Breaking an iPhone is never fun. There’s that moment when your stomach plummets, and you feel like the world has just briefly ended. What are you going to do? Where’s the spare phone? How are you going to tell everyone to only contact you on Facebook because you can’t access WhatsApp on your laptop?
More importantly, how are you going to repair it?
Hopefully, you took out an AppleCare+ policy when you bought it. Otherwise, you’ll be in the same situation as me.
What is AppleCare+?
AppleCare+ is the insurance scheme that Apple offers for all of its products. You can take out a policy when you buy a device, or you can add it a little later on in the product's life. It works alongside the warranty and extends the life of the product beyond the warranty protection. It’s not cheap — it is Apple, after all. It is, however, often a lot cheaper than it is to repair your item should something happen.
Now, I always thought of AppleCare+ as something more like peace of mind. A pricey extra that makes you feel better about taking your devices out and about. I also thought I didn’t need it. I take care of my devices. I buy them cases, cradle them, and baby them throughout the time I use them. I don’t need AppleCare+, I thought because I’m not one of those hamfisted oafs that walks around with a shattered iPhone, bits of glass tumbling from the handset as I pull it from my pocket. I am careful, so I can save £250.
That was until the fateful moment that changed everything.
The moment everything changed
I had to redo my office space a couple of weeks ago. I was moving all my gear into a different room, and building new furniture to fit in place. That meant hefting an entire surround sound system, a new desk, a new sofa, a TV bench, and two large bookshelves replete with DVDs and action figures to fill them. Something was bound to go wrong - I just wasn’t expecting that which did go wrong to go wrong.
While jumping down from a stepladder after hanging some shelving up, I stepped on a cable. A cable to a speaker that went flying as soon as the cable lost its slack. It plummeted from the TV bench on which it was sat, ultimately burying itself into the screen of my iPhone 13 Pro below. To say there is a hole in the screen would be an understatement. There's a massive gaping void in it, thin cracks spidering across the display. I’m pretty sure, in fact, that if you were to take out some of the shards of glass that are still somehow stuck in place you’d be able to see the back of the motherboard. This is, obviously, not great.
How much could AppleCare save me?
See, anyone who has ever smashed an iPhone screen knows how ungodly expensive it is to repair one. For my iPhone 13 Pro, here in the UK, it would cost a grand total of £289. That is, with a little math, around 25% of the total price of the device. Device insurance will cover some of the repair cost, but because it's accidental damage I’ll still have to pay for the excess. In most cases, this is around £250, so I’m not saving really any money at all by claiming on my insurance. For a device I use so much, these prices simply don’t add up — especially when I then go to look at AppleCare+.
See, for my iPhone 13 Pro, an AppleCare+ policy attached to the device would cost me around £240 for two years of coverage. Monthly, it doesn’t work all that much more expensive at £12 per month. Either way, for the price of less than one screen replacement, I can cover my phone for unlimited claims, with much smaller excesses to pay.
With AppleCare+, replacing the now crumbling screen would only cost £25. A tenth of the cost of the full-screen replacement. After that, if it happens again, it’s only another £25. Or say I smash the back of the device - another £25. Camera breaks? That’s free, baby.
The same is true for a device like a MacBook Pro. Toward the end of its life, the machine needed a new battery. Without AppleCare+, the replacement would be £200. With AppleCare+, it would've been free. That would have extended the life of the device, too, meaning I wouldn't have a now useless laptop sat in my drawer ready for the big tech hole in the sky.
In my eyes, it’s really a no-brainer. If only I’d thought about it when I bought the bloody thing. I certainly will now.
The argument for AppleCare+
iPhones are notoriously hard to repair. Where you can take a broken Samsung Galaxy S20 to a small repair shop at the local shopping mall, that same small shop will turn you away if you arrive with an iPhone with a shattered screen. Parts are software locked to the device, with screens, motherboards, and cameras only working with Apple’s blessing. While some repair shops are Apple certified, most of the time you’ll have to go to an Apple Store with Genius bar to get your phone repaired. You can’t even really do it yourself. In the case of the iPhone 14 Pro Max, iFixit stated that it’s "better than last year's" but parts still "require permission from the mothership for the most basic of repairs".
Whatever happens to your iPhone, you’re going to have to take it to an Apple store to get it repaired, the same with damaged MacBooks, iPads, and even Apple Watches. In fact, it’s even more the case with Apple Watches. Those tiny screens and parts are only touchable with Apple equipment, and good luck trying to do it with anything else.
Home insurance companies do offer contents cover, but most excesses on repairing your electronic devices are expensive, especially if it's an accidental breakage. According to Money Supermarket (opens in new tab), the average compulsory excess is around £100 in the UK. On top of that, you might have gone for an extra voluntary excess in order to save money on your home insurance. That, according to Money SuperMarket again, is on average £250. That leaves you with £350 with most repairs — an amount, you’ll notice that is more than it would be for even one screen repair.
Things are similar, if not worse, in the US. You’ll pay $279 for a screen repair on an iPhone 13 Pro like mine, or $29 with AppleCare+. Repairing it yourself is nearly impossible unless you have access to equipment that can mark the screen as an official replacement and software bond it to the phone. Insurance is complicated, with paper trails and expensive fees involved to get your phone repaired. Deductibles can run much higher than in the UK with home insurance, making repairing through that route ridiculous. AppleCare+ isn't just a no-brainer, it's a must.
So without AppleCare+, you’ll find yourself locked between a rock and a hard place. Do you pay the whole £250 for a screen repair, or do you go the insurance route and potentially add more to your premium, or pay pretty much the same? If you’re like me, it will make you think long and hard about whether you get AppleCare+ the next time you get a new device, especially if you've tried to save money on your insurance.
AppleCare+ and the wider repair landscape
It will likely lead you to think more about the repairability of your iPhone too. While the newer iPhones are more repairable than ever, with the iPhone 14, in particular, receiving a 7/10 repairability score from iFixit, they are still terrifying devices to take apart and repair. That, and those aforementioned software-locked screens and camera modules mean that buying parts is still very expensive.
I do consider myself fairly handy with a screwdriver, however — I have taken apart iPods, Nintendo Switches, and other gadgets to repair them. Why can’t the same be said for my iPhone? Why should I have to pay monthly for the privilege of Apple repairing my phone, when I can feasibly do it myself? It is, after all, my device. I should be able to buy a secondhand iPhone off eBay and cannibalize its screen to repair my own, and devices should be easier to teardown so that I can pop new components in. Alas, this is still not the case.
Until the day that Apple devices become more repairable, with batteries that aren’t glued into my MacBook Pro or screens that aren’t software locked, I must lump it with AppleCare+. And seriously, so should you. After all, given the incredible savings that are available when you pay just a little bit every month, it's as I said up top — a no-brainer. You never know, it might become more than just peace of mind, like it should’ve done with me and my holey iPhone 13 Pro.
Let’s put it this way. I recently bought a MacBook Pro 14-inch. The first thing I did? I took out an AppleCare+ policy. And you should too.
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As the Buying Guides and Deals writer for iMore, Tammy puts over a decade of experience in finding the best prices of Apple products to work, helping you save money on the equipment that you want. An audiophile at heart, she loves all things audio and visual, but you’ll also find her drooling over the latest Macs and MacBooks. With a Masters in screenwriting, Tammy likes to spend her free time writing feature-length and TV screenplays or driving digital cars around virtual circuits, to varying degrees of success. Just don't ask her about AirPods Max - you probably won't like her answer.
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