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
133 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
133 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
133 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
133 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
133 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
133 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)

Popular Stories

airtag in hand

Apple AirTag Linked to Increasing Number of Car Thefts, Canadian Police Report

Friday December 3, 2021 7:10 am PST by
Apple's AirTags are being used in an increasing number of targeted car thefts in Canada, according to local police. Outlined in a news release from York Regional Police, investigators have identified a new method being used by thieves to track down and steal high-end vehicles that takes advantage of the AirTag's location tracking capabilities. While the method of stealing the cars is largely ...
telsa cyberwhistle

Elon Musk Urges Customers to Buy 'Tesla Cyberwhistle' Instead of Apple Polishing Cloth

Wednesday December 1, 2021 4:01 am PST by
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has encouraged customers to buy the "Cyberwhistle" for $50 instead of Apple's much-discussed Polishing Cloth. The product page, which Musk shared on Twitter on Tuesday evening, offers a limited edition stainless steel whistle with the same distinctive design of the Tesla Cybertruck:Inspired by Cybertruck, the limited-edition Cyberwhistle is a premium collectible made from ...
maxresdefault

Five Features to Look Forward to in the 2022 MacBook Air

Tuesday November 30, 2021 1:51 pm PST by
In 2022, Apple is going to release an updated version of the MacBook Air with some of the biggest design changes that we've seen since 2010, when Apple introduced the 11 and 13-inch size options. In the video below, we highlight five features that you need to know about the new machine. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. No More Wedge Design - Current MacBook...
apple top apps games 2020

Apple Reveals the Most Downloaded iOS Apps and Games of 2021

Thursday December 2, 2021 12:05 am PST by
Along with naming its editorial picks for the top apps and games of 2021, Apple today shared charts for the most downloaded free and paid apps and games in the United States across 2021. The number one most downloaded free iPhone app was TikTok, followed by YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook. The top paid iPhone apps included Procreate Pocket, HotSchedules, The Wonder Weeks, and Touch...
iPhone SE Cosmopolitan Clean

New iPhone SE Reportedly on Track for Release in First Quarter of 2022

Tuesday November 30, 2021 8:08 am PST by
Apple plans to release a third-generation iPhone SE in the first quarter of 2022, according to Taiwanese research firm TrendForce. If this timeframe proves to be accurate, we can expect the device to be released by the end of March. As previously rumored, TrendForce said the new iPhone SE will remain a mid-range smartphone with added support for 5G:In terms of product development, Apple is...
m3 feature black

Macs With 'M3' Chips Expected to Use TSMC's 3nm Chip Technology With Test Production Reportedly Underway

Thursday December 2, 2021 7:36 am PST by
Apple's chipmaking partner TSMC has kicked off pilot production of chips built on its 3nm process, known as N3, according to Taiwanese supply chain publication DigiTimes. The report, citing unnamed industry sources, claims that TSMC will move the process to volume production by the fourth quarter of 2022 and start shipping 3nm chips to customers like Apple and Intel in the first quarter of...
apple view concept right corner

Apple Planning to Replace the iPhone With AR Headset in 10 Years

Wednesday December 1, 2021 2:29 am PST by
Apple is planning to replace the iPhone with an augmented reality (AR) headset in 10 years, a process that is apparently due to start as soon as next year with the launch of a head-mounted device, according to a recent report. Concept render of Apple's rumored AR headset by Antonio De Rosa In a note to investors seen by MacRumors, eminent analyst Ming-Chi Kuo explained that "Apple's goal is...