That was my experience. If you're polite and reasonable and if their search of your history shows that you don't abuse the system, they often go WAY beyond what is required.
My iPhone 4 fell in the pool last year. After drying it out, it worked for a while and then started dropping calls and having other problems. I went to the local Apple Store, fully intending to pay the $200 replacement fee for a refurb and they simply swapped it out at no charge. And that was one of the few times that I didn't get AppleCare for a mobile device.
Agreed. I've had more 'stunned' experiences at an Apple Genius Bar than I've ever had with any other business in my life. For example; they once replaced my WAY out of warranty, end of life G5 Mac Pro with a dead power supply with a brand new still in a sealed box Intel Mac Pro. They also replaced my daughter's iPhone after she cracked the front glass while bowling with a brand new sealed iPhone (Might have been a refurb, but...)