may be ideal for your needs.
To summarize, each of the attachment systems provided its own set of advantages without adding much bulk/heft to the phone case. All of the devices above will work for the Vibe/influence case, but the Crux Carabinerr set will not work for the Total Protection case due to attachment point design. I continue to remain amazed at the quality of gear that comes out of catalyst’s lab. If you want a waterproof case, catalyst makes the best-in-class case with their Total Protection Case. If that is more case than you require, slip into something a little more comfortable with their Vibe or Influence line. Expertly crafted and protective, these cases are amazingly thin. Everyone knows the first step to protecting your phone from a drop is avoiding the drop in the first place. If you live an active life full of adventure and excitement, the catalyst brand was designed with you in mind. You may not need all of the upgrades, but then again, why not have the arsenal at your disposal?