AppleCare+ to End Informal Free Replacement Policy for Damaged iPhones [Updated]

applecare plus iconLast week, we noted that Apple had introduced a new "AppleCare+" offering for iPhone, replacing the previous $69 AppleCare with the new $99 warranty extending coverage to two years from the date of device purchase and including new coverage for up to two incidents of accidental damage. Incidents of accidental damage covered under the new AppleCare+ program will also incur $49 service fees.

One Apple retail store source has contacted us to explain in more detail how the new AppleCare+ program will also change the way the Genius Bar handles damaged devices. Previously, Genius Bar staff had some flexibility in waiving the $199 out-of-warranty replacement fee as a "one-time exception", giving customers a free replacement for a damaged phone. With the shift to AppleCare+, Genius Bar staff will no longer have the option of offering free replacements, so customers who have been aware of Apple's informal replacement policy should be mindful of the change.

Apple is also now requiring that AppleCare+ be purchased at the same time as the device, a change from other AppleCare offerings that have allowed customers to purchase AppleCare anytime before the standard warranty expires. That requirement has been causing some confusion with iPhone 4S pre-orders through carriers and other outlets, as many of them have not been offering AppleCare+ as an option.

Customers seem to be hearing different stories from Apple sales representatives regarding adding AppleCare+ to iPhone 4S purchases made elsewhere, adding to the confusion. Some representatives have suggested that a simple phone call to Apple can resolve the situation, while others have suggested that users should bring their unopened iPhone 4S boxes to Apple retail stores and have staff members set up the devices and add AppleCare+.

apple genius bar banner
But while Apple's official policy requires AppleCare+ to be purchased at same time as the device, the source who reached out to us notes that Apple will allow users who did not purchase AppleCare+ to add it to a replacement phone if they damage their device and need to have it replaced. Under the program, customers needing to replace a damaged iPhone would be given a $50 discount on Apple's standard $199 replacement fee if they also purchase AppleCare+ for the replacement device, for a total cost of $249. That program would then cover the consumer for additional accidental damage incidents in the future.

Update: We're hearing that even Apple isn't clear on whether AppleCare+ needs to be purchased at the same time as the device. While Apple's iPhone and AppleCare pages are clear that AppleCare+ "must be purchased together with your new iPhone", the legal text of the AppleCare+ Terms and Conditions (PDF) indicates otherwise:

You must purchase the Plan while your original iPhone is within Apple’s One Year Limited warranty.

We've been told that Apple may be offering some clarification on the AppleCare+ situation by the time the iPhone 4S launches on Friday.

Update 2: Apple has been reaching out to customers who were unable to order AppleCare+ at the time of their iPhone 4S purchases, noting that customers will have 30 days to visit an Apple retail store to purchase AppleCare+ if they so desire. The company's online store will not support standalone ordering of AppleCare+.

Top Rated Comments

Abyssgh0st Avatar
121 months ago

Apple Care is a waste of money. I have tons of friends who work at the Apple Store and they say just walk in with a smile, feed them the usual of how much you lover their products, blab blah blah, and they'll bend over backwards for you and fix or replace for free. Works all the time.


Did you not read the article? It explicitly says that they apparently no longer have the leeway to waive the $199 fee for replacing a damaged phone.
Score: 36 Votes (Like | Disagree)
adztaylor Avatar
121 months ago

Apple Care is a waste of money. I have tons of friends who work at the Apple Store and they say just walk in with a smile, feed them the usual of how much you lover their products, blab blah blah, and they'll bend over backwards for you and fix or replace for free. Works all the time.

That's exactly what Applecare+ is going to stop.
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TC400 Avatar
121 months ago

Apple Care is a waste of money. I have tons of friends who work at the Apple Store and they say just walk in with a smile, feed them the usual of how much you lover their products, blab blah blah, and they'll bend over backwards for you and fix or replace for free. Works all the time.


Ha! if that was only true.
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
majortom1981 Avatar
121 months ago
Hmm so they are making it more expensive to get your phone fixed at apple? Does apple like ruining their image? One of the only reasons to buy apple products is there customer service. I will not buy apple products if they become just like dell .
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
foodog Avatar
121 months ago

wait and see .... one of the reasons why people are so happy with the customer service of apple is because they are very tolerant in bending the rules to make the customer happy - I don't think this will change, they don't want to destroy the good reputation they got. I know many people where the buying decision was highly influence by the knowledge of the great customer satisfaction and flexible return/repair service.


