Battle of the Waterproof Cases: Wetsuit Vs. Catalyst

                                        

Just because a case is a ruggedized, waterproof, military grade case, doesn't mean that all waterproof cases are created equally. This week we're taking a side-by-side, comparative look at two of the leading extreme-duty cases currently on the market. Catalyst's iPhone 6/6 Plus case is going head-to-head against Dog and Bone's Wetsuit for the iPhone 6/6 Plus. Read on to find out which of these two premium cases fares best in our shoot-out.

Catalyst for iPhone 6/6 Plus ($69.99-$74.99)

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Any case going up against the Catalyst has a daunting challenge ahead of it. The Catalyst is an exceptionally good case, with a sleek and slim profile, a lightweight construction, and impressive torture test stats. I've used the Catalyst case as my go-to case for reliable waterproof protection for years now and it's earned my respect through extensive field testing.

Pros:

  • Extremely light weight.
  • Easy to get the iPhone in and out of.
  • Excellent acoustic quality. Calls sounded clear and audio playback of videos and music was loud and crisp with none of the distortion or buzzing that is common among some other waterproof cases.
  • Provides a reliable and consistent high level of protection from submersion, impact, dust, and sand.

Cons:

  • The case has a small headphone access port, and only a very small headphone jack will pass through. Catalyst will sell you one but it costs $15. Since it's an essential accessory for anyone who wants to use third-party headphones, add that to the price of the cases, which would make them $85-$90.
  • It would be nice if the Catalyst's headphone port cover didn't have to be open in order for the Lightning port cover to be open.


Dog & Bone Wetsuit ($79.95-$89.95)


The Wetsuit is a relatively new contender in the waterproof, extreme-duty iPhone case arena. Naturally, when I first came across the Wetsuit at CES I was curious as to how it would perform in real-world situations. Dog and Bone were gracious enough to provide me with a review unit and I've been using it consistently for weeks. The Wetsuit is an extremely sturdy case—heavier than the Catalyst. It also seemed to me as though it provided at least as much, if not more, protection from shock, drop, and crushing forces as the Catalyst. Although initially I was extremely impressed with the Wetsuit, after field testing the case for some time and in various circumstances, my list of grievances with this case made me question whether it was able to live up to its hype.

Pros:

  • Excellent shock and impact protection. Arguably better than the Catalyst.
  • Raised bezel protects every case's weakest link: the glass screen.
  • Good grip. I loved the textured, shock-absorbent rubber around the perimeter of the case, as well as the raised diamond pattern on the back of the case.

Cons:

  • Heavy.
  • Difficult assembly. Would like to see future versions offer a simplified means to get the iPhone safely situtated within the case. The two rubber flaps that cover the headphone and Lightning ports are noteably tricky.
  • Can't access swipe up control, which means I can't access my flashlight, camera, music control, Do Not Distrub, etc. All of which I use often, at least, that is, when I have access to the swipe up feature.
  • Due to case's high bezel around the Home button, it's hard to access Touch ID and difficult to even press the Home button. At times, I found myself having to press poitedly downward on the Home button with my fingernail in order to activate it, depending on how I held the iPhone.
  • I never felt secure with the port cover seal. It wasn't as much a fault of the material as it was of the design. The rubber plugs that press into the headphone and lightning ports were difficult to get fully seated and engaged.

Verdict:

As much as I respect the effort, the Dog & Bone Wetsuit just can't compete with the Catalyst. Perhaps the Wetsuit might be preferable for someone who wants a slightly higher level of shock protection and a deeper bezel for the added touchscreen protection the raised lip provides. But overall, I'd have to say that if I had to choose the case to use for rugged or extreme adventures, especially ones where water or moisture are involved, my pick would be the Catalyst, hands down.

 

Top Image Photo Credit: Anton Watman / Shutterstock

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Dig Om's picture

As Senior Gear Editor at iPhone Life, Dig reports on the latest and greatest accessories built for the iOS ecosystem. From rugged gear and Bluetooth speakers, to headphones, unique iDevice cases, and iOS remote controlled vehicles, Dig's articles cover a wide range of great gear for the iPhone and iPad. A core gamer for over three decades, Dig also writes iPhone Life's Game Centered column, which focuses on the best iOS games and game related news. Additionally, Dig's company, iDoc Tech Support, offers web design and administration services as well as iPhone and iPad repairs. When not at his work desk, Dig loves spending time with family and enjoying the wonders of nature. You can follow him on Twitter @idoctech