In our experience, two things tend to govern the lifespan of a gadget: how careful the owner is, and; whether or not you have small children in the house. While Griffin technology can't dictate either of those things, the company's Survivor + Catalyst case - here looked at in its iPhone 5 derivative - sure can help extend a smartphone's lifespan.
Back to our original viewpoint: how careful you are is down to you, the owner. Children, on the other hand, are a force of nature that cannot be countered. If something is dunkable, bendable, snappable, shatterable or scratchable, small children will achieve all of the above and with added peanut butter, yoghurt or any number of other unspeakably icky substances. Throw in a labrador - not literally - for good measure, and it's a wonder any gadgets remain looking pristine these days.
When said gadget has a lovely, slick, high-resolution touchscreen, as per the iPhone 5, the propensity for damage - and yoghurt splatter - only increases, as such devices are fragile by their very nature. So protection is key, and that's where the hardy Griffin Survivor + Catalyst Waterproof iPhone 5 case comes in.
There are any number of covers you can buy for smartphones and, at first glance, the Griffin Survivor + Catalyst case looks much like many of them. But this carries some bold claims that in layman’s terms label it almost "life-proof". And, let's face it, the iPhone 5 is hardly known for its resilience in the face of normal life. We've been through a few of them at Pocket-lint - you probably all know what that screen-shatter moment is like, or at least know someone else who's suffered it.
First things first with the Griffin: follow the instructions. Seriously, follow the instructions. If you’re thinking about taking your iPhone near water and you’re trusting a case to protect it, the least you can do is fit it properly, otherwise the case simply won’t do its job. Luckily the Survivor + Catalyst instructions are clear and easy to follow (no cryptic Ikea hieroglyphs here) and once fitted the case fits to the iPhone’s aluminium frame beautifully.
The smartphone's screen loses very little of its sensitivity behind the membrane and the unit sits well in the hand too. The headphone and charging ports are easily accessible, despite being fully waterproof, and they even provide a waterproof headphone adaptor, if you should need one.
The life test
Adding on a case does mean adding bulk, however - and the Griffin Survivor + Catalyst is chunky. But it's not cumbersome, and it doesn't just look as though it’ll take a pounding - it most certainly does, as we found out by putting it through its paces.
Over three weeks, the Griffin has had to deal with: 36 holes of golf, rattling around in a golf bag with all the stale Mars bars and chipped Titleists; a family camping trip, in typically British weather conditions; and the day-to-day rough and tumble of a fairly average household (it's toughest test yet, then).
It’s been dropped. It’s been dunked in paddling pools, sandpits, watering cans and at least one portion of spaghetti bolognaise. It’s been down the back of a sofabed. It’s been under a tricycle at full pelt. It’s also spent at least one night in the dog’s bed. And it’s survived the lot with barely a mark on it. And we've kind of got so used to it being on, that we're not sure there’s a need to take it off.
If you’ve got the iPhone 5 and you lead the kind of life where your phone might need a bit of protection, then the Griffin Survivor + Catalyst Waterproof case is well worth considering. It does exactly what is says on the tin.