Coverage for device breakage and other incidents is a vital part of device management, and Apple offers more than just its free AppleCare option.
Most Apple products come with AppleCare, which provides limited support and warranty coverage for new Macs, iPhones, iPads and other Apple devices. Organizations that buy these products can extend AppleCare's basic coverage with options such as AppleCare+, AppleCare+ for Business Essentials or AppleCare for Enterprise. These services come at a cost, however, and IT administrators must carefully weigh whether they're worth the investment or if their organizations are better off with the basics.
What is AppleCare?
Apple products such as Macs, iPhones and iPads automatically come with AppleCare. It provides a one-year limited warranty on the hardware and up to 90 days of technical support. The warranty applies only to Apple-branded hardware and the accessories contained in the original packaging. It does not cover software, nor does it apply to batteries or normal wear, unless there's a defect caused by the material or manufacturing process. It also does not apply to cosmetic or accidental damage.
If an issue occurs that is covered by the warranty, Apple will take one of the following actions:
- Repair the product using new or used parts that have been tested and meet functional requirements.
- Replace the product with the same model or, with the customer's consent, a different model that offers comparable features and capabilities. The replacement might be a new product or one that contains used parts that have been tested and meet functional requirements.
- Refund the product for the original purchase price.
AppleCare also provides a technical support line for both hardware and software. The hardware support includes help with basic setup, assembly, installation and connectivity. The software support covers operations such as installing, reinstalling or launching software, but it does not cover data recovery. In some cases, technical support is available for longer than 90 days, but only if required by law.
AppleCare coverage is similar for Macs, iPhones and iPads. Customers should refer to warranty and support documentation if they have any questions about the specific devices they're purchasing. That said, AppleCare is a fixed service that automatically comes with Apple products. Organizations cannot negotiate or change AppleCare coverage. If they want more than what AppleCare offers, they need to purchase AppleCare+, AppleCare+ for Business Essentials or AppleCare for Enterprise.
What does AppleCare+ include?
AppleCare+ extends and enhances the coverage that comes with basic AppleCare. It increases the length of both the hardware warranty and technical support, and it adds coverage for accidental damage, with an additional fee per incident. The service also includes 24/7 access to technical support, as well as battery service coverage for applicable devices.
The exact coverage included with AppleCare+ varies depending on the device type. AppleCare+ for Mac provides global coverage for the computer, including battery and RAM, as well as accessories such as power cords or even a USB SuperDrive. Customers can access priority technical support by chat or phone for all hardware and software questions. Coverage includes on-site services for desktops but not laptops. However, customers can ship any of their Macs or bring them to an Apple Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider (AASP) for repair.
Mac AppleCare+ is available as an annual plan or three-year fixed plan, with the cost depending on the Mac model. For example, coverage for a 13-inch MacBook Pro costs $89.99 annually or $249 for three years. For all plans, each accidental damage incident costs $99 for screen damage or external enclosure damage and $299 for other types of damage.
At its core, iPhone coverage is much like Mac coverage -- it includes the smartphone, battery and lightning cable. Customers can receive same-day service in most metropolitan areas, as well as on-site services where it's available. In addition, Apple's Express Replacement Service will ship a replacement so the customer can continue using a mobile device. Customers can also opt for Theft and Loss protection, which covers up to two incidents per year.
AppleCare+ plans are available on a monthly basis or two-year fixed price, with the price depending on the phone model. For example, the AppleCare+ plan without Theft and Loss for an iPhone 14 Plus costs $8.99 per month or $179 for two years. With Theft and Loss, the plan costs $12.49 per month and $249 for two years. For all plans, each damage incident costs $29 for screen or back glass damage, $99 for other accidental damage and $149 for theft or loss.
Coverage for iPads is similar, although not quite as extensive as Mac or iPhone coverage. It only provides mail-in or carry-in repair options and does not offer Theft and Loss coverage. However, it includes the Express Replacement Service, as well as the Apple Pencil and Apple‑branded iPad keyboard.
AppleCare+ plans for iPad are available on a monthly basis or two-year fixed price, with the price depending on the iPad model. For example, the AppleCare+ plan for a 12.9-inch iPad Pro is $7.99 per month or $149 for two years. For all plans, each damage incident costs $49 for the iPad and $29 for the Apple Pencil or Apple‑branded iPad keyboard.
As with the basic AppleCare service, customers should carefully review what is included with AppleCare+ for each device type they plan to purchase.
Alternative AppleCare coverage options
IT administrators should also consider Apple's other coverage options when looking into extra device protection and support. AppleCare+ for Business Essentials and AppleCare for Enterprise both combine device coverage with more enterprise-specific features such as mobile device management (MDM) and tiered pricing.
