One of the best things about Instapaper now being owned by Betaworks is that the developers spend their time adding new features and services instead of complaining about things on their personal blogs.
And today that ethic has paid off, bringing us Instapaper Daily, a new site which shows the most popular story in Instapaper today. And of course, because Instapaper is all about reading later, you can browse back to any day in the past and see the headline story form that day, too.
It’s the season for new iPhones and iPads. If you’re buying a new device you may be wondering how to best protect it from the risk of defect or damage. Aside from using a case, you may also be thinking about purchasing a supplemental protection plan.
There’s a reason why many consumer rights advocates agree that protection plans are a bad deal for consumers. The plans are expensive and only a small fraction of people that buy them actually end up using them. With that said, some people find value in the peace of mind and ease of repair that protection plans offer.
If you do decide extra protection is right for you then weigh your options carefully. Protection plans aren’t cheap and their terms and conditions vary widely from one plan to another. Buying an overly-expensive plan or assuming that a plan offers coverage where it doesn’t can be a frustrating and costly mistake.
So, how do your options stack up? Let’s look at a few of them with a focus towards plans most suitable for the new iPhone 5S. Hopefully this article will give you some ideas about the types of things you can look out for when you’re shopping for protection plans. You’ll find a table summarizing the protection plans at the end of this article.
Apple’s One-Year Limited Warranty
While not technically a protection plan, Apple’s One-Year Limited Warranty is your first line of defense. It comes included with every new or refurbished Mac including the iPhone and iPad regardless of where you purchase it. For example, if you buy a new iPhone 5S from your local T-Mobile store it’s still covered by Apple’s One-Year Limited Warranty. The warranty covers your device from manufacturing and design defects, but it does not protect it from theft, loss, or accidental damage. As the name suggests, it gives you coverage for one year. If you find a defect within that first year, Apple will repair or replace your device, free of charge. There is no signup fee; there is no deductible.
If defects are your main concern, then remember that Apple’s One-Year Limited Warranty provides very good protection at no extra cost to you. If, however, you are genuinely concerned about loss, theft, accidental, damage or extended warranty coverage beyond the first year then maybe a protection plan is right for you.
Apple’s One-Year Limited Warranty at a glance.
Despite recent price changes, AppleCare+ is still the Cadillac of protection plans in terms of convenience and service. AppleCare+ offers extended warranty coverage and protection from accidental damage from handling (known as “ADH”). AppleCare+ is only available for the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and iPod Classic and for those devices AppleCare+ is your only AppleCare option (i.e. you cannot purchase standard AppleCare for those devices).
The plan’s convenience and service quality are its standout features. First, Apple is your one-stop-shop for everything you need. You can buy AppleCare+ along with your device, or any time within 30 days after purchase. When doing the latter, Apple does require you to have your device inspected either in-person at an Apple Store or through remote diagnostic by calling (800) 275-2273. Servicing your device under AppleCare+ is also extremely convenient. You can choose from the many service options Apple offers: carry-in to an Apple Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider (“AASP”), mail-in service, do-it-yourself service (“DIY”), etc. Carry-in service often results same-day service, which is as good as it gets.
AppleCare+ does have its drawbacks. It has always been one of the more expensive protection plans and upcoming changes to AppleCare policies and procedures may, someday, render it a less attractive option. The recent increase to the ADH service fee has made it even more expensive. AppleCare+ for the iPhone will now cost you $99 up front and $79 per ADH incident (limited to two ADH incidents). AppleCare+ for the iPad will now cost you $99 up front and $49 per ADH incident (limited to two ADH incidents).
While this may sound like a great idea, remember that Apple’s current procedure for carry-in service for many devices is to simply give you a new device. The current process usually takes a matter of minutes, which is one of the plan’s best features. If these proposed changes become a reality, then you may be forced to wait while a technician performs the repair work. Time will tell whether this negatively impacts the quality of service, but it will most certainly increase the amount of time you need to wait for a repair.
AppleCare+ at a glance.
Third-Party Protection Plans
If you’re looking for coverage or pricing options that are different from AppleCare+, then third-party protection plans may be a good alternative. Third-party protection plans give you diverse options in terms of cost, coverage, and service.
However, the diversity in these plans is a double-edged sword because they vary widely depending on who is offering the plan, what you’re protecting, and specific protection options (e.g. two-year vs. three-year terms, deductible-free plans, etc.). To make things more difficult, important information is often buried deep in contract legalese.
The devil is in the details: read the fine print and evaluate your choices carefully in terms of pricing, coverage, and service. For simplicity’s sake, let’s compare SquareTrade’s iPhone 5S protection plans to AppleCare+ for the iPhone 5S (prices and plan options as of September 2013).
