One of Apple’s key differentiators is AppleCare, which offers that added piece of mind when you attach it to your Apple branded bride and joy.

AppleCare covers devices for repair due to faults an extra year beyond the usual warranty period, and gives buyers 90 days of free telephone support for their products. It’s a very popular scheme, with numerous stories of people receiving completely new Macs well after their current one was no longer being sold.

The one negative often leveled against AppleCare is the fact that it doesn’t cover accidental damage, but Apple is seeking to put that right, with the addition of AppleCare+.

Aimed squarely at iPhone owners, AppleCare+ adds accidental breakage protection to the mix, meaning that users no longer have to take out their original AppleCare, and then a separate, often expensive, insurance.

“Every iPhone comes with one year of hardware repair coverage through its limited warranty and up to 90 days of complimentary support. AppleCare+ for iPhone extends your coverage to two years from the original purchase date of your iPhone1 and adds up to two incidents of accidental damage coverage, each subject to a $49 service fee.2 Whether you use your iPhone with a Mac or a PC, just one phone call can help resolve most issues.”

AppleCare+ costs new iPhone buyers $99, and it does have to be taken out at the same time an iPhone is purchased. No retro-active AppleCare+ here, though we suspect that, as with so many things at the Apple Store, that could very much depend on how lucky you are with your particular Genius.

That $99 outlay means that Apple will then cover your iPhone for accidental damage, twice. You can crack your screen, drop the handset in a bucket of water, or put it through the washing machine, but you can only do it twice. Each repair will cost a flat rate of $49, which depending on what needs replacing, isn’t such a bad deal at all. Remember, brand new iPhones can run past the $600 mark, depending on your particular model.

With the iPhone 4S seemingly made of the same crack-prone glass as its predecessor, perhaps AppleCare+ is going to be a necessity if we’re going to avoid having to splash the cash for a broken handset, unless we want to take our chances with the insurance companies!

Thanks to John for the tip via email!

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