Confront nature head-on with the sleek, waterproof, and protective iPhone 12 Pro Max case from Catalyst.

As diehard sports fans prepare for their major sporting events each year, I excitedly await each  January to bring a new CES.  Although 2021 was a bit odd, the SARS-COV-2 virus could not kill the largest tech conference in the world.  Some companies chose to wait out a year, while many embraced new tech/methods to move into a virtual space. Catalyst was one of those companies that chose to trudge onward instead of conceding to the Corona scourge. Designed to deflect nature’s worst, I want the catalyst experience.  

The Catalyst Total Protection iPhone 12 Pro Max case arrived in a sexy 4 5/8 inches wide by 8 1/8 inches tall by 5/8 inches thick hanging style retail case.  When reviewing catalyst products, I find it difficult to focus upon a single aspect of the packaging.  In fact, I often cannot express a single favorite feature.  Starting with the cover, you will find several visually enticing features.  You will find the bold, white-colored catalyst name/logo atop a black background along the top of the panel.  Beneath this, you can directly visualize the upper third of the Total Protection Case through a clear plastic window.  More than a flat image, this method of presentation truly strengthens one’s understanding of the product.  Along the left side of the lower half of the cover panel, you will find five glossy, slightly-raised, rectangles detailing features of the phone case: 1. Disinfectable with EPA approved disinfectants. 2. Waterproof 10M/33Ft. 3. Drop Proof 2m/6.6Ft. 4. Wrist Lanyard Included. 5. CDC Foundation US $1 Charitable.  Each of the features was presented in written form and with colorful icons.  Just to the right of the icons, you will find the iconic image of a surfer within a barrel wave. Powerful, exciting, and alive, one can easily summarize the catalyst experience by this active moment.  The total protection case is designed to get you out into nature and protect one of the most expensive tech pieces that you own. 

Along the bottom of the cover panel, you will find a white/blue triangular design that provides the product name, information about the wireless charging compatibility, and details about donating $1 for every sale to the CDC efforts.  The right side panel provided Facebook, Twitter, Instagram icons and listed the #CatalystCase handle.  You will find a scannable QR code detailing the steps to install the case along the bottom of the panel.  Similar to the action on the cover panel, catalyst chose to add a degree of visual flow/motion to their packaging.  The cover panel was linked to the right-side panel by the lower QR code and linked to the back panel through the Quick to Install arrow.  I loved that the panels flowed together and created a more cinematic bigger-scene presentation like the wave on the front panel.  The back panel provided the company name/logo and product name along the top of the panel.  Beneath this, you will find visually appealing side-by-side raised, glossy images of the Total Protection Case’s front/back and seven icons/features: 1. Cleanable using Soap and Water. 2.Submersible up to 33Ft (10M). 3. Survives drops from up to 6.6Ft (2M). 4. Patented Rotating Mute Switch. 5. Slim Pocketable Design. 6. 2 attachment points. 7. Quick to Install (arrow pointing to side panel).  Along the bottom of the panel, you will find five vivid, colorful, images of a fireman, a doctor, of a phone being washed, a female snorkeling, and a group kayaking.  Lastly, the company provides the above information in a multi-lingual format (Spanish, Italian, German, Japanese, Traditional Chinese, and Standard Chinese). 

To finalize the packaging review, you will find the SKU/UPCs along the lower back panel.  Along the top panel, you will find a central robust black-plastic product hanger and the company email (  The left panel provided a slightly-raised, glossy image of the Total Protection iPhone 12 Pro Max Case’s right side.  You can directly see the 0.5” (13.82mm) width, the patented crown dial (best in the industry), the plasticized buttons, and the overall color scheme of the device.  The bottom panel provided information about the 1-year limited warranty and some additional legalese information.  Although less exciting than the front/back panels, the top, side, and bottom panels added to the overall story, which has continued to grow since I started with their iPhone 6S Max case so many years ago. 

