Just in time for beach season, Griffin’s ruggedized, waterproof iPhone case – the Survivor+Catalyst – arrived at CoM’s Spanish HQ (aka my apartment). And after a month or so of using it and abusing it, I can say its the best rugged case I have used. For the iPhone anyway.
Let’s see why.
What It Is
The Survivor+Catalyst is an ultra-slim, form-fitting plastic case which seals the iPhone 5 inside and protects it from water at depths of up to (down to?) three meters or ten feet. It comes in two parts; the front section which is like a reverse shell-style case, covering the screen and the sides; and the rear panel which is flat and includes the two clamps that keep the pieces together.
In short, if you put your iPhone inside, it’ll survive whatever your day throws at it.
The font section is rimmed with an o-ring in a channel, and the read section pushes on and then compresses this ring when clamped into place. It works great, and its nice to be able to inspect the ring to see that it’s seated properly, thanks to the clear plastic of the shell.
The two halves clamp tightly together.
Once fitted, the phone works as normal. There’s a lens for photos, a pusher to press the home button, a hatch that can be opened to plug in a Lightning cable and a screw-closed hole over the headphone jack. The case even comes with a sealed pass-through adapter which will screw into the jack-hole and let you use waterproof headphones (or regular headphones if you’re using them on a boat, say, and only care about keeping the iPhone safe).
You can even use the touch screen if you follow the instructions and make sure that the front panel is squeezed down to eliminate the air-gap between it and the iPhone’s screen.
I have showered and dunked my iPhone enough to trust the case completely.
It works great. The case is light and slim, so you can even carry it on your pocket, and even though I haven’t actually taken it swimming, I have showered and dunked the phone enough to trust the case completely. I use it when out running (the included wrist strap is great for this) and when I go to the beach, and now instead of worrying about my iPhone all the time, I can use it (in conjunction with a ruggedized Bluetooth speaker) to annoy all other beach goers without fear of them grabbing my iPhone and tossing it into the sea in a futile attempt to get some peace and quiet.
The fact that everything is accessible makes the case genuinely useful. You can go on a month-long expedition and never take it out, just opening up a flap to charge it or sync it every once in a while. There’s even a clever knob which moves the mute button up and down when you turn it.
The case also has a couple of special membranes for transmitting sound. If you seat the iPhone properly, with its speaker up agains the little interior pad, you can listen to music and even have a normal phone conversation. It might even be a little louder than the naked iPhone, although its also little tinnier.
Nothing. If you were to push me, I’d say that the instruction manual goes on a bit, and that you should actually read it before using the case. The first time I tried to use my iPhone in the shower the touch-screen wouldn’t respond. The manual says that you need to open the Lightning hole and rub the case’s screen to expel the layer of air.
The manual also tells you that you should insert the iPhone bottom-first in order not to damage the speaker membrane. I messed this up too, but no harm came of it. I get the feeling the manual is complicated because the case is also quite complex. If fitted properly it works really well. If not, I can imagine that it would leak (a slipped o-ring, for example). And so the manual also functions as a legal prophylactic for Griffin.
The case is excellent. It keeps out dirt, dust and water, and protects agains shocks and vibration. It’s also cool-looking, and very slim and light. In short, if you put your iPhone inside, it will survive whatever your day throws at it. And for just $70 it really is a bargain.