iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus insurance: Should you buy AppleCare or something else?

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus insurance: Should you buy AppleCare or something else?

2014 iPhone buyers guide: How to decide what iPhone extended warranty, if any, is right for you

Many new iPhone owners find themselves wondering whether AppleCare+ is worth it or not. More importantly, is AppleCare+ the best option when it comes to protecting your iPhone. When getting a new iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus that's a decision you'll need tomake. Like any other kind of insurance, iPhone insurance is far from one size fits all. So if you aren't exactly sure what type of warranty you need, we can help you decide what best suits your personal situation.

AppleCare vs. AppleCare+

Every iPhone you purchase, whether it's sold by Apple or another retailer, comes with a 1-year limited warranty called AppleCare . This coverage costs you nothing and is automatically activated the day you purchase your iPhone. These are the things that the free version of AppleCare offers -

  • 1-year limited warranty against defects
  • 90 days complimentary phone support

The basic version of AppleCare does not protect against any kind of accidental damage. That's where AppleCare+ comes into play.

AppleCare+ costs an additional $99 and must be purchased either at the same time, or within 60 days of purchasing your iPhone. It will extend the standard one year warranty to two years and give you phone support for those full two years — as opposed to the 90 days after purchase that comes standard. That means if you ever run into an issue with your iPhone, you can dial 1-800-MY-APPLE and ask for AppleCare, or you can call 1-800-APL-CARE directly.

If you break your iPhone or drop it in water, you're covered. AppleCare+ gives you two incidents where, for a $79 deductible, you can exchange your broken iPhone for a replacement on the spot. The one thing AppleCare+ does not protect you against is theft or loss, which may be something to consider.

Of course, to get the most value out of AppleCare+, it helps if you live close to an Apple Retail Store. If not, you'll need to mail your iPhone out to get it serviced. Unless you have a backup phone laying around, going without for a prolonged period could be problematic for many.

Check your credit card benefits

A lot of folks don't seem to realize that many credit cards come with lots of warranty and insurance policies built right in. For example, my AAdvantage Card from CitiBank offers up to one additional year coverage on any manufacturer's warranty. That means the iPhone 5s that I purchased with my AAdvantage card is covered an additional year without any additional cost to me. The only stipulation? That I paid for the entire purchase on that specific card.

A lot of different credit card companies offer these kinds of perks. I don't think I have a card in my wallet that doesn't offer some kind of warranty protection for electronics. It's become commonplace yet a lot of consumers don't seem to take advantage of them. Simply check your member benefits in order to see what kind of insurance policies you're protected by — most of which can easily be found online. A lot of credit card companies even cover theft and loss up to 100% of the purchase price as long as you made the purchase with them.

SquareTrade insurance

There are a few third party companies that do nothing but sell electronics insurance. SquareTrade is one of the largest names out there and one of the only ones I know enough about to feel comfortable recommending.

SquareTrade offers warranties similar to what Apple offers but, and this is important to remember, are not licensed by Apple. However, SquareTrade offers a three year plan and up to four accidental replacements per warranty type, which is double what AppleCare+ gives you. Just keep in mind that like AppleCare+, SquareTrade does not cover theft and loss.

Each deductible claim with SquareTrade falls around $75 with the initial up front cost running $99, the same as AppleCare+. You'll also need to purchase your SquareTrade insurance within 30 days of purchasing your iPhone.

On top of 4 accidental replacements, SquareTrade will also reimburse you for Genius Bar appointments, offers next day replacements, and even covers same day repairs through local service shops in your area. This alone can make it more appealing to folks that may not live anywhere near an Apple Store.

Why carrier and big box retailer insurance plans are almost never a good idea

Carrier insurance offerings vary greatly based on what carrier you have, what kind of contract you have, and many other factors. I'm always hesitant to recommend it over AppleCare+ and other options simply because there are always exorbitant monthly fees plus ever-changing deductibles involved, which are typically on the high side.

