Should You Buy AppleCare+ for Your iPhone 5?
CREDIT: Sean Captain
Even soon-to-be iPhone 5 owners know that their device will need some extra care. Drop it, and chances are pretty good you'll see a cracked screen. But should you spring for Apple's extended warranty?
"We see 30-50 devices per day and most of the service requests, 60%+, have to do with broken glass," Kevin Hart, CEO of Tekserve, Apple reseller and certified service shop in New York City, wrote in an email to TechNewsDaily.
You may have heard all kinds of things about Apple and its replacement policy. Some people say that AppleCare covers nothing. Others claim that you can just walk into an Apple Store with your damaged iPhone and get a new phone for free,
In an effort to clear up the repair and replacement confusion, Apple last year launched AppleCare+ for iPad and iPhone to cover what it calls handling accidents. The original AppleCare Protection Plan is now reserved for Macs, Apple TV and iPods. For $99, AppleCare+ covers, over a two-year period, accidents such as dropping your phone in the toilet.
"I think falling in the toilet is the biggest danger for the life of an iPhone," said Ken Sander, owner of repair shop Cable Doctor, also in New York City. (Despite the name, iPhone repairs are now a mainstay of his business.)
Sander also warned about the new iPhone's slimmer design — just 7.6 millimeters thick. "If it's thinner, it's going to break easier. It has to," he said.
Apple will repair or replace your damaged phone twice for a service fee of $49 per incident. If you lose your phone or your phone is stolen, you're out of luck, however; and if you're also not eligible for an upgrade, you'll have to pay the full cost of a replacement — starting at $649 for the 16GB iPhone 5.
So what are the chances you'll break your phone? We turned to Gazelle, a company that buys back iPhones, to get an idea of how many iPhones are sold to them that are considered broken. With the announcement of the iPhone 5, Gazelle has been buying about 30 iPhones per minute — some working, some broken — from folks looking for some cash to offset their new phone purchase.
Gazelle defines "broken" as any phone that does not power on, has a broken or cracked screen or glass back, is missing buttons, has a cracked casing or is separated beyond the width of a nickel. The difference in value between broken phones and those in good condition is huge. For instance, a broken 16G iPhone 4 for AT&T fetches $45, but one in good condition brings $163. (And don't worry about overprotecting your phone — the same phone in "flawless" condition qualifies for only another $5.)
Between 10 and 15 percent of iPhone trade-ins are broken. But that figure may underestimate the number of broken phones out there, since not everyone thinks to trade them in.
When you consider that a replacement will cost no less than $199, the $100 AppleCare+ fee plus a $49 fix-it fee is not a bad proposition.