AppleCare Protection Plan, and do you need it?

by Milind Alvares

AppleCare Protection Plan, and do you need it?

by Milind Alvares on September 22, 2008

Apple products, both software and hardware, are known for their high quality. Sure, some people end up with defective products every once in a while, which results in a lot of noise about the same on Internet forums, but generally speaking, Apple makes good quality products. This doesn’t mean, however, that they can’t fail. They are, after all, hardware products made by man (and machine).

“I thought Macs were never supposed to give problems”, is a quote I’m very familiar with. Well, let’s set the record straight—Macs do have problems, both in the hardware as well as the software. And when that happens, AppleCare kicks in. 

What is AppleCare and why should I care?
Every Mac, iPod, and iPhone comes with a one year standard warranty, commonly known as AppleCare. This includes 90 days of telephone support and a full year replacement warranty for any hardware defects. Apple offers an additional two years extended warranty for Macs, dubbed AppleCare Protection Plan (APP), which extends that to 3 years of full telephone support and hardware replacement warranty. The same policy applies for iPods and iPhones as well, except that the warranty can only be extended to a maximum of two years in their case. This is global, labour-free warranty on hardware, onsite in case of the desktops, and includes web and telephone support. APP, however, excludes any battery repairs after the complementary one year.

One good thing is that you have a full year to decide on whether or not you want to get the APP because it can be activated at any time within one year from the date of purchase. 

However, like most things Apple, APP doesn’t come cheap. And that brings up the question, should I risk it?

How often do Apple products and parts fail? It depends. Some machines will run for years without any problems whatsoever, which means that your APP will go to waste. But there are those cases, where severe problems occur, like the logic board becoming faulty, the display getting weird, or some other major system issue cropping up. The problem is that Apple overcharges for parts. You might end up paying upto Rs. 45,000 to replace the MacBook Pro display, and there is no other way to replace it, so you have to fork out that huge sum. 

However, when it comes to phone support, Apple is very generous. There are so many cases where phone support is provided not only out of the 90 days, but even after the one year warranty is up. (Although you don’t really need it, considering we’re here to answer all of your Apple related questions, but it’s nice to have the option nonetheless.)

What’s the support like?
So how good is AppleCare anyway? There is a world of a difference between Apple support, and support from companies like, for example, Dell. The staff are highly knowledgeable, and replacements are provided very quickly. In my personal experience, my hard drive within just five days of my reporting it and a SuperDrive replacement arrived 15 days after I took the machine in (this was in the Christmas season). 

Our Editor-in-chief, however, didn’t have it so quick, being that he lives in some godforsaken land (God, here, refers to Steve Jobs, and not the one up there). He did get his MacBook Pro’s display, keyboard, and a whole lot of other tit bits replaced all cause of the magic power of AppleCare. [Ed note: To be precise, my keyboard’s keys were replaced because the colour had worn off on some of them!)

Is it worth it?
Now comes the major question: should you get AppleCare? If you want worry-free use of your Mac, and don’t mind spending a little extra for it, get AppleCare. If you ever have any doubt in your mind about your newly purchased Mac, you can call the toll free AppleCare hotline at 1800 425 0744 and get all your queries answered. If there is something wrong with it, you will get it fixed instantly. If there is nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about in the first place. 

When it comes to the iPod/iPhone lineup, however, my recommendation changes. Apart from the iPhone or iPod touch, having extended warranty is pointless. The nano is a very hardy product, and it’s not like Apple will replace anything which is not a manufacturing defect (like dropping it in a bucket of tomato soup). And by the time that iPod nano gives up on you, there will be a newer model you’ll be lusting after anyway. 

Here are the prices of AppleCare for each product group. It also includes support for any additional accessories purchased along with the mac. For instance, the MacBook Pro and Mac Pro include warranty for an Apple Cinema Display as well. One Time Capsule or Airport Extreme Base station is also covered.

MacBook Pro – $349 / Rs. 18200
MacBook/Air – $249 / Rs. 13,300
iMac – $169 / Rs. 9700
Mac Mini – $149 / Rs. 7700
Mac Pro – $249 / Rs. 13,000 

iPhone – $69 / Rs. 4200
iPod Touch/Classic – $59 / Rs. 3300

*The Indian prices are approximate. iPhone/iPod APP extends only upto 2 years.

Discount deals on eBay
You can, however, find APP deals on Ebay and other shopping sites (use at your own risk). If you find the Indian rates for AppleCare excessive, you can arrange to have it bought abroad, because all you require is a code printed on the inside of the box. And since you have a whole year to arrange for it, the chances are pretty high of you stumbling across a good deal. For instance, you can get a Mac Pro AppleCare code for as low as $100, which is a huge bargain over the retail price.

[Ed note: I highly recommend buying AppleCare Protection Plan if you have an Apple notebook. Highly! I cannot stress this enough. The build quality of Apple products is not what it once used to be and I have yet to come across anyone whose Apple notebook hasn’t suffered from some serious defect within the first two years of purchase. The peace of mind that AppleCare promises makes it worth the price of entry. After all, you wouldn’t think of driving that new car you just bought without any insurance, would you?]

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