Apple Watch Ultra repairs can be extremely expensive without AppleCare
On Wednesday, Apple introduced the Apple Watch Ultra, a $799 wearable for people who participate in extreme activities like mountain climbing, ultra-marathon running or diving. But as MacRumors points out, breaking its screen, buttons, sensors, or various other parts during any of these actions can be very expensive: If you don’t have AppleCare Plus, a watch repair will cost $499 (we’ll get to that in a minute), according to an estimation tool on Apple’s website. That’s significantly more than the $299 repair for the entry-level Series 8.
Battery replacement on the Ultra will also cost more than Apple’s less extreme watches, coming in at $99 instead of $79. This makes some sense; The Ultra has a much larger battery than the Series 8, with Apple estimating it will last twice as long.
While I get that it’s always fun to poke fun at Apple’s sometimes outlandish prices — I still laugh at the $19 microfiber polishing cloth — I do understand a bit why the Ultra would cost so much to repair. Apple watches are generally small and glued together, and neither component makes for easy repairs. Apple has two options when you send in your broken watch. It can just recycle it and send you a refurbished one, or hire people with serious skills to actually fix it. None of these options are exactly cheap.
Fair or not, the Ultra’s high repair cost is not unique. Apple estimates you’ll pay the same $499 to repair the Titanium Series 7 Edition, which tracks that the Ultra is made from the same materials. (Footnote says shipping is free for Apple Watch Editions, where you’d have to pay for it. Apple didn’t immediately respond to The Verge’s request to ask if it would cover shipping for Ultras as well.) Those aren’t the most expensive repairs, either; If you break your Ceramic Series 5, you could be out $800 if you want to fix it without AppleCare Plus.
Speaking of AppleCare, however, it’s really the solution here. Apple’s protection plan for the Ultra is $100 upfront (or $4.99 per month) and will bring repairs down to a more manageable $79. If you get your Ultra repaired once — and if you’re one of those “outdoor adventurers” who market Apple’s watch, you probably have to at some point — you’ll come away with AppleCare. Plus, Apple recently made it so that the policy covers unlimited repairs instead of just two a year, which is a boon for those pushing themselves and their gear to its limits.