Whenever you buy a new Apple device, you will have the option to pay an additional fee for something known as “AppleCare +”. The asking price for this offer is not insignificant, so is it really worth it?
Let’s take a look at what exactly Apple sells with AppleCare + and whether you better spend your money elsewhere.
How is AppleCare different from the standard AppleCare warranty?
Apple devices generally come with a standard 1 year warranty which is simply referred to as “AppleCare”. But what is AppleCare? This warranty covers you against manufacturing defects and not against any kind of accidental damage. In other words, if Apple has messed up and your device develops a problem, not because of your abuse, they will repair or replace the device at no cost to you.
Some specific components are warranted for more than one year, depending on the device you own. For example, all MacBooks with the butterfly keyboard switch design have a four-year keyboard warranty from the date of purchase.
Likewise, some MacBook models that suffer from degradation of the anti-reflective screen coating can be replaced for up to four years after purchase.
AppleCare + is often described as some kind of extended warranty. While it extends the standard warranty, AppleCare + offers something more than a longer AppleCare period.
What do you get with AppleCare +?
If you purchase the AppleCare + package, you will get a one year standard AppleCare offer extension for iPhone and iPad and an additional two years for Mac.
During this extended time period, you’ll get full standard warranty coverage. This means that any manufacturing defects will be repaired free of charge. However, you also you get two accidental event covers, but these aren’t entirely free. You will pay a fixed amount for some repairs, but nothing more. For example, if you break your iPhone screen, the repair cost is $ 29.99 at the time of writing.
In addition to a longer standard warranty and heavily discounted repair bill, you can also add theft and loss coverage to iPhones by purchasing the more expensive AppleCare + with theft and loss package. This is basically an insurance add-on which means you pay a fixed deductible if you need to apply for a new phone.
In addition to all this hardware coverage, AppleCare + customers also get priority technical support for the duration of the plan. Whereas you only get 90 days of free coverage with a new Apple product.
AppleCare vs Insurance
Since AppleCare + offers accidental damage coverage, it means you need to compare it to other insurance options. For iPhone users, it’s even more appropriate as you can also pay for additional theft and loss coverage that isn’t included in the standard AppleCare +.
The big difference here is that you pay a one-time fee for the protection plan. With insurance, you pay a monthly coverage fee, which you can stop at any time. Then you’ll have to compare the one-time cost to the total cost of insurance over the years your AppleCare + plan would cover the device. Make sure you also compare the deductibles and the number of accidents covered.
It is also worth mentioning that the AppleCare + price includes other benefits as well, such as extended warranty. So an apple-to-apple cost comparison is not really possible.
How much does AppleCare + cost?
There is no fixed answer to this question. Apple charges different amounts for its AppleCare + coverage depending on the device and sometimes even the specific model. You can generally expect a price tag of around $ 200, but you will need to confirm this for each individual case.
Should I buy it now?
One of the biggest problems with AppleCare + is that you’re already spending a lot of money on your new Apple gadget, and spending a few hundred dollars on something intangible is often a hard pill to swallow. Fortunately, there was never a need to buy it right away.
Originally, iPhone users had 60 days from the initial purchase to upgrade. Mac users had a full year to take the plunge, so it made sense to wait for the standard warranty to expire before purchasing AppleCare +. In 2017, Apple extended the same 1-year period to iPhone users as well.
Eligibility varies by device and country, so be sure to use the official Apple Eligibility Checker to ensure how long you have to purchase AppleCare +.
Arguments FOR AppleCare +
So what are some good reasons to fork out AppleCare +? Oddly enough, it turns out that the AppleCare standard warranty extension may very well be the most valuable aspect of the AppleCare + offering after all.
How come? Well, the insurance will cover accidental damage, loss or theft, but it won’t cover out-of-warranty device failures. The kind that Apple will repair for free under warranty. These can be incredibly expensive. For example, if your MacBook’s logic board fails and needs to be replaced, it could cost more than $ 1,000! Often in these cases, people simply choose to buy a completely new laptop, but if you pay the (relatively) small AppleCare + fee, the repair will cost you practically nothing.
The chances of that type of component failure over the course of 2-3 years are not trivial. Especially with MacBooks, which run hot and have shown a whole host of problems over the years. Yes, if a problem is widespread, Apple will usually cover it regardless, but only AppleCare + will cover your bad luck by taking a lemon off the assembly line.
The other big advantage might surprise you too, but it’s the included technical support. Having a direct line to Apple can be invaluable, especially if your device is essential for business purposes.
Arguments AGAINST AppleCare +
The weakest part of the AppleCare + offering is accidental repair coverage. You have to do some serious comparison shopping with third party insurance companies.
Carriers also often offer internal insurance for iPhones purchased under contract. Your family insurance is likely to make you a better offer for coverage similar to this component of AppleCare +, so make sure you get some quotes before you pull the trigger on Apple’s offer.
The bottom line
We think AppleCare + is worth it under the extended warranty alone. The main reason for this is Apple’s tight control over the aftermarket repair business of its products and how expensive out-of-warranty repairs can be. So getting 2-3 years of warranty coverage is worth the asking price.
In normal use, Apple devices rarely fail, but there are enough horror stories out there that this peace of mind is worth the price.
If you’re happy to roll the dice on Apple’s hardware quality, but don’t trust not to accidentally damage or lose the drive, you’re more likely to get a better deal from a third-party insurer. Especially one that you are already using for home insurance, which will earn you better rates, where you are not subsidizing the behavior of other riskier customers.
It also means that you are not paying upfront for years of coverage that you may not use if the phone is sold or upgraded before the AppleCare + period expires.
Ultimately, AppleCare + is a valuable product with an important role to play, but you need to think carefully about whether its various benefits offer you value, in your specific case.