Welcome back to AppleToolBox! Today, we’re going to find the answer to a question that’s gone through every Apple user’s head before: Is AppleCare+ worth it?
Now, for full disclosure, I’ve never bought AppleCare+ myself. That should give you an idea of my opinion on the AppleCare debate!
Still, we’re going to be doing a thorough breakdown of AppleCare+ in this article. After all, what’s good for me might not be good for thee.
We’ll start things off by defining AppleCare+, then we’ll go through what it covers and what it doesn’t. Then at the end, I’ll offer my opinion up along with some alternatives if you want to save your money.
Let’s get started!
- What is AppleCare+?
- AppleCare vs AppleCare+: What’s the difference?
- Is AppleCare+ worth it: What is covered
- Is AppleCare+ worth it: What is NOT covered
- Is AppleCare+ worth it: How much it costs
- Is AppleCare+ worth it: The foolproof alternative
- Is AppleCare+ worth it? Only on paper
What is AppleCare+?
Before we can know if AppleCare+ is worth it, we need to know what it is.
In short, AppleCare+ is Apple’s extended product warranty. You can purchase it whenever you buy a product directly from Apple, and you can generally get it with any Apple product you buy.
Apple will link your AppleCare+ purchase to the serial number of the product you purchased it with as well as your Apple account. This way, you’ll never need to worry about keeping up with any paperwork.
AppleCare+ covers things like device repairs, replacements, and access to priority customer support. Think of it as insurance for your Apple devices, because that’s exactly what it is.
AppleCare vs AppleCare+: What’s the difference?
Of course, for AppleCare+ to exist, there must be AppleCare. In case you haven’t spotted the difference, the second one is missing the “+” at the end.
Beyond the “+” symbol at the end, the differences between these two programs are the cost and the coverage.
AppleCare is free. You get it whenever you purchase a product from Apple automatically. It’s more like a true warranty than AppleCare+ in that sense. It lasts one year and mostly covers things like defects.
For instance, I’ve replaced cables with Apple that broke on their own within the first year. I’ve also had my 2017 MacBook’s butterfly keyboard replaced a few times thanks to its infamously shoddy design.
AppleCare+, on the other hand, costs extra. That’s why it’s important to decide if AppleCare+ is worth it before purchasing it.
With AppleCare+, you get additional coverage for a longer time. You can reduce the cost of repairs to your devices, replace a lost device for less money, and get access to priority customer support.
It’s important to note that you get a lot of these things with the standard version of AppleCare. Apple will still repair your devices and let you talk to customer support. However, you’ll probably pay a little more or wait a little longer to get access to these services.
Is AppleCare+ worth it: What is covered
Alright, now you know what AppleCare+ is! Next, we’re going to look at the features that it comes with so you can make an informed decision on whether AppleCare+ is worth it for you.
Repairs for your Apple devices
The first feature you get with AppleCare+ is more accessible repairs. As mentioned, Apple will repair your devices for you no matter what. AppleCare+ users, however, will get reduced prices for their repairs.
If your device or one of its components breaks while you still have AppleCare+, then Apple will fix it for you for free. You get this with standard AppleCare, too. However, AppleCare+ lasts longer than AppleCare, so you’ll have longer protection for these sorts of repairs.
AppleCare+ covers accidental damage, too. For instance, if you drop your iPhone and crack the screen, you can get it repaired with AppleCare+ for just $29. Without AppleCare+, it’ll be $99. That’s even with the standard AppleCare.
For the most part, you won’t get repairs for free even with AppleCare+. But you can save a lot of money.
Priority access to customer support
The second primary benefit of purchasing AppleCare+ is priority access to customer support.
Again, it’s important to be clear here that every Apple user, regardless of whether they have AppleCare+, AppleCare, or nothing, can access Apple’s customer support.
The difference is that AppleCare+ users will be prioritized. If there’s a queue of people waiting to get in touch with a support representative, Apple will make sure AppleCare+ move through that line faster.
This could make AppleCare+ worth it for those who contact customer support frequently. Specifically, I can see this being a boon for businesses that purchase Apple products for their staff.
Another perk you get with regards to customer support is walk-ins. This feature allows you to walk into an Apple Store at any time and instantly get in-person support. No appointment required! And yes, if you don’t have AppleCare+, you will need to make an appointment beforehand.
I would like to mention that I have contacted Apple’s customer support several times and have no memories of needing to wait very long. I’m sure it never took more than five minutes. Apple’s support is so efficient and reliable that it makes this feature of AppleCare+ a little redundant, at least in my opinion.
