As Apple’s lineup of products matures, so grows the number of options you have to choose from. Gone are the straightforward days of the iPhone, the iPad, the MacBook, and the MacBook Pro. Today, it’s more important than ever to not only understand Apple’s line of products but to understand the costs associated with them.
The iPhone is costlier than ever—you’re hard-pressed to get your hands on the newest iteration of iPhone, with all the bells and whistles that consumers covet, without spending anything less than $1,000. Yet, that expensive device goes on to travel with you all day, rain, snow, sleet and everything else in-between. When not in use, it’s crammed into your pocket, or put on your lap where it may be forgotten, to be spilled unceremoniously the next time you stand up.
It goes without saying that you need some form of protection for your iPhone. It could be as simple as a hardy case or you could instead invest in Apple’s extended warranty (or do both). If you’re the brazen, laissez-faire kind of iPhone user that runs a high risk of iPhone damage, then an extended warranty is a great way to receive peace of mind after you plunk down a grand on your newest phone. But what warranty do you need from Apple?
If someone references “AppleCare”, then they’re more than likely referring to the standard limited warranty provided by Apple after purchasing any of their products. This warranty is the usual manufacturer’s warranty and it covers the bare minimum during that one-year window. Apple’s website describes its limited warranty in plain language:
The Apple Limited Warranty covers your iPhone and Apple-branded accessories against manufacturing defects for one year from the date you bought your product. The Apple Limited Warranty is in addition to rights provided by consumer law.
Our warranty doesn’t cover damage caused by accidents or unauthorized modifications.
What is Accidental Damage?
Accidental damage can mean a lot of things—liquid damage, drop damage, or anything else that would be described as extreme abuse or wear on your iPhone. To put it simply—the Apple limited warranty will only cover you if your iPhone suffers from a manufacturer defect within one year of purchase.
Are There Any Other Limitations?
Beyond Apple’s limited repair and replacement coverage, the company will also limit your phone support to 90 days after purchase. Beyond 90 days, Apple will charge you for phone support. If you’re near an Apple Retail Store or an Apple Authorized Service Provider, then you’re more than likely to pick the brain of a support person in-store. However, if you need phone support beyond those first 90 days then you’re out of luck.
Think of AppleCare+ as Apple’s version of an extended warranty. While many consumers have been trained to avoid any kind of retail extended warranty thanks to big box outlets like Best Buy, Apple’s warranty is a robust and substantial warrant that is worth the investment for many reasons under the right circumstances.
The biggest draw with AppleCare+ is that your liability protection is extended from a mere one year after purchase to a full two years. For many people, this is about as long as they keep an iPhone before they’re itching for an upgrade.
Is AppleCare+ Just for My iPhone?
Your iPhone isn’t the only thing covered by AppleCare+. Apple will also extend its warranty to your Apple accessories. They explain their accessory coverage in-depth on their website:
Apple-branded accessories, including the power adapter, are covered by our warranty and consumer law. The Apple-branded accessories that come in the box with your product are also covered by your AppleCare+ plan.
If it’s in the iPhone box, then it’s covered for two years by AppleCare+.
What Else Does AppleCare+ Do?
Yet, beyond mere coverage, Apple also offers something they call “express replacement”, in which Apple sends you a brand new device if your old one needs a repair. Your old iPhone is taken by Apple and refurbished while you get to enjoy a straightforward complete replacement for your troubles.
You also receive 24/7 technical support over the phone with priority access. Meaning, you can get help at any time of the day and you’ll skip the long queue and go right to the shorter AppleCare+ line.
Unlike Apple’s limited warranty, AppleCare+ will also cover up to 2 incidents of accidental damage. Apple will also service your battery if it retains less than 80% of its original capacity during the two-year window of your AppleCare+ coverage. While battery replacements are free, accidental damage coverage comes at a price, which we’ll get into.
