Oh Great, Apple's Raised the Repair Costs for the iPhone 12

Illustration for article titled Oh Great, Apples Raised the Repair Costs for the iPhone 12
Image: Apple

Every time I’ve bought an Apple product, I’ve always hesitated at shelling out extra for Apple Care. Even though I’m a documented klutz, I always use screen protectors and cases. I haven’t lost my phone. Generally, I’ve gotten lucky. Maybe you aren’t. Maybe you’re accident-prone and paid top dollar for a new iPhone 12 or 12 Pro—or plan to. In which case you might want to think twice before passing on Apple Care.

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This time around, there’s been some changes to the repair costs. The “good” news is that for the 12 Pro, if you crack your screen, the cost remains unchanged out-of-warranty at $280. If you’ve got Apple Care+, repairing a cracked screen is still $30.

The bad news is that if you’ve got the base iPhone 12, out-of-warranty screen repairs have jumped from $200 to $280. As 9to5 Mac points out, that’s likely because the iPhone 12 now sports the same OLED screen as the Pro lineup. As for “other damage”(e.g., water damage, etc.) the cost for the iPhone 12 has gone up $50 to $450. On the 12 Pro, “other damage” is still a whopping $550, same as the 11 Pro. That said, under Apple Care+, other damage for both the 12 and 12 Pro remains at $100.

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We don’t know the prices yet for the iPhone Mini and the iPhone 12 Pro Max—but if the 12 Pro Max follows the trends of the iPhone 11 Pro Max and iPhone XS Max, it’s probably safe to assume out-of-warranty repairs may cost as much as $600. That’s if Apple doesn’t up costs there too due to the new components, like the LiDAR sensor or that new telephoto lens. We won’t know for sure with the Mini until Apple officially releases those details either.

Technically, Apple claims the new iPhone 12 lineup will have the “toughest glass in a smartphone” because of Ceramic Shield, which adds nano-ceramic crystals to the glass. That means it purportedly four times more drop resistant, as well as more scratch-resistant than previous phones. Supposedly. We’ll have to see how the Ceramic Shield holds up against intrepid drop tests before signing off on these claims. (Apple says every new iPhone is more durable than the last.)

Apple repairs out-of-warranty have always been ludicrously expensive. That said, given the price increase, if you’re prone to dropping or breaking iPhones, you may want to re-think skipping Apple Care. For the iPhone 12 lineup, Apple Care+ is $200 for two incidents of accidental damage every 12 months. So say you trip and end up cracking that screen–you’ll end up paying $230 as opposed to $280. If you say, damage your phone because pesky sand got into your lightning port, it’ll end up being $300 for the iPhone 12 Pro, as opposed to $550. As for that whole 1-year warranty that comes with new iPhones, that doesn’t apply to incidental or physical damage. It only applies to manufacturing defects, as in you buy a new iPhone and for whatever reason, the screen randomly starts shorting out even though you’ve done nothing to it. Alternatively, you could opt to insure your phone through your carrier if it’s cheaper, provides better deductibles, or better theft/loss coverage—just be sure to do your homework and check what the process is for filing claims, wait times, and the fine print.

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If you’re one of those people who has never, ever broken their phone (and boldly claims they never will) you could do the whole thing where you don’t opt for coverage at all. I get it—insurance seems like a total scam until you actually need it. I skipped phone insurance for years, flouting fate until I inevitably did end up cracking my iPhone’s screen from the world’s stupidest, gentlest drop. I will probably end up shelling out for insurance for my next phone, even though I’m not too thrilled at the prospect. In the end, all you can do is do the math and see if it’s worth the expense. For the chronic phone breakers among us, however, don’t be stupid.

Of course, it would be awfully nice if Apple were to, oh I don’t know, support the right to repair so you could fix your own phone when it breaks instead of paying big fees. Then again, I wouldn’t hold my breath for that kind of miracle.

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Consumer tech reporter by day, danger noodle by night. No, I'm not the K-Pop star.

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DISCUSSION

icypalmtree
icypalmtree

Most renters/home owners insurance policies now offer a personal device rider that covers accidental damage, theft, and loss. The great news is two fold.

1) these incidents are covered wherever they happen (not just in the insured property)

2) the cost is low. Actuarially low. As in I pay $16/year for $5000 of coverage with a $50 deductible for me and my wife (two laptops, two Smartphones, but it’s based on dollar amount not device count)

But Icy, you say, does it actually work or is it a scam? It actually works. I flubbed my phone into the curb last year and cracked the back (Yay glass backed phones). What was the cost and process? Get an estimate for the total and actual cost of repair from the actual shop I want to do the repair (in this case, $80 for my model). Call my insurance adjuster (lib mutual). They authorize the cost minus my deductible ($30). I get a deposit in my account of that amount. I pay for repair, I get the repair done. Couple of credit card reward points too! 

I do NOT get a premium hike (technically this is possible on all insurance when you have a claim). Unlike Apple care where you are paying 1/5 to 1/4 the cost of the phone each year no matter what, I am paying $16 for $5000. Were there to be a premium hike, I have a long way to go before reaching 20-25%/year. And I get coverage for all my devices. And that coverage has a blanket $50 deductible.

Moral: did I need to go through insurance for a back glass repair? No. But I did it because I wanted to test how this coverage works. And friends, I can tell you that it does. And other than having to telephonically interact with another human to file the claim (ewwww) it’s painless for both me and my wallet.

Consider getting insurance from, you know, an actual insurance company. Same way you shouldn’t get that appliance warranty from best buy when they upsell you....