Express replacement services for your devices
Next up is an AppleCare+ that is surprisingly difficult to find any information on. I found Apple Support pages discussing how to use this service, but none that explained what this service is, when you’re allowed to use it, and why you would want to.
After diving through forums and customer support pages, I’ve finally got it!
Express replacement allows you to receive a replacement for your device before you’ve sent your current model to Apple.
For example, say you’ve dropped your iPhone and completely smashed the front and back glass. But you have AppleCare+, so you contact customer support and get a replacement iPhone sent on the way.
Normally, Apple will require you to send in your current damaged device before it sends you a new device. That way, you can’t get a free iPhone sent to you simply by saying your current iPhone is damaged.
Understandably, though, you probably don’t want to go a week without your iPhone while you wait for your damaged unit to arrive at Apple HQ and a replacement to arrive at your door.
That’s where express replacement comes in! This service allows Apple users to be sent their replacement device before sending in their damaged unit. For a brief moment, you’ll have both the damaged device and the new device. Once you have the replacement and you’ve set it up, you’ll then send in the damaged device to Apple.
Apple will still perform some checks to make sure that you don’t abuse this service to get a free iPhone. For instance, Apple will place an authorization (not a charge) on your credit card for the full price of the replacement device. That authorization won’t be removed until Apple receives your damaged device.
Although any Apple user can use express service for a fee of $29, AppleCare+ users can use it for free. You’ll still have an authorization placed on your card, but the $29 fee will be waived. It’s a pretty small monetary value, but the convenience of it could make AppleCare+ worth it to you.
Theft or loss of your devices (with an AppleCare+ upgrade)
One of the AppleCare+ features that isn’t included in the default AppleCare+ subscription is theft and loss protection. This is a $100 upgrade that you can add to your AppleCare+ subscription.
Theft or loss protection allows you to replace an iPhone that was lost or stolen for a significantly reduced price. At the time of writing, Apple won’t charge AppleCare+ subscribers more than $269 for this service. Considering that the iPhone 12 Pro Max costs more than $1,000, that’s a pretty steep value.
There is one other caveat aside from the $100 upgrade fee. Apple will require you to keep Find My enabled on your device for your device to qualify for this service.
Other than that, I think this is one of the best features of AppleCare+. If you lose your iPhone often then this could easily make AppleCare+ worth it.
Battery replacement once your battery degrades below 80% capacity
Another great feature of AppleCare+ is that Apple will replace your device’s battery for free after its capacity falls below 80%.
For those that don’t know, batteries have a fixed lifespan. Over time, the battery will have a more and more difficult time holding a charge. At a certain point, the battery’s capacity will fall so low that it can no longer properly power your device.
In the case of the iPhone, for example, that happens at around the two-year mark. At that point, your battery will fall to 80% capacity or lower. That means it can only hold 80% of the charge that it initially could.
Falling below that 80% mark will start to affect your device’s performance. Part of why most of us have it ingrained in our heads that iPhones only last two years is because of the battery. It isn’t that your iPhone magically turns into a laggy mess. It’s just that the battery has run its course and needs to be replaced.
If you’re an AppleCare+ subscriber, you can get that battery replacement for free. Without AppleCare+, it’ll cost you around $69. That’s a pretty good value!
It’s important to note that if your battery falls below 80% within the first year of using it, it’ll be covered by AppleCare, the free version of AppleCare+. That means you can get your battery replaced for free without needing to subscribe to AppleCare+.
However, it’s very unlikely that your iPhone’s battery will degrade that quickly. That would essentially indicate a manufacturing error. So if you want an insured method for replacing your battery after it’s run its course, then AppleCare+ might be worth it.
Is AppleCare+ worth it: What is NOT covered
And that’s it! That’s everything that is covered by AppleCare+. Now it’s time to get into the things that aren’t covered by AppleCare+. If these services are important to you, then they might convince you that AppleCare+ isn’t worth it.
Repairs for damage that isn’t considered accidental
First, AppleCare+ doesn’t cover repairs that Apple doesn’t deem accidental. For instance, if you try to take your iPhone apart and end up damaging it, Apple won’t repair it for you even with AppleCare+.
Of course, if you do damage your iPhone intentionally, there’s always the possibility that you’ll be able to sneak it past Apple. And there is also the possibility that Apple could mistake accidental damage for intentional damage.
The former of these two possibilities is far more likely than the latter, though. Apple doesn’t want a legitimate case of accidental damage to go ignored by a paying AppleCare+ subscriber. So I wouldn’t stress over convincing Apple Support that the damage was accidental. Just be truthful and you should be ok!
For those that are thinking of intentionally damaging/experimenting on their iPhone, then I would skip the subscription. AppleCare+ probably isn’t worth it for you.
