Smartphone Warranties - Are They Worth The Extra Cost?


In today's iFUBAR series, we're gonna discuss a topic that I have completely flip-flopped on since my original stance. It's an important consideration for current and prospective iPhone owners.

I have long been an advocate for passing on extended warranties with electronics purchases. The reason? It's almost pure profit for the seller (the store, not the manufacturer).

Back in 1990 when I graduated from college and started my first engineering job, I discovered the "extended warranty option" when I went out on my first shopping spree to furnish my appartment.

I was very proud to buy a home CD player (the old kind that measured 2' by 1' that stacked on top of your stereo receiver) for about $100. But when I went to check out, I was offered an "extended warranty" for $20.

I turned it down based on the fact that the CD player should be dependable enough to last without an extra extended in-store warranty, and if the manufacturer couldn't stand behind their quality, I shouldn't buy it in the first place.

For the next 20 years, my advice has always been against buying extended warranties on electronics because they go straight to the pockets of the retailers. Often times, manufacturers would still directly cover a defective device if you dealt with them directly.

But in this day and age of the amazing iPhone, my mindset has most recently changed. When you're buying a $700 pocket computer, you are risking a whole lot more of your hard earned cash than what I was putting at risk with that first CD player I purchased.

It's a great thing that Apple covers defects with their phones when they are sold with pre-existing problems. But the problem is, the phones are so fragile that googles more are broken by the consumers than the number that are sold with factory defects.

When you buy expensive stereo components for your house, you're not going to pack them around in your back pocket, sit on them, and crack them. When is the last time you carried your 52" plasma TV with you every where you go?

Your iPhone 4S that you currently carry everywhere you go costs about the same as a decent-sized flat screen LCD/LED/Plasma TV. Its easy portability means you are at constant risk of breaking it.

Therefore, unless you don't mind burning $700 in the blink of an eye, you better take extra means to protect your investment.

You can get a warranty that will cover your stupid clumsy mistakes and foul-ups for about $100, plus a $50 deductible. They'll let you tear up your iPhone any way you want 2 times within your 2-year contract.

If you're like me, a clutz who is hard on smartphones, this is a no-brainer of an investment. I managed to break both of my iPhones (a 3GS and a 4) and did not have either one under a warranty to cover my own stupidity.

My bottom line advice to you is that if ya gotta own that slick little iPhone 4S (or a 4, or even a 3GS), get the extended replacement warranty. It's only about 15% more than the value of the phone.

You'll be glad you did if the unfortunate day comes that your iPhone becomes iFUBAR.

Carlton Flowers
iFUBAR Advisor