AppleCare+ for Business Essentials
Apple Business Essentials combines device management, 24/7 support and cloud storage into a single platform that enables IT administrators to onboard, set up and manage their Apple devices. The service provides a centralized portal for managing subscription plans as well as the users, groups and devices associated with each plan. Administrators can also use the portal to manage the apps and settings on those devices.
Apple offers multiple Business Essentials plans, each of which falls into one of two categories. The first category includes user plans. The plans are based on individual users and the devices associated with those users. These plans also come with cloud storage. The second category includes device plans, which are specific to individual devices and not associated with users. The device plans are meant for use cases such as kiosks or displays and do not come with cloud storage.
Of the various Business Essentials plans, the following include AppleCare+ as part of the service:
- Single device with AppleCare+. This plan can apply to users or devices. The user plan is geared toward users with only one device. It includes 50 GB of storage and one repair credit per year, per user. The device plan does not include storage but includes one repair credit per device. The plan costs $9.99 per user or device, per month.
- Multi-device with AppleCare+. This is a user plan, applying to users who each have up to three devices. It includes 200 GB of storage and two repair credits per year, per user. The plan costs $19.99 per user, per month.
- Multi-device with AppleCare+ plus extra storage. This plan is similar to the previous plan except it includes 2 TB of storage and costs $24.99 per user, per month.
The Business Essentials AppleCare+ plans provide 24/7 phone support and include on-site repairs in as little as four hours. Customers can also mail in devices or take them to an Apple Store or AASP. In addition, the plans offer specialized training modules and guidance from trained customer success managers. For user plans, the managed devices can be owned by the organization or by its employees. For device plans, the device must be owned by the organization.
Business Essentials ostensibly targets smaller organizations. In fact, the device plans are limited to 200 devices, although Apple does not specify a limit on the user plans. Regardless, customers can purchase multiple plans and mix and match them in any way they like, so there is no reason why larger organizations cannot opt for Business Essentials, especially if they support a relatively small number of Apple devices.
AppleCare for Enterprise
Another option for larger organizations is AppleCare for Enterprise, a support program for both end users and IT teams. The program covers Mac, Studio Display, iPhone and iPad devices. It offers flexible service options that include 24/7 technical support for end users, as well as on-site service for two, three or four years. In addition, the program includes device repair or replacement in as little as one business day. Customers can also take their devices to an Apple Store or AASP for repair.
AppleCare for Enterprise includes repair services for up to 4% of an organization's covered Mac computers or Apple displays, or up to 10% of its covered iPhone or iPad devices. End users also receive technical support for their Apple hardware and software, which includes both operating systems and Apple apps such as Pages, Keynote and Numbers.
In addition, AppleCare for Enterprise provides organizations with Help Desk support for hardware and software diagnosis and troubleshooting, and it includes one incident of IT department-level support each year.
AppleCare for Enterprise is available in volume-based price tiers for 200, 1,000 or 5,000 devices. However, Apple does not provide any pricing information about these tiers or how they break down for each year of on-site service. Potential customers must contact Apple or an authorized reseller for a quote or more specific information.
Is AppleCare+ worth it for enterprise devices?
IT administrators considering AppleCare+ or one of the other options should start by conducting a cost-benefit analysis that accounts for variables such as the organization's size, type and number of devices, as well as how employees will use those devices. They should also carefully read each Terms and Conditions agreement that applies to their circumstances.
AppleCare+ already includes an extended warranty, technical support and accidental damage coverage, but organizations seeking more advanced features might find AppleCare+ for Business Essentials or AppleCare for Enterprise to be a better investment. Both alternative options also have limitations, such as lack of support for third-party MDM platforms in the case of Business Essentials.
IT administrators should also factor in how many Apple devices they're supporting and how those endpoints fit into their broader device management policies. If an organization only has a few Apple devices, investing in the support plan might be easier and more cost-effective than training an entire IT department on how to support Apple devices. Organizations that mainly support Android devices must consider how an Apple management strategy should work alongside an Android management strategy.
The size of the organization is an especially important variable. Organizations that buy Apple products in large quantities and forego additional coverage assume that the failure rate will cost less over the long term than the extra subscription fees. At the same time, larger organizations can more easily absorb the costs of an occasional device failure, whereas smaller companies have less wiggle room in their budgets.
Ultimately, the decision of whether the investment is worth it still comes down to the individual organization and its circumstances. A large company managing relatively few Apple devices might find it worthwhile to extend the protection on those devices and, in the process, reduce the load on IT. Organizations that purchase iPhones for their workers in the field might also want the added Theft and Loss protections that come with AppleCare+. The more thoroughly decision-makers can assess their circumstances and the potential benefits and challenges of each option, the better they'll be able to determine whether AppleCare+ is worth it for them.