To access the 2.32-ounce case, pull the tabs out of the top panel, lift the top panel and slide the inner clear plastic tray out of the outer packaging.  You will find the two-part Total Protection case along the middle, the wrist lanyard along the top, an accessory lower rubber Charge Port Plug toward the right, and the instruction manual behind the tray.  The inner cardboard panel provided the same QR code installation manual link as the right-side panel; remember to remove any screen covers before installing the new case.  Despite my previous experience installing other versions of the catalyst waterproof case, I turned to their instruction manual.  The second panel provided a detailed labeled-diagram of the case and features: 1. Mute toggle. 2. Case Front. 3. Acoustic Membrane. 4. dual (Crux) attachment points (Future Review). 5. Charge Port Plug. 6. Camera Lens. 7. Flash or Lidar or Acoustic Membrane. 8. O-Ring Seal. 9. Case Back.  I perused the subsequent panels and then turned the back half of the 16-panel manual for installation instructions.  As noted on the inner cardboard panel, remove any screen protectors before installation of the case.  To separate the two halves of the case, open the charging port plug, insert a quarter into the gap and gently pry the upper case upward.  Inspect the rubberized o-ring for any defects and then reinstall the backing plate by pressing your thumbs along the case’s outskirts.  I did add a small strip of toilet paper into the case before testing the case’s waterproofing.  


The third panel detailed the waterproof testing step.  They noted that our responsibility was to make sure that the case was waterproof before installing our phone.  I loved that they added details about personal responsibility because I am frustrated with how our country has downplayed it. To test the waterproofing, I filled my sink full of water and placed the case into the sink.  Because the phone was not yet installed, the empty case floated to the surface.  I followed the third panel, filled a coffee mug with water, and place it atop my case.  Instead of waiting for only 30-minutes, I kept the case submerged for a total of 24-hours.  I removed the case, dried it off, pried open the halves, and found perfectly dry toilet paper within the case.  Pleased with the test, I wiped my phone with WOOSH/microfiber cloth, inserted the lower edge of my phone into the case first (Panel 4), and then pressed the remainder of the phone into the case.  I placed the back panel onto the phone and then snapped the remainder of the edges into place (making sure the o-ring was properly seated. I evaluated the lower charging port plug and found it to be sealed.  I pressed my thumbs along the edges one last time and then confidently placed my phone back into the sink. Excitedly, the second test performed just as well as the first one. 

The back surface of the 3 5/8 inches wide by 6 7/8 inches tall by 1/2 inches thick case was made of a semi-translucent plastic.  The raised camera section measured 1 3/4 inches wide by 1 3/4 inches tall and had a dark black rim surrounded by raised clear plastic. A layer of clear plastic protected the camera lenses.  I was pleased to find that the raised camera section protected the lenses while avoiding distortion of any captured images.  The front clear plastic membrane measured 2 7/8 inches wide by 6 1/8 inches tall.  Surrounding the front/back layers, you will find a solid black raised TPU border.  You will find a single 5/16 inches wide by 1/16 inches tall plastic button and an etched catalyst name/logo upon a rubberized, grippy side panel along the left panel.  The right side panel had dual 3/8 inches wide by 1/16 inches tall plastic volume buttons and a 3/8 inches diameter volume toggle wheel.  The bottom panel had a 1 1/2 inches wide by 3/8 inches tall rubberized lightning port plug and speaker cutouts.  If you lift the rubberized plug, you can access the 1/2 inches wide by 1/4 inches tall lightning port.  At each of the corners of the bottom panel, you will find a crux attachment point.  You can choose to buy one of several attachment accessories, or you can choose to use the included 9 1/2 inches long wrist lanyard.  Slide the thinner 2 1/4 inches long section into the loop and then pull the remainder of the wrist lanyard through the smaller string creating a secure larks head knot. For an added layer of protection, insert your wrist into the lanyard and then adjust the slider against your wrist.


The catalyst case provided more than a waterproof shell. With COVID-19 in full swing, I loved that I could wash my phone, while simultaneously washing my hands. Since the lower access port was easy to open/close I was able to charge overnight, close the port throughout the day, and then wash the phone as often as needed. When needed, I could place my phone upon my wireless charger to add a quick pick-me-up. In addition to the ability to clean the case, I loved that the power/volume buttons were incredibly responsive and that the acoustic membrane allowed clear sound. When needed, I could simply toggle the mute switch to silence the phone. The mute toggle worked better than any case I have tried previously. In fact, it remains one of my favorite catalyst features, far exceeding other brands in both form and function.

While testing the case, my 2-year-old daughter nudged my iPhone 12 Pro Max off of my kitchen table, causing it to land squarely upon my hardwood floor. Although confident in the case, I still could not shake the cringe-feel of the phone hitting the floor. I was pleased to find the phone and case were unmarred. To prevent future drops, you can add the wrist lanyard or you can check out the crux attachment accessories on the catalyst website. Look for a review of several of the crux attachment devices in the coming weeks.

Learn more about the Catalyst Total Protection Case for the iPhone 12 Max
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