As iPhones become increasingly part of the main stream, it can be easy to forget that the device that you always have in your pocket is worth upwards of $700 (when you look at the retail price without that pesky two-year contract).
If you considered this value more often, you might be less likely to dangle your phone dangerously over the toilet or leave it precariously balanced several feet above a hard floor. Still, most iPhone users have gotten used to treating their devices in a certain way and are unlikely to change their habits any time soon.
Perhaps this reasoning is why Apple offers a service that is part extended warranty and part insurance plan for your phone. AppleCare+ provides you protection against any sort of damage to your iPhone—whether it’s your fault or not—but it comes at what many consider to be a hefty price. So what exactly does AppleCare+ cover, and is it worth it for you to buy a plan?
Some Background Information
The AppleCare Protection Plan has been around for years as a companion product for almost all of Apple’s computers and other devices. If you buy it with a computer, for instance, you gain access to the Genius Bar for three years after your purchase and can get free repairs as long as the cause of your troubles wasn’t something that you did wrong. When Apple first introduced the iPhone, a similar plan was offered to protect consumers against manufacturer glitches and other problems that weren’t caused by user-error.
The problem, however, was that most of the iPhone issues being brought to the “Geniuses” at Apple Stores around the world were, in fact, the fault of device owners. Common iPhone negligence led to hundreds of cracked screens being brought to the Genius Bar each week.
The next most likely scenario was an iPhone that had fallen into the toilet and suffered water damage. Until 2011, AppleCare didn’t cover any of these types of problems, so users found themselves paying hundreds of dollars if they had an iPhone accident. Realizing that the iPhone was a completely different beast than its line of computers, Apple changed their policy with the introduction of AppleCare+.
No longer just an extended warranty, you can think of AppleCare+ as an insurance policy to protect your iPhone for two years. Priced at $99 and only available within the first 30 days after you buy your new phone, AppleCare+ offers two types of coverage.
The first is familiar to anyone who bought the old AppleCare Protection Plan. Rather than only having access to Apple’s phone support for 90 days and its Genius Bar for the first year, both levels of support are extended to a full two years. If your phone starts acting up (and it’s not your fault) even after a year and a half, therefore, you can bring it to the nearest Apple Store and they will repair it for you free of charge. The new element to this service, however, is that you are also given access to two repairs for problems caused by “accidental damage.”
If you purchase AppleCare+ and happen to drop your phone onto the ground or into the water, you can bring it to the Genius Bar and have it fixed or replaced. Each repair will cost you a “service fee” of $49—think of it like an insurance deductible—and you are out of luck if you break your phone more than twice during the length of your plan.
Is AppleCare+ Worth the Price?
To decide whether AppleCare+ is worth laying out an extra hundred dollars depends largely on how you treat your iPhone.
Assuming you were to drop your phone and break its screen but didn’t have Apple’s protection plan, it would cost you $229 to get that component repaired in the Apple Store. Drop your phone in the toilet, and you might be looking at hundreds of dollars more. Even if you get the repairs done by a third party, chances are that it will easily cost you more than $150. Looking at it from this perspective, if you think you are likely to break your phone, then AppleCare+ is definitely going to be worth it for you.
Even with the cost to buy a plan and the service fees, you will likely be out much more money if you need to pay out-of-pocket to get your phone fixed. On the other hand, if you have never had any incidents with your phone and consider yourself a pretty responsible iPhone owner, getting AppleCare+ probably isn’t a necessary for you. Since most consumers only pay about $200 for the phone itself, an extra $100 is admittedly a lot more money.
When it comes down to it, only you know yourself well enough to judge whether you should buy AppleCare+. Like most insurance plans, it’s a bit of a gamble, but it certainly could pay off for you in the long run (especially if you insist on using your iPhone in the vicinity of the toilet).