With prices starting as high as $1,000 and $1,100, Apple’s new iPhone XSand XS Max are some of the most expensive cell phones on the market (don’t worry, we got you covered with a few deals…). With this being said, it should also come as no surprise that they’re also among the priciest to fix. This begs the question, though, of should you buy AppleCare+ for your iPhone? Here’s what we think:
Consumer Reports tells us that tour neighborhood Apple Store will restore a cracked screen for $330. Any other part? That can cost you north of $600 to repair.
The fees for the slightly smaller XS are similar to those for the iPhone X: $280 for screen repair and $550 for everything else.
That is unless you shell out an extra $200 for an AppleCare+ plan. In that case, the screen replacement will run you just $30. For other accidental damage, the fee is $100.
In a new twist, Apple also has rolled out monthly coverage plans, similar to traditional phone insurance, along with the option to include loss and theft protection—for an additional one-time or monthly fee.
So is it worth it? Given the dramatic increases in repair pricing for iPhones in recent years, AppleCare+ might let you rest easier, especially if you (or others under your roof) are prone to dropping phones.
AppleCare+ covers the phone as well as the earbuds and any other accessories that come with it. And as part of the deal, Apple extends its regular limited warranty—which protects you against manufacturing defects—from one year to two. You also get free technical support for 90 days.
But that doesn’t make it a wise investment for everyone.
“In this case, value is really in the eye of the beholder,” says Rafi Mohammed, founder of Culture of Profit, a company that advises businesses on how to develop and improve their pricing strategies, and is based in Cambridge, Mass.
Here’s a deeper look at how much the AppleCare+ plan costs and what it covers.
How AppleCare+ Works
You can buy AppleCare+ at any point within the first 60 days of owning a new iPhone dating back to the 6s Plus. Here’s how the fees break down, based on the model.
iPhone X, XS, or XS Max
Standard AppleCare+: one-time fee of $200 or $10 per month.
Additional loss and theft protection: A one-time fee of $100 or $5 per month. There’s also a $270 deductible if you need to replace your phone.
iPhone XR, 8 Plus, 7 Plus, or 6s Plus
Standard Apple Care+: $150 or $8 per month.
Additional loss and theft protection: $250 or $13 per month ($230 deductible for a replacement).
iPhone 8, 7, or 6s
Standard AppleCare+: $130 or $6 per month.
Additional loss and theft protection: $130 or $6 per month ($200 deductible for a replacement).
If you’re prone to breaking or losing your phone, AppleCare+ could save you money. A broken iPhone XS Max screen, for instance, will cost you $230 ($30 plus the $200 lump-sum plan fee) to repair with coverage instead of the $330 everyone else pays. For “other damage,” the cost would be $300 instead of $600.
Should you lose your iPhone XS Max and have theft and loss coverage, your replacement costs are going to total $570 ($270 deductible plus $300 plan fee). That’s a substantial savings when you’re talking about a $1,100 phone.
But if you’re the type of person who doesn’t generally lose or drop a phone, that $200 to $300 coverage fee could easily be money down the drain. And if you go the monthly route for the full two years the plans cover, you’re looking at a total cost of $240 to $360 with theft and loss coverage.
It’s also worth noting that AppleCare+ comes with restrictions. It covers only two incidents of breakage, loss, or theft across two years, for example. If you go beyond that, you’re back to paying up to $600 to get an iPhone fixed and on the hook for the full replacement cost if it goes missing.
The plans do not cover damage caused by “reckless, abusive, willful or intentional conduct.” So if you were planning to test out your new phone’s toughness by running it over with a car, don’t. You also can’t collect on a theft or loss claim if you don’t have “Find My iPhone” activated at the time your device disappears.
And remember that your warranty—AppleCare+ or not—is voided if you open up your iPhone to repair it.
Why Is It so Expensive to Fix an iPhone?
Recent models—including the iPhone XS, XS Max, XR, X, 8, and 8 Plus—are covered with glass on the back and front, which could make them more vulnerable to damage in a fall.
When we took the iPhone X, XS, and XS Max for rides in our specialized tumbler, for example, dropping the phones the equivalent of 2.5 feet 100 times, they all broke at some point. But the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus managed to survive with minor scrapes.
The glass back on the phones is a trade-off designed to enable wireless charging, because of metal blocks inductive charging, says Richard Fisco, head of smartphone testing for Consumer Reports. “Apple’s designers could have used plastic, but that has a cheap look and feel not appropriate for a premium phone,” he adds.
Apple says the front cameras on the iPhone X, XS, XS Max, and upcoming XR—which power the models’ Face ID systems in addition to taking selfies—are integrated into the glass and that complicates the repair process.
The super-sharp OLED displays used on the X, XS, and XS Max contribute to the higher replacement costs as well. The technology—touted in high-end TVs for its deep blacks, accurate colors, and energy efficiency—doesn’t come cheap, Fisco says.
While it might seem reasonable to take a chance on having to pay the $330 fee to replace the screen on your iPhone X, keep in mind that the glass back falls under “other damage,” and that costs $600 to repair.
Crack the glass—front and back—in a fall and you’re looking at paying almost enough for a whole new phone.
So even if you’ve been careful to protect your iPhone in the past, a sturdy case is a good idea this time around.
From a numbers-crunching standpoint, Mohammed says, people might be more inclined to pay for AppleCare+ for a new iPhone XS or XS Max because the models cost $1,000 and up—and these days smartphones are viewed more as a necessity than a luxury.
But there’s really no right or wrong answer about whether you should pay for the coverage. It’s all about how much risk you’re willing to assume.
If the thought of having to unexpectedly shell out $600 to repair your phone is unbearable, a $200 AppleCare+ cost might well be worth it.
Or if you’re buying the phone for a teenager whose smartphone takes some abuse, the added insurance might save you some grief.
But if you’re a frugal sort—and also tend to be really careful with your smartphone—AppleCare+ might well seem like an unnecessary expense.
As Mohammed explains, unlike automotive insurance, Apple’s coverage doesn’t hinge on past behavior. A serial phone smasher pays the same amount that someone who has never cracked a screen would pay. As a result, AppleCare+ costs and restrictions are designed with high-risk people in mind.
“The bottom line,” Mohammed says, “is this is a very profitable business for Apple.”
And that means that if you’re a fumble-fingers or just prone to bad luck, AppleCare+ coverage is probably a better deal for you than it may be for others.