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Technology Today - Survivor+Catalyst December 2013
By Robert Sanborn

An Upgrade

It has been two years since I got my first iPhone before heading out to the International CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas and for the most part, have been very pleased with how well it works and how it has changed what I need to travel with. I keep my contacts, work files, boarding passes, travel maps, and also use it to take pictures and post images from the road and our travels for friends and family to see on Facebook. But a week ago, Best Buy offered me an incredible deal to upgrade to the latest iPhone 5S and I just had to take them up on it. You can read about it here: http://www.pcll.com/Articles/TechToday1312.htm

One of the first things I discovered after doing that was that a lot of my accessories pretty much are worthless just because of the different connector and type and the fact the case is a bit taller than my old one. So the first new accessory I got was the Survivor + Catalyst, http://www.catalystlifestyle.com/  and you can quickly see how why I like these cases so much.  I had a similar Catalyst case when I got my iPhone 4S and really wanted to see what changes they made and how well it works with me on the new iPhone.


My first impression when opening up the package and looking at it is that they got a lot of things right. From a well-sealed charger door that pops opens to plug in the phone for charging to the a tether for the headphone plug to the small perfectly sized screw in waterproof headphone extension plug to the five separate silicone O-rings used to keep the water out. This will keep your iPhone 5 safe in nine feet of water and from a six foot drop and from the things that terrify me the most; mud, snow, and rain. It also comes with a 70 page booklet in nine different languages. So what you do is to take the case apart, inspect all the seals and parts, put it back together (without the iPhone) and then immerse it in water for 30 minutes to make sure there are no defects.  The instructions for installing the phone are clear and concise; they even have a video clip to watch as well.

What is next will be how well the case and phone travel and is used and how it affects the volume. And in all of these issues, the Survivor+Catalyst case worked out just fine. The case is thin enough not to be a problem carrying it around and the sound was quite clear and responsive. One of the tricks is that if the sound is not loud enough, just unscrew the headphone jack to release any of the air pressure inside the case and that solves the problem and is just fine when you put the jack plug back in.  If you travel by air, you should always travel with the headphone jack unplugged to keep air pressure from causing any problems. There are two clip covers on the sides to keep the back secure to the front of the case and there is also one on the bottom for the charging cord to plug in. when you need to remove the iPhone from the case, unclip the three brackets and you use one of the side brackets to tug on and separate the two case halved. I always feel like I am going to break one of those clips separating the case but they are sturdy enough to hold up under the pressure just fine. One problem I ran into was that Catalyst uses a turn knob to connect to the switch that turns the ringer on and off and if you aren’t careful inserting the phone in the case with that knob, you can make it very difficult to turn it.

Catalyst Audio Connector

The one difficulty I had with the case outside of the on/off ringer switch, was that my case had a defective lens over the camera so most of my images were out of focus on the edges. Still ok for snapshots but not for printing. A replacement should solve that problem.

Ok, the quibbles; one would have been the obvious suggestion to make sure your iPhone screen is clean before you put it in the case. Another is one of the features of the iPhone 5S is the use of the start button to log in with the fingerprint scanner and that is no longer available. I was getting used to using that and beginning to prefer it to entering my password. Another quibble is that I have seen a lot of pretty cool docking stations for the iPhone but you cannot use them with the Catalyst case or for that matter, probably any other protective case out there. But you know, I think the docking station is a luxury I can give up. One reason I got such a good deal trading in my iPhone was that it was in perfect condition mostly by keeping it inside a weatherproof case no matter where I was and a case like this Survivor+Catalyst really solves that problem. The seals work so well that it is actually a little difficult to pop open the charging door. The final quibble is that if you have more than one headphone that you use with the iPhone, you will need to decide where to stash the waterproof headphone plug as you can’t use the headphones without it.

I like this case. A great screen, easy to use buttons means that you don’t have to push like mad to get the home screen, change volume, or turn the iPhone on or off. Most important is that I can go anywhere with my phone and not worry about the elements getting to it. For around $69, that is a ton of peace of mind.

Robert Sanborn

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