Being helpful and providing great customer service is one thing, replacing something the customer damage is another.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dball4 Avatar
121 months ago
Even though the article clearly states that they will not do it, I bet it will still happen since Apple has always taken care of us customers. If not then I will take my money elsewhere. I buy products from companies that treat me well and I'm not afraid to move on
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

16inchmacbookpromain

Kuo: New MacBook Pro Models to Feature Flat-Edged Design, MagSafe, No Touch Bar and More Ports

Thursday January 14, 2021 9:32 pm PST by
Apple is working on two new MacBook Pro models that will feature significant design changes, well-respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in a note to investors that was obtained by MacRumors. According to Kuo, Apple is developing two models in 14 and 16-inch size options. The new MacBook Pro machines will feature a flat-edged design, which Kuo describes as "similar to the iPhone 12" ...
iphone x camera close

iOS 14.4 Will Introduce Warning on iPhones With Non-Genuine Cameras

Thursday January 14, 2021 8:07 am PST by
In the second beta of iOS 14.4 seeded to developers and public testers this week, MacRumors contributor Steve Moser has discovered code indicating that Apple will be introducing a new warning on iPhones that have had their camera repaired or replaced with aftermarket components rather than genuine Apple components. "Unable to verify this iPhone has a genuine Apple camera," the message will...
prototype iphone 12 pro

Prototype iPhone 12 Pro Shown Off in Photos

Wednesday January 13, 2021 3:39 pm PST by
Developer Giulio Zompetti, who often shows off prototype versions of Apple devices, today highlighted a prototype version of the iPhone 12 Pro. The iPhone 12 Pro is running an operating system called SwitchBoard, a nonUI version of the iOS 14 update that Apple uses internally. We've seen SwitchBoard on prototype devices before, as Apple uses it to test new features. Zompetti's prototype...
foldable iPhone concept feature

Apple Testing In-Display Fingerprint Sensor for iPhone 13, Foldable iPhone Also in the Works

Friday January 15, 2021 1:46 pm PST by
Apple has started "early work" on an iPhone that has a foldable display, according to a new report from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Though testing of a foldable iPhone has begun, Apple has not committed to releasing a device that has a foldable display. Development has not yet expanded beyond a display and Apple does not have full foldable iPhone prototypes in its labs. Like foldable...
Apple TV Ray Light 2 Triad

Apple Extends Free Apple TV+ Trials Until July

Friday January 15, 2021 10:50 am PST by
Apple is once again planning to extend its free Apple TV+ trial subscriptions, this time until July. When Apple TV+ launched in November 2019, Apple offered free Apple TV+ subscriptions to those who purchased a new Apple device in or after September 2019. Those free subscriptions were set to expire in November 2020, but in October 2020, Apple announced that it was extending free trials...
macbook pro 16 inch thunderbolt

Bloomberg: Next-Generation MacBook Pro to Offer Improved Displays, Faster Charging Over MagSafe

Thursday January 14, 2021 11:36 pm PST by
Following today's report from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo outlining major changes for the next-generation MacBook Pro models coming in the third quarter of this year, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has weighed in with his own report corroborating some of the details but seemingly differing a bit on others. First, Gurman shares more details on the return of MagSafe charging to the MacBook Pro, indicating...
Hue module dimmer switch

Philips Hue Announces New Wall Switch Module, Dimmer Switch, and Outdoor Light Bar

Thursday January 14, 2021 3:11 am PST by
Philips Hue has announced a new wireless dimmer switch module that lets Hue bridge owners directly control the smart lighting from their standard wall switches. The new Philips Hue wall switch module is the ideal addition to any Philips Hue set up. Installed behind existing light switches, it allows users to turn their existing switch into a smart switch and ensures their smart lighting is...
pat gelsinger intel

Incoming Intel CEO Derides Company's Inability to 'Deliver Better Products' Than Apple's M1 Chip

Friday January 15, 2021 6:17 am PST by
Incoming Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger has said that the company must "deliver better products" than Apple, which he described as a "lifestyle company," and says that Intel's best days are "in front of it" (via The Oregonian). Speaking at an Intel all-hands meeting yesterday, Gelsinger derisively implied that Apple is merely a "lifestyle company," so Intel must be able to surpass its technology: ...
mac pro mini feature

Apple Working on Two New Mac Pro Desktops, One of Which Will Be Reminiscent of Power Mac G4 Cube

Friday January 15, 2021 10:23 am PST by
Apple is developing two versions of the Mac Pro to succeed the Mac Pro that was first released in December 2019, according to a new report from Bloomberg. The first updated Mac Pro is a direct successor to the current Mac Pro and it will use the same design. It may also be equipped with Intel processors rather than Apple silicon chips, and it could be one of the sole machines in the Mac...
pioneer carplay wc5700nex

The Best Apple-Related Accessories at CES 2021

Wednesday January 13, 2021 1:16 pm PST by
CES 2021 is taking place digitally this year, and it hasn't been as exciting as in past years because many vendors have opted out. That said, some companies are still showing off some interesting Apple-related accessories that are coming out this year and that will be of interest to Mac, iPad, and iPhone users. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Pioneer Wireless...