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Review: Catalyst Waterproof Case for iPhone X

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Jan 30, 2018, 12:30 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   @phonescooper

If you're seeking extra protection against water, snow, sand, and drops, the Catalyst waterproof case for the iPhone X has your phone covered and then some.

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The iPhone X is already waterproof to IP67, which means it can sit in up to one meter of water for up to 30 minutes and live to tell the tale. But the X is mostly glass, which means drops to concrete, pavement, or other hard surfaces may result in a shattered display, shattered rear panel, and shattered heart.

Catalyst focuses its efforts in Apple products. Here are our thoughts on Catalyst's latest do-it-all case for the iPhone X.

Hardware

The Catalyst Waterproof Case for the iPhone X is sort of like a greatest hits compilation. It takes the waterproof chassis from the case Catalyst made for the 2016 iPhone 7 and merges it with the refreshed design we saw late last year in Catalyst's Impact Protection case for the iPhone X.

Catalyst Case  

The Catalyst Waterproof Case comes in two pieces. The front piece includes a touch-sensitive membrane that covers the display and a strengthened external bumper that wraps around the iPhone's steel frame. The bumper is made from toughened plastic and covered with a grippy rubber material. Four rubber pads inside the case at the corners help dampen impacts. The case's rear panel is a flat piece of clear, hard plastic that snaps in place to form the complete enclosure.

It's pretty obvious how you're supposed to install the phone in the case. The process — including the time spent working your fingers around the rear to ensure the clasps all catch — takes but a few seconds. Catalyst devised a plastic tab at the bottom of the rear panel that makes removing the case a piece of cake.

Catalyst did a good job ensuring the phone's buttons and ports are accessible. On the left you'll see a big rotating switch that covers the ringer key. Turn it back forth to toggle your iPhone X into and out of silent mode. The volume buttons are ribbed, which helps them stand out physically from the smooth plastic of the case. They work well. The screen lock key on the right edge is a bit small (much smaller than the actual phone button). It's also ribbed and worked well.

Side Buttons

Side Buttons

A beefy rubber gasket fits into the Lightning port on the phone's bottom edge. It's easy to interact with and provides plenty of room for you to plug the iPhone X into cables for charging. It swings out of the way, but remains attached to the case. A membrane covers the bottom-mounted speaker to protect it from liquid and dirt, while letting sound through freely.

Gasket

Gasket

The clear screen protector fits perfectly against the display and there are no bubbles or air pockets in between. The membrane does not impact the iPhone X's response to touch input, which is vital. Nor does it get in the way of Face ID. It does, however, get in the way of visibility just a bit. The membrane creates a grainy pattern against the glass that I didn't care for. Moreover, it hinders outdoor visibility unless the brightness is cranked up.

Screen Outdoors

Screen Outdoors

The case's design protects iPhone X's excellent camera while ensuring it's free and clear to capture those iPhone moments. A raised plastic housing protects the iPhone X's camera module. A flat piece of plastic stretches over the entire module, though it is protected by the slightest of raised rims. The plastic that covers the lenses might be easy to scratch, though it is also easy to wipe clean. Because the flash needs to be optically separated from the two lense, it is hidden in a divot. The downside of the divot is that it can trap dirt or sand. (Make sure to clean it out if the phone gets muddy.)

Camera Protection

Camera Protection

The case adds about 0.49 inches to the height, 0.39 inches to the width, and 0.17 inches to the thickness. The phone won't fit into your pocket quite as well with the case on, but it still fits. The weight increase isn't that noticeable.

Hand Fit

Hand Fit

It's only available in black.

Performance

I had no trouble making or hearing calls, listening to music, watching videos, or performing any other everyday task with the Catalyst installed on my device. You'll still be able to charge your iPhone X wirelessly.

Outdoors  

Catalyst's waterproof case meets mil-spec 810G for protection from shock and drops up to 2 meters (6.6 feet). I dropped the Catalyst-wrapped iPhone X onto loose gravel, concrete floors, and asphalt. I made sure it landed on all surfaces and edges. The iPhone X suffered no cracked glass when wearing the Catalyst. That's good.

The iPhone X itself is water resistant, though only to 1 meter (3.3 feet). The Catalyst case is waterproof to 10 meters (33 feet) thanks to the IP68 rating. This means you can drop your iPhone X in the deep end of most pools and catch some rays before bothering to fish it out. I tested the Catalyst case in my local river and the iPhone was dry as a bone when I opened up the case. I also buried the phone in some snow and 30 minutes later the phone as no worse for the wear.

Snow

Snow

The IP68 rating also means the Catalyst protects the iPhone X from snow, dirt, sand, dust, and other granular elements that might find their way inside. There's no question that the Catalyst Waterproof Case for the iPhone X keeps the phone safe from the elements as well as a bit of clumsiness.

Discussion

The $999 Apple iPhone X is one of the most breakable phones out there. You'd be insane to carry it around without protection. The Catalyst Waterproof Case for the iPhone X offers robust protection from bumps and bruises as well as water, dirt, and dust. Some cases offer better drop protection than the Catalyst (see OtterBox), but few improve the iPhone's ability to withstand water to 10 meters and protect against dirt/sand.

The Catalyst case is ideal for outdoor adventurers who want to record every moment of their weekend activities without endangering their high-priced iPhone X. The case costs a cringe-inducing $90, making it one of the most expensive iPhone X cases available. I'm pretty confident, however, that people willing to spend a thousand bucks on one of the best phones can spare the money needed to buy one of the best cases to go with it.

Our Ratings

4.5
Overall
 

Comments

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Feb 5, 2018, 5:20 AM

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