The iPhone 7 was the first ever to bring water resistance to the iPhone lineup. While not completely waterproof, it still meant that simple water splashes will not necessarily render your iPhone useless anymore. While we have reviewed waterproof cases in the past, none of them come close to being the best all around for everyday usage. With this in mind comes the Catalyst Case for iPhone 7 Plus, which was sent to use for review consideration from the awesome people over at Catalyst. While it may look to be just another waterproof case, the Catalyst features small tweaks that are definitely pointed in the right direction, and this might just be the solution to all your waterproof case needs.
The Catalyst features a two-piece housing transparent front and back that aim to highlight the original look and style of your iPhone. This feature will be much appreciated by those looking to show off their Jet Black iPhones.
Both front and back panels of the case feel sturdy and durable. To our surprise, the front screen protector is not simply glued on by the corners unlike other waterproof cases. This ensures that there will be no tears in the case that can potentially let water in.
If you are a fan of the digital crown on the Apple Watch, Catalyst differentiates themselves by adding a similar tweak in order to move the mute/orientation switch up or down. This solution is way more comfortable than what other cases have to offer. We would not be surprised if more companies started to do this as it does not accidentally trigger on its own when put into something like a pocket or backpack.
The volume up and down buttons seem to have some kind of line texture going on, but this does not help the cases’ buttons whatsoever. We will revisit this later in our review.
The Lightning port covers/flap is thick enough as to prevent water from going in, or be accidentally pulled out. There is a required effort to close and open this cover, and that is definitely a good thing.
Another great feature is the cases’ ability to come apart for things like cleaning. The port cover and the cases’ watertight seal both are detachable for this purpose.
Lastly, is the cases bottom facing lip that definitely takes the effort out of taking the case on and off. Anything from a coin to a key can be used to prop the case open.
Throughout our testing of this case, everything worked as expected. Even underwater, the phone was able to register screen presses without a hitch. While the case is able to support an iPhone with a screen protector underneath, it is not recommended as this will create an extra layer of air that can interfere with the phone’s ability to register presses. Waterproofing was also never a problem. The Catalyst’s watertight seal rings (O-Rings) kept everything snug, in-place, and sealed.
Audio quality when calling was also not a problem for this case. Unlike others, the case did not suffer from the typical drawback with most waterproof cases where the caller sounds distant and far away.
If there is anything to dislike at all from this case, it will definitely be the buttons. Both power and volume buttons feel flushed with the rest of the cases’ border, and pressing them will definitely not feel make any audible click. This can leave the user wondering how much force they need to press one of these buttons and/or whether or not they pressed them. While this by no means is a deal-breaker, it might take some time to get used to for some people.
The Catalyst Case for iPhone 7 Plus is definitely one of the best waterproof cases for iPhone. The ability to detach and clean parts of the case is definitely a welcome addition, as well as the case’s digital-crown-like-dial to move the phone’s mute switch. In addition to this, the phone’s designated lower lip to help seal and unseal the phone is among the best we’ve seen. Since the port cover and O-rings are detachable, ripping or losing either does not render your case useless as Catalyst sells separate port covers and O-rings for $4.99. Overall, if you can get over the on/off and volume button feel, and are in the market for a waterproof case, this is definitely the case to get.