Is AppleCare+ Worth Buying for Your iPhone? - Consumer Reports (2023)

With starting prices of $999 and $1,099, respectively, Apple’s new iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max aren’t cheap. So it should come as no surprise that they’re also costly to fix.

Have a cracked screen on your 14 Pro Max? Your friendly neighborhood Apple Store will replace it for $379, $50 more than it would cost to get that repair on an iPhone 13 Pro Max. A new battery will cost you $99, and if you need the 14 Pro Max’s rear camera fixed, that’ll cost $219. (Those prices are higher than for previous iPhones.)

Break any other part of the 14 Pro Max and it will cost you $699 to repair, though problems stemming from manufacturing issues are covered under the warranty.

But if you shell out $199 for an AppleCare+ plan, these problems are a lot cheaper to deal with. The screen replacement deductible will run you just $29. For other accidental damage, the fee is $99. And as part of the deal, you also get priority 24/7 tech support, and you can get loss and theft protection for an additional fee.

So is it worth it? Given the significant increases in repair pricing for iPhones in recent years, AppleCare+ might let you rest easier, especially if you (or others in your family) are prone to dropping phones.

But that doesn’t make AppleCare+ a wise investment for everyone.

Here’s a deeper look at how much AppleCare+ plans cost and what they cover.

What AppleCare+ Costs

You can buy AppleCare+ at any point during the first 60 days of owning a new iPhone. The basic plan, which covers you for two years from the date of purchase, covers up to two incidents of accidental damage in each 12-month period. It also includes battery service or a replacement battery if your phone retains less than 80 percent of its original capacity. For an additional $70, you’re also covered for up to two incidents of theft or loss in each 12-month period.

If you have more than two incidents of breakage, loss, or theft every 12 months, you’re back to paying the full cost of repair or replacement. Note that deductibles on repairs vary, but there’s a standard $149 deductible for loss and theft protection, regardless of the phone model being covered.

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You can buy an AppleCare+ plan for an iPhone 14 as well as models like the iPhone 12 that have been in the lineup for a few years. The prices are below.

iPhone 14 Pro, 14 Pro Max
• Standard AppleCare+: a one-time fee of $199 (for two-year coverage) or $9.99 per month.

• AppleCare+ with theft and loss protection: $269 (for two-year coverage) or $13.49 per month.

iPhone 14 Plus
• Standard AppleCare+: a one-time fee of $179 (for two-year coverage) or $8.99 per month.

• AppleCare+ with theft and loss protection: $249 (for two-year coverage) or $12.49 per month.

iPhone 14, iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 12
• Standard AppleCare+: a one-time fee of $149 (for two-year coverage) or $7.99 per month.

• AppleCare+ with theft and loss protection: $219 (for two-year coverage) or $11.49 per month.

iPhone SE (3rd Generation)
• Standard AppleCare+: $79 (for two-year coverage) or $3.99 per month.

• AppleCare+ with theft and loss protection: $149 (for two-year coverage) or $7.49 per month.

Whether those prices are worth it depends on what kind of phone you have and how much risk you’re comfortable with.

Let’s say you lose your iPhone 14 Pro and have theft and loss coverage. Your replacement costs are going to total $418 ($149 deductible plus the $269 you paid for the Apple Care+ plan). That’s a substantial amount to save when you’re talking about a $1,000 phone.

But the savings aren’t as great in some other circumstances. If you get Apple Care+ for an iPhone 12 and then crack the screen, you’ll have to pay $29 as your deductible. Add the $149 fee for Apple Care+ and your total cost will be $178. If you don’t have the protection plan and need that repair, you’ll be paying $279. That’s a difference of about $100.

In CR’s annual smartphone survey, members reported that the most common reason they had their iPhones repaired was to replace the battery. For the iPhone 14 models, that cost without AppleCare+ is $99; for iPhone 13, 12, 11, and X models, battery replacement costs $69 until the end of February and $89 from March on. A new battery for the models that preceded those costs $49 until the end of February and then $69 after that. These prices are much less than the $149 fee for AppleCare+, so if your main concern is the battery wearing out, it’s cheaper to just have the battery replaced without the plan.

AppleCare+ has some restrictions. The plans don’t 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.

Also, the repair costs we’re citing here are for work done by Apple. You might be able to get cheaper battery or screen replacements, for instance, at an independent shop. And if you’re not afraid of taking apart your expensive phone, Apple now offers a self-service repair option that gives you access to genuine Apple parts, the repair manual, and rental tools, but the process is . . . difficult. Most people are better off leaving the repairs to professionals.

Why Is It So Expensive to Fix an iPhone?

When we’re talking about hundreds of dollars to replace a screen, it’s worth asking why all these repairs are so expensive.

One reason is that iPhones dating back to the iPhone 8 are sheathed in glass on the back and front, making them vulnerable to damage in a fall.

The latest models feature Ceramic Shield, a material created in partnership with Corning that fuses ceramic into the front glass of the phones. Apple says the new material is four times as resistant to damage when dropped than the glass used on previous models. But when it does break, that glass is expensive to repair.

Why do today’s phones use so much glass? Because metal interferes with wireless charging, says Richard Fisco, head of electronics testing for Consumer Reports. “Apple’s designers could have used plastic, but that has a cheap look and doesn’t feel appropriate for a premium phone,” he says.

The super-sharp OLED displays used on all of the iPhone 14 models, along with iPhones going back to the XS, contribute to the higher repair costs as well. The technology—also used in high-end TVs for its deep blacks, accurate colors, and energy efficiency—doesn’t come cheap, Fisco says.

Apple has redesigned the glass back of the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus so that it’s separated from the aluminum frame, rather than being one unit as in the Pro phones and earlier iPhone models. This makes replacing the glass back easier, and therefore less expensive. For the iPhone 14, back glass damage will run you $169 without AppleCare+, and for the iPhone 14 Plus it’s $199. Those prices are much less than the $499 and $549 repair costs for the same kind of damage to the iPhone 14 Pro or Pro Max.

Either way, it’s smart to protect your iPhone with a sturdy case.

Bottom Line

There’s really no right or wrong answer about whether you should pay for AppleCare+ coverage. It’s all about how much risk you’re willing to assume.

But the higher the price of the device, the more it might make sense to pay for a little peace of mind.

If the thought of having to unexpectedly shell out nearly $600 to repair your phone is worrisome, the $79 to $269 AppleCare+ cost might well be worth it.

If you’re buying the phone for a teenager whose smartphone takes some abuse, the added insurance might save you some grief, too.

Unlike automotive insurance, Apple’s coverage doesn’t hinge on past behavior. A serial phone smasher pays the same 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.

And that means if you’re a klutz or just prone to bad luck, AppleCare+ coverage is probably a better deal for you than it may be for others.

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Is AppleCare+ Worth Buying for Your iPhone? - Consumer Reports (1)

Melanie Pinola

Melanie Pinola covers smartphones, home office products, and a wide range of other technology topics for Consumer Reports. A seasoned service journalist, her work has appeared in the New York Times, Popular Mechanics, Laptop Magazine, PCWorld, and other publications. A former IT administrator and the author of two books about remote work and software, she was a longtime CR reader before joining the company as a tech writer and editor. Follow Melanie on Twitter @melaniepinola.

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