With the iPhone 4 and 4S having solid glass surfaces on both the front and the back, the idea of having an additional warranty can be an attractive one. There are many factors that will separate the different warranty options, but for most people the biggest considerations will be cost and coverage.
The first thing to decide is if you even need a warranty in the first place. The majority of warranty buyers already know they will damage their device during its life cycle. If you are someone who frequently drops your phone, or someone who lives a lifestyle where the phone is likely to get damaged, a warranty may be a wise purchase. However, if you're like many gadget lovers who are cautious to a fault with their devices, investing in gadget protecting accessories may be a better and less costly move.
Taking care of your device is always a good idea, and helps protect its value. We recommend screen protectors, cases/skins, and regular cleaning/maintenance for your device to keep it in top form. Check out one of our partners, ZAGG.com, to find a great collection of gadget-protecting gear for iPhones and other devices.
A second consideration is how often you upgrade. If you upgrade yearly you can use the free one-year Apple warranty included with your device. This will cover tech support and any manufacturing defects that come up. However, it will not cover damage, so if you are clumsy with your phone it would be wise to purchase an additional warranty.
If you do decide to purchase a warranty, you will have three options to choose from. Your first choice is to purchase the Apple warranty called AppleCare. An AppleCare plan is an extension of the free one-year warranty offered by Apple that also covers battery problems and failures. The cost of this plan is $99 for each additional year and does not cover accidental damage.
The next option is the warranty plan from AT&T: Mobile Protect Pack. This plan is backed by Asurion, which is the biggest warranty provider in the country. The AT&T plan covers loss, theft, and water damage for $10 a month with a deductible of $199, which covers all iPhone models.
The last option is choosing one of many third party plans from authorized dealers, retailers, or warranty suppliers. The most popular offering from SquareTrade will cost you $94 for 2 years of coverage or $124 for 3 years of coverage. This plan will cover all damage, but will not cover loss or theft. The plan has a $50 deductible.
Once you've considered the factors above, making your final decision about purchasing a warranty should be fairly simple. If you fear for your device and have a history of damaging your phone, then getting a warranty is the right move.
For those who trust themselves to take care of their devices and tend to be early adopters or frequent upgraders, a warranty may be overkill for you. With the cost of smart phones and plans at a high, the additional cost of a warranty will bite into your resale cost each time you upgrade.
Warranty or not, we would recommend that all smart phone users grab a protective case or skin as well as a screen protector to keep their phone in tip-top shape.