The quick answer is yes
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 isn’t insignificant, so is it really worth it?
Let’s look at what exactly Apple is selling with AppleCare+ and whether you’d be better off spending 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 sort of accidental damage. In other words, if Apple messed up and your device develops a problem not due to your abuse, then they will fix or replace the device at no cost to you.
Some specific components are warrantied for longer than a year, depending on the device you have. For example, all MacBooks with the butterfly keyboard switch design have a keyboard warranty four years from the date of purchase.
Similarly, certain MacBook models that suffer degradation of their anti-reflective screen coating are eligible for display replacements for up to four years from purchase as well.
AppleCare+ is often described as a sort of extended warranty. While it does extend the standard warranty, there’s quite a bit more to AppleCare+ than just a longer AppleCare period.
What Do You Get With AppleCare+?
If you buy the AppleCare+ package, you’ll get your standard AppleCare offer extended by one year for iPhones and iPads and another two years for a Mac.
During that extended time, you’ll get the full cover of the standard warranty. This means any manufacturing defect will be repaired for free. However, you also get two accidental event coverages, but these aren’t entirely free. You’ll pay a fixed amount for certain repairs, but nothing more than that. For example, if you break your iPhone screen the repair cost is $29.99 at the time of writing.
Apart from a longer standard warranty and heavily discounted repair bill, you can also add theft and loss coverage to iPhones by buying the more expensive AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss package. This is basically an insurance add-on that means you pay a fixed deductible amount if you need to claim for a new phone.
Apart from all this hardware coverage, AppleCare+ customers also get priority tech support for the full duration of the plan. Whereas you only get 90 days of complimentary coverage with a new Apple product.
AppleCare vs Insurance
Since AppleCare+ offers coverage for accidental damage, it means you need to compare it to other insurance options. For iPhone users it’s even more appropriate, since you can also pay for additional theft and loss coverage which is not included in standard AppleCare+.
The big difference here is that you pay a one-off fee for the protection plan. With insurance you’ll pay a monthly coverage fee, which you can stop at any time. So you’ll have to compare the once-off cost against the total cost of insurance over the course of the number of years your AppleCare+ plan would cover the device for. Be sure to also compare deductibles and the number of incidents covered.
It’s also worth remembering that the AppleCare+ price also includes other perks, such as warranty extension. So an apple-to-apples cost comparison isn’t really possible.
What 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 somewhere around the $200 mark, but you’ll need to confirm this for each individual case.
Do I Have to Buy it Immediately?
One of the biggest problems with AppleCare+ is that you are already spending a heap of money on your new Apple goodie and spending a few hundred bucks on something intangible is often a hard pill to swallow. Luckily, it has never been the case that you have to buy it right away.
Originally, iPhone users had 60 days from initial purchase to upgrade. Mac users had a full year to take the plunge, so it made sense to wait until the standard warranty is about to run out before buying AppleCare+. In 2017 Apple extended the same 1-year time period to iPhone users as well.
Eligibility varies by device and country, so be sure to use the official Apple Eligibility Checker to make sure how long you have to buy AppleCare+.
Arguments FOR AppleCare+
So what are some strong reasons to shell out for AppleCare+? Oddly enough, it turns out that the extension of the standard AppleCare warranty may very well be the most valuable aspect of the AppleCare+ offer after all.
Why? Well, insurance will cover accidental damage, loss or theft, but it won’t cover device failures that are out of warranty. The sort that Apple will fix 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 opt to buy a whole new laptop, but if you pay the (relatively) small AppleCare+ fee then that repair will cost you just about nothing.
The chances of that sort of component failure over the course of 2-3 years isn’t trivial. Especially with MacBooks, which run hot and have exhibited a whole host of issues over the years. Yes, if an issue is widespread then Apple will usually cover it regardless, but only AppleCare+ is going to cover your bad luck with getting a lemon off the assembly line.
The other major plus point may also surprise you, but it’s the included technical support. Having a direct line to Apple can be invaluable, especially if your device is essential for work purposes.
Arguments AGAINST AppleCare+
The weakest part of the AppleCare+ offering is the accidental repair coverage. You need to do some serious comparative shopping with third-party insurance companies.
Phone carriers often also offer in-house insurance for iPhones bought on contract. Your household insurance is likely to make you a better offer for similar coverage as this component of AppleCare+, so be sure to get some quotations before pulling the trigger on the Apple offering.
The Bottom Line
We think that, based on the extended warranty alone, AppleCare+ is worth it. The main reason for this is how tightly Apple controls the aftermarket repair industry of its products and how expensive out-of-warranty repairs can be. So getting 2-3 years of warranty coverage is well worth the asking price.
In normal use, Apple devices rarely give any trouble, 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 yourself not to accidentally damage or lose the unit, then it’s more likely you’ll get a better deal from a third-party insurer. Especially one you are already using for home insurance, which will net you better rates, where you aren’t subsidizing the behavior of other, riskier customers.
It also means you aren’t pre-paying for years of coverage you may not use if the phone gets sold or upgraded before the AppleCare+ period runs out.
In the end, AppleCare+ IS a valuable product with an important role to play, but you need to think carefully whether its various advantages offer you any value, in your specific case.