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T-Mobile Adds Applecare Coverage to Device Protection Plan

Detail of a smart phone with a cracked screenPhotograph by Getty Images

T-Mobile added Applecare to its premium phone protection program on Monday, giving its iPhone and iPad customers the benefit of Apple’s official extended warranty service for an extra charge.

All of the major carriers offer extra-cost, insurance-like protection programs to cover customers’ lost or damaged phones. But consumer advocates have raised concerns that some repairs done under the programs aren’t sanctioned by Apple and have occasionally resulted in bigger technical problems with the phones and voided warranties.

Often, Apple provides repairs more cheaply than the carriers’ services and, without its work voiding iPhone warranties.

T-Mobile said it would add the official Applecare protection to its $12-per-month premium device protection plan, which also offers data back up service and malware protection services. Subscribers opting for the carrier’s similarly priced JUMP upgrade program, which lets customers upgrade phones more frequently, will also get Applecare coverage.

T-Mobile had used a third-party repair firm called Assurant to fix broken phones under its protection plan previously. Assurant will continue to provide repairs under T-Mobile’s basic device protection plan, which costs $10 per month, and for customers who don’t own Apple devices.

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Among the benefits of Applecare coverage, customers who crack the screen on their iPhone can have the device repaired up to two times for only $29 each. Meanwhile, the plan will also cover the entire cost of replacing a failing battery on one occasion.

Apple charges $129 for two years of Applecare coverage, considerably less than the $288 cost of paying for two years of T-Mobile’s (TMUS) premium device protection plan. But the carrier’s offering also replaces lost and stolen phones after a $175 deductible.

Apple’s plan doesn’t cover such incidents.

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Still, smartphone owners rarely lose or damage their devices, according to surveys by Consumer Reports. Only 15% of respondents suffered serious damage to their phones, and just 2% had a phone lost or stolen.

Instead of carrying insurance, consumers who lose a phone could buy a used replacement on their own from a reputable seller via eBay (EBAY), Gazelle, or similar services. A used Apple (AAPL) iPhone 7 sells for about $500, and the 6S can be had for around $400.