If you're an iPhone user, Apple just gave you some very good news. Well, that is if you signed up for AppleCare+. By the way, I don't buy extended warranties on anything, but I buy AppleCare. I don't have time in this column to get into all of the reasons why, but this one should be more than enough.
See, if you pay for AppleCare+, you get accidental damage coverage on your device. That means that if you drop your iPhone as you're getting out of the car, and the screen shatters, instead of paying the full cost of a replacement (which can get very expensive), you pay $29.
In September, just before the launch of the iPhone 12, Apple quietly made a change. Normally that would be bad news. Normally, when companies change the terms and conditions of a warranty, it almost never comes out in the favor of the consumer.
If you bought an iPhone in the past, you could take advantage of the accidental damage benefit twice before you had to fork over the more expensive cost for replacing your display or back. We'll leave alone the fact that if you're breaking your screen that often, you might save yourself a lot of trouble--and money--by being just a little more careful.
In this case, Apple did something really quite extraordinary. Moving forward, if you're paying the $9.99 per month subscription for AppleCare+, you can use the accidental damage repair coverage twice every 12 months. That's a pretty substantial difference. In just the first two years alone, that's double the number of incidents included under the AppleCare+ program. If you keep your phone for longer, which most people do, you're coming out ahead.
If you paid for the two-year coverage up front, you can also take advantage of the benefit, and as long as you sign up for the monthly plan within 60 days of your original coverage expiration.
Even more interesting is that Apple didn't make a big deal about this. It's not that the company was hiding it, but I only found out because I had the display replaced on my iPhone 11 Pro so I could give it to my wife now that I'm using the 12 Pro. As the Genius Bar technician was running a diagnostic test, he casually mentioned the change.
I generally stay on top of things, and I asked when the change was made. He pointed me to the terms and conditions for AppleCare. I pay pretty close attention to news related to Apple, but I do not go through the AppleCare terms and conditions, well, ever.
Ironically, Apple made the change around the same time it was introducing what it calls Ceramic Shield on the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro, which it says has 4x improved drop performance. Essentially, the composite material is more shatterproof, while maintaining scratch resistance. Apple's partner, Corning, achieves this by growing ceramic crystals within the glass to increase its durability.
In theory, this should mean you have less need for accidental damage coverage, but it sure is nice to know it's there if you do.