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Is Your Phone’s 1-Year Warranty Really Enough?

You’ve just spent way too much money on a brand new phone.

The iPhone 15 Pro or Google Pixel 8 Pro, the two latest flagship devices from Apple and Google, respectively, both start at $999 — and that’s for the lowest storage option. I haven’t even mentioned accessories: You definitely want a phone case and a screen protector, but you could also go for a portable battery pack, a phone stand or better cables.

By the time you’re done, you’ve spent way more than you wanted, which is why you don’t necessarily want to think about spending even more money on an insurance plan.


Watch this: Review: The iPhone 15 Pro, 15 Pro Max Are Impressive

While your phone does come with a factory warranty, that doesn’t cover theft, loss or accidental damage — it only covers manufacturing defects. If you’re careful, you might get away with only having a warranty. Just don’t crack your screen, drop it in liquid, lose your phone or have it stolen. 

Unfortunately, I’m not careful. I’m not necessarily careless, but I think it’s safe to say that I’ll inevitably drop my phone while I’m fishing it out of my pocket or getting out of the car. I have a phone case, but drop the phone at the wrong angle and that won’t matter. Also, I’ve left my phone at a bar and on the seat after a ride-share. And I’ve been pickpocketed.

Various phones

If you’re like me, insurance might be a good idea.

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

And I’m not alone. A study from a few years ago found that 87 million Americans repaired a damaged phone in the preceding 12 months. (Damaged screens were the No. 1 repair, if you’re curious, making up 45% of fixes). And that’s not counting people who decided to purchase brand new phones entirely after damage.

So if you’re like me, what can you do beyond a warranty to protect your phone?

In this story, I’ll take a closer look at the various manufacturer warranties from Apple, Google and Samsung and determine if that’s enough for you. I’ll also check out a few insurance plans, including from AT&T, Verizon, Allstate and Asurion, that can provide you with extended coverage — if that’s what you’re looking for. 

For more, here’s our review of the iPhone 15 and what’s behind the Pixel 8 cameras.

Google Pixel 8 Pro

A warranty can be enough for you, if you’re careful.

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

Manufacturer warranty vs. phone insurance: What’s the difference?

Before we get into what sort of phone protection plan you should consider, it’s good to know the difference between a warranty and insurance, because sometimes it can get confusing figuring out what’s covered and what’s not.

A manufacturer warranty is a free guarantee that comes with the purchase of your phone and allows you to get a repair, replacement or refund for a phone with a factory defect, like the “Antennagate” problem with the iPhone 4 all those years ago. A warranty covers your device for a fixed number of years (usually one but sometimes two years) — but you may have the option to pay to extend once it’s over.  

Note: Phone warranties don’t cover accidental damage, theft or loss.

For broader coverage, there’s phone insurance, and it can — depending on the plan — cover your phone if it’s lost, stolen or accidentally damaged. Most insurance claims require a deductible (although not all do), so you may need to cover a bit of the cost up front. But the cost of insurance plus a deductible can be substantially lower than paying for repairs or replacements without insurance. You can get insurance through an insurer or from your phone maker or carrier, and you can have it indefinitely.

Don’t miss: AppleCare Plus vs. Phone Insurance: Which Is the Better Deal?

We’ll look into more insurance options, below.

Note: You may have limits on how many claims you can make in a year. Apple, for example, limits theft and loss claims to two every 12 months. And to make a claim for a lost iPhone, you need to have Find My enabled at the time of the loss. Each insurance plan varies.

Hand holding an iPhone and Samsung phone

The iPhone 15 and Galaxy S23 both have a one-year factory warranty. Is it enough?

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

So is a factory warranty enough?

Well, it depends on what could happen to your phone in its first year.

With an Apple warranty, for example, a new iPhone comes with one year of hardware repair coverage for manufacturing defects. Same with Samsung: One year for “defective material and manufacturing faults.” Google’s the same: One year warranty for defects “through no fault of your own.” 

If there’s a defect, you’ll probably hear something about it directly from the phone company. If the defect is widespread enough, you’ll be able to ship the device or take it in-store to get it fixed or replaced. At no cost to you.

However, none of these warranties cover a cracked screen, a broken rear camera or other damage you may accidentally cause. So what’s it cost to cover accidental damages?

Let’s look at screen repair: With the new iPhone 15 Pro Max, for example, Apple estimates you’ll pay $379 to repair a cracked screen. With Samsung, the cost of a screen repair depends on the model, starting at a little over $100 for the Galaxy A54 5G, $260 for the Galaxy S23 Ultra and up to $499 for a Galaxy Fold

See the chart below for examples of the estimated cost to repair a screen without insurance, from Apple and Samsung. 

