For the first time, Apple is endorsing an add-on accessory for AirPods: a new set of protective AirPods cases from Catalyst. The cases are waterproof rated up to 1 meter and offer protection against drops. They also feature a carabiner to clip the AirPods case onto your clothing.
It’s a weird proposition for the first AirPods accessory to be stocked in Apple retail, given that the Catalyst case is only useful when you are not using the earbuds themselves.
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Obviously, you can only take advantage of the waterproofing and ‘military grade protection’ when the earbuds are ensconced in their charging case. The buds are not any better off when you are using them to actually listen to music.
The clip is arguably the most useful part of the accessory, letting you snap your AirPods onto a belt or bag. However, putting your AirPods in the Catalyst case means a (literal) extra layer of inconvenience every time you want to access the buds.
The Catalyst is flexible so you essentially pull it back to get to the AirPods inside. You can access the Lightning port to charge without having to take the entire case off, which is a nice affordance.
The Catalyst Special Edition Waterproof Case is available from Apple in the US and Canada for $29.99 in black, white, and glow in the dark color choices. Amazon stocks the older range of colors for $5 less.