Preorders for Apple’s brand-new HomePod Mini kicked off last week. If you were one of the many who secured one — shipping estimates are now bumping back to December — you might have been tempted to slap AppleCare into your shopping cart, too.
To me, the notion of buying AppleCare for a smart speaker that will likely spend most of its life sitting on a bookshelf for entertainment centre feels absurd. I have quite a few smart speakers, and I’ve never, ever dropped them, spilled liquid on them, or done anything to them other then speak to them in calm, soothing tones. But if you’re incredibly clumsy — or, more likely, you live in a house with small children or boisterous pets — AppleCare for the HomePod Mini isn’t that bad of a deal.
Out of the gate, AppleCare for the HomePod Mini costs an extra $20, which is only one-sixth the price of the HomePod Mini itself. Throughout the next two years, any accidental damage that your smart speaker encounters can be repaired for $20 per instance, up to two instances in total. And, of course, if your HomePod Mini starts struggling and you didn’t do anything to it, your regular warranty is extended to a total of two years.
If you don’t have AppleCare and accidentally mess up your HomePod Mini, Apple also charges you a service fee to repair it. And that fee is a whopping $110, all of $30 cheaper than it would be to buy a brand-new HomePod Mini itself. You won’t get a break if, say, you rip the mesh fabric on your otherwise functional device; you’ll pay the same price as if you knocked the HomePod Mini off a shelf and it stopped working entirely.
For what it’s worth, Apple treats the larger HomePod the same way. An out-of-warranty fix costs nearly $400, or $60 less than the full price of the HomePod. These fees seems a bit extravagant unless Apple is basically saying, “We’re giving you a new one and scrapping the old one for parts,” which is kind of what it sounds like.
While I still think that AppleCare for a smart speaker is, in most cases, an overly cautious waste of $20, don’t hesitate to splurge for it if your household has a tendency to break things that you place on shelves. Otherwise, you might as well not even bother Apple to repair your broken speaker. Recycle it and start again.