Portable, Practical, Protective iPhone 14 Pro Max Case.
If you are looking for a thin, protective case with useful features, then you have found your holy grail of iPhone cases. The Influence case promises lightweight protection, improved drop protection, forward-facing speakers for louder sound, crux accessory attachment points at each corner, an accommodating lightning port, wireless charging capabilities, a best-in-class patented volume toggle wheel, responsive buttons, and a grippy feel. Serenity awaits, as your protected iPhone 14 Pro Max remains at the ready in mint condition.
- Ease of Use
Catalyst provides rugged protection without the bulk!
As the prices of iPhones edge further into the obscene, the consequences of a drop, tumble, spill, ding, screen crack, etc. increase. Even with Apple Care+ coverage, I dare not tempt fate by carrying my phone sans case with four young kids, an energetic dog, and for the D&D fans, for the chance of rolling a Nat 1 that day. Despite the hype of releasing new Apple tech each September, I think I enjoy the second round of excitement when I get to review/explore new tech from trusted manufacturers.
I have tested many cases over the years and continue to fall back to the tried and true Catalyst cases. I met the Catalyst team at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in 2016 and dared to try something new with my iPhone 6s Plus. After a few return visits to Las Vegas for CES, watching the case drop competitions, and reviewing cases for the iPhone 7, 8, X, 11, 12, and 13 versions personally, I was excited to evaluate the latest flagship protector, the Catalyst Influence iPhone 14 Pro Max Case.
The catalyst influence iPhone 14 Pro Max case (2022 6.7” Pro) arrived in a classy 4 inches wide by 7 1/4 inches tall by 11 inches thick hanging style retail package. Divided into an outer slip cover, and an inner base layer, I was impressed with the overall design. Starting with the outer slipcover, you will immediately notice the raised, glossy, image of the upper half of the phone case, the raised bezels of the camera, and an orange-accented region describing the “patented rotating mute switch.”
For those who have never utilized a catalyst phone case before, the volume toggle is likely the best on the market. Below the photo-quality image, you will find the Influence name, iPhone size/compatibility, an image of the phone dropping onto a lower edge, and an image of someone holding the phone. I liked the bar graphs comparing standard drop-proof data and louder sound between non-catalyst and catalyst cases. The cover provided the 2.5x higher drop proof (3M/10Ft-Mil STD-810G) rating and “Up to 30% Louder Sound” thanks to the forward-facing speakers.
The right side panel provided a variety of #Catalyst case social media icons, iPhone 2022 6.7” Pro compatibility, and a QR code for added information. The left side panel provided a slightly raised, glossy image of the volume toggle, volume up/down buttons, and a life-size image of the 0.45”/11.59mm thickness. Although it does not seem like much of an addition, the ability to visualize the thinness of the case adds a degree of awareness to the packaging.
The rear panel provided a helpful labeled diagram of the iPhone 14 Pro Max case along the top (fingerprint-free background, ultra slim design, easy-to-press buttons, patented rotating mute switch, forward audio technologymore explicitearer calls, anti-drop lanyard (tested to 10kg), anti-slip textured grip, raised edge protects screen/camera, and 4 corner anti-drop attachment system) and a text-heavy lower segment that detailed the above features in multiple languages.
The raised, glossy image successfully showcased a top-down image of the empty case, the raised bezels, and the wrist lanyard. Overall, I appreciated the vibrant colors, the visual appeal, the layout/design, and the quality of the images. It is no wonder that the company has won several design awards.
The inner box was divided into an upper blue segment with a bold white company name/logo, the www.catalystcase.com website, and a 5G and Wireless charging logo, and a lower tan cardboard segment. The lower section advertised a variety of Crux accessories that could be installed onto the four corner attachment points (shoulder strap, lanyard, ring stand, and carabiner/extender), a screen protector, and options for Apple Watch, AirPods, Air Tag, and iPad.
Personally, I wish this segment was a bit more colorful. Having tested various Crux accessories, the modular, add-on feature of the case may be one of the most important aspects of the design. For additional information, you can scan the QR code along the bottom corner of the inner cover or along the top edge of the rear panel. Although it may be important to some, I felt that the inclusion of “Printed with Soy Ink” logo and the large segments devoted to recycling may have been a bit much. However, I greatly appreciate the attempts at improving the footprint.
