The easiest-to-use waterproof case available. Designed for freedom in and around water, the Survivor + Catalyst Waterproof Case is submersible down to 3m, but functional enough to use every day.
This case looks sleek and cool—not bulky or ugly like a lot of cases on the market. It is lightweight, low profile and has a lot of clear plastic so that you can see the color of the phone through the case, which we liked since the white and silver version isn’t obscured too much by the case. All the buttons on the case connect and trigger the buttons on your phone perfectly. The only difference is the simple twist knob that toggles the switch on your phone from ring to vibrate.
We followed their instructions by submerging the case in a couple inches of water for the better part of a day to make sure the seal worked. We did our own separate test by also adding putting a piece of paper towel inside to see if it got wet at all. It held up like a champ. Good start.
Once we put the phone in the case we tested the sound output to see if it sounded muffled. Listening to music and voicemail sounded just fine. They use some kind of membrane that is waterproof yet sound gets through. The last few days one of our testers was getting some complaints from people that they couldn’t hear him sometimes while he was in his house. He hasn’t been able to determine if it is the case, or his service—which has been good since he switched to Sprint a few months back. We read another review that mentioned opening the charging port access door, which made a big difference. That’s unfortunate because that door naturally stays in the closed position so when you answer a call you have to remember to open the door. If you are using Bluetooth or headphones you don’t have to worry about it.
The front and back facing cameras take pictures normally without blurring as far as we can tell.
To use headphones, there are two options. Note that there is a screw-in cap that keeps water out of the case while not using headphones. To use headphones while the case is submerged or near water you need to use the included headphone plug adapter. A downside is that you have to keep track of it separately unless you leave it attached at all times which isn’t realistic or desirable since it sticks out almost an inch. It works by screwing the male end of the adapter into the case and then insert your headphone plug into the opposite female end. The nice thing is that you have the option of plugging in your standard Apple headphones without using the adapter. It isn’t completely waterproof this way, but more convenient for everyday use and still provides more protection than most cases. If you don’t use Apple headphones with the narrow base, your aftermarket brand may not fit in the opening. One annoying thing we realized right away is that in order to fully seal it, you need to thread the headphone port cap into the case. That is fine but it stays attached to the side of the case by a short plastic tether, which flops around when putting it in and taking out of your pocket. On the other hand, it’s better to have it always attached than loose like the headphone adapter where you can misplace it.
Time will tell how the clear plastic holds up. We like that the plastic on the front of the case is thick—unlike most flexible aftermarket screen protectors. We’ve had some cases that get weird patterns where the thicker plastic touches or doesn’t touch the screen of the phone. It looks totally normal with this case. One of our testers has sticky Zagg Invisible Shield on his phone. He has noticed that touch sensitivity near the top and bottom of the screen is less sensitive than the rest of the screen so sometimes he has to tap a bit harder than normal.
Although having a full Apple Care warranty on your phone that covers water damage is a good idea, replacing your phone is always a hassle. Being that most of us are aroundwater, sand and snow year-round, we feel that the glitches with this case are pretty minor and think it is a good product for kiteboarders to consider getting.
UPDATE December 13, 2013:
Sizes: Fits iPhone 5