- AppleCare+ now offers unlimited iPhone repairs, including screen and back replacements.
- A screen replacement will cost you $29.
- Unlike most extended warranties, this one just works.
Extended warranties usually only benefit the store clerk, who gets a commission for tricking you into buying one. But AppleCare+ is different.
Apple recently updated its AppleCare+ protection plan to include unlimited repairs for your iPhone. Previously, you'd get two heavily discounted repairs per year for any accidental damage you managed to sustain. Now, even if you drop the thing and smash it up every week, you can keep getting it fixed. But that's not the only reason AppleCare+ is great.
“You can use an incident whenever you want. I do it at least once a year, even if it’s a little scratch. Replaced [the] iPhone [for] $99; replaced [the screen for] $29,” long-time AppleCare+ subscriber Jeepster40 says on the MacRumors forums.
A regular extended warranty usually does little more than what it says—extends your statutory warranty coverage for an extra year or so. If you buy a gadget or appliance in a store, the salesperson will probably try to sell you one. Then, when your gadget breaks and you try to file your claim, you'll find out just how customer-hostile a company can be.
For instance, if the statutory manufacturer warranty already covers a repair, then the extended warranty provider might refuse to honor it, making you wonder why you bought it in the first place. And these extended warranties may be administered by third-party companies, which could make the whole thing even harder.
According to the FTC, you should evaluate the likely costs of repair, check what’s covered, and investigate both the claims process and the reputation of the extended warranty service. Without this, it may seem like you’re buying peace of mind, but you may really just be buying a future headache.
And if you’re in Europe, you should really think twice before buying an extended warranty. Amazon’s German site, for example, will try to sell you an extended warranty with every electronics purchase, “extending” coverage to two years. But in Germany, and much if not all of the EU, the minimum warranty period is already two years, and some vendors offer three years as standard.
AppleCare+ is way easier. For a fixed fee, you get coverage against accidental damage, with a fixed, discounted fee for any repairs. If you smash the screen or glass back of your iPhone, then it costs you $29 to get it fixed, for example. And now you get unlimited repairs, instead of just two per year.
Not everybody needs AppleCare+, of course. But if you're clumsy or paranoid, it might be worth it, and you won't have to waste a day on hold, or filling out forms, to use it. You just take your iPhone (or whatever device you bought AppleCare+ for) into a local Apple Store and take it from there. Often, the repair can be done while you wait. There's even an extra tier that covers a couple of incidents or loss or theft—as long as you have Find My tracking enabled.
This might all read like an ad for AppleCare+, but if it's the kind of thing you want, Apple's version really is great. Again, it's not for everyone. Apple is already pretty good about fixing stuff under regular warranty, and store employees seem to have quite a bit of discretion to help out. I once took a malfunctioning iPhone I bought in a country with a one-year warranty into a German Apple Store, but since the statutory German warranty is two years, the employee just replaced the iPhone.
Out of Cover
AppleCare+ is, like most of Apple’s business, aimed at individuals instead of corporations. One option is AppleCare for Enterprise, but that’s really on a different level to just buying cover for individual devices. For most of us, if we’re careful, then saving the AppleCare+ fee and relying on the already-great service in Apple Stores is just fine. But that leaves small, distributed businesses out in the cold.
“At my agency, we own several Apple devices (iMacs, MacBook Pros, phones, tablets), and AppleCare was not at all a good choice for us—but not for any of the usual reasons,” Mapa Barragán, founder of a design agency that employs remote workers, told Lifewire via email.
"AppleCare is only purchased by (and for) individual people, not companies," Barragán continued. "And the BIG problem is that it's only possible for people who are residents in specific countries to access AppleCare. Remote work and this kind of international business is more common every day, but Apple hasn't caught up to it yet. The whole system needs to be more robust for AppleCare to be a good solution for today's businesses, digital nomads, etc."
In the end, AppleCare+ definitely isn’t for everyone, and at up to $10 per month for just the iPhone, it might be worth just putting that money aside and paying for repairs yourself. But if you’re paranoid or clumsy, then this is a genuinely good option for extra protection.