On Wednesday, Apple introduced the Apple Watch Ultra, a $799 wearable meant for people partaking in extreme activities like climbing mountains, running ultra-marathons, or diving. But as MacRumors points out, breaking its screen, button, sensors, or other various parts while doing any of these activities could be very expensive: repairs for the watch will cost $499 if you don’t have AppleCare Plus (we’ll get to that in a minute), according to an estimate tool on Apple’s website. That’s significantly more than the $299 repair for an entry-level Series 8.
Getting the battery replaced on an Ultra will also cost more than it would for Apple’s less extreme watches, coming in at $99 instead of $79. That does make some sense; the Ultra likely has a much bigger battery than the Series 8, given that Apple estimates it’ll last twice as long.
While I do get that it’s always fun to poke fun at Apple’s sometimes out-there pricing — I still sometimes have a giggle at the $19 microfiber polishing cloth — I do somewhat understand why the Ultra’s repairs will cost so much. Apple Watches are generally tiny and glued together, and neither of those factors makes for easy repairs. That more or less leaves Apple with two options when you send it your broken watch; it can just recycle it and send you a refurbished one, or it can hire folks with serious skills to actually repair it. Neither of those options is exactly cheap.
Fair or not, the Ultra’s high repair price isn’t unique. Apple estimates you’d have to pay the same $499 to get a Titanium Series 7 Edition repaired, which tracks given that the Ultra is made from the same material. (A footnote does say that shipping is free for Apple Watch Editions, where you have to pay for it otherwise. Apple didn’t immediately respond to The Verge’s request for comment on whether it’d cover shipping for the Ultra too.) Those aren’t even the most expensive repairs, though; if you break your ceramic Series 5, you could be out $800 if you want it fixed without AppleCare Plus.
Speaking of AppleCare, though, that’s really the solution here. Apple’s protection plan for the Ultra is $100 upfront (or $4.99 a month), and that’ll knock repairs down to a much more manageable $79. If you get your Ultra repaired even once — and let’s face it if you’re one of the “outdoor adventurers” Apple’s marketing the watch to, you’ll probably have to at some point — you’ll come out way ahead with AppleCare. Plus, Apple just made it so the policy covers unlimited repairs instead of just two a year, which is a boon for those who’ll be pushing themselves and their gear to its limits.
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