Is AppleCare+ worth it for iPad, iPad Pro, or iPad Air?

in General Discussion edited January 2021
AppleCare+ for iPad, iPad Pro, or iPad Air offers you the same reduced repair fees it does for iPhone and Mac, but what you get, what it costs, and even how long it lasts is subtly different.

Apple's new 2020 iPad Air
Apple's new 2020 iPad Air

Seriously, there have to be people in Apple who enjoy experimenting with AppleCare+, because this insurance is different with every product. You might not be surprised that AppleCare+ for iPad varies from it on the Mac, but you'd expect it to be pretty much the same as with the iPhone.

It is not. Which means that yet again, the central question of whether AppleCare+ is worth it for you is complicated by the details.

As always, deciding whether to buy AppleCare+ means weighing up the cost of it, the cost of repairs without it -- and the odds you'll even need any such repairs. What's different in the detail is what get covers, how long for, and even what you pay.

How much AppleCare+ for iPad costs

You can pay a one-time upfront fee of $129 for AppleCare+ for iPad Pro. That's the same for the 11-inch iPad Pro, or the 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

For the iPad, iPad Air 4, and iPad mini 5, the one-time fee is $69.

There is an option to pay monthly instead, which costs $5.99 per month for the iPad Pro, or $3.49 per month for any of the others.

That one-time option gets you two years of AppleCare+ coverage for your device. Whereas the monthly one obviously only gets you a month at a time -- but this is one case where it can be continued beyond the two years.

Apple says that you can continue paying the monthly AppleCare+ fee until the plan is cancelled. That can mean your choosing to stop, or it can mean Apple no longer supporting that iPad.

It isn't possible to buy another two-year AppleCare+ plan. But if you initially bought two years upfront, you can switch to a monthly plan at the end of that period.

Credit: Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider
Credit: Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider

AppleCare+ for Apple Pencil and keyboards

You cannot buy AppleCare+ for an Apple Pencil, or what the company refers to as an "Apple-branded iPad keyboard." Yet you can get AppleCare+ coverage for both.

That's because both are included in your AppleCare+ for iPad fee. That's clearly a good thing, but unfortunately it's also a potentially confusing and even limiting one.

At one point, you did have to buy the Apple Pencil or keyboard at the same time as the iPad for it to qualify under your coverage, but now you don't. However, Apple's legal terms and conditions specify that the keyboard or Apple Pencil must be "purchased for use with your iPad."

So if you're given an Apple Pencil by a friend, or you save up to add a Magic Keyboard to your iPad Pro a little later, they may not be automatically covered.

To be sure that your Apple Pencil or Apple-branded iPad keyboard are covered, you will need to talk to Apple Support.

What you get from Apple Care+

Unlike with the iPhone or Mac, in theory Apple doesn't differentiate between types of repair that an iPad may need. It's all counted as "accidental damage repair," and that includes broken screens.

If you have AppleCare+, then if a screen breaks, or there is any other damage, you will have to pay $49. You can have up to two repairs every 12 months of your AppleCare+ plan.

There is also provision for battery issues. If your iPad or Apple Pencil battery holds less than 80% of its original charge capacity, it will be replaced for free under AppleCare+.

If you don't have AppleCare+, then a replacement battery is $99 for all iPad models, or $29 for the Apple Pencil.

As ever, it is reassuring to know that if you have AppleCare+, you won't get unexpectedly high repair bills
As ever, it is reassuring to know that if you have AppleCare+, you won't get unexpectedly high repair bills

To buy or not to buy AppleCare+ for iPad

The simplicity of just knowing even a screen replacement will be covered for $49, plus the price of your AppleCare+ insurance, is very appealing. Chiefly because without it, Apple current charges between $299 and $649 to repair a screen.

The price varies by device. But for each type of iPad currently sold, the combination of AppleCare+ fee, plus the $49 service charge, is less than the cost of replacing the screen out of coverage.

That's if it happens once. Theoretically, you could break your iPad screen four times over its first two years of life. If you did, you'd be paying a total of $196 plus the AppleCare+ fee, instead of between $1,196 and $2,596.

So if you ever need any repair on any iPad, you're better off having AppleCare+. There is just that problem that you cannot know whether you really will ever need it.

AppleCare+ for all your devices

The principle is the same -- pay for AppleCare+ and you'll save on repair costs, if you ever need any repairs. Yet for all of the devices that can have AppleCare+, it seems as if every one has significant differences to consider.

Whatever device you're thinking about getting AppleCare+ for, read our guide:
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  • Reply 1 of 2
    AppleCare has always been useful for my portable Macs, but iOS devices, mixed feelings. 
    One thing to also consider when you purchase is whether or not your credit card that you used to purchase it also comes with a free warranty extension. I just bought a new iPhone last year and decided to skip on the AppleCare+ because firstly I'm pretty careful with my devices, and second I get a free extra year's warranty that is matched to Apples first year of limited warranty, including if the device gets lost or stolen in the first few months. So weigh that in consideration before purchasing it and get yourself a good case.
  • Reply 2 of 2
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    I didn't know that about the Apple Pencil being covered -- if it used with the iPad.

    I bought an Apple pencil for my grandson to use with his iPad for cyberschool (It was a lifesaver and gets used everyday!),   But I am sure it is not tied to his iPad because it was purchased with my Apple ID.   I'll have to check up on that.

    As for whether AppleCare+ is worth it:   I say definitely YES!   Especially since, for the iPad it is so cheap (and the iPad is so easy to drop).
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