The cracked screen on a smartphone

With starting prices of $800 and $1,000, respectively, Apple’s new iPhone 12 and 12 Pro aren’t cheap. So it should come as no surprise that they’re also costly to fix.

Have a cracked screen on your 12 Pro? Your friendly neighborhood Apple Store will restore it for $280, Apple says. Break any other part of the phone and it will cost you $550 to repair. The fees are the same for last year’s iPhone 11 Pro.

Getting the screen repaired on the slightly lower-priced iPhone 12 will cost you the same $280 (vs. $200 for the iPhone 11 a year ago), and other repairs run $100 less than for the Pro model.

More on the iPhone

That is, unless you shell out an extra $200 for an AppleCare+ plan. In that case, the screen replacement will run you just $30. For other accidental damage, the fee is $100.

You also have the option of paying for your coverage on a monthly basis, similar to traditional phone insurance, along with the option to include loss and theft protection at a higher one-time or monthly cost.

So is it worth it? Given the dramatic increases in repair pricing for iPhones in recent years, AppleCare+ might let you rest easier, especially if you (or others under your roof) are prone to dropping phones.

And as part of the deal, Apple extends its regular limited warranty—which protects you against manufacturing defects—from one year to two. You also get free technical support for 90 days.

But that doesn’t make it a wise investment for everyone.

Here’s a deeper look at how much the AppleCare+ plan costs and what it covers.

How AppleCare+ Works

You can buy AppleCare+ at any point within the first 60 days of owning a new iPhone. Here’s how the fees break down, based on the model.

Note that all plans that include loss and theft protection involve a $150 deductible that you’ll have to pay to get a replacement device. And though we’ve included costs for the iPhone 12 Mini and 12 Pro Max, those phones don’t go on sale until Nov. 13.    

iPhone 12 Pro, 12 Pro Max, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, XS, XS Max, and X
Standard AppleCare+: one-time fee of $200 or $10 per month.

Including loss and theft protection: $270 or $13.50 per month.

iPhone 12, 12 Mini, 11, XR, and 8 Plus
Standard AppleCare+: $150 or $8 per month.

Including loss and theft protection: $220 or $11.50 per month.

iPhone 8
Standard AppleCare+: $130 or $6 per month.

Including loss and theft protection: $200 or $9.50 per month. 

iPhone SE
Standard AppleCare+: $80 or $4 per month.

Including loss and theft protection: $150 or $8 per month.

If you’re prone to breaking or losing your phone, AppleCare+ could save you money. A broken iPhone 12 Pro screen, for instance, will cost you $230 ($30 plus the $200 lump-sum plan fee) to repair with coverage instead of the $280 everyone else pays. For “other damage,” the cost would be $300 instead of $550.

Should you lose your iPhone 12 Pro and have theft and loss coverage, your replacement costs are going to total $420 ($150 deductible plus $270 plan fee). That’s a substantial savings when you’re talking about a $1,000 phone.

But if you’re the type of person who doesn’t generally lose or drop a phone, that $200 to $270 coverage fee could easily be money down the drain. And if you go the monthly route for the full two years the plans cover, you’re looking at a total cost of $240 to $324 with theft and loss coverage.

It’s also worth noting that AppleCare+ comes with restrictions. It covers only two incidents of breakage, loss, or theft across two years, for example. If you go beyond that, you’re back to paying up to $550 to get an iPhone 12 Pro fixed and on the hook for the full replacement cost if it goes missing.

The plans do not cover damage caused by “reckless, abusive, willful or intentional conduct.” So if you were planning to test out your new phone’s toughness by running it over with a car, don’t. You also can’t collect on a theft or loss claim if you don’t have Find My iPhone activated at the time your device disappears.

And remember that your warranty—AppleCare+ or not—is voided if you open up your iPhone to repair it yourself.

Why Is It So Expensive to Fix an iPhone?

All iPhones dating back to the 8 are covered with glass on the back and front, which could make them more vulnerable to damage in a fall.

This year’s models feature Ceramic Shield, a new material created in partnership with Corning that fuses ceramic into the front glass of the phones. Apple says the new material is four times as resistant to damage when dropped than the glass used on last year’s models.

We’ll have more to say about that claim once we get the phones into our labs and put them through our punishing tumble test.

Why do today’s phones use so much glass? Because metal interferes with wireless charging, says Richard Fisco, head of electronics testing for Consumer Reports. “Apple’s designers could have used plastic, but that has a cheap look and feel not appropriate for a premium phone,” he adds.

The super-sharp OLED displays used on all of the iPhone 12 models, along with the 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, XS, and XS Max contribute to the higher replacement costs as well. The technology—touted in high-end TVs for its deep blacks, accurate colors, and energy efficiency—doesn’t come cheap, Fisco says.

Though it might seem reasonable to take a chance on having to pay the $270 fee to replace the screen on your iPhone 12 Pro, keep in mind that the glass back falls under “other damage,” and that costs $550 to repair.

Crack the glass—front and back—in a fall and you’re looking at paying almost enough for a whole new phone.

So even if you’ve been careful to protect your iPhone in the past, a sturdy case is always a good idea.

Bottom Line

The higher the price of the device, the more it might make sense to pay for a little peace of mind. 

But there’s really no right or wrong answer about whether you should pay for AppleCare+ coverage. It’s all about how much risk you’re willing to assume.

If the thought of having to unexpectedly shell out $550 to repair your phone is unbearable, a $200 AppleCare+ cost might well be worth it.

If you’re buying the phone for a teenager whose smartphone takes some abuse, the added insurance might save you some grief, too.

But if you’re a frugal sort—and also tend to be really careful with your smartphone—AppleCare+ might well seem like an unnecessary expense.

Unlike automotive insurance, Apple’s coverage doesn’t hinge on past behavior. A serial phone smasher pays the same amount that someone who has never cracked a screen would pay. As a result, AppleCare+ costs and restrictions are designed with high-risk people in mind.

And that means that if you’re a fumblefingers or just prone to bad luck, AppleCare+ coverage is probably a better deal for you than it may be for others.

When to Buy Insurance

On the “Consumer 101” TV show, Consumer Reports’ expert Octavio Blanco offers tips on deciding when insurance is needed and how to get the most bang for the buck when it comes to coverage.