Pricing differs both in terms of the signup fee and ADH service fee. SquareTrade’s iPhone protection plans cost between $124 for up to two years of coverage and $154 for up to three years of coverage. AppleCare+ costs $99 for two years of coverage. SquareTrade does offer special promotional pricing from time to time. AppleCare prices generally do not change. For repairs, SquareTrade’s plan costs $50 per ADH incident for the iPhone 5S whereas AppleCare+ costs $79 per ADH incident.
Term of coverage is also different. AppleCare+ provides two years of extended warranty support plus two incidents of ADH. There are no other limits on support or service. SquareTrade gives you up to two or three years of extended warranty support (depending on the plan you buy) plus up to four incidents of ADH, but limits the life of the protection plan to the value of the protected device. Note the emphasis placed on “up to” when describing SquareTrade’s plan. Once SquareTrade performs repair or replacement services that, in aggregate, add up to the value of your insured device the plan is terminated and your device is no longer covered.
These differences in coverage term can impact you in unexpected ways. For example, consider how the different coverage terms play out in situations involving warranty-type defect repair (i.e. defects typically covered by warranty). If your iPhone is still under its One-Year Limited Warranty Apple will service it under that, no questions asked.
If your iPhone is no longer covered by its one-year warranty Apple will service your iPhone under AppleCare+ (assuming you purchased AppleCare+). Under AppleCare+ Apple will repair or replace your defective device with no limitations just as it did under the warranty period. Warranty-type service does not carry a deductible, it do not count as an ADH incident, and there are no limitations on number of defect repairs.
Under SquareTrade’s protection plan, SquareTrade will refer you to Apple if your iPhone is still covered by its one-year warranty. If your iPhone is not covered by its warranty, then SquareTrade will have you mail it to them so they can do the repairs. There is no deductible for warranty-type service under SquareTrade’s plans either, butthe cost of repairs will be deducted from the life of your protection plan.
For example, let’s say SquareTrade values your iPhone at $549 and during the second year of ownership a manufacturing defect in the iPhone’s screen renders it inoperable. SquareTrade will service your iPhone, but it will deduct the value of the repair from your protection plan contract. If SquareTrade values the repair at $230 then you will have $319 left of coverage ($549 – $230 = $319) under the protection plan. Should misfortune strike again, you had better hope the cost of repair doesn’t exceed $319. Under AppleCare+ the warranty service will not impact your remaining ADH coverage in any way.
Finally, the service is very different. You can expect both the process and quality of repair services to vary dramatically between third-party protection plans. No matter how you look at it, there is more red tape involved under third-party protection plans than there is under AppleCare+.
SquareTrade’s protection plan at a glance (focused on iPhone 5S).
Carrier Insurance Plans
Mobile carrier insurance plans are just third-party protection plans offered directly by your mobile carrier (usually through an affiliated insurance company). Many of the same caveats with mobile carrier insurance plans also apply to other third-party protection plans – read the fine print.
Two of the biggest advantages of mobile carrier insurance plans are their low up-front cost and extensive coverage. First, mobile insurance plans typically do not charge a hefty signup fee. For example, AT&T’s Mobile Insurance Plan for the iPhone 5S costs $6.99 per month for the duration of AT&T’s standard two-year mobile services contract. If spending $99 or more up front on a protection plan isn’t in your budget right now, then perhaps a low monthly fee would work better for you.
Second, mobile insurance plans typically offer far more coverage in terms of types of loss and amount of coverage than you might get with AppleCare+ or third-party protection plans. AT&T’s Mobile Insurance Plan protects your device from “loss,” which it defines as accidental loss, theft, ADH, or warranty-type failure outside of coverage period of the original manufacturers warranty. AppleCare+ and SquareTrade do not cover lost or stolen devices. AT&T’s Mobile Insurance Plan guarantees protection from two loss incidents per twelve-month period, for a total of four loss incidents over the life of your contract. The coverage value for each incident is capped at $1500, which is more than enough to cover an iPhone 5s (although each loss incident also carries a hefty deductible). AppleCare+ and SquareTrade have more stringent limits due to ADH allotments or limitations on value of service (discussed earlier).
The biggest disadvantages of mobile carrier insurance plans are that they’re extremely expensive in the long term and they suffer from many of the same process and service quality headaches common to third-party protection plans.
Process and quality of service considerations are similar to other third-party protection plans. AT&T’s Mobile Insurance has a claims filing process, which imposes certain duties that you need to understand. For example, if your loss incident involves any violation of law or loss of possession (e.g. your iPhone 5S was stolen) you are required to promptly notify local law enforcement and obtain proof of that notification. If you have ever had to report stolen property to the authorities, you know that it is not often a very convenient or streamlined process…
AT&T’s Mobile Insurance Plan at a glance (iPhone 5S).
