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Review: Catalyst Impact Protection Case for Samsung Galaxy Note9

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Sep 14, 2018, 3:13 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Catalyst Impact Protection for the Samsung Galaxy Note9 is a slim case that keeps the phone's gorgeous, curved glass panels from shattering. Thanks to its minimal footprint, the case offers protection without increasing the Note9's size overmuch. Let's get into our full review.

Samsung's Galaxy Note9 is an amazing phone. It features sultry curves, luscious materials, and impressive craftsmanship. This top-of-the-line piece of hardware is incredibly expensive, costing up to $1,250. With that much money invested, I highly recommend you take steps to protect it.

We've reviewed some cases for the Note9 that are rather bulky. The Impact Protection series from Catalyst strives to protect the phone while keeping the size in check.

Impact Protection

Until a year ago, all of Catalyst's cases were made for just the Apple iPhone, and most were fully waterproof cases that delivered incredible levels of protection. Now the company is making more varied cases, for more phones. The Impact Protection was their first standard-style case. Now, Catalyst has brought this model to Samsung's phones, including the Note9.

The Impact Protection model is focused on keeping the Note9 safe from everyday abuse, drops, and tumbles.

The Impact Protection uses a fairly simple design. Sort of like a bumper, it has a strong external frame that wraps around the side edges of the Note9. It's made from a plastic material that provides some give. A tiny triangular pattern inside the case edges provides cushioning against the phone's metal frame and glass edges. A stiff plastic panel covers the back of the phone.

I like that the rear panel is clear so you can see your Note9 underneath. The Impact Protection comes in three colors: black, clear, and blue/orange. The black model compliments our lavender Note9 nicely.

The Impact Protection fits the phone snugly, but not super tightly. You have to press your Note9 into the Impact Protection firmly to get it properly seated. It's easy to pull the case off, which I appreciate.

Catalyst did a good job ensuring the phone's buttons and ports are accessible. On the left you'll see three buttons for the volume keys and dedicated Bixby button. All three of the 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. It's actually smaller than the power button on the Note9 itself. It has the same ribbed texture as the other buttons and delivers good travel and feedback.

Thankfully Catalyst gave the case two rims, one at the top and one at the bottom of the display. These help protect the front glass.

Catalyst cut four holes into the bottom edge of the case to allow access to the ports and such. I had no issues with the USB-C port. The opening for the 3.5mm headphone jack is a bit deep and narrow; not all headphone plugs will fit into it.

Catalyst could have done a better job around the S Pen. It, too, is set deep in a narrow channel. I had difficulty getting my fingertips in there to eject the stylus. I sometimes used a ballpoint pen to get the S Pen!

The cutout on the rear panel is form-fitting. It hugs the profile of the camera module and fingerprint reader closely. It doesn't get in the way at all. In fact, Catalyst sloped the plastic rim below the reader to make it easier to use.

The Impact Protection doesn't impact wireless charging in any capacity.

The case feels rugged, and I like that it isn't too bulky. I'd call it the most sleek case we've tested for the Note9. It hardly adds any bulk at all. Moreover, the grippy plastic material of the case makes it easier to hold onto this slippery slab of a smartphone.

Catalyst claims the Impact Protection can handle 9.9-foot drops onto the corners. The strong outer bumper can easily tackle short drops around your home or office. I've abused the Note9 in this case, dropping it onto unforgiving surfaces such as airport floors, concrete sidewalks, asphalt streets, and muddy grass. The Note9 doesn't have a mark on it.

The Impact Protection from Catalyst sells for $50. Considering the price of the phone itself, surely you can afford to spend this much for some safeguarding. It's absolutely worth it. The case made an impact on me and I encourage you to put an Impact on your Note9.

Our Ratings

About the author, Eric M. Zeman:

Eric has been covering the mobile telecommunications industry for 17 years at various print and online publications. He studied at Rutgers Newark and University of Kentucky, and has a degree in writing. He likes playing guitar, attending concerts, listening to music, and driving sports cars.

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