Apple retail stores are reopening but their online support will likely keep me home

Apple Store logo
Apple Store logo (Image credit: iMore)

When the pandemic hit and governments around the world, starting applying restrictions and shutting down businesses, Apple retail stores were among the casualties. They even willingly closed down some stores in some places before they had to protect their staff and customers, and they continued to pay people even amid the stores being closed.

Now Apple retail locations having been opening again and even more stores are said to be reopened in the coming weeks I am starting to wonder if I'll ever go to a retail location again. Not because of the pandemic, but because their online support is incredible.

Software and hardware support online

Apple Hardware Support (Image credit: Apple)

Pandemic or not, devices can break, glitch out, cause issues, and otherwise need some sort of service, and luckily, Apple offers all its software assistance and hardware service online. This means if you are having trouble setting up a device or something wonky is happening with the software, you can go to Apple's support site (opens in new tab) and chat with a technician, or you can even call their support line.

Consistently, the wait times for the online chat are usually only a few mins, and every time I have phoned the Apple support line, I have been pleasantly surprised at the speed and efficiency my issues have been dealt with.

Hardware repairs can be a little finicky as they do take extra time to process due to shipping time, but the process is about as smooth as I have ever experienced. I had to send in my iPhone XS Max because the screen had some dead pixels, and Apple shipped me a box to send in my phone in about two days, and after I sent it off, I just had to wait. The entire process took about nine days, and you can get SMS notifications about the status of your repair, so you'll always know where the repair process stands.

Online repairs could be a bit slow for certain issues

While a lot of issues can be solved through online supports in Apple, there are cases where the online hardware repair service might be a little slow.

For example, if you're needing a repair on your main computer and don't have any sort of back up, waiting 7-10 days for a repair would likely be pretty hard. In those instances where the repair needs to be done as fast as possible, going to the Apple retail store is a better option, and hopefully, the Apple store near you is opening soon if you're in that boat.

Would you go back to an Apple Store?

With the ability to buy new items through the online store and the Apple Store app offering a fantastic experience, you don't really need to go to a store to buy anything from Apple. Plus, its online hardware and software support are pretty stellar, meaning unless its an emergency, you can send in that device to get services.

I'm glad that Apple Stores are starting to open with precautions in place to deal with the new world we live in; however, I'm just as excited about the online support Apple provides, and I don't' see myself going into a retail store anymore.

Luke Filipowicz
Staff Writer

Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way. 

Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.

  • Darn right I'll go back to a store. Support is only one aspect. Even that has advantages in person. You make the appointment, go in hand them your device, go have dinner, come back and pick up a fixed one. Can't beat that. Have done it with cracked screens and battery replacements. Then there is the shopping for new stuff. I want to touch an iPad Magic Keyboard before I plunk down $300 on one. Just order one and send it back if I don't like it? No, I don't work like that. I don't think it is fair. I also don't order three sizes of something and send back the two that don't fit right.
  • Easy, despite needing to drive an hour to get to a store, I walk out with my issue fixed (or my device purchased).
  • We just lost our only Apple certified dealer/repair shop. Us Apple owners up hear in Northwestern California would love to visit an Apple store, but the nearest on is 4 hours away. We will be depending on the online service.
  • The stores may "open" but I doubt we will be able to go IN a store for quite some time, if ever again. And I don't think I would want to go in for a long while. If people were allowed in, they won't be allowed to touch anything, handle anything, play with any products, at all, because those products would have to be totally wiped down and sanitized by someone in a haz-mat suit before anyone else would be allowed near that product again. It is a pretty much unworkable situation. So Apple will be "opening" their doors and stationing employees at the entrance where they can take in devices that need tinkering with and just offering verbal support for the foreseeable future. A lot of things are going to be exactly like this until there is a cure, treatment, or vaccine for the new plague.
  • It will be a pretty poor experience. Not planning to go in one until things are back to normal
  • One reason is to get turn around. Sure the online support is great But... Recently I had the crackling issue with one of my AirPod Pro's and the support people were fantastic about getting it diagnosed and saying that it needed to be replaced. Problem was that I was going to have to mail it in then they would send me a new one. Given that my wife and I are both working from home these days I am extremely reliant on having them for the non-stop calls, WebEx, Zoom meeting I am in all day long. What was I supposed to do. The good news for me was that there is a local Apple reseller and service company that was deemed essential here in Tennessee that was able to handle the warranty service for me. So will I go back to the Apple Sore(s) here in Nashville? You bet!!!
  • Maybe I am old school but I still prefer in store>> online. I like being able to touch the products and see how they work, something online just cannot mimic.
  • I’ll absolutely be going back to the Apple Stores because I love shopping there. I love being around the people and browsing the products. Also, I prefer to have warranty issues handled in person rather than having to mail in a defective product.
  • “ Hardware repairs can be a little finicky as they do take extra time to process due to shipping time” You straight up canceled your entire argument for me right there. Unlike going to the Apple Store for an iPhone swap and be in and out in 15 min. Doing so online is at least a 5 day process. No thanks. If there is one thing the online experience may be good for: Same day delivery option, as it will be especially useful during the Pandemic. Outside of that, I’ll stick to the in-store experience.