Breaking Down the Costs of Both Warranties
No one ever made the argument that Apple wasn’t a shrewd company. It stands to reason that, even with AppleCare+ coverage, you’d still get dinged for replacing your iPhone due to accidental damage. However, Apple is fairly generous in how they subsidize their pricing (which they refer to as ‘deductibles’) for AppleCare+ users. The same pricing for those consumers who have opted out of AppleCare+ is much, much higher.
The Cost of Screen Repair & Replacement
AppleCare+—screen repairs cost a flat fee of $29 across the board regardless of the model of iPhone you own as long as it’s the iPhone 5c and up.
Limited Warranty—the screen repair price when under Apple’s limited warranty functions as if the phone was out-of-warranty due to the lack of accidental coverage. You can expect to pay anywhere from $129 to $329, depending on your model of iPhone.
The Cost of Battery Replacement
AppleCare+—the cost of battery service on an iPhone with AppleCare+ coverage is a big fat $0, provided there is an actual issue with the battery.
Limited Warranty—the price of a battery replacement while under Apple’s limited warranty is also $0 as long as you’re serving the battery within the one-year window of your limited warranty.
After 1 Year—after your limited warranty of one year is up, battery replacements will run you $49 for the iPhone SE through the iPhone 8. The cost increased to $69 for the iPhone X through the iPhone 11.
The Cost of Other Repairs
Apple classifies any repair beyond a screen or battery replacement as an “other repair”. Today, that typically means that Apple will simply replace your iPhone and worry about repairing it as a refurbished device at a later date. It’s an innocuous and vague category to lump so many iPhone problems into, and “other repairs” are where your extended warranty shines.
AppleCare+—you pay a flat rate of $99 for “other” repairs, which essentially means you get a replacement iPhone for $99 and call it a day.
Limited Warranty—technically, the same $99 price point applies here but there may be less wiggle room, provided you only get a year of coverage and some problems with your iPhone may be considered “accidental damage”, which is a fact that may be swept under the rug if you’ve purchased the extended warranty.
After 1 Year—after your limited warranty expires, expect to pay an exorbitant fee for something as simple as a busted camera. Prices start at $149 and increase to $599, depending on the model. It’s important to note that there is no repair pricing scheme—these repairs all assume complete replacement of the iPhone. It’s a straightforward process if not a bit disingenuous.
Loss & Theft
Unfortunately, neither Apple’s limited warranty of AppleCare+ cover replacement of an iPhone due to loss or theft. However, Apple has recently released a third warranty option, which they call AppleCare+ Theft & Loss. You can see their pricing here:
How Much Does AppleCare+ Cost?
AppleCare+ use to be based on an upfront, flat-rate pricing model. However, recently Apple has switched to a monthly subscription model, which you can cancel any time for a prorated refund on the coverage you haven’t used. It’s a clever strategy—many consumers will pay more in the long run while also having the option to back out of the coverage at any time. It’s a gamble that is tipped in Apple’s favor.
Apple’s pricing is somewhat elusive when you visit their AppleCare+ page, you’re urged to sign in or enter your device’s serial number. There is no simple pricing table provided—it seems that Apple wants to compartmentalize its new pricing model. Depending on your iPhone, you can expect to pay anywhere from $5.99 to $11.99 for AppleCare+. The newer (and more expensive) your iPhone is, the more money you can expect to dish out.
Is AppleCare+ Worth it?
If you’re a savvy consumer, then you may have noticed that replacing your iPhone screen once out-of-warranty could theoretically be cheaper than paying for a full year of AppleCare+, depending on your device. But AppleCare+ is really about the convenience it affords and for those catastrophic moments of total phone loss that could be a financial tragedy or a simple frustration, depending on if you’re covered by AppleCare+. At the end of the day, an extended warranty is a luxury, just like the device you have in your hands. It all depends on what you’re willing to spend and where your values lie. However, with this information, you can at the very least make an informed decision.