Is AppleCare worth it?

What is AppleCare?

AppleCare is the name for Apple's extended warranty service for its products. Within the first year of buying an new Apple product you can also opt to buy an AppleCare package. This extends your warranty with Apple to two years for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, and three years for Mac products.

So mainly you get a three-year warranty instead of just the one year (although the one-year thing is debatable depending on your rights and the situation).

According to Apple: "The AppleCare Protection Plan provides up to three years of additional hardware service options, both parts and labor, from Apple-authorised technicians around the world — perfect whether you work at a desk or travel with your Mac.

So you get parts and labor fixing for your Apple products no matter where you are in the world (as long as Apple can point you to a nearby technician).

See: Apple to fix iPhones in store, revamp AppleCare

AppleCare phone support

Along with the extended warranty AppleCare also provides you with telephone technical support. According to Apple "For up to three years from your computer’s original purchase date, the AppleCare Protection Plan gives you direct, one-stop access to Apple’s award-winning telephone technical support for questions about Apple hardware, OS X, iLife, and iWork."

It's worth noting that you get telephone support for software and Apple programs as well as hardware. The ability to get three years of telephone help to go with your Mac may make a lot of difference.

According to Apple: "Because Apple makes the hardware, the operating system and many applications, Apple products are truly integrated systems. And only the AppleCare Protection Plan gives you one-stop service and support from Apple experts, so most issues can be resolved in a single call."

How much does AppleCare cost?

The cost of AppleCare varies between devices. But typically it costs more for Apple Mac computers than iOS devices. And the more expensive the device the more it costs.

Here are some typical AppleCare costs

  • iPad - £69
  • iPhone - £61
  • MacBook Air/13-inch MacBook Pro - £199
  • MacBook Pro - £279
  • iMac - £139

Click here for details on the price of each AppleCare product.

Do you need AppleCare?

Do I need AppleCare is a question many Macworld readers ask us. There are two parts to AppleCare. The first is the extended hardware warranty, the second is the telephone support line.

Whether you could use AppleCare telephone support is a personal matter. It largely depends on how comfortable you are looking for solutions online and fixing your own problems. This, of course, depends on your level of experience and some people will find the telephone service reassuring. It's certainly of a high quality.

The extended warranty is, of course, another matter. It's worth noting that the single year warranty is itself a misnomer under UK law. Apple states "AppleCare Protection Plan benefits are in addition to a consumer’s right to a free of charge repair or replacement, by the seller, of goods which do not conform with the contract of sale. Under English law, consumers have up to six years from the date of delivery to exercise their rights however, various factors may impact your eligibility to receive these remedies."

See: Affecting your Statutory Rights? Is Apple mis-selling AppleCare to UK

Technically you may be able to ask Apple for a free repair up to six years after buying a product, although after a year Apple doesn't have to automatically authorise the repair. Those "factors" that "may impact your eligibility" may include the way that you've used your computer.

How likely will you need AppleCare?

How often you use AppleCare phone support depends on how good you are at using Mac OS X. The three year warranty is a different matter, however, and your Mac is reasonably likely to develop a fault in three years. According to a report by SquareTrade" "Over a two-year period, slightly more than 10% of Apple laptops failed in some fashion. The projected failure rate of Apple's notebooks within three years was 17.4%."

So there's 17.4% chance you'll make use of the cash you spend on AppleCare. That makes purchasing it fairly good odds.

Alternatives to AppleCare

One thing worth noting is that UK retailer John Lewis offers a two-year warranty for all Apple products for no additional charge. So if you are picking up a new Mac but don't want to pay the additional charge for AppleCare will find this a good place to get a new Mac computer.