Should You Get AppleCare+ With Your iPad?

The extended warranty can protect your device, but at a cost

AppleCare+ is an extended warranty for the iPad and iPhone. Apple gives you a bit of time to decide whether you need it. You can buy it at the same time you buy your device or within 60 days afterward, or choose the monthly subscription service that spreads the price over two years.

If you decide not to get AppleCare+, and your iPad ends up needing service, you may have another opportunity to buy a plan. The coverage won't apply to that repair or replacement, but you'll have it later if something else happens.

Every iPad comes standard with a one-year warranty and 90 days of technical support. AppleCare+ extends this warranty by a year—so it's covered a total of two years from the date you purchase your iPad—and covers hardware and technical support.

It also covers up to two incidents of accidental damage. Each claim is subject to a $49 service fee plus tax. Still, this is less than the full price of a typical repair. AppleCare+ also gives you round-the-clock support by chat and phone, but is it worth the extra cost?

The Genius Bar at an Apple Store
John Moore / Getty Images

Extended Warranties Are a Gamble

There's a simple reason companies offer extended warranties: They make money. AppleCare+ isn't a profit-free service that Apple offers because it likes us. It's an additional revenue stream for the company.

For consumers, warranties are gambles on whether they will be needed. When things go wrong (and they do), extended warranties are certainly worth it. However, when the reliability of solid brands such as Apple holds (as it often does), these plans look less valuable.

Plus, if we extended the warranties for all of our electronic devices, most of us would spend more money on warranties than repairs. This is true even if we extended the warranties only on our most expensive items, such as computers, tablets, and television sets.

The True Cost to You and Apple

Extended warranties often cost 10 percent or more of a device's price and are good for only one or two years. As of 2021, the $69 AppleCare+ package for the entry-level iPad is almost 20 percent of the price of the device, which is expensive considering Apple's products are more reliable than the average electronics company. The $129 AppleCare+ package for the $799 iPad Pro is a better deal at 16 percent.

So, what are you buying with an extended warranty? The biggest benefit of AppleCare+ is coverage for accidental damage. It's unlikely you'll have a hardware failure that happens to occur in year two. Most hardware failures occur in the first year due to a defect, or they occur after several years of use. However, you can drop your iPad and crack the screen at any time. If you're particularly accident-prone or you use your iPad in a challenging environment, $69 can buy you peace of mind.

Extended Warranty or iPad Case

An alternative to the extended warranty is a good case for your iPad. For example, the Smart Case sold by Apple is cheaper than the warranty and can protect the iPad if you drop it. It's also slim and form-fitting, and it wakes up the iPad when you open the cover. You won't notice any added bulk in terms of either size or inconvenience.

Companies such as Otterbox and Trident also offer a variety of well-reviewed cases that are cheaper than the one-year warranty. These provide protection that ranges from the everyday, around-the-house type to I-like-extreme-sports armor.

Extended Warranty or a Jar of Money

One benefit of an extended warranty is the comfort of knowing you won't have a huge payout if you have a hardware failure or drop your iPad. That service charge and the AppleCare+ fee are less expensive than the cost to repair a cracked 9.7-inch iPad Pro screen, which is currently inching up on $400.

There's another way to get "insurance." Note the price of the warranty extension offered on any device you buy and put half that money in a jar. After a few purchases, you should have enough to pay for a repair on any of your devices. After a few years, you'll have the same peace of mind at half the price.

The Kid Factor

The one situation in which extended warranties may be worth their cost is when kids are involved, especially if the iPad is intended for those kids. Even a heavy-duty case won't protect a cracked screen if the iPad is slammed against the corner of a table.

A basic iPad currently starts at $329, so the $69 AppleCare+ is nearly 20 percent of that price, but a $129 warranty for a $799 12.9-inch iPad Pro makes a little more sense at 16 percent of the price. It is still an expensive warranty, but it might protect the iPad Pro until the kids are old enough not to subject it to the kinds of abuse kids typically dish out.

Another Option

AppleCare+ isn't the only game in town when it comes to extended warranties. SquareTrade also offers an iPad warranty. It's slightly more expensive for that extra year of coverage ($109), but the 3-year plan might be a bargain if you have small kids and want to go with a warranty.

The AppleCare+ Verdict

Skip it. Most of us have tablets, smartphones, and other electronic devices, such as gaming consoles and laptop computers. Instead of buying expensive extended warranties for each of them, set aside some money for the eventual repair that probability and statistics will bring your way and pocket the rest. Unless you have circumstances where accidental damage is likely, you'll save money in the long run.

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