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High customer satisfaction ratings and a large network of stores capable of performing certain repairs on-site give AppleCare the edge over the average warranty – but are the benefits really worth the price? Anyone who has purchased electronics before has heard a similar pitch, but it feels a bit more convincing inside an Apple store.

Buy an Apple product from the company’s official retail store and you’ll be hit with a familiar value-added pitch with a different name; AppleCare, the company’s extended warranty 6 Sales Tactics To Avoid When Buying Electronics At A Retail Store [Opinion] 6 Sales Tactics To Avoid When Buying Electronics At A Retail Store [Opinion] Going to the store is usually a simple process. You pop in, get what you want, and leave. Many stores go to great lengths to ensure that their customers can easily find the item they... Read More . Be it a MacBook, iPhone or iPad, you’ll be asked if you want this extra coverage, and denying it will spur a look of great concern on the face of every associate within twenty feet.

What AppleCare Costs & What You Get

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The cost of AppleCare changes depending on the device you buy. A plan covering a MacBook Pro 15″ with Retina display will set you back a pricey $349, while a plan for the iPhone is $99. There’s no obvious formula for the price, so you just have to go to the AppleCare website and check pricing for the Apple product you own (or hope to soon own).

Not only the price can vary. Length of warranty also depends on the product. Apple’s computers have a three-year warranty, but the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Apple TV have a two-year warranty. A few products, like the iPod Nano and iPod Touch, can’t be covered by AppleCare at all.

The basics of AppleCare, no matter the length of the warranty, are typical. The coverage protects you against all manufacturer defects in both the device and any of its accessories, but it does not protect you against accidental damage. There’s no limit to the number of claims you can make and coverage can be transferred to another owner if you sell or give away your product.

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The warranty also provides extended customer service which means you can call Apple for assistance using your product, something that’s normally available for just 90 days. Finally, you have access to Genius Bar throughout the warranty duration, which can mean a fix for some defects in-store.

International users will be interested to know that global repair coverage is available only for certain products. Those are the Mac, iPod, Apple TV and Apple Display. The iPhone and iPad need to be serviced in their country of origin.

AppleCare+ For Accidental Damage

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You might think all Apple products come with the same coverage, but you’d be wrong. That’s because the iPhone, iPad and iPod instead have AppleCare+. This is essentially the same as regular AppleCare, but with one nice extra; coverage of accidental damage.

The accidental damage coverage does have a catch, and that’s a service fee, which varies from device to device. On the iPhone it’s $79, while on the iPad it’s only $49. Any repairs that occur due to accidental damage are subject to that fee, and there’s a limit of two accidental damage claims over the warranty period.

Strangely, AppleCare+ is not an option, but rather the only warranty available for the iPhone, iPad and iPod. MacBook, iMac and Mac Pro Which Is Best, A MacBook Air Or MacBook Pro? Both Models Compared Side-By-Side Which Is Best, A MacBook Air Or MacBook Pro? Both Models Compared Side-By-Side You might think Apple’s relatively small laptop selection would make choosing a model easy. For some people, that’s true, but for others the tight range of options and prices makes for a difficult choice. A... Read More owners can’t buy this coverage.

Is AppleCare Worth The Price?

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The pricing of AppleCare is in-keeping with that of other warranty providers. A SquareTrade iPhone 5S warranty, for example, is $124 for two years. SquareTrade does cover four accidents rather than just two, but this is unlikely to be a plus for all but the clumsiest owners. Best Buy’s warranty is even more expensive at $149.99 and is limited to 3 claim submissions.

MacBook owners will find a similar situation. The MacBook Pro 15″ with Retina display $349 AppleCare warranty may seem outrageously expensive, but a SquareTrade warranty for a laptop priced over $2,000 is $499. That said the more expensive plan does protect against accidents, while the AppleCare warranty for the MacBook Pro does not.

Apple’s customer service also adds value to the warranty. While SquareTrade is trustworthy, the warranties from other companies, including major retailers, may not be. Getting Best Buy to cover a warranty can sometimes be like trying to extract a tooth from a Tyrannosaurus Rex with a pair of pliers; it could happen, but you’ll probably die first. Buying the AppleCare warranty also provides you with Apple’s genius bar and phone support, a big plus competitors can’t offer, though SquareTrade tries its best by promising to reimburse the cost of a visit.

