Don't let the elements slow you down with Catalyst, LifeProof, and Seidio cases for the Apple iPhone 6 Plus

Many of us take our iPhones everywhere, including our outdoor adventures. Whether you run, cycle, ski, ride, boat, or take part in some other outdoor activity there are a few solid choices to protect your iPhone 6 Plus from the toughest elements.

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Now that my Apple iPhone 6 Plus, see my full review, is my primary smartphone, thanks in part to the usefulness of the Apple Watch, I've been looking to test waterproof cases that would allow me to run, cycle, hike, and more in the outdoors of Washington, Alaska, and New York.

Three case manufacturers sent along cases and I've spent the past couple of weeks trying them out on my bike and in my hand in the spring rains. All three case solutions are much easier to get an iPhone secured into than extreme weather cases I used in the past and it was tough to pick a favorite.

Make sure to check out my associated image gallery that includes photos of each case and some of the accessories available for mounting your iPhone.

LifeProof Nuud

The LifeProof Nuud arrived in white and gray. You can also purchase it in black and smoke.

The LifeProof Nuud comes in two pieces, like the other two cases I check out. I was a bit shocked to see the front piece has no integrated plastic piece in order to keep the device waterproof. LifeProof actually includes a rubber seal around the display, called screenless technology, that lets you use your iPhone 6 Plus by touching directly on the display. There is a plastic screen protector in the package that is optional.

While the front piece is constructed of very hard plastic, there is soft gray rubber material around the inside frame with the corners curved to exactly match your iPhone 6 Plus. You will also see a thin platic membrane over the TouchID opening.

The speaker has a waterproof covering, but it appears to be a fine mesh that seems to let sound pass through quite well. The headphone port has a screw in cover that is tough to remove. I don't mind since I don't intend to use my headphone jack in the weather and want that opening secure.

The back pieces is mostly made of clear plastic with many small triangular support frames along each side. There is an O-ring gasket around the entire back cover and clear plastic windows over the camera and flash.

Place your iPhone 6 Plus into the front piece, snap the back piece onto the front, and then flip the securing clamp on the bottom over the Lightning port. You will clearly hear the back snapping into place and see the two halves seal up. It's difficult to separate the two after the case is assembled, which is a good sign for watertightness.

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There is a test piece included in the case and LifeProof highly recommends that you assemble and test the case with the test piece prior to installing your own iPhone into the case.

You need to use the included 3.5mm headset adapter in order to plug headphones into your iPhone through the thick boundary of the case.

TouchID support Yes
Water resistance rating IP68
Drop proof standard MIL-STD 810G-516.6, 2 meters
Screen protection integrated No, optional protector provided
Dimensions 170.2 x 88.9 x 12.2 mm and 53.5 grams
Price $99.99

LifeProof also sent along the Suction Mount for your car and the Bike Mount, both each available for $39.99.

In order to use these mounts, you need to place the QuickMount adapter on the back of the LifeProof Nuud. You need to choose vertical or horizontal mount, but no matter what you choose, the mount you use may allow you to rotate it with the socket piece. I attached the adapter with the adhesive tape in the vertical orientation to more easily position my 6 Plus on my bike handlebars.

The one thing I don't like about this system is that the adapter is permanently attached to the back of the LifeProof Nuud so your iPhone won't lie flat if you use it without a mount.

Seidio OBEX

The Seidio OBEX case arrived in black and gray, along with a belt clip mount. You can also buy this case in white, pink, yellow, and frost.

The OBEX case has front and back pieces. The front half includes a clear plastic screen protector that extends down below the TouchID button so you can still use your finger to unlock and secure your iPhone. There are also clear plastic windows over the headset speaker and front facing camera.

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The inner frame is rigid plastic and your iPhone rests down inside this frame. Around the outside of the front half is a softer rubber material that serves as a bumper for drops. This same material has deep plugs that fit into the 3.5mm headset jack and Lightning port. The speaker opening is also covered with a thin layer of this material and audio does seem slightly muffled in the case.

The back piece has a network of light gray gasket seal pieces to help keep things watertight. These are fit along the antenna lines of your iPhone to eliminate interference. Most of the inner back is constructed of rigid plastic with a honeycomb design that looks to provide more drop protection.

After placing your iPhone into the front half, you simply press and snap the rear half into place. You will feel and hear audible snaps as you securing the case closed. It is actually difficult to remove it so you must use a key or other tool to separate the two pieces.

You need to use the included 3.5mm headset adapter in order to plug headphones into your iPhone through the thick boundary of the case.

TouchID support Yes
Water resistance rating IP68
Drop proof standard MIL-STD 810F, 6 feet
Screen protection integrated Yes
Dimensions 172.77 x 91.07 x 12.61 mm and 53.87 grams
Price $79.95

Seidio also supports the Quest mounting system. For $79.95 you can purchase the mounting kit that comes with a bike mount, arm band, and car mount. These all work in conjunction with the belt clip case.

You remove the actual belt clip and then attach the belt clip holder piece to the bike mount, arm band, or car mount and slide the lock in place. It looks to be a convenient solution, but rather bulky as well.

Catalyst

The Catalyst case arrived in white and mist gray. It is also available in black and space gray.

The front piece is composed of rigid plastic, glossy clear plastic, and strategically placed corner bumpers. A single long rubber piece covers the bottom with plugs for the headset jack and lightning port. The outside has soft touch rubber bumpers to help with grip and drop protection.

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There is a special membrane piece of the TouchID button to help with performance. There is a dial over the ringer switch that you rotate to turn on or off. Rubber buttons are used to control volume and activate the power button.

The back piece is slightly unique in that it fits on top of the front and into the sides. An O-ring surrounds the entire back piece and that O-ring fits down into the sides of the front piece. The back is most clear plastic so everything is viewable. There is a light gray rubber piece on the back that helps keep your iPhone from sliding on a table. A bumper is also fit around the camera area.

One thing I like about the Catalyst case, that makes it one you can carry daily, is that you can use most headphones without needing to use an external extender.

There are no mounting solutions designed specifically for the Catalyst case. You can find a floating lanyard that will help you find your iPhone if you take it swimming. It is available for $19.99

TouchID support Yes
Water resistance rating IP68, 5 meters
Drop proof standard MIL-STD 810G
Screen protection integrated Yes
Dimensions 170.5 x 88.3 x 12.3 mm
Price $74.99

Which is my personal favorite?

I've always like Seidio's cases and I prefer its integrated display protection over that of the Catalyst case. All of these provide solid protection at a similar price, but I did prefer them in order of their cost. I preferred the LifeProof Nuud case over the others thanks to it's size, unique screen protector free design, and rock solid mounting solutions.

The LifeProof is the smallest case of these three alternatives and I do like having direct access to the display with LifeProof's screenless technology design. My iPhone 6 Plus felt secure in the case and the bottom port sealing mechanisms seemed to be the most robust.

The LifeActiv mounting solutions for the LifeProof case are very well designed, providing rock solid foundations for taking your iPhone 6 Plus on the road with you. I'm interested in trying the future arm band solution, but for now I just carry my iPhone in my hand and relax knowing it's protected from the elements.

Make sure to check out the full image gallery of these three cases. Have you tried any of them with your smartphones and if so, which do you prefer?

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