For example, most carrier insurance costs around $10 a month. Deductibles fall around $200, sometimes a little less, sometimes a little more. That means you've already paid in $120 after the first year. Then you still have to shell out the deductible as well. You've now paid Apple would have charged you for an out of warranty replacement, with zero insurance plan. The only difference is that you've spread the cost out.

It's also worth mentioning that most carrier insurance companies replace devices with refurbished ones that are not tested and guaranteed by Apple. I've seen some pretty nasty stories about replacements being sent out that had dings in them from the previous owner. I know I wouldn't be too happy to pay hundreds of dollars for a replacement that someone else had already abused.

Some carrier insurance plans offer protection from theft and loss. Just realize that you're banking on a rather large "what if" scenario and in most cases, the deductible plus monthly fees is almost never in your favor.

As far as big box retailers such as Best Buy, they typically outsource to a lot of the same companies carrier do, meaning you can expect the same experience. The only difference is the plan may cost more upfront. Regardless how the cost is split up, much like carrier insurance, the numbers are not ever in your favor.

Some things to consider

As I said previously, iPhone insurance is definitely not one size fits all. What's right for me may be totally wrong for you. That's why there are a few more things we need to consider before actually deciding on what insurance plan to go with.

Your upgrade cycle

All iPhones come with a one year manufacturer's warranty against defects at no additional cost to you. If you have to have the latest and greatest each and every year, you may be wasting some money on purchasing AppleCare+ since you most likely won't utilize the second year of coverage.

Just keep in mind that the one year warranty that comes with your iPhone does not cover accidental damage, only defects due to no fault of your own. If you are particularly clumsy, insurance may still be a good idea.

Care and craftiness

Some of us take very good care of our iPhones. Some of us don't. While using a protective case can't completely guarantee you won't break your iPhone if you drop it, it can definitely help minimize the chances. Using heavy duty cases are a good idea for users that are accident prone or those who just want to take the extra precaution.

There are lots of people that hate cases since they add bulk to their iPhone and take away from the joy of using it the way Apple intended you to. It may feel better in the hand without a case on it, but it also greatly increases the chances of it breaking.

Also, DIY iPhone repairs are typically a heck of a lot cheaper than a warranty claim or the cost of a new iPhone. If you're careful with your iPhone, and handy with fixing things, DIY repairs are almost always guaranteed to save you loads of cash. Just understand that opening up your iPhone can and will void the manufacturer's warranty.

How to decide whether you should get AppleCare+ or something else

Now that we've covered the basics of what each plan covers, what it doesn't, and how they differ, it's time to decide what insurance plan is right for you. Here are my current recommendations, in order of how you should consider them.

Check your credit card benefits right now

Before you read any further in this article, you should absolutely stop what you're doing and check your credit card benefits before you even buy your new iPhone. Purchase your new iPhone with the card that offers you the best possible member benefits. Then and only then, should you decide what other kind of protection or extended warranty you need.

Who should buy AppleCare+?

AppleCare+ is great for anyone who isn't terribly accident prone and plans on keeping their iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus for more than 1 year.

For $99 you get the peace of mind in knowing that if you do break it, you only have to pay $79 for an Apple certified replacement. Just take into consideration what your proximity is to your nearest Apple Store as that may play an important role.

Who should purchase insurance from SquareTrade?

If you're particularly accident prone or don't live within close range to an Apple Store, Square Trade may be your best option. Not only do you get 2 more incidents than what AppleCare+ offers, Square Trade also offers more flexible options than many other warranty plans.

Who should buy carrier insurance?

If you don't live close to an Apple Store, can't for some reason subscribe to Square Trade, and don't have any kind of protection through credit cards, then maybe it's worth considering carrier insurance.

I always struggle to find a reason to recommend carrier insurance. Aside from being able to spread the cost of a replacement out, I can't find another reason to suggest it. If you have a good argument for carrier insurance, by all means lay it on me in the comments!

Who should buy insurance from a big box retailer?

No one. Read my argument above against carrier insurance. Much of the same applies here as well.

Who should stick to the standard AppleCare warranty?

