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If you’ve been blessed with the gift of a new Apple product this holiday season, you may now be wondering about whether you should consider Apple’s extended protection plan, also known as AppleCare+.
Unless Santa was particularly good to you, chances are that your new iPhone or AirPods don’t already include AppleCare+, but that’s okay as you can still purchase it afterward. In fact, you have up to 60 days to do so. The only question is whether you should.
Of course, that’s a personal decision that will be based on your budget and how you’re likely to use your new device, but it’s important to keep in mind that AppleCare+ is far more than just an extended warranty — in fact, Apple kind of hates it when people call it that.
While AppleCare+ does extend your warranty coverage for at least one more year for most products (two more years for Mac) it also offers extended telephone support from Apple and, perhaps most importantly of all, insurance against accidental damage.
Remember that a warranty technically only covers manufacturer’s defects — they don’t cover things that happen to your iPhone, AirPods, or Mac as a result of your own actions or negligence. For instance, if your battery suddenly stops holding a charge, Apple will replace that under warranty. If you walk into an Apple Store with a shattered screen, that’s on you.
Even in these cases, Apple will happily fix your screen for you, but it’s going to cost you, and this is where perhaps the biggest benefit of AppleCare+ comes in.
As long as you’ve already purchased the protection plan before you damage your iPhone, you’ll be able to get your broken screen replaced for a mere $29, regardless of the model of iPhone. You’ll only be able to do this twice in a given 12-month period, but even one repair can easily justify the cost of AppleCare+.
Of course, like any insurance plan, you’ll arguably be wasting your money if you never actually break your iPhone, but the argument in favour of AppleCare+ here is that you’re paying for peace of mind, knowing that if anything does happen to your iPhone, you can get it dealt with for less than the price of a nice dinner, rather than a third of the cost of a whole new iPhone.
Similarly lowered repair costs are also available for the Mac, AirPods, and other Apple products, although again you’ll have to weight these lowered costs against the price of AppleCare+, which can run up to $399 for a 16-inch MacBook Pro.
What Products Can I Get AppleCare+ For?
Apple offers AppleCare+ for almost every product that it makes, although some are only covered as part of a larger AppleCare+ plan.
For instance, you can get AppleCare for the iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, AirPods, Beats headphones, and even the Apple TV and HomePod.
Accessories like the Apple Pencil, Magic Keyboard, and Apple’s USB SuperDrive are also covered by AppleCare+ if you’ve purchased it for the Mac or iPad that you’re using these accessories with.
For the Mac, AppleCare+ costs anywhere between $99 for a Mac mini right up to $399 for the new 16-inch MacBook Pro. You’ll get three years of coverage, with two incidents of screen or enclosure damage repaired for $99, or other out-of-warranty damage for $299.
AppleCare+ for the iPhone starts at $79 for the iPhone SE, and runs all the way up to $199 for the iPhone 13 Pro Max. You can also purchase AppleCare+ for the iPhone as a monthly subscription, which will be valid for up to five years, as long as you keep on paying for it. This runs from $3.99/month for the iPhone SE to $7.99/month for the iPhone 13 Pro Max.
For iPhone customers in the U.S., Apple also offers an enhanced version of AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss Protection. This will offer a replacement iPhone at a significant discount in the event your device is lost or stolen. This is still an insurance plan, however, so you’ll have to take the necessary steps to file a claim, including reporting the theft to the police and making sure you had Find My iPhone enabled on the device at the time it was stolen.
AppleCare+ is also available for devices like the Apple TV and HomePod mini, and while it’s pretty affordable, we’d argue that it’s not as necessary for those devices, as you’re pretty unlikely to ever need to take advantage of the accidental damage coverage, although it may be worth considering for those with very active toddlers running around.
How to Buy AppleCare+
If you’re purchasing a new device for yourself, you can buy AppleCare+ at the same time, and you’ll be covered right from the get-go. Apple obviously sells it directly through its online store, but you can also purchase it from other major retailers like Best Buy and Amazon.
Of course, if you’ve received an Apple device as a gift, it’s unlikely you’ll have AppleCare+ on it. For an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, however, it’s actually easy to add — you can just go straight into the Settings app on an iPhone/iPad or System Preferences on a Mac, and you’ll see a message telling you that it’s available, and an indication of how many days you have left to purchase it.
Tapping or clicking on this option will take you through the process of purchasing AppleCare+ via credit card, at which point, coverage will take effect immediately.
For other Apple products, you’ll need to take them in to a nearby Apple Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider for inspection to make sure that they’re still okay. You can also purchase AppleCare+ over the phone for some products, as they can run diagnostics to assess their condition remotely.
Lastly, while you’ll obviously need to have AppleCare+ to take advantage of the lower service fees, Apple does offer you a second chance to buy AppleCare+ after you’ve had your iPhone, iPad, or Mac serviced. It won’t help you with those repairs, but at least you’ll be covered if there’s a next time.