I opened the box, removed the 1.1-ounce, 3 3/8 inches wide by 6 5/8 inches tall by 7/8 inches thick case, and the 0.1-ounce wrist lanyard. The lanyard had a thin, looped, 2 1/8 inches long attachment string, a 5/8 inches tall by 3/8 inches wide neck segment with etched catalyst name, and a 6 1/2 inches long by 1/4 inches looped nylon cord with 3/16 inches tall by 5/8 inches wide slider with etched catalyst logo.
The smoky black, semi-transparent inner surface of the catalyst iPhone Influence case provided a subtle contrast to the dark black side plastic accents. The right side of the case (volume side) provided a 5/16 inches diameter volume mute switch and dual 7/16 inches long by ~3/32 inches wide raised, ribbed volume buttons. I liked the flat ribbed edge and the hexagonal shape that the case embodied.
Instead of rounded side/top panels, the angled sides added a degree of grip to the overall design. The opposite side panel provided an 11/16 inches long by ~3/32 inches wide power button and an etched name/logo along the bottom of the panel. Like the opposite side panel, the top, bottom, and power button sides utilized the angled ribbed design for added grip.
The bottom edge contained an ~15/32 inches wide by 1/4 inches tall lightning cutout, plus a 1/16 inches diameter speaker cutout on the flat segment and dual 9/16 inches long by 1/16 inches tall speaker ports on the front slanted segment. To complement the side/top panels, you will find four 3/16 inches wide by 1/16 inches tall Crux attachment ports on the front/back slanted side segments. The front face added a front screen bezel, while the rear slanted segment raised slightly above the frosted rear plastic panel. The top edge of the rear panel provided the 1 1/2 inches wide by 1 9/16 inches tall camera cutout and slightly raised protective camera bezel.
To install the iPhone 14 Pro Max into the case, I aligned the volume/mute toggle side into the case, pressed the top right corner of the phone into the case, then the top edge, the power side, and lastly the bottom edge of the phone. You will note that the camera cutout, volume toggle rotation switch, lower lightning port, and speakers aligned appropriately with the phone hardware.
I slid the thin segment of the wrist lanyard into the lower right CRUX attachment point and then the thick loop into the smaller loop. With the lanyard/case installed, the 9.3-ounce phone/case combo slid comfortably into my Nite-Ize XXL Clip Case Sideways Universal Rugged Holster. I was able to easily slide the case into the holster, remove it, navigate the phone features, place it face down on the table, and to set it face up as well. The raised screen edge added protection against glancing blows and raised the screen away from the surface when face down. Similarly, the camera bezel added a degree of protection when face up.
As noted above, the three main features that catalyze the experience are the volume toggle, Crux attachment points, and forward-facing speakers. The mute toggle switch is far superior to many case manufacturers who employ a narrow window for the toggle. Instead, the rotating switch is easy to use, easy to access, and is not limited by chubby fingers. The lightning port accommodated every one of the cables that I tried, including several bulkier, non-Apple cables.
The forward-facing speakers provided enhanced sound and directed a bulk of the experience forward and away from the screen. When combined with the ring stand, the forward-facing speakers helped create a pseudo-mini-theater. Lastly, as an additional method to charge your phone, the thin opaque backing plate will allow you to charge the phone wirelessly.
Even though I have not had any major drops with my iPhone 14 Pro Max, I held the phone 1 foot from my hardwood floor and dropped the case/phone onto each corner. The phone dropped several times and then landed either on the front or back. I found no damage to the case or to the phone after a total of 4 drops.
I often utilize the wrist lanyard to prevent unexpected drops. I learned this lesson after one of my kids accidentally swiped an older iPhone off of the kitchen table. Luckily, the Catalyst cases have successfully averted crisis multiple times over the past few years; I am thankful for the diligent efforts of the R&D team. The proof of the protection can be seen in the 20 foot drop test at CES for the iPhone XR.
I am a fan of the Catalyst display technique, even if I disagreed with the large amount of space devoted to environmental awareness. The imagery, the display, the multi-lingual approach, and the presence/feel, exuded a customer-centric focus. I loved the weight, the angled edge shape, the grippy sides, the volume toggle, the forward-facing speakers, the lighting cutout port, the screen bezel, the camera bezel, the thin backing for wireless charging, and the option to add on Crux accessories. As a former bulky case, armor-favoring iPhone user, I have not regretted slipping into something a lot more comfortable.