Why you should buy AppleCare+ before you leave the store

There are important changes to AppleCare+, Apple's warranty program for iPhones and iPads, that you should know about before purchasing it.
Written by Jason D. O'Grady, Contributor
AppleCare+ has been changed with the launch of the iPhone 5s and 5c - Jason O'Grady

While waiting in line for the vaunted iPhone 5s yesterday, I had a lot of time to reflect and observe.

I learned about some important changes to AppleCare Plus, Apple's $99 extended warranty program for iPhones and iPads, from one of the staffers a the Apple Store in Atlantic City.

AppleCare Plus extends the iPhone's one-year warranty and 90 days of tech support to two full years and includes accidental damage from drops and submersions, for example. 

The original AppleCare Protection Plan (APP) for iPhones was first offered in July 2007 for $69, and it could be purchased any time during its original one-year warranty. The original AppleCare only covered hardware and software failures and it didn't include physical damage. 

AppleCare was upgraded in October 2011 when Apple added the "Plus" moniker and began covering physical damage. Under the new "AppleCare Plus" program Apple would replace your damaged iPhone -- for any reason -- for $50 per incident, with a maximum of two incidents. 

Apple has increased the per incident charge of AppleCare Plus with the release of the iPhone 5s and 5c by 60 percent. It now costs $79 per incident, for a maximum of two incidents over the plan's two years. Previously you could purchase a replacement iPhone for $50 under the program.

AppleCare+ must be purchased within 30 days of iPhone purchase and requires inspection of your iPhone and proof of purchase. You can no longer purchase AppleCare after an incident has occurred. 

For more information see the AppleCare+ Terms and Conditions and the frequently asked questions.

To call AppleCare Plus essential might be the understatement of the year. Being mobile devices, iPhones (and iPads, for that matter) are extremely susceptible to damage by their very nature. The fact that they're manufactured out of a thin layer of glass (two layers of glass in the case of the iPhone) makes an extended warranty even more critical. 

Just make sure that you purchase AppleCare when you buy your new iPhone 5s or 5c because you won't be able to purchase it after the fact. 

What's your AppleCare story? Do you usually buy it on iPhones?

[Update: This post previously stated that AppleCare had to be purchased at the time of iPhone purchase, which is incorrect, you have 30 days. This was corrected and I regret the error.] 

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