When you buy an Apple Watch, you're presented with an option to protect it with the company's extended warranty program, AppleCare+. Before you make your decision, here are some things to consider.
AppleCare accidental protection isn't free
With Apple Watch Sport ($349 to $399) and Apple Watch ($549 to $1,100), you get a limited one-year hardware warranty and 90 days of phone support. For the pricey Apple Watch Edition models ($10,000 to $17,000), the limited warranty and phone support lasts for two years.
Apple's limited warranty is designed to protect you from manufacturer defects. It doesn't cover accidental damage, such as scratches on the watch crystal, but AppleCare+ does.
AppleCare+ costs $49 for the Apple Watch Sport, $69 for Apple Watch, and a whopping $1,000 for the high-end Apple Watch Edition models. On top of the free limited warranty, AppleCare+ gives Watch Sport and Watch two years of hardware repair coverage and phone support. Apple Watch Edition owners with AppleCare+ get three years of hardware repair and phone support.
However, with AppleCare+, you're subject to additional fees for each incident of accidental damage: $69 for Apple Watch Sport; $79 for Apple Watch; and $1,000 each for Apple Watch Edition. You're also limited to two incidents of accidental damage per watch, per warranty.
Your credit card may extend free warranty
I usually pay for tech items with my American Express card because AmEx automatically doubles the manufacturer's basic warranty. In this case, paying for your Apple Watch with AmEx gives you two years of Apple's limited warranty instead of one. That may be all you need. Keep in mind, though, that this doesn't cover accidental damage.
Your homeowner's insurance may cover Apple Watch
Your homeowner's insurance policy very likely gives you a certain amount of blanket coverage for jewelry, including watches. However, the coverage is meant to protect valuables against theft or fire damage — not accidental damage. Also, your homeowner's policy may only cover any single piece of jewelry up to $1,000.
You can often increase your coverage with "scheduled personal property" insurance. In essence, this is a list of specific items, such as computers and jewelry, that you want protected beyond the blanket coverage. Depending upon your insurer, this additional coverage provides a larger dollar amount of protection. and it can also protect you against "loss due to breakage," according to Travelers insurance.
Before you buy AppleCare+ for Apple Watch, give your insurance company a call. I did, and I learned that Allstate, my insurer, will protect my $700 Apple Watch against accidental damage for $14 a year — significantly less than the $79 AppleCare+ plan.
Apple Watch scratch-resistant sapphire crystal screen
What happens if you scratch your Apple Watch's glass face? That's one of my biggest concerns and a good reason to add extra homeowners' insurance or purchase AppleCare+. However, if you're eyeing an Apple Watch or Apple Watch Edition, and not the more affordable Apple Watch Sport model, scratches may be a nonissue. That's because the two more expensive Apple Watch models have sapphire crystal displays, while the Apple Watch sport uses Ion-X glass.
iPhoneFixed scratch-tested an Apple Watch with a sapphire crystal face. The verdict: Apple's claim that its sapphire crystals are scratch-resistant is valid. The company didn't test an Apple Watch Sport, however, so it's unclear how the Ion-X glass will fare.
Consumer Reports says avoid extended warranties
I'm a big fan of Consumer Reports, and the magazine routinely discourages readers from buying extended warranties for a variety of reasons. For example, repairs typically aren't very costly; products don't usually break within the service plan timeframe; and necessary repairs may be covered by the basic warranty.
AppleCare+ can increase Apple Watch resale value
A year from now, the second-generation Apple Watch will likely be available, and naturally, it will be better in every way — lighter, thinner, with longer battery life. Your first-gen Apple Watch will look tired by comparison. You might want to sell it on eBay or Amazon. In my experience, Apple products with at least three months of remaining AppleCare+ coverage deliver a higher resale price than iDevices without coverage.
On a separate but related note, I recently launched a new blog, The Apple Watch Watch. If you're looking for ongoing Watch-related coverage, check it out and let me know what you think.