There’s a new rugged waterproof case ready for the beach and trail: The Catalyst Waterproof Case for iPhone 6.
The case is made by Catalyst Lifestyle, a small company founded by a pair of adventurers, Josh Wright and June Lai, who delivered their first waterproof case in 2011 and has since created a variety of accessories. Despite being from a smaller company — or maybe because of it — the fit and finish of the Catalyst case is excellent.
Like most waterproof cases for smartphones, the Catalyst case features a front and back that snap securely together. To keep water out, the case uses a rubber gasket that fits into a groove on the back panel. Like all gaskets, it has to be clean and free of dirt, sand, or hair to work properly, so you need to inspect it before you install the case.
The front includes a thin plastic screen protector that has a thinner rubbery film to cover the home button, which also lets Touch ID work through the case.
The bottom Lightning port and headphone jack are covered with a soft rubber flap that plugs those two entry points. It fits securely. One downside to the Catalyst Waterproof Case for iPhone 6 is that it doesn’t come with a waterproof headphone extension cord. (Catalyst, does, however, sell an audio adapter with a gasket seal separately for $15.)
The camera is covered by a hard-coated optical lens, which does not seem to affect photo quality.
One thing I like about the Catalyst case is that it comes with a lanyard. If you’re hanging off the side of a raft in a river trying to film fish 15 feet down, you don’t want to drop your iPhone to the bottom of a river. I took that risk last summer — and managed to not drop my iPhone — but I would have preferred using a case with a lanyard.
Meanwhile, the case itself is pretty straightforward — not too bulky but still solidly built. In fact, once you snap this case together, good luck trying to get it apart without the use of a coin to pop the seal and help you pry it open. Of course, the solid seal is a feature, not a flaw. The Catalyst case meets the military 810G shock and drop-test standard and is rated IP-68 against water and dust. Better yet, Catalyst says it’s waterproof down to an amazing 16.4 feet — this is much deeper than most other cases that claim waterproof depths of 6 feet or so.
Can You Trust an iPhone Waterproof Case?
The question is, do I trust it down to 16 feet? Not really. Why not? While the build quality is great, there are also a lot of things that can go wrong. If I don’t notice a hair in the gasket when I seal my iPhone 6, I might get just enough water inside to cause a problem. So would I spend some serious time snorkeling or swimming with this — or any — waterproof iPhone 6 case? No way. The more time you spend in deep water or by rough housing, the more likely you are to break a seal. And the risk, by the way, isn’t that you’ll lose your iPhone investment. You might lose your precious vacation photos . . . or the ability to make a phone call in an emergency. Just saying.
So what is the case great for? Wet adventures. Dirty, dusty adventures. Would I use it in the rain, shooting video of a mountain rainstorm? Definitely. Snow? Definitely. Shots at the waterpark, quick underwater shots, video of epic backyard water fights? Yes, yes, yes. The key here is that having this case will help you capture great photos and video that you just wouldn’t ever get otherwise.
(Incidentally, if you’re looking for a camera that you can take deep under water and swim with for long periods of time, your best bet is one of the 10 Toughest Waterproof Cameras currently available — they all take great photos and video at reasonable price points.)
Catalyst Waterproof Case for iPhone 6 — Everyday Use?
The Catalyst Waterproof Case for iPhone 6 is a good-looking, relatively slim waterproof case. If you’re rough on your gear or just want to read novels on your iPhone in the bathtub, then yes, you can use the Catalyst case as a full-time case. The only downside is that it’s slightly muffled for phone calls — workable, but not quite as crisp without it. To help, Catalyst uses acoustic membranes. If you mostly text to communicate, audio might not be a factor for you at all — just know that it’s the same factor you’ll have to consider with any waterproof case: they all produce surprisingly good but slightly muffled audio on phone calls. It’s just a fact of physics. (If you use a Bluetooth headset for long calls with your mom, well then, the case won’t matter.)
All-in-all, the Catalyst Waterproof Case for iPhone 6 is a solid, rugged waterproof case. Snap your iPhone 6 into it and get outside for some new adventure because the case is well worth the peace of mind and ability to capture some of the best moments of your life.