Conclusion

As far as warranties go, AppleCare is a very good warranty. The protection it offers is strong and the price is lower than many third-party alternatives.

Does that mean you should buy it? No. Warranties, like all forms of insurance, work because the total money they pay out is lower than what everyone pays in. But unlike a car crash or cancer, breaking an iPhone won’t leave you bankrupt.

An AppleCare+ warranty is half the cost of an iPhone on-contract, which means you’d need to break at least one out of every two phones you own to come out ahead. The numbers are a bit more favorable for the warranty if you’re off-contract, but you would still need to kill one of every six phones you own. Apple’s Mac coverage is less expensive relative to the device’s total cost, so the odds look better, but the standard AppleCare warranties sold with Macs lack accident coverage How To Troubleshoot & Repair A Broken Laptop How To Troubleshoot & Repair A Broken Laptop Laptops tend to have a rather short lifetime. They are outdated within weeks of being released, they are notoriously hard to upgrade or repair, and by nature they are subject to gradual decay or fatal... Read More .

Ultimately, a warranty is about peace of mind. Some consumers just want to know that they are covered. If you’re among them, then you should feel good about AppleCare, as it’s probably the best warranty in the electronics business. It’s not cheap, though!

Image Credit: Red Apples Via Shutterstock, Geoff Parsons, Did I Do That? (Nukamari)

  1. jry
    February 6, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    Apple support has gone WAY downhill - they might be following in the footsteps of the other dinosaurs like Microsoft. We've taken a dysfunctional mac mini in twice. First we were told there was nothing wrong with it. Then we were told that it needed a new logic board - the computer came back and continued the exact same behavior. We asked that rather than continue working with what was obviously a lemon - we get a credit to put towards a new machine. Suddenly, the store visits were undocumented and we needed to bring the machine in to be troubleshot. Epic fail by Apple. The Rep, Robert Cooper, all but called us liars.

  2. Options Exist For a Reason
    October 21, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    a) If you start off the exchange with anger, you will not receive the best service. This is true of Apple, Microsoft, Best Buy, any company that employs humans. If you treat the technician as a human being, s/he will likely treat you as one too (especially if they've just been treated like sh*t by the previous customer). b) Whether or not the extended warranty is worth it depends on several factors, only two of which are price and who is offering the warranty. Other factors include: what kind of device and how complex is it? How do you tend to treat similar devices? Will this device stay in one spot the majority of its lifespan, or do you plan on taking it with you on a daily basis? If this device broke just before something important, do you have other devices you could still get by with? If this device does break, is it something you can or would be willing to fix on your own? How much of a pain would it be to get the device to where it needs to be fixed? Etc. Yes, buying an extended warranty is a gamble (so is buying car insurance, or fresh vegetables) but you can be smart about how you do it.

    All that being said, APP probably isn't worth it for most devices nor more technically inclined people. However, I do highly recommend some sort of coverage on any MacBook Pro (specifically, any laptop). Not only are these relatively complex devices that people tend to use as their main computer (as in, they have no back up machine) but laptops tend to move. Even if the furthest distance a laptop moves in its lifespan is from the bedroom to the living room, it's still moving. And even without accident protection, all of the moving parts inside your computer (like hinges, motherboards that can be twisted between books in backpacks, RAM sticks that have to be placed correctly into specific slots) can be wiggled around just by carefully walking your computer around and gently setting it down.

    Ultimately, whoever is buying and using the computer should make the decision, but it's not something that should just be tossed aside as another way to up sell customers. If you want to complain about up selling, why are you even buying new consumer electronics in the first place? Reuse it, or build it yourself; don't get sucker punched into wasteful capitalism.

  3. bb
    October 10, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    I purchased an iMac in 2009 with AppleCare. In November of 2011 something started to go wrong. They replaced two hard drives, the motherboard, and power source. It was horrible! They treated me as if I was causing the problem. When I started requesting they send a tech out to do repairs (per AppleCare you don't have to take it into an Apple Store) they accused me of having outside vendors do the work...the outside vendors they sent out. When the third hard drive started to fail, and at this time I started using the word LEMON, I was informed that I had to wait until the 3rd hard drive failed. I contacted a national radio guy and he recommended a few things. After that I was given a replacement iMac. If I didn't have AppleCare, I would have just tossed it and gone back to pc's. So, I'm glad I had AppleCare??

