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. 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
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.
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
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 owners can’t buy this coverage.
Is AppleCare Worth The Price?
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.
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.
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!