What case should you buy for your Verizon iPhone 4?

Choosing an iPhone 4 that runs on Verizon’s network over the AT&T model isn’t the last iPhone-related decision you’ll have to make. There’s also the matter of deciding whether or not to get a case to protect your new smartphone—and if so, which case to get. That’s a decision that’s further complicated by the different models of iPhone for Verizon and AT&T users.

Fortunately, we’re here to help make that decision a little bit easier. Since the iPhone 4 became available to Verizon subscribers in February, we’ve been testing cases designed to fit the newest member of the iPhone 4 family. And we’ve put together a chart of cases that fit the Verizon iPhone, separating the top choices for the also-rans.

But first, let’s review the reasons why you might need a case and why Verizon iPhone owners need to be extra careful when picking out an accessory that fits their phone.

Why You Need a Case: It’s a simple rule of physics—anything that can fit in the palm of your hand can also fall out of the palm of your hand and onto some rather unforgiving surfaces below. While the iPhone is certainly durable enough to survive many tumbles, a case can add an extra layer of insurance against cracks, dings, and other damage.

You should also consider the fact that the iPhone 4 introduces a new design to Apple’s smartphone, one that incorporates aluminosilicate glass on the back of the phone in addition to the glass touchscreen. That was expected to make the iPhone 4 less susceptible to damage, but some contend that hasn’t panned out. At any rate, swaddling your iPhone in a case that wraps around its back and sides seems like a good bet for preventing unwanted wear and tear.

Finally, we don’t want to wake the ghosts of Antennagate—last summer’s controversy over iPhone 4 reception—but there’s a reason Apple offered free cases to users complaining about iPhone 4 signal strength. Wrapping a phone—any phone—in a case can stave off some of the signal attenuation issues that brought Apple unwanted publicity after the iPhone 4 launch—and can make you a more satisfied iPhone 4 customer.

Why Verizon iPhone Owners Should Be Careful: If you’ve bought an iPhone 4 for Verizon’s wireless network, there’s another wrinkle—your phone isn’t exactly like the one that works with AT&T’s network. And that means not every case will fit your phone.

As we noted back in January, Verizon’s iPhone uses a slightly different antenna design that repositions the gaps between the antennas that ring the outer edge of the phone. In turn, the ring/silent switch has shifted ever so slightly. As a result, a case that perfectly fits an iPhone 4 for AT&T’s GSM-based network may not be so ideal for a model designed to run on Verizon’s CDMA network. Conversely, cases with ample openings for buttons, switches, and ports will fit both types of iPhone 4 just fine.

In the case reviews included in our chart, we tested both AT&T and Verizon iPhone 4s for compatibility. And our reviews indicate how each phone fits each case.

Luxe Original

What Case Should You Get: Our chart of Verizon iPhone 4 cases debuts with 11 entries, some of which will also fit AT&T’s version of the iPhone 4 just as nicely. We’ll certainly add more cases to the chart as they arrive for testing.

Right now, our two top-rated Verizon iPhone 4 cases take very different approaches to keeping your smartphone safe and sound. iFrogz’s Luxe Original is a hardshell case that comes in two parts that fit securely around the iPhone 4 (the Verizon model as well as AT&T’s offering). The Luxe Original features a secure locking system and many different color combinations to put your own personalized spin on protection. (Note that another hardshell case—the Proof Duo features a similar snap-into-place approach and also fared well in our ratings.)

Case-Mate Egg

Our other top-rated case is the Egg iPhone 4 case from Case-Mate. It’s a silicone wrap that encases your Verizon (or AT&T) iPhone 4; it stand out thanks to a bumpy back surface aimed at providing shock resistance should you drop your phone. The molded dots that make up those bumps also let you keep a tight grip on your iPhone 4.

[Philip Michaels is the executive editor of Macworld.com.]

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