With a Catalyst Waterproof case, you can grab summer by the horns. Get out and enjoy the outside.
As a student, the Alice Cooper song “Schools Out” captured the excitement of the ending of the school year. Every year, around late May to early June, we prepared for summer’s heat and the thrill of adventure. Despite the near extinction of the Grisswald Station wagon, families continue to trek toward exciting locals. With our Apple smartphones in tow, we need a secure, waterproof, reliable, functional, protective case. Personally, I need a case that is more than Lifeproof, I need a Catalyst.
I have found that very few companies focus specifically upon their packaging. Even though we are told to follow the “do not judge a book by its cover,” cliche, most do not. More than just a product, Catalyst continues to shine as a brand experience. The Catalyst iPhone Xs Max 33ft waterproof case arrived in a 4 3/8 inches wide by 7 3/4 inches tall by 3/4 inches thick retail case. The cover provided a clear triangular window along the top left and a vibrant surfer along the bottom right, ripping through a barrel wave. Along the bottom of the cover, you will find three 1/2 inch diameter icons detailing the 33 foot/10 meter waterproof nature of the case, the 360-degree protection, and 6.6 foot/2 meter drop proof protection. Toward the right edge, Catalyst provided an eye-catching 1 inches wide by 3/8 inches tall blue box with bold white “WATER PROOF” verbiage. It is no wonder that Catalyst earned the 2018 IF Design award.
Rotating the case 90 degrees clockwise, I was pleased to find a slightly raised, life-sized, side view of the nearly 1/2 inches thick case. The volume up and down buttons, and the circular volume toggle dial provided a glimpse at the quality of the case. The opposite side panel provided icons for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, the #CatalystCase hashtag, and details about the wrist lanyard and the ability to fit most charging cables (11.55 x 6mm). The reverse panel captured the nauseating feeling of the moment that your iPhone splashes into water, which provided a visual example of the waterproof/drop-proof features of the case. To the left of the image, Catalyst did not simply list information about the case, they exclaimed it with large, visually appealing white font. Furthermore, the packaging provided a multi-lingual list of the rotating mute switch, integrated touchscreen film, wireless charging capability, and enhanced audio acoustics.
I removed the thin plastic tray from the outer shell and found the 3 1/2 inches wide by 6 3/4 inches tall by 15/32 inches thick case and the 6 1/2 inches long wrist strap. Beneath the tray, I found a 16 panel instruction manual, detailing the installation process. To begin, you will need to remove any screen protector that is on your iPhone Xs Max. To test the waterproof nature of the case, I added a few pieces of Charmin Ultra toilet paper into the case and then combined the two halves together. I liked the reassuring audible and tactile snap observed, as I pressed edges together. I closed the lower rubber lighting port seal and placed the case into my water-filled sink. The instructions recommended a 30-minute water test, but I chose to allow the test to continue overnight. Because the case is filled with air, it will tend to float. You will need to fill a coffee cup with water and allow it to keep the case under the water. The following morning, I inserted a quarter into the case removal port and twisted. The thin back panel was easily removed from the larger front panel and I was pleased to find dry toilet paper within the case. With a successful water test completed, I installed the bottom of the iPhone Xs Max first and then the top. Before reinstalling the back panel, I made sure that the O-ring was appropriately seated.
The main reason that I continue to employ Catalyst cases is that their protective features do not tend to inhibit utility. More than just a shiny coat, these cases do so much more than to just deflect blows. I loved the circular mute toggle switch and the firm tactile feel of the power button/volume up and down buttons. Rigid and responsive, this case did not suffer from the same squishy, muted buttons of many of the silicone bumper style cases. The lower rubberized lighting port seal was one of my favorite and least favorite features of the case. Acting like a hinge, the lightning port seal attached at the lower right side of the case. The seal had a lightning shaped plug that could easily plug/unplug the lightning port hole. When installed, the case was IP68 waterproof; when uninstalled, the open lightning port allowed the ingress of water. I would caution you to make sure that you keep the plug sealed within the lightning port, else you may suffer my same fate. I only forgot to replace the seal once and unfortunately, it snagged on my Nite-Ize hip phone holster and fell off. Without the small rubber stopper, the case cannot maintain its waterproof status.
The case provided full 360-degree protection, yet allowed access to the vertical camera, speakers, and touch screen. I was able to capture videos and photos without distortion, the face recognition software worked flawlessly, and I found that the screen was easily manipulated. Similar to the native screen, the protective layer did not work with wet hands or if drops of water were present on the surface. Some sources stated that you could take photos underwater. If you utilize the volume buttons, you can snap images underwater. When you return to the surface, use a microfiber cloth to dry off the screen and you will find that the single touch and multi-touch gestures will return.
To test the waterproof features, I tossed my iPhone Xs Max into our local pool and I let the phone rest at 3 feet, 5 feet and 8 feet for roughly thirty minutes. Similar to the touch limitations above, the acoustic sound barrier was limited by water. When dry, the case allowed the user to experience clear/crisp sound for phone calls, music, movies, and speakerphone functions. However, when wet, the lower speaker ports and the screen were significantly muffled. Other than the physical loss of the lower rubber seal, my only other complaint was with the surface coating of the screen/backing; it appeared as if the surfaces were fingerprint/scuff magnets. Luckily, this limitation was circumvented with Whoosh Screen cleaner and a microfiber cloth. My only wish was that Catalyst included an extra lower seal within the packaging.