If you’re an iPhone owner who is clumsy AF, AppleCare+ is always worth it. Full stop. However, if you’re like me—generally decent about keeping your phone from plummeting into the ground, but never capable of a flawless victory—you’re probably wondering if it’s ever worth it to sign up for Apple’s fix-it service.
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Well, let’s do the math. For the sake of argument, I’m going to assume that you’re thinking about AppleCare+ for your iPhone 12, since odds are good that you can no longer purchase AppleCare+ for the iPhone you’re currently using.
If you don’t buy AppleCare+ and drop your iPhone...
Elect to walk on the wild side, and you’ll be paying this much for any kind of out-of-warranty screen repair for your iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 Pro:
- iPhone 12 Pro: $279
- iPhone 12: $279
Interestingly, Apple hasn’t published its figures for the iPhone 12 Pro Max or iPhone 12 Mini yet. I would expect the former, like Apple’s pricing for its various iPhone 11 models, to cost a bit more for a screen repair—around the $329 range.
As for the iPhone 12 Mini, I have absolutely no idea what it might cost to repair a broken screen. I doubt you’ll be able to fix your device for less than $200—the cost to repair a basic iPhone 11. Though an iPhone 12 Mini has as smaller screen than the iPhone 11, Apple is still using a more-expensive OLED display, which would naturally cost more to replace than the iPhone 11's LCD.
With AppleCare+, however, your price for a screen repair drops to a mere $29, regardless of whatever iPhone you have. Of course, you have to factor in the AppleCare+ pricing, too, for 12 months of protection:
- iPhone 12 Mini: $149 regular, $219 w/ “Theft and Loss”
- iPhone 12: $149 regular, $219 w/ “Theft and Loss”
- iPhone 12 Pro: $199 regular, $269 w/ “Theft and Loss”
- iPhone 12 Pro Max: $199 regular, $269 w/ “Theft and Loss”
So, basically, you’re pre-paying for one iPhone drop (with a bit of a discount) when you buy AppleCare+. You get two of these “incidents” per 12-month period, so if you’re especially clumsy, AppleCare+ is the way to go.
Can one really predict these things though? That’s kind of the dilemma with AppleCare+. If you have a great year, you paid for coverage you don’t need; if you have a bad year and shatter your screen a few times, AppleCare+ will save you quite a bit of cash.
If you don’t buy AppleCare+ and your iPhone’s battery starts having issues...
This one’s easy. Replacing your iPhone’s battery should cost nothing as long as it’s still covered by its one-year limited warranty. After that, AppleCare+ will allow you to get free battery replacements—assuming there’s nothing else wrong with your iPhone, and no other hardware damage that might have caused battery issues.
Otherwise, replacing your battery out-of-warranty costs $69 for your iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 Pro. As before, there’s no word on whether that price might change for the iPhone 12 Mini or iPhone 12 Max, but I wouldn’t expect it to.
So, if you’re pretty good about keeping your iPhone from exploding on impact with concrete, hardwood, pavement, or whatever else you drop it on, then I wouldn’t get AppleCare+ just to eventually replace the battery someday. Obviously, you’ll save a lot more money paying out of pocket if—really, when—your device starts to experience battery degradation.
If you don’t buy AppleCare+ and your iPhone has any other issues...
Here’s the big one: The wildcard. If you experience any other catastrophes with your iPhone and Apple rules they’re not covered by your one-year limited warranty, AppleCare+ is the only way to save your bacon—and bank account.
What disasters might fit this description, though? Drop your iPhone into any kind of liquid, and any damage that results from that bath could qualify as “other damage.” I presume wrecking any of the buttons on your device also qualifies as “other damage,” as would destroying one of its cameras—likely due to an unfortunate drop or smash.
However you cause it, any damage Apple classifies as “other” will cost you $549 for the iPhone 12 Pro or $449 for the iPhone 12 if it’s not covered by your limited warranty or AppleCare+. Opt for AppleCare+, and you’ll only pay a $99 service fee.
Does this make AppleCare+ worth it? Absolutely, if you have a crystal ball and can deduce that you’ll do something horrible to your iPhone at some point in the next year, you’ll save a hundreds of dollars—even after the cost of AppleCare+ and the service fee—if you wreck your iPhone in some horrible way.
So, I need to self-assess my potential destructiveness?
Yes. Unfortunately, this has always been the AppleCare trade-off. You might purchase the service and never use it, thus giving Apple free money for little more than access to 24/7 tech support.
You might also drop your phone the week after you buy it, back over it with your car, or get it wet past the point where its built-in water resistance can help you. If so, AppleCare+ can be a good deal, especially since Apple’s express replacement service can get you up and running with a new iPhone pretty quickly.
I hate giving an “It depends” answer, so I’ll be a bit more concrete: I’d buy AppleCare+ if you don’t plan on using any kind of case to protect your iPhone, have previously wrecked your smartphones to the point that you had to repair them or purchase a new one, or have purchased an iPhone 12 Pro.
Why the iPhone 12 Pro? Well, the price difference between the iPhone 12 Pro and the iPhone 12 is roughly $1,000 to $800. The cost of AppleCare+, however, is only a $50 difference. Destroy your iPhone 12 past the point of being able to use it, and your gamble will cost you a little less money to replace the iPhone fully. If you’re paying quadruple digits for your iPhone 12 Pro, however, it’s probably worth considering AppleCare+ a bit more.
That all said, here’s my plan of attack: I’m not going to opt for AppleCare+ because I don’t think I’m the of person who might benefit from it. Until recently, I typically wrap my iPhone in a pretty decent case, and it either sits on my desk, in my pocket, or in my car most of the time. Sure, accidents happen, but I haven’t shattered a smartphone since the iPhone 4. I feel pretty confident in my ability to keep my iPhone safe, and I’d rather use that money to buy accessories—or a really badass case.
If you’ve survived a few iPhone drops, or have a few more scuffs and scratches on your current smartphone than you’d like to admit, maybe it’s time to pull the trigger on AppleCare+. Or, barring that, perhaps splitting the difference and saving some cash with the iPhone Upgrade Program is the better approach.