Naturally, you hope your new iPhone will stay in mint condition until you’re ready to upgrade or resell. But the fact is, if you cringe at the possibility of a $200 repair bill for a broken screen, it’s time to think about getting an extended warranty.
You’ve got several options: AppleCare+ is available for purchase with new hardware, and mobile carriers and third-party warranty providers sell plans with different perks. You should also check out your personal insurance provider if you’ve got one. Some homeowner’s and renter’s policies offer protection plans for personal belongings, and you might already be covered. The deductibles tend to be steep, but it’s still worth giving your insurer a call to know your options.
Deciding on a warranty can be tricky, so we’ve done the hard work for you.
Avoid your carrier’s warranty
It’s wise to avoid any extended warranty offered by your mobile carrier. Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint all offer device warranties for monthly fees, and they’re all generally more expensive than our recommended providers (and also have higher deductibles).
For instance, two years of paying AT&T’s extended warranty ends up costing $240, and the deductible for each service call is $199. That’s ridiculous. Don’t give carriers any more money than what they’re already taking from you.
The only good thing some carriers offer is coverage for lost or stolen phones, which is a perk most alternatives don’t cover. Even then, the cost usually outweighs the benefits.
Best warranty for most people: AppleCare+
Believe it or not, AppleCare+ is actually the best all-around warranty plan out there. It might seem steep at $99, but when you do the math, it can save you some serious cash in the long run.
Each iPhone purchase comes with a one-year limited AppleCare warranty that covers basic hardware and software defects (basically, anything that’s Apple’s fault is covered). But if your iPhone gets wet or the screen cracks, the free AppleCare won’t help you.
AppleCare+ should be considered if you’re worried about accidental damage, like a cracked screen. Your warranty extends to two years from the device’s purchase date, and covers two incidents of accidental damage. The catch is that each incident costs a $79 service fee plus tax.
If you don’t have the insurance, here’s what it will set you back if you crack your screen and Apple doesn’t have to repair any other part of the device:
- iPhone 6: $109
- iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5: $129
Screen repairs don’t seem too expensive at first glance, but Apple will only charge those amounts “if your iPhone has no damage other than the screen.” With the iPhone’s screen so close to the device’s bezel and the rest of the hardware, it’s likely you’ll have to pay the full out-of-warranty repair cost for a good crack.
AppleCare+ should be strongly considered for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus
Here is the cost breakdown of getting a full out-of-warranty repair from Apple:
- iPhone 6 Plus: $329
- iPhone 6: $299
- iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5: $269
- iPhone 4s: $199
- iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 3G, Original iPhone: $149
Since out-of-warranty repairs cost more for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, AppleCare+ should be strongly considered for those devices. A full iPhone 6 Plus repair costs $329, but with AppleCare+ and the $79 incident cost, you end up paying $178 for your first repair. That’s a $151 difference. If it happens twice during the life of your warranty, the second $79 incident fee brings your total to just $257 — that’s $72 less than one out-of-warranty repair.
AppleCare+ starts making less sense for the 5s and below, with less than a $100 difference in repair costs. There is really no reason to buy AppleCare+ for the 4s, since the difference is about $20.
You can cancel an AppleCare+ plan after 30 days and get a pro-rated refund minus any service fees. A cancellation fee of $25 or 10% of the refund (whichever is less) is also included.
Cost: $99 with two damage incident fees of $79
- Includes excellent software support from Apple.
- Much more affordable than Apple’s out-of-warranty repairs for newer iPhones.
- Express Replacement Service will mail you a new iPhone before you send your broken one to Apple.
- One free replacement battery (normally $79)
- Available to buy within 60 days of iPhone purchase.
- Can cancel after 30 days and receive a pro-rated refund based on percentage of unexpired plan.
- Warranty ownership can be transferred at any time (but only once) if iPhone is sold or given to someone else.
- Have to take broken iPhone into Apple retail store or send by mail.
- You don’t get to keep broken iPhone.
- No coverage for lost or stolen incidents.
- $99 goes down the drain if you never use the warranty.
Best third-party warranty: SquareTrade
The most established third-party gadget warranty provider is SquareTrade. Based in San Francisco with an office in London, SquareTrade started in 1999 as a service for resolving e-commerce disputes and morphed into an extended warranty provider in 2006.
Although there are smaller warranty providers out there, SquareTrade has the best options and customer service.
While SquareTrade’s plans aren’t backed by Apple, that shouldn’t keep you from considering them. SquareTrade’s strength is that it’s competitive with Apple’s warranty pricing and offers more flexibility. Instead of only two damage claims, SquareTrade covers up to four claims and offers two-year and three-year plans.
Two years of accidental damage coverage through SquareTrade costs $99, the same as AppleCare+. The three-year plan costs $129.
A $75 deductible is applied to all claims, which is $4 less than Apple. For those who would rather pay a small monthly amount for coverage, SquareTrade offers a $5 per month plan (which totals $120 after two years).
SquareTrade is awesome if you upgrade your iPhone at least once a year
SquareTrade is awesome if you upgrade your iPhone at least once a year. Why? Because you can cancel your plan at any time. So a year of coverage at $5 per month only costs $60. That’s unbeatable.
Cost: $5 per month for 24 months, $99 up front for 24 months, $129 for three years (up to four $75 damage deductibles across the board).
- Buy directly from SquareTrade or through other retailers.
- Easily manage all of your warranties online.
- 24/7 customer support.
- Transfer or cancel warranty at any time.
- Available to buy within 30 days of your iPhone purchase.
- Cheapest option for frequent upgraders
- Choose between cash refund or new device.
- New phone mailed with free one-day shipping after claim is filed.
- Will help you cancel carrier warranty.
- Reimbursed Genius Bar fixes with deductible of $50 to $75.
- Available in Europe through Tesco, Tech Data Europe and other partners.
- Will cover bending if Apple won’t (seriously).
- Not through Apple.
- No coverage for lost or stolen incidents.
- No software support.
- No free battery replacement.
Update: Article updated with a few minor corrections on AppleCare+ based on feedback from readers and Apple employees.