You don’t get free device replacements with AppleCare+
Another service that doesn’t come with AppleCare+ is free device replacement. Apple will replace damaged devices for a reduced price with AppleCare+, but it won’t give devices to you for free.
The only instances where Apple will replace a device for free have to do with AppleCare, not AppleCare+. In these cases, it’s usually because your new device is damaged by a manufacturing error. Maybe you have a screen with white pixels, a battery that doesn’t work, or a bricked device.
In these cases, Apple will give you a new device for free. And they probably won’t hassle you about it, either. Just don’t expect to get a free iPhone from Apple because you cracked your screen while subscribed to AppleCare+. If that’s what you’re looking for, then AppleCare+ might not be worth it.
Is AppleCare+ worth it: How much it costs
The cost of AppleCare+ will vary depending on which device you’re seeking coverage for. There are more prices than I’m going to list out in this article (you can read this article for a more thorough breakdown). Instead, I’m just going to give you the range of prices for each kind of Apple device:
- iPhone: $79 to $269
- Mac: $99 to $499
- iPad: $69 to $129
- Apple TV: $29
- AirPods: $29 to $59
- HomePod: $15 to $39
- iPod touch: $59
I don’t think AppleCare+ is too expensive for the most part. If you want AppleCare+ but are worried about your budget, then I’d say go for it! AppleCare+ seems to be worth it if you’re just looking at the numbers.
Is AppleCare+ worth it: The foolproof alternative
Before closing out this post, I wanted to throw in some final thoughts on the whole “Is AppleCare+ worth it?” debate. These last few points are going to be more opinion-oriented.
First, I wanted to throw in what I think is a great alternative to AppleCare+: A case.
That may sound like a snarky remark, but I’m being serious. I’ve kept nearly all of my Apple devices in cases for the last five years, and in that time I’ve only cracked one iPhone screen. And guess what? It happened the day after I decided to try going case-less.
Getting a case for your iPad, Mac, iPhone, and Apple Watch is a really good idea. You can get a great case for all four of these for less than $100. And it’ll remove 90% of the reason to get AppleCare+ for most people.
The remaining 10% of reasons to get AppleCare+ are things that either aren’t very expensive (like a battery replacement) or are already covered by the free AppleCare warranty.
Apple products rarely experience hardware or software failures. And when they do, Apple will usually fix it for you for free. And if Apple won’t, then you can probably find a third-party service that will fix it for you on the cheap. Of course, all of this is assuming that the problem you run into can’t be prevented with the purchase of a case.
The point I’m trying to get across here is that buying a cheap case for your Apple device and being generally responsible will not only save you from buying AppleCare+, but it’ll work better, too.
Avoid carrier insurance plans
One AppleCare+ alternative I’ve seen mentioned online is carrier insurance plans. Mobile carriers like Verizon and AT&T offer insurance plans for your smartphone that are similar to (but not the same as) AppleCare+.
Avoid these insurance plans. For the most part, these plans are going to be more expensive and less helpful than AppleCare+. Let me clear the air on this real fast.
AppleCare+ for an iPhone 12 costs $149. iPhone insurance from AT&T, on the other hand, only costs $15/month. Seems cheaper, right?
Nope! If you buy AppleCare+ for $149, you get two years of coverage on your iPhone. That’s just $6.20/month. AT&T’s plan is 2.5x more expensive.
Beyond that, if you look at the coverage that AT&T’s plan offers, it’s pretty clear that AppleCare+ is more worth it out of the two.
Is AppleCare+ worth it? Only on paper
That brings us to the end of this article and the ultimate question: Is AppleCare+ worth it?
In my opinion, AppleCare+ only works on paper. Sure, you can do the math and see that, if you use it, you’ll get your money’s worth.
The problem is that I can’t foresee the vast majority of people getting any real use out of AppleCare+.
Buy a case and a glass screen protector and your mobile devices will probably never break.
Use Find My and you’ll probably never lose your device.
Most Apple users never need repairs on their devices. It’s one of the perks of buying Apple.
Apple’s online and in-store customer support is already incredible. You don’t need priority access unless you’re a business.
The only real AppleCare+ service most users will end up using is the free battery replacement. On its own, however, it doesn’t justify the cost of AppleCare+.
I would only recommend AppleCare+ to people who know they need it. A friend of mine would lose her phone every few months at stores, malls, and restaurants. I would recommend AppleCare+ to her for sure. I would also recommend it for devices purchased for kids.
If you’re responsible, have a decent memory, and don’t mind using a case, you’ll never use AppleCare+.
For more insights, guides, and posts on all things Apple, check out the rest of the AppleToolBox blog.
See you next time!