AppleCare or No AppleCare... That is the Question

It's no secret that Apple makes some incredible products. Whether you're buying a MacBook Pro, iMac, iPhone or even the new Apple Watch, you're making a wise investment. Apple's products come with a limited warranty to cover issues with manufacturing defects, but there's also an option to purchase an extended warranty. Apple calls this AppleCare.

The question that I am often asked is this... "Do you recommend that I buy AppleCare with my new product?" While the answer to that question will vary depending on personal preference and circumstances, I do have some very definitive thoughts on the concept of AppleCare and extended warranties in general.

Before I dive into it, I need to reiterate that this is an opinion piece. This is my personal opinion and I understand that not everyone agrees with my opinion. That's ok. I even change my opinion from time to time, which is why it's an opinion, not a fact. With that in mind, let's get started.

The majority of my thoughts here are related specifically to Apple and AppleCare. As mentioned before, making an Apple purchase is a smart idea for lots of reasons. One of those reasons... you are typically buying much better hardware (and software) with a better build quality than competing products. Even considering that, components are still components, and they still have the potential of failing, even if they are inside an Apple product. Let's take a hard drive for example. There are only a small number of hard drive manufacturers in the world, and Apple is not one of them. Apple purchases their drives from drive manufacturers in the same way that they purchase their displays from display manufacturers and microphones from microphone manufacturers. Apple simply designs systems around those components then contracts with Foxconn to assemble them. If IBM makes a hard drive that is 20% likely to fail in a PC for mechanical reasons (not Operating System-related issues), it will also be 20% likely to fail in a Mac.

In my experience, if a Mac is going to fail, it usually fails in the first 30 days. However, I have seen plenty of cases where components fail 2 or 3 years after the initial purchase. If a logic board fails while not covered under warranty, it can be very expensive to replace ($800 or more, depending on the model). If a display fails out of warranty, it can also be very expensive to replace (much more than the upfront cost of AppleCare).

Side note: I own a German vehicle and love it. I will only drive a German vehicle IF it has an active manufacturer's warranty. IN my experience, German vehicles don't fail very often, but when they do, they're very expensive to repair.

We would all like to think that component failure will never happen to us, but we can't guarantee it, just like we can't guarantee that mechanical failure on a vehicle will never happen, or the motor in a washing machine will operate endlessly. Extended warranties are common across most industries. What Apple has going against them in the sale of AppleCare is that there is an assumption that because it's an Apple product, it will last forever. Being realistic, that just can't be the case. Technology is tedious, complex and difficult to work with.

When deciding if AppleCare is for you, ask yourself these two questions:

  1. Can I afford AppleCare for this product (or will it break the bank)?
  2. Will I sleep better at night knowing that I am fully protected in the event of component failure?

If the answer to both of these questions is "Yes", purchasing AppleCare is a no-brainer. Get it. If the answer is split between "Yes" and "No", it's definitely worth considering heavily. If you answered both questions with "No" and you're ok accepting the risk that a partial failure could be expensive at some point, then AppleCare may not be for you. At the very least, it's worth considering.

My personal preference: when in doubt, get it.

For your benefit, I thought it would be useful to list the cost of AppleCare for some of Apple's most popular products (these prices are current at the time of posting, and are always subject to change; check for current prices):

  • Mac Pro: $249
  • MacBook Pro (13"): $249
  • MacBook Pro (15"): $349
  • MacBook: $249
  • MacBook Air: $249
  • iMac: $169
  • Mac mini: $99
  • Apple Watch Sport: $49
  • Apple Watch: $69
  • Apple Watch Edition: $1,500
  • Apple TV: $29

For more information on AppleCare, visit the AppleCare product site.

Posted on June 4, 2015 and filed under Opinion, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV.