Protective waterproof case, provides more than adequate protection while allowing the beauty of the iPad Mini 4 to shine.
I have always been very cautious and protective of my stuff, especially with my electronics. I keep my iPad Air 2 nestled comfortably inside of an OtterBox Defender case, my previous iPhone 6s Plus lived inside of a Catalyst waterproof case, my current iPhone 7 plus resides in an OtterBox Defender case and my children’s Nintendo 3DS is safe inside of a Zelda-style carry case. The fact is, my gear thrives inside of protective cases. I often think that I would love to be carefree and to be able to enjoy the devices in their full naked state. However, with seven and five-year-old boys and a 19-month-old daughter, this is absolutely unrealistic. This Christmas, I decided to buy my children an iPad Mini 4 as their main gift. Knowing how they interact with their toys, I wanted a case that could stand up to their torment. The ideal case needed to be as close to bulletproof as possible, waterproof and to allow good access. Although I do not think that the device will be submerged, I cannot know that for certain. I do my best to extend my protection to their items as well, but 24 hour overwatch becomes exhausting. So, I place some of my trust into the hands of the protective case.
Let us be honest, there is no case that is completely safe. There are trade-offs that you must consider when buying any accessory. If you increase the weight of the device, there may be an increased chance of dropping the device. If you make it waterproof, the sound output may suffer, you may lose some of the touch capacitance or more likely, someone will forget to replace the waterproof seal. Catalyst proved itself to me previously, when my iPhone 6S plus slid out of the belt clip and survived a deep-end submersion in a local pool. The phone was completely protected. Also, it survived a fall from car seat to concrete at least twice.
The Catalyst cast arrives in very classy retail packaging. On the front of the box is a large color image of the case encompassing an iPad Mini 4. Along the bottom front you will note that the company very clearly displays the Ingress Protection rating (IP) of IP68. This is a big deal, as this data is often hidden inside of the manual or on the website, with many other cases/devices. The case is fully dust protected and waterproof down to a depth of 2m/6 feet. Just to the right of the waterproof rating is the drop rating, Mil-STD 810G 1.2M 4.4 feet drop rating. This means that the company has tested this device to a drop of just above 4 feet. I have not dropped the iPad mini 4 to test this case, but I have dropped my iPhone 6s plus from about 3 feet as listed above, without any obvious damage besides a scuff on the case. Turning the packaging over, you will notice the features of the case are clearly defined. The case provides a waterproof double seal, integrated touchscreen film, an acoustic membrane for sound, soft rubber grip to prevent dropping, and a touch-compatible membrane over the home button. This case has a large clear plastic window on the back, which allows you to see roughly 3/4 of the surface of the iPad mini 4. In total, you will see nearly the entire front and 3/4 of the back. This case allows you to have a more natural view, while providing the protection you need.
When you open the packaging, you will find the case in 2 parts, a case front, and a case back. It is important to note that this particular version of the Catalyst Case is built specifically for the iPad Mini 4. If you have a different device, you will need to purchase the version appropriate for your device. I know many people would immediately place their device into the case and snap it shut. I had to fight my own urge to do the very same activity. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that Catalyst included the small black diamond-shaped opening tool. Before you discard the packaging, please notice the black diamond shaped tool, hidden inside of thin plastic insert (holds the case). If you immediately placed your device into the case, use the tool by wedging the lower left corner apart and then twist the tool to separate the top and bottom. Even though the Catalyst Case is designed to be waterproof, you really need to test this first. The instructions provide a strong recommendation to test the case prior to adding your device.
It is recommended to snap the faceplate with the back plate together, making sure that there is a good seal all the way around. It is also important that you make sure that the bottom lightning port plug and the 3.5mm port are sealed as well. To test the case, fill a container with water and place a heavy object onto the Catalyst Case. If you do not do this, it will float (will not float with iPad mini 4 in the case). It recommends to leave this underwater for about 30 minutes and then to test for any leaks. If there are leaks, it is recommended to either contact the company or to dry out the case, reattach it and then try again. DO NOT USE THIS IF DAMAGED/DEFECTIVE. If there are still leaks, reach out to the company. I have had experience with the Catalyst customer service and I found them to be very responsive to emails. This is yet another reassuring feature of a case.
I personally prefer to test this type of case by using a few squares of toilet paper or paper towel, to better demonstrate the presence of a leak. I do not trust that 30 minutes is enough time to test the case. I thus decided to leave mine in my sink and underwater, for an entire overnight period of time. When I awoke the next morning, the paper towel was dry and the case passed its challenge. It was then time to install the case. Make sure that you have no Zagg Shields, glass or screen covers on your device. As detailed above, insert the opening tool into the small gap along the bottom left. You can twist the tool and pry open the case. Continue this process until the front and back plates are separated. Then, insert your iPad Mini 4 into the back plate. Slowly slide your fingers around the case, locking the cover down.
Just like I found with the practice waterproofing test run, the device functioned flawlessly. The touch capacitance of the screen was spot on and the clear plastic becomes almost imperceptible after a while. There are two accessible ports on the device. Along the top left, you will find a 3.5mm port and along the bottom is the lighting port. Each has a rubberized accordion-style insert that fills the opening. If you drop the case (4ft or less), it is recommended to retest the water resistance with an empty case. This case is not designed for high pressure water exposure, but is designed for accidental submersion and bath/shower time. The case makes it ideal for reading in the bathtub or pool, with decreased fear of destroying your tech.
I thought that I would initially dislike the lack of a holster, cover or smart screen. They did include a small foldable tablet stand, which is not attachable. I like that Catalyst thought about the device, but I do not like that it is a device you must remind yourself to grab, before leaving home. The stand is sturdy and will hold the iPad Mini 4 in vertical and horizontal mode without issue. Measuring 6″ by 8.5″ by 3.4″ thick and weighing 1 lb 1.7 ounces (with the included 10.5 ounce iPad Mini 4), the case adds just about a half pound to the total weight of the tablet. Similar to the issues I had with the iPhone 6S plus version of Catalyst case, the lightning port is rounded and may cause some issues with non-Apple cables. This was not as problematic as the one with the iPhone 6s Plus, however. Additionally, the iPhone 6S plus required very narrow 3.5mm jack prong ends or the use of Catalyst 3.5mm jack adaptor, which you can buy from their website. Lastly, the speaker vents are on the back of the case, which is an interesting location. I believe that this was done to allow the front of the case to be as open and free as possible. The sound output is okay, maybe muffled mildly. I highly doubt that my children will notice this feature. They will likely utilize Bluetooth headphones anyway, to watch iTunes and Amazon Prime movies.
The membrane over the home button is very responsive to thumbprint and the screen protective cover is very responsive. I love the clarity of the plastic, both overlying the screen and the back of the Catalyst case. The rubberized edges provide a great gripping medium and gives an almost tacky-like sensation. I am truly looking forward to Christmas morning. I know the look in my children’s eyes, when they open up their new iPad Mini 4, will be worth the wait. I have already preset the tablets with their own name/picture of the entire family. I have become a fan of the Catalyst case. If you utilize Apple chargers, you should not have any issues with charging. You really can trust in the protection of the case and rest easier, knowing that your device is protected. The company stands behind its products and I would highly recommend this amazing case from Catalyst. I would rate it at 4/5 based on a few limitations as listed above.
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