  4. NRK
    October 5, 2013 at 5:51 am

    For appliances, everything from your toaster to your server, insurance is a poor buy. With five computers, two servers, Cisco routers & switches, and and 15 general appliances in the house it would cost me about $1200 for insurance for them all at $50 each per year. Over the last 30 years since I bought my first computer that would have been $36,000. If every appliance, computer, etc. died tomorrow It would be cheaper to replace them all than to have purchased the insurance for the last 30 years. Don't forget, homeowner's or renter's insurance will cover some losses and damage. Just put that $100+ a month in the bank (your insurance account) and you will always have money to replace your "appliances".

  5. Rick
    October 3, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    I have owned numerous Apple products since the beginning when Apple was a hated by all PC people. (is it still?)

    I have never owned Apple Care on any product and never will. It's a big money maker for the guy who sells you the computer. That's why you get those pathetic looks when you refuse it.

    I always tell the salesperson that is why I buy Apple. I don't expect to need extended care. If I did, I would buy a cheap PC and toss it when it broke.

  6. Mike
    October 2, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    When I had to have a new screen on a 27" iMac, the local Apple reseller was brilliant. I walked in on a Thursday at 1645 with my ailing iMac, and picked it up the following Wednesday morning at 1100. Cost of new screen - £580 + tax. Cost to me under Applecare - £10 (two round trips to the shop).
    They also cleaned up a slightly dodgy USB connection without being asked, cleaned the casing and spent about 25 minutes showing me how to achieve something that had been defeating me for weeks.
    No complaints at all - £135 well spent!

  7. Joshua C
    October 2, 2013 at 10:15 am

    "[T]he .. iPod Touch ... [has] a two-year warranty. A few products, like the ... iPod Touch, can’t be covered by AppleCare at all."

    I think I'm a tad confused here.

  8. Jackson
    October 2, 2013 at 9:34 am

    Personally, Apple devices have always been very reliable -- in my experience, that is. Their return policy is also very accommodating. So even though I own a million Apple products, I've never purchased AppleCare.

  9. ExAppleTech
    October 2, 2013 at 6:20 am

    I spent a little over 5 years as an Apple tech for an authorized repairer. If you brought your computer in for repair without AppleCare, watch out - we would rip you off blind and then some.

    When we repaired your non-AppleCare machine, we would go through the sales database and find the same machine (or one with compatible parts) that had AppleCare and claim the parts under someone else's warranty.

    Not only did we get paid by Apple for the 'warranty' repair, we got paid by the customer, too...

  10. Don T
    October 2, 2013 at 3:40 am

    Used to be $100 for the extra 2 years was a particularly good deal for battery powered devices because it covered the battery replacement. With todays newer Apples, batteries last much longer. ?Much longer than the competition?

  11. Android
    October 1, 2013 at 7:58 pm

    I rather buy new device every time my device breaks than to own a Apple device.

    • gyffes
      October 31, 2013 at 1:09 pm

      Thank you for letting us know up front you're a fool and that we can disregard everything else you say.

  12. likefunbutnot
    October 1, 2013 at 6:58 pm

    Apple's support might in theory be worthwhile, but only if you life someplace close to an Apple Store. In general I can say that I've never had a positive Apple support experience, even for comparatively simple matters like getting itunes purchases voided. I've actually had to argue with online support over my decision to ship a Macbook to a service depot rather than drive 90 minutes in to one of the busiest metropolitan areas of the US and paying $30 to park for the privilege of waiting two hours for an Apple store employee to do work I could've done myself in 20 minutes on any other laptop.

    I know Apple's support is highly regarded by other people, but I really do believe that the best choice is to simply not buy anything from Apple in the first place.

    • BigJimSneaker
      April 12, 2015 at 7:46 pm

      AGREED! Unfortunately, I live in an Apple environment where everyone I work with uses Apple products. The best solution I've found is as you said to live near an Apple store and then to follow their service procedures exactly. Everything they do has to conform exactly to a script written in Cupertino by very rigid people and if you get them off the script their default is to tell you "no." It's frightening, but if you're polite, positive, and persistent you can usually get the thing fixed.
      It's always a test of how in touch I am with the Force. They use a lot of Jedi mind tricks for sure.

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