AppleCare vs Samsung Premium vs SquareTrade vs carrier prices, or is phone insurance worth it

AppleCare vs Samsung Premium vs SquareTrade vs carrier prices, or is phone insurance worth it
image: iPhone XS Max vs Note 9 Katana scratch test


  • Accidental damage: for first incidents, phone insurance is worth it only for the most expensive repairs, i.e. iPhone XS/Max with AppleCare;
  • Theft or loss: phone insurance is worth it.

If you break the screen of the new iPhone XS Max or Galaxy Note 9, it will cost you the whopping $329 and $239 without insurance, respectively. Crack their backs, and the bill you are confronted with on the XS Max jumps to $599 and goes down to $99 for the Note's back panel. 

That's on top of about a week of turnaround time to get those replaced if you don't go to an Apple Store, and the only display provider is Samsung. If that is not a rallying cry to summon your inner grace each time you handle this phone or keep it in bubble wrap, we don't know what would be.

Granted, you can always put an armored case around these glass puppies, plus a layer of screen protection, but, let's face it, it won't look as good. What if you are a phone nudist, and don't place any protection so as not to cover the shiny surface, until just that one night out on the town comes, or a natural born klutz, and constantly drop your handsets? Well, then what's left for you is to either pony up a Benjamin (or six), if you shatter your high-end phone or to try and insure the gear from the get-go, so the sting on your finances is not as piercing. Which insurance to pick, though, and is it worth it at all? 

Well, we've compared a few popular options below to help you choose if you decide to go the insurance route with deductibles for expensive phones like the XS Max or the Note 9; at the prices to replace the edge display, or the iPhone's glass housing without insurance, they are the ones most likely to benefit. There are carrier (mostly handled by dedicated companies like Assurant or Asurion), manufacturer and third-party options, so take a peak, and tell us your verdict on whether this kind of protection is worth the investment for you.

The Nutshell - is phone insurance worth it?

Looking at the table above, it's easy to deduce that phone insurance doesn't come cheap, but if you are paying in monthly fees of five or ten bucks, it is bearable. Is it worth it, though? As with most comparisons, there is no straight answer that would be valid for all situations, so let's look at a few examples with the most typical accidental damages - a broken screen or a cracked back.

The best pro-insurance case is if you, say, have Apple's most expensive handsets. If you own, say, an iPhone XS Max, whose OLED screen costs $329 to replace outright, AppleCare will net you $230 for the same with the deductible. At first blush, this doesn't seem like a great bargain, but if you manage to inflict, say, another display crack for the coverage period, or a shattered back that would otherwise cost $599 to swap, or get your phone snatched, the calculation turns in favor of AppleCare. Moreover, it offers a very quick repair or replacement service in any Apple shop, as long as you make an appointment online beforehand, so you won't have to stay parted from your iPhone for too long.

If we take the case of the Note 9, a shattered screen is $239, but a cracked back just $99, as much as Samsung's Premier Care deductible, to which you also have to add the number of months you've paid $12/month for the insurance. Ditto for the other insurance options.

If you lose those phones, or they get stolen, however, you are out of luck with no-loss plans like Premier Care or SquareTrade. To cover those eventualities for Android handsets, you might want to dole out for a carrier insurance plan. It costs about as much as the other options, but you pay in small monthly installments, and the worst-case contingency covered in those plans is that your top-shelf phone gets lost or stolen. Given that those puppies cost north of $900 now, it's still worth it when you draw the line.

Of course, these pro-insurance examples are somewhat extreme, as the screen replacement for most phones is not as expensive, or you might be of the prudent type who's never got their phone lost or snatched. In that case, you could soldier on without insurance. The more you drop, lose, or are in any other way careless with your handset, however, the more any type of insurance will pay off over the span of the typical protection plan. 

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