Screen repair without insurance

Phone model Cost to repair screen
iPhone 15 Pro Max $379
iPhone 12, 13, 14, 15 $279
iPhone 11 $199
Samsung Fold $499
Galaxy S23 Ultra $259
Galaxy S23 $174

Without insurance, you have to pay all of that, out of pocket, each time you need to repair your screen. If you break your iPhone 15 Pro Max display twice in a year, that’s nearly $800 that you’ll need to spend — on a device that starts at $1,199.

Insurance softens that financial hit, if a repair or replacement is needed.

So what are your insurance options?

Again, insurance isn’t for everyone. If you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on an insurance policy, and you don’t tend to break or lose your phone, you probably don’t need insurance. 

For me, though, I’ve had more than my fair share of phone “accidents,” so insurance buys me peace of mind. 

To help think about choices, let’s look at some numbers. Remember that even with insurance, you’ll usually have a deductible to cover for a repair or replacement. And your insurance may have a cap on the number of claims you can make in 12 months.

Insurance through your cellphone maker  

With Apple, you have two options: AppleCare Plus, which covers unlimited incidents of accidental damage, and AppleCare Plus with Theft and Loss, which includes AppleCare Plus’ coverage plus up to two incidents of theft or loss coverage every year. AppleCare Plus starts at $4 a month, and AppleCare Plus with Theft and Loss starts at $7 a month, depending on your phone. 

As for deductibles, for screen or back glass damage, you’ll pay $29; for other accidental damage such as spills, $99; and for theft or loss, $149.

If you’ve got a Galaxy S or Fold, Samsung has Samsung Care Plus, its version of AppleCare Plus. Again, you have two options: Samsung Care Plus for device damage only and Samsung Care Plus Theft and Loss for replacing your device when it’s stolen or lost. Samsung Care Plus starts at $3 a month, while Samsung Care Plus Theft and Loss’ pricing begins at $8 a month, with varying deductibles for mechanical breakdowns, cracked screen repair and phone replacement. It all just depends on your device (To see this in action, this summer, I got to check out Samsung’s specialized Galaxy smartphone repair service.)

With Google, you’ll pay $12 a month for its Preferred Care coverage for the Pixel 8 Pro and $8 a month for the Pixel 8. The plan covers accidental damage like cracks, liquid spills, and other mechanical and electrical breakdown. You’ll pay a $29 deductible to replace the screen on Google’s newest phones.

Note: You may need to sign up for insurance within a set number of days after your purchase, like 30 days. See the chart, below, for examples of costs.

Phone manufacturer insurance cost

Insurance plan Monthly plan, depending on model Deductible for screen repair
AppleCare Plus $4 to $10 $29
Samsung Care Plus $3 to $11 $29
Google Preferred Care $5 to $12 $29

Insurance through your cellphone carrier

You can also get insurance with your mobile provider, which may be easier if you’ve purchased your phone from a carrier. Note that carriers may work with an outside insurer like Asurion to provide coverage. And as with AppleCare Plus or Samsung Care Plus, you may have a limit on the number of repairs you can claim in a year with your carrier’s phone insurance policy.

Starting at $14 a month, for example, AT&T lets you make unlimited claims for screen repairs, three claims for theft or loss and two claims for accidental damage from handling — all in a 12 month period. See the chart below for examples. 

Carrier insurance cost

Insurance plan Monthly plan, depending on model Deductible for screen repair
AT&T Protect Advantage $14 to $17 $29
T-Mobile Protection<360> $7 to $25 $29
Verizon Mobile Protect $14 or $17 No deductible

Insurance through an insurer

Of course, you can go around the manufacturers and carriers and get insurance on your own. Asurion, for example, lets you insure a phone starting at $5 a month for the first three months and then $10 each month after with unlimited screen repairs. Allstate has a $13 monthly plan that includes phone repair and roadside service, with a $149 deductible on all repairs. 

Insurance company cost

Insurance plan Monthly plan, depending on model Deductible for screen repair
Akko $5 to $12 $29
Allstate $13 $149
Asurion $10 after 3 month trial $29
Progressive $7 to 13 $75

Before you sign up, look over the details, such as how many claims you can make it a in year and if you need to sign up right after your purchase.

You also might have secondary phone insurance coverage — meaning any of the above options would reimburse first — through a credit card benefit provided by paying your bill, through homeowners insurance or through renters insurance. Certain credit cards will provide insurance for damages to a phone as long as you pay your wireless plan bill using them. Homeowners insurance and renters insurance policies might also cover for phone theft, but exact coverage terms vary from plan to plan.

For more on this fall’s new phones, here’s what to know about the Pixel 8 and the changes in the new Pixel phones.

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