For those of you who have made it to this last section, you're most likely wondering if you need additional insurance. And you know yourself and your usage habits better than anyone else. So go with your gut.

If you take incredibly good care of your iPhone, never drop or otherwise damage it, and are handy enough to DIY fix it if and when you need to, or don't mind paying for someone else to do it, then you might be just fine with the standard warranty that comes at no additional cost. This is especially true if you upgrade once a year, or more. People that don't like what-if scenarios also tend to feel better about only paying for service when and if they need it.

Still not sure?

If you still aren't sure what insurance plan, if any, is right for you, the iMore forums are a great place to seek advice. Several of our members have debated and made decisions on a lot of the same issues you're currently facing.

Once you've made your choice, let us know! Are you opting for AppleCare+, SquareTrade, or something else?

Note: Originally posted, September 2013. Updated, September 2014.

Allyson Kazmucha

Help and how to editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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Reader comments

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus insurance: Should you buy AppleCare or something else?

27 Comments

As for carrier insurance I'm with sprint
It cost 11$ a month *24= $264 Plus a $150 Deductible Lost/Stolen(Im not sure if its same if u crack screen or water damage but i know for a fact that if i had sprint insurance and they charged me 150 for a new iPhone even though i water damaged or cracked the screen i would literally claim in lost and then "find" it later and use it for parts haha heck with sending them a device special if i paid 264+150= 400 for a new device I'm gonna be keeping those buggers old device and selling it down the road if i can fix it cheaply like maybe a 40$ digitizer / screen anyways il go with apple care and pay 300 for 2 cracked screens but still paying a deductible and returning the old phone makes no sense cuz they basically can make money off peoples stupidity and non understanding on how and what is done with our old devices hhahaa

Great points and things people don't always consider. However, just a slight update to AppleCare+ Ally: you now have 60 days to consider/add AppleCare+ to your Apple mobile devices.

What is Apple's cash price to repair a broken screen? That's the most likely thing needing non-warranty repairs on an iPhone, and AppleCare+ plus the deductible is a minimum $178.

I actually do AppleCare+ AND Carrier insurance. Yes it's insane, but I've dealt with both mechanical failures AND theft so this way I am covered on both sides.

I agree with Ame and have both as well. Carrier insurance for theft/loss and AppleCare+ for everything else.

Also, great article Ally :) Very helpful and insightful.

Hey Allyson, you might wanna make a quick and minor correction. As of about a month or so ago, AppleCare+ can be purchased and added to a device up to 60 days after purchase (not 30). Keep it up, I'm sure you guys must be swamped with work these days

Sent from the iMore App

Also, Apple does not give you the option of picking a new or refurbished unit. The technicians give you one and have no idea whether it's used or contains "refurbished" parts.

Sent from the iMore App

But for Apple, "refurbished" devices are rigorously tested and certified by Apple. I'd have no problems taking a refurbished unit from them. A "refurbished" unit from another company though? No thanks. Like Ally, I've heard too many horror stories about that.

I use carrier insurance solely because I want to be covered for lost or stolen. Even tho it does not happen everyday, being in the NYC area its always a possibility. But I do opt for the $6 insurance option from t-mobile which does not cover water damage, idc regardless because I would just report it lost if its water damaged and have them send me a new one.

Square Trade is the best. You can easily get a 30-40% off coupon as well by signing up for their site - they send them out all the time, especially if you have looked at a specific warranty and partially checked out - or you can also google for codes. I use them for everything and they are really an awesome company - plus you can still have your phone repaired at an Apple Store if you insist on going only the Apple way, you'll just pay less.

Oh I am a sucker for Applecare. I see it and I have to buy it. It's just the convenience, I only have to drive to the neighboring City, sneak into a nearby car park and visit one of the stores in the park then wander off to the Apple store.

The only phone that I had an issue with was the earpiece speaker on an iPhone 4 but I like that peace of mind.

