Following Apple’s big product announcement yesterday, the smaller, not-so-fun details are gradually coming out. Apple’s Upgrade Program is changing its prices and in a rare move, AppleCare+ will be getting more expensive when applied to the already pricey iPhone X. So, now we must ask ourselves: Is that extra coverage worth the increased cost?
Apple likes to make everything into a fancy experience that gives its products a god-like aura. A retail store can’t just be a retail store—it’s now a “town square.” This applies to the Apple website where you’ll scroll through endless hi-res photos and bold feature descriptions until you find one price point, make a note, and then repeat the process to find the next one. This is infuriating, so let’s just put it all in one place:
There, saved you sixteen clicks. Aside from the fact that Apple has introduced the first notable smartphone to costs over $1,000, the biggest change is that AppleCare+ is going to cost you $199 for the iPhone X. The plan doubles the time of your one-year warranty coverage for manufacturer defects and allows you to replace a damaged phone for $99. Under AppleCare+ you get to wreck two phones for that price before you have to pay a higher out-of-warranty replacement fee. This also covers two screen replacements for $29 each.
First of all, understand that buying the iPhone X with AppleCare+ coverage is going to run you $1348. That’s more than a 21.5-inch iMac. But as far as AppleCare+ coverage goes, the more expensive phone is the better deal. Coverage for the 256GB iPhone X will cost you 17 percent of the purchase price as opposed to almost 20 percent of the price of the 64GB model. Coverage for the cheapest iPhone 8 clocks in at about 18 percent of its cost. The best value overall is the 256GB iPhone 8 Plus that you can get covered for 13 percent.
So, yeah, it can officially be said that buying AppleCare+ for the iPhone X is more expensive and proportionally more expensive. But to answer whether or not the coverage is still worth it, we have to ask if it was ever worth it.
I’m on an iPhone 7 right now and it was the first time I ever bought AppleCare+. I’ve destroyed two phones in my life, but now that I have coverage my phone is in pristine condition and has never needed to be replaced. It’s probably going to work out so that the $129 I spent didn’t really buy anything except peace of mind. For me, that’s worth it. But ask yourself how irresponsible or clumsy you tend to be with your phone, because there’s always the out-of-warranty pricing that Apple offers if you’re willing to take the gamble.
We don’t know how much out-of-warranty repairs or replacements will cost on iPhone X yet, but the cost of replacement under AppleCare+ is staying the same. That means if you need one replacement in the two years of coverage, you’ll still pay out $299. Apple’s out-of-warranty program offers repairs and sometimes replacements for $399. If you needed a replacement without coverage, you’re likely paying an extra $100, but if you don’t, you’ll save $199.
The one area that might make AppleCare+ a no-brainer is if you’re a serial screen-cracker. Screen replacements through Apple go for $169 on the iPhone 8 Plus and may cost more for the X because of its so-called Super Retina OLED panel. If you get two screens replaced, you’ll be feeling pretty good about AppleCare+.
One last thing to keep in mind: iPhones have pretty great water resistance these days. Apple even advertises the iPhone 8 with water splashing all around it. Quickly grabbing your dropped phone out of the toilet is more likely to ensure its survival these days than it would have a couple years ago.
The bottom line is the iPhone X is a pricey object to gamble with. The out-of-warranty program might cover you in the worst-case scenario, but Apple will make that decision. And if you have $1,000 for a phone, you probably have another $199 to forget about it. Apple knows that, and it’s happy to take your money.