Catalyst Impact Protection Pixel 4 case review: Impressive durability in a sleek package

Catalyst Impact Protection Case for Pixel 4 XL
(Image: © Joe Maring / Android Central)

Android Central Verdict

Bottom line: Catalyst first ventured into the Android case world in 2018, and the company's returned with support for the Pixel 4. This case packs a lot into such a lightweight package, offering 9.9 feet of drop protection in a case that weighs only 31 grams. The transparent back is super grippy, the case feels lovely to hold, and there's even a free lanyard you can attach. The price is a bit high, but you're getting what you pay for.


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    Nearly 10 feet of drop protection

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    Clear, grippy back

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    Comfortable to hold

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    Optional lanyard included for free

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    Clicky power button


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    Volume buttons are super mushy

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    Just one color

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For nearly a decade, Catalyst has built up quite a reputation in the iPhone community for its drop and water-proof cases that protect people's devices through even the most rigorous of environments. The company made its Android debut back in 2018 with its series of cases for the Galaxy S9, continued that support with offerings for the S10, and is now breaking into the world of Google Pixel accessories for the very first time.

If you have a Pixel 4 or 4 XL, Catalyst's Impact Protection case deserves a spot at the very top of your shopping list. It's incredibly rugged, has excellent grip, a clean back, and barely weighs anything.

You'll need to pay quite a bit more for Catalyst's case compared to some other options out there, but you're absolutely getting your money's worth.

Catalyst Impact Protection Case Where it shines

Catalyst Impact Protection Case for Pixel 4 XL

Source: Joe Maring / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Joe Maring / Android Central)

As you'd expect with a name like "Impact Protection Case," Catalyst designed this to be a heavy-duty case. These types of cases usually aren't my cup of tea, but the way everything is presented here, Catalyst managed to create one that I genuinely enjoy rocking on my Pixel 4.

First thing's first, the level of protection you get with the Impact Protection Case is outstanding. Catalyst is promising 9.9 feet (3 meters) of drop-proofing, along with an 810G military-grade durability rating. In real-world use, that translates to your Pixel 4 being protected from just about any fall or drop.

Further contributing to the case's ruggedness is a non-slip rubber on the inside, durable frame, and raised bezels over the rear camera and display.

Pixel 4 dropping in a Catalyst case

Source: Joe Maring / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Joe Maring / Android Central)

We don't recommend you go out and start throwing your Pixel 4 on purpose after buying Catalyst's case, but for those times when it takes an accidental tumble on the floor or a sidewalk, you can rest assured that the Impact Protection Case will keep it safe and snug.

Despite all of that durability, Catalyst somehow managed to keep its case from being too unwieldy. It's super lightweight at just 31 grams, and while it does add some thickness to the Pixel 4, it's not nearly as chunky compared to something like that Spigen Tough Armor.

Something else I appreciate about the Impact Protection Case is its clear backside. In addition to showing off your Pixel 4 in all of its glory, it also adds a ton of grip. The Pixel 4's matte glass is already pretty easy to hold onto, but the case makes the phone even grippier — something I'll always welcome with open arms.

If that grippy back isn't enough for you, Catalyst also includes a free lanyard with the case to ensure your Pixel 4 never falls out of your hands. It attaches to the bottom-right frame of the case, and you can take it on and off whenever you'd like. It's not something I'd keep attached, but it's certainly nice having — especially if you plan on taking your phone on a hiking trip or any other outdoor adventure.

Last but certainly not least, I want to give praise to this case's power button. It's easy-to-press, very clicky, and is how every button cover on a case should be.

Catalyst Impact Protection Case Room for improvement

Catalyst Impact Protection Case for Pixel 4 XL

Source: Joe Maring / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Joe Maring / Android Central)

I suppose that's a perfect segway into this next portion of the review. With the Impact Protection Case having such a phenomenal power button, it boggles my mind why the volume buttons are so awful. They're mushy and offer no tactile feedback whatsoever, making it difficult to tell whether you're actually pressing the buttons or not. I'm not sure what went wrong here, but I'd love to see it fixed if Catalyst chooses to make a Pixel 5 case in 2020.

Something else I'd like to see for a next-gen Pixel case from Catalyst is more color options. The company's iPhone cases come in a variety of colors, including Sleath Black, Flame Red, Blueridge/Sunset, and Clear. For the Pixel 4, you only get Stealth Black.

The color does look good, with the black frame complementing the Clearly White and Oh So Orange Pixel 4 wonderfully, but being restricted to a single color is irritating — especially when Catalyst has shown with its other cases that it can have some fun in this department.

Lastly, it's worth addressing the price of the Catalyst Impact Protection Case. A $40 purchase to securely protect your $799 Pixel 4 or $899 Pixel 4 XL doesn't seem like much, but compared to all of the sub-$10 cases out there, Catalyst's offering is on the higher side of things.

Catalyst Impact Protection Case Should you buy it?

Catalyst Impact Protection Case for Pixel 4 XL

Source: Joe Maring / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Joe Maring / Android Central)

Catalyst impressed the heck out of me last year with its Galaxy S9 case, and once again, the company has proven that it's a worthy player in the ever-growing market for Android case manufacturers.

4.5 out of 5

If you have a Pixel 4 or 4 XL and want to ensure it stays in tip-top shape for years to come, you owe it to yourself to give the Impact Protection Case a look. It has more than enough durability for daily use, feels great to hold, and maintains a surprisingly small profile. The lanyard and grippy back are just icing on the cake.

I can understand some reservations about the price, but I think you'd be hard-pressed to be disappointed with this purchase. Catalyst knocked it out of the park, and I can't wait to see more from the company in the future.

Joe Maring

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.