|This article relies on references to primary sources. (July 2012)|
AppleCare is the hardware warranty and support service offered by Apple Inc. It comes included as standard with all products, offering limited hardware warranty along with phone/Internet support on its products. Additional purchase of an AppleCare Protection Plan extends both the hardware and support cover, depending on the device it's purchased for.
AppleCare covers both global parts and labor repair coverage for the device, along with phone/Internet technical support for questions about Apple hardware and software.
All Apple hardware products come with included AppleCare as standard on purchase of an Apple product. For all hardware devices this means telephone/Internet support for 90 days, along with the hardware warranty usually covering the device for one year.
The hardware cover generally covers: the device; included accessories such as the power adapter, battery, or cables; Apple-supplied memory (RAM); Apple USB SuperDrive (for MacBook Pro with Retina Display, MacBook Air, and Mac Mini only); Apple displays (purchased at same time as a Mac); and AirPort Express Base Station, AirPort Extreme Base Station, or Time Capsule (the AirPort device or Time Capsule must be purchased up to two years before a Mac purchase or during the term of the AppleCare Protection Plan coverage).
For Macs, the included software support currently includes: OS X; iLife; iWork; and connecting to printers and AirPort networks. For Mac computers running OS X Server, support covers server administration and network management issues using the graphical user interface of OS X Server. For iPods and iOS devices, included software support currently includes iOS and iCloud; iTunes syncing; downloading from the iTunes Store; HD video recording and FaceTime; connecting to Wi-Fi networks; using Apple-branded iOS apps.
Other Apple accessories each have their individual similar precise cover inclusions and exclusions.
If the Apple device requiring service is carried-in to a retail Apple Store and needs fixing, the product can typically be repaired on-site, which often means a much reduced turnaround time; often same-day repair. Currently Apple recommend the user book a Genius Bar appointment before turning up with their device in store. Alternatively, after speaking to and organizing with AppleCare representatives on the phone/Internet, devices may be mailed-in to an Apple repair center for service, typically this is Apple themselves, but can in some territories be third-party authorized Apple repairers.
Products that cannot be repaired are replaced with new or refurbished products, with identical or superior hardware specifications, depending on the circumstances involved.
AppleCare does not cover accidental damage; such as drