Apple nixing $69 iPhone AppleCare for $99 AppleCare+

Following a series of conflicting reports from AppleCare representatives, iLounge has confirmed that Apple intends to phase out its $69 AppleCare Protection Plan for iPhone in favor of the $99 AppleCare+ for iPhone, a change that will have major implications for future iPhone customers. As of today, the $69 plan may still be purchased during the iPhone’s one-year standard warranty period—unlike the new AppleCare+ plan, which must be purchased at the point-of-sale—but only for the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4, not the iPhone 4S.

According to AppleCare representatives, AppleCare will be “phased out” or “discontinued” for iPhones, remaining an option for customers who purchased their phones prior to the introduction of the AppleCare+ plan, until all potentially eligible customers have exhausted their one-year warranty periods, sometime on or near October 13, 2012. Notably, AppleCare+ is currently not available in all countries, and the prior AppleCare Protection Plan for iPhone is still promoted as the primary option for customers where AppleCare+ is not available. In the United States, Apple’s AppleCare page for iPhone now lists only AppleCare+, while no mention is made of the $69 plan.

Introduced in July 2007, the original AppleCare Protection Plan extends the iPhone’s one-year of defect- and battery-related repair coverage to two years. The new AppleCare+ plan goes beyond this by adding coverage for up to two incidents of accidental damage due to handling, each subject to an additional $49 service fee. The difference in the packages means that customers will need to pay more up front, and immediately, as the AppleCare+ plan must be purchased with a new iPhone. Additional charges may apply down the road, depending on how fortunate the user is in preventing damage to the handset. Previously, AppleCare representatives had the option to repair an accidentally damaged iPhone one time without charge to the user, a customer satisfaction policy that we have been told will no longer be permitted with AppleCare+‘s introduction.

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