Apple offers multiple plans and products to supplement basic AppleCare coverage, and it can be difficult for IT administrators to determine which option -- or combinations of options -- is best for their organization.
AppleCare is a free, standard warranty that comes with new Apple products, such as Macs, iPhones and iPads. The coverage includes a one-year limited warranty for the hardware and up to 90 days of technical support. Some organizations, however, might need more support options or greater integration between device protection and management.
For more extensive coverage, Apple offers AppleCare+, AppleCare+ for Business Essentials and AppleCare Professional Support.
Additional AppleCare coverage options
IT admins looking into additional coverage options for Apple devices might first consider AppleCare+, which covers more damage scenarios than standard AppleCare and extends the length of the hardware warranty and technical support. This coverage is available as an annual plan or a three-year fixed plan. Alternatively, organizations can purchase it as a part of Apple Business Essentials.
Apple Business Essentials is a device management platform that Apple offers for SMBs of up to 500 people. The service comes with an app that organizations can install on employee devices to push out updates and settings, such as VPN configurations and password policies, to the endpoints.
For more support-focused services, IT admins can review AppleCare Professional Support, which is broken down into three categories: Help Desk Support, OS Support and Enterprise Support.
What are the AppleCare Professional Support options?
AppleCare Professional Support is a suite of support products that handle different levels of IT department support for hardware and software incidents. The suite encompasses the following services:
- AppleCare Help Desk Support.
- AppleCare OS Support.
- AppleCare for Enterprise.
Organizations can use these services to deal with troubleshooting, the complexities of OS integration, mobile device management (MDM) tasks and more. However, the overlap between each offering can be confusing, so it's important to understand how they compare with one another and with the other AppleCare support plans.
AppleCare Help Desk Support
The first AppleCare Professional Support option is the most straightforward. Priced at $499, AppleCare Help Desk Support provides internal help desks with one year of support for an unlimited number of incidents, as well as priority phone access to Apple senior technical staff, 12 hours a day, seven days a week (12/7).
If an organization purchases Help Desk Support, admins then choose two IT staff members to act as their designated technical contacts. These two contacts are able to call Apple senior technical staff when they need any help diagnosing, troubleshooting, or isolating hardware or software issues. The service can also provide Apple Business Manager support.
Help Desk Support covers Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Apple TV hardware, along with their respective OSes. The service also covers apps such as Apple Configurator, Apple Remote Desktop, Compressor, Final Cut Pro, Keynote, Pages and Numbers.
AppleCare OS Support
For a broader support option aimed at IT departments, organizations can consider AppleCare OS Support. This service handles the ins and outs of software integration, which is especially important when dealing with Apple devices in heterogeneous environments.
Specifically, OS Support covers what Apple describes as "enterprise-level incidents," encompassing network configuration and administration, software and web applications, system components and other advanced technical issues.
Organizations can choose from three available AppleCare OS Support plans:
- Select. This plan covers up to 10 enterprise‑level incidents and provides a four-hour response time for high-priority issues, 12/7.
- Preferred. This plan covers up to 50 enterprise‑level incidents across multiple locations and provides a two‑hour response time for high‑priority issues, 12/7. Preferred support also provides access to Apple's customer success management team.
- Alliance. This plan covers an unlimited number of enterprise-level incidents across multiple locations and provides one-hour response time for high-priority issues, 24/7. Alliance support also includes an on-site review by an Apple technical support engineer.
All three plans provide one year of coverage and include Help Desk Support at no additional charge. The Select plan costs $5,995, while Preferred is $19,995 and Alliance is $49,995.
AppleCare for Enterprise
Apple's Enterprise Support option is called AppleCare for Enterprise. This option offers 24/7 technical support for end users and on-site service coverage for two, three or four years. Under this plan, Apple will also repair up to 4% of an organization's Macs or Studio Displays or up to 10% of its iPads or iPhones, for any reason and at no additional fee.
AppleCare for Enterprise includes one incident of IT department-level support per year to address complex deployment and integration scenarios, such as MDM and Active Directory. Organizations can purchase support for additional incidents.
To get the support for integration, migration and advanced server operation issues that AppleCare OS Support offers, organizations must add that option as a separate purchase. AppleCare for Enterprise does come with Help Desk Support, however.
Overall, this option provides enterprise organizations and their end users with solid coverage and support for issues with Apple hardware, OSes, apps, personal accounts and settings. Plans are available in volume-based price tiers for 200, 1,000 or 5,000 devices, but Apple doesn't provide any further pricing information on its website. Organizations considering purchasing AppleCare for Enterprise must contact Apple or an authorized reseller for a quote or more specific information.
Choosing between the AppleCare options
If organizations are unsure of which Professional Support option to choose, it's important to note the different purposes that each one serves. Since it's included with both OS Support and AppleCare for Enterprise, AppleCare Help Desk Support mainly makes sense for organizations in need of some assistance for their internal help desk and nothing more. Organizations looking for more in-depth support can choose between the other two options or look into the other available AppleCare products.
AppleCare OS Support is best suited to organizations that are working with heterogeneous environments and want more resources to help with deployment, migration and integration. AppleCare for Enterprise, on the other hand, is best suited to organizations that want to build upon Help Desk Support with 24/7 technical support for both IT and end users, as well as hardware repair services.
There are a few things to keep in mind when comparing the Professional Support suite with the AppleCare+ options. Help Desk Support, OS Support and AppleCare for Enterprise are all suitable for organizations using third-party device management software. Organizations seeking a full endpoint management package from Apple should instead consider AppleCare+ for Business Essentials.
AppleCare+ offers similar features to AppleCare for Enterprise, but it doesn't have more enterprise-focused features, such as tiered pricing or on-site service coverage for mobile devices. Organizations should take the number of Apple devices they're supporting into account to choose the most practical and cost-effective option.
Similarly, it's important to estimate the number of incidents that the organization can expect to deal with over a year. This is particularly relevant when choosing an OS Support plan. Admins should take all of these factors into consideration to assess what their organization's needs are and choose the best option and plan for their IT teams and end users.