Credit Card Purchase Protection
Credit card purchase protection programs offer a superb way to mitigate risk without paying out-of-pocket for a protection plan. A number of different companies offer cards (credit and debit) that include automatic purchase protection.
Credit card protection programs typically offer extensive coverage from ADH, loss, or theft for up to 90 days after purchase and extend the terms of any manufacturer’s warranty by a year or more beyond expiration. For example, AMEX’s purchase protection program will extend Apple’s One-Year Limited Warranty by one year after it expires. Moreover, AMEX’s purchase protection program also extends manufacturer service plans by up to one year (i.e. AppleCare+ because Apple is the manufacturer).
The biggest drawbacks to credit card protection programs are their limited coverage, varying terms and conditions, and lack of convenience compared to more comprehensive protection plans such as AppleCare+ or SquareTrade. Coverage from loss, theft, or ADH lasts only for a short time; after 90 days you’re on your own.
There are really only two obvious solutions for backpackers to keep electronics charged out in the boonies.
There’s the more conventional route of using a solar-powered battery, like the Joos Orange, or Solio’s line of chargers. Or there’s the less common alternative of using one of an increasing number of stoves that can charge gadgets while heating dinner or water for coffee.
The upcoming newest member of the latter group, the PowerPot X (that “X” is a 10, btw), can even charge an iPad.
Boxer is another of the new breed of apps that let you swipe your way through e-mail and get to the Zen state known only as “inbox zero.” Mailbox was arguably the first of these apps – which also let you turn your e-mails into to-dos – but it’s Gmail only and the iPad version sucks. Boxer, née Taskbox (which supports pretty much every e-mail service including vanilla IMAP), has just gotten bumped to v4.0, adding in iPad support and a slew of other welcome extras. It’s also $1 instead of $5 for a while, in way of celebration.
Buzz around the original iPad mini in Barcelona’s Passeig de Gracia Apple Store last year. Photo Charlie Sorrel.
I ordered a Retina iPad mini (128GB, LTE, silver if you’re asking) barely 30 minutes after I noticed Killian had posted about it. And yes, I have to wait 5–10 days, but so does everyone else. Even those hippies on the West Coast who sleep in ’til noon every day before making their mango smoothies.
Which is to say that I agree with Ed Dale’s smart take on Apple’s weirdly quiet launch of the Retina mini: that it was designed to keep folks happy.
Back in 2010, when the idea of the iPhone as a great gaming device was generally scoffed at, the game developer dudes at One Man Left offered up an instant classic called Tilt To Live. It didn’t try to minimize the iPhone’s weaknesses; instead, this brilliant little gem seemed like it was built specifically for the iPhone, and perfectly harnessed its strengths. The result was a beautifully addictive game that had the player frantically twisting and tilting the iPhone in order to both survive and destroy a horde of menacing…dots. Yes, dots.
Now, over three years and one strategy game later, One man Left is finally revealing details, in the form of a short video, about their the ridiculously titled Tilt To Live sequel — Tilt To Live 2: Redonkulous.
Put your hands down on your keyboard. Now pick them up and rotate them as if you’re about to hold an iPad in landscape mode. Now imagine that you’re gripping a keyboard, and that the keys of that keyboard are around the back of the slab in your hand, running vertically under your fingers.
It has the technological sophistication of a sonic screwdriver. Its design elements look as if pulled straight out of another dimension. And there may not be another set of headphones on this planet — or any other — baked with as many ingredients as the Parrot Zik.
But we were curious — would all this tech work? And how would the Ziks sound? So we poked them with a stick, and here’s what we discovered. Allons-y!
Zik by Parrot Category: Bluetooth Headphones, Circumaural Works With: Phones, MP3 players Price: $399
You can’t get Altec Lansing’s new The Jacket iMW455 Bluetooth speaker/speakerphone from anyone other than Verizon, which explains the red and black skins the Jacket comes with.
Don’t like red or black? No problem — because, like a moulting lobster, The Jacket’s special trick is its ability to swap skins. The speaker comes with the two free skins, with more colors available for a price — though we’re not yet sure which colors or how much.
As apparent through the company’s tagline “musicians first,” IK Multimedia generally makes stuff for musicians; but their new iKlip iPad stand should also fit a ton of scenarios that have absolutely nothing to do with music.
The stand combines a wide-stance, stable, metal-reinforced base with a tall neck that ends in a frame that an iPad slides into. There are two adjustable points, both of which lock: an elbow in the middle of the neck, and a ball pivot where the neck meets the iPad frame.