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Worried About Breaking Your New iPhone? Get AppleCare, Not Carrier-Provided Insurance

During the iPhone X pre-order rollout last Friday, Apple quietly updated their repair prices to include the new phone and one thing is perfectly clear: very expensive phones come with very expensive repairs and insurance isn’t really optional anymore.

The iPhone X is Apple’s most expensive phone to date and, unsurprisingly, the repair costs reflect that. We looked at the repair costs you’ll incur across a variety of situations and scenarios—you footing the whole repair bill, using insurance through your carrier, and AppleCare+— and here’s how the numbers shake out over the course of 24 months of phone ownership.

Do note, although we used Apple’s pricey flagship phone as our point of comparison for all our number crunching, the general trends we found when comparing no insurance, carrier-provided insurance, and AppleCare+, held up across the iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone 8 models too.

You Cover the Total Repair Cost

If you don’t have insurance for your phone through AppleCare+ or your cellular provider, you absolutely, no questions asked, need to treat your iPhone X with kid gloves. More than kid gloves. You need to carry that thing like it’s a glass vial holding the last sample of small pox and if you drop it, you’ll unleash a plague.

You think we’re being hyperbolic? Alright, maybe a little, but just look at these out-of-pocket repair costs if you bust up your iPhone X:

If you crack its fancy OLED screen and need to shell out the full replacement cost, you’ll be out $279.

Out-of-pocket iPhone X repairs are going to hurt. A lot. Play it safe and just leave your phone in the box.

Need serious repairs because you used your iPhone X as a hammer or checked Instagram while using power tools? Well, prepare your checkbook: in the event that your phone needs serious repair or outright replacement it’ll cost you $549.

In other words, if you crack your screen you’re going to be paying quite a bit and if you do any real damage you’ll be paying more than 50% of the original purchase price to make your phone whole again.

You Have Carrier-Provided Insurance

“But wait!” you say, “I pay that stupid phone insurance fee to my cellphone company every month! I’m good!”—not so fast. Having insurance through your cellular carrier might not be the best option after all.

We dug through the fine print on the insurance contracts for the major carriers and it’s still expensive to get your iPhone X repaired.

Unless you’re seriously worried someone is going to steal your iPhone, the cell company insurance plans just don’t make financial sense.

Here’s the four major providers and their iPhone-tier plans, organized for quick reading (but with links for those of you with a fine print fetish).

AT&T

AT&T has already updated their documentation to reflect the release of the iPhone X.

  • The applicable insurance plan is $9 per month
  • The plan covers damage, loss, and theft.
  • A screen replacement costs $90.
  • A total replacement is $299.

With those numbers in mind, if have a single screen incident in 24 months of iPhone X ownership, you’ll be out $306 (24 payments + $90) and a serious repair or replacement will set you back $515 (24 payments + $299).

Verizon

Verizon has not, as of the publication date of this article, updated their documentation to reflect the release of the iPhone X or even the iPhone 8. Assuming they will keep the same top-tier iPhone pricing going forward:

  • The applicable insurance plan is $11 a month.
  • The plan covers any damage, loss, and theft.
  • A screen replacement costs $49.
  • A total replacement is $199.

If Verizon keeps their current top iPhone pricing schedule for the iPhone X, one screen repair over the course of the 24 months will set you back  $313. Bust up or lose your phone and you’ll be out $463.

Sprint

Sprint has not updated their documentation to reflect the release of the iPhone X or iPhone 8,but they offer a hybrid insurance that combines theft and loss insurance with AppleCare+. As such, while it’s possible their cost per month and total-loss deductible may go up to reflect the cost of the iPhone X, the cost of repairs are fixed thanks to Apple’s service price schedule.

  • The applicable plan is $13 a month.
  • The plan covers damage, loss, and theft.
  • A screen replacement through Apple is $29.
  • A complete repair or replacement through Apple is $99.
  • A replacement because of theft or loss is $250.

The hybrid insurance that gives you lower AppleCare+ repair costs makes Sprint’s insurance a bit cheaper. Even if you seriously mess up your phone as long as you have the phone to turn into Apple, it’s $99 to replace it. If you don’t have your phone, it’s $250 for a replacement through Sprint. With this in mind, and factoring in your insurance payments, a single screen repair will set you back $341, a repair or replacement through AppleCare will set you back $411, and a Sprint-provided replacement (in the event of theft or loss) will set you back $562 during the 24 month ownership window.

T-Mobile

T-Mobile also offers hybrid insurance and, aside from a few dollars here and there doesn’t vary much from the Sprint plan. The T-Mobile documentation has been updated to reflect the release of the iPhone X.

  • The applicable plan is $12 a month.
  • The plan covers damage, loss, and theft.
  • A screen replacement through Apple is $29.
  • A complete repair or replacement through Apple is $99.
  • A replacement because of theft or loss is $275.

Two years of insurance will set you back $288 with T-Mobile. If you crack your screen once during that time, your total cost for the repair is $317. If you trash the phone and need a total repair, it’s $387. If you lose the phone and need a non-AppleCare+ replacement, it’s $563.

Once you get beyond the big carriers, you’ll find that the plans are virtually identical (or worse) than those offered above.

No matter how you cut it, even when you’re with a cellular carrier that offers hybrid insurance with AppleCare+, the numbers just don’t add up in your favor (unless you’re very confident you’ll lose your phone and need a total replacement at some point).

You Have AppleCare+

Compared to the complex mess of digging through the insurance plans for the four major cellular providers, the run down for AppleCare+ is simple.

AppleCare+ for the iPhone X costs $199 and covers your iPhone for 24 months (you can either pay this fee up front or roll it into a financed purchase). Included in the cost are two incidents of accidental damage. The fee for each instance is $29 to repair just the screen or $99 to repair or replace the phone for damage that extends beyond just a cracked screen.

The cost of AppleCare+ with a single serious repair over the course of the 24 months works out to $298—and even if you avoid doing serious damage to your phone but still crack the screen twice, you’ll only be out $257.

The cost of AppleCare+ with one screen repair fee is less than paying the full iPhone X screen repair cost out of pocket.

But perhaps the best way to look at purchasing AppleCare+ is that the cost of doing so and repairing your screen once using the AppleCare+ service ($228) is $51 cheaper than paying the full iPhone X screen repair price out of pocket ($279). Even with two total replacements of your iPhone X during the 24 month period ($397) you’ll still pay less than replacing your phone once with any of the carrier-provided insurance plans.

“But what about loss or theft!”, you might say. That is, in fact, one thing the carrier plans do have going for them (especially the hybrid plans that combine theft coverage and AppleCare+), but you have to ask yourself a pretty straight forward question to justify the added expense. Are you ~$300 confident somebody will steal your phone in the next two years? That’s the premium you’re paying through most providers (over the cost of AppleCare+) to cover theft. Considering most home and renter’s insurance plans will allow you to add a small rider to cover expensive electronics for a relatively trivia sum ($20-50 a year) you can get the same loss/theft protection for less.

Need a little more convincing? Here’s how AppleCare+ compares to not having any coverage, as well as paying for carrier-provided insurance:

Even if you’re sure you’ll never need a total replacement, if you have even the slightest worry that you, your less-than-graceful partner, or your most certainly-less-than-graceful children might do in your iPhone X screen at any point, getting AppleCare+ is an absolute no brainer akin to giving yourself an 18% discount on a future screen repair.

You can always get a good case, play it safe, and try to avoid banging up your phone but, frankly, with the high costs of iPhone X repair visits, it’s very easy to justify the extra $199 for AppleCare+.

 


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