I would never pay insurance through a Carrier unless, like T-Mobile they treated insurance as part of their early upgrade system where you have the benefit of changing a device regularly. As for insurance alone from them. It's the biggest rip off ever! I must have spent the equivalent of buying another phone outright from Verizon and the one time I needed it they played games and then refused to cover a stolen device and I immediately cancelled the insurance, paid for a device at full price and started saving that insurance fee's for all the devices that I had been paying for.

I go for ease of use all the time and for me Applecare is the easiest to deal with and the cheapest and fairest.

Buy with credit card and get 90-120 accidental damage/theft protection and a additional 1 year of warranty nullifies the need for applecare+ for most people. Also, AT&T phone issuance only is $6.99 a month with reducing deductibles. Six consecutive months with no claim equals a 25% reduction of the deductible. Twelve consecutive months without a claim and you get a 50% reduction of the deductible. The new iPhone will start in the highest tier of deductibles ($199) but tier status is fluid and it won't be there permanently.

I would be careful with SquareTrade. I have used them in the past, and previously, there was a limit of how much you are covered for. For example, if something goes wrong on your device and it's repaired, at the next incident, you would have whatever the plan value is minus what you used previously. It may have changed since then but at one time it was like that.

Nice job on the Article. I have not had an iPhone in a long time (iPhone 4 launch) but have always purchase Apple care for my daughters iPhones...and used it too!

Loss or theft is a big deal. Espeially given that theses phones are often taken. Isn't carrier insurance necessary? At least in addition to AC PLUS?

Not in my opinion. Want loss or theft protection? Apply for a credit card that has good benefits if you don't already have one. Purchase it with that, and done. No monthly ripoff fee.

How does that work if the phone is free through Verizon..ex. they are offerering the 4s version free but you pay $30 upgrade fee and purchase through a CC..will you get protection if you didn't actually have to pay out of pocket if that makes sense? tia

AWESOME article! I have both American Express and a CITI card that offer the Loss/Theft protection however; both, even your AAdvantage Card from Citi it only offers Loss/Theft for 90 days, after that you're SOL. That is where the rip-off carrier insurance would be needed or come in handy, but its so over-priced if an incident never occurs.

I love AppleCare+ but its lack of coverage for loss/theft is concerning for someone who has had a phone lost or stolen. I think everyone's best bet would to be double covered.

Our Fair Trading laws in Australia put another spin on the topic.

For example, I had an iPhone 4s which I purchased second hand about 2 years ago. About a month ago, the SIM card section developed a fault. I walked into my local Apple Store and 30 minutes later I walked out with an as-new refurbished iPhone 4s. Did not have to put my hand in my pocket.

This kind of service tends to make me think twice as to whether I need insurance. I certainly don't need to think twice about the brand of my next smartphone (or tablet or laptop either).

Your dismissal of the "big box" plans without any information provided is both disturbing and short sighted for an article that is solely based around warranty.

For example, I have the Best Buy warranty on my iPhone 5. $10 a month, and there is NO limit to the number of claims, in addition to NO deductible. I'm kinda accident prone, I'm on my 4th i5. Never had an issue with it. In fact, Best Buy doesn't even allow up front warranty purchases for phones, you have to pay month to month, which ends up being a pretty decent deal. Did you even do your research?

Mr_groll guessing they didn't go into detail was because best buy USED to be the only big box store with a good protection plan. I've used them for years but they recently changed. According to their website you are now limited to three issues in 25 months and it is $149.99 deductible each time.

For the best coverage and least expensive iPhone 6 or mobile device insurance, www.esurranty.com is the better option bar none! They offer loss, theft, mechanical malfunction, accidental damage and liquid damage at lower prices than any other insurance or extended warranty provider. They have same day repair at over 300+ locations for no upfront charge and if they have to replace your device, they will replace it with a BRAND NEW one, not refurbished like the others! eSURRANTY.com has been in business over 15 years and offers coverage in the U.S. and Canada. Your coverage starts the same day, not 30 days later like the rest and their monthly payment plans start at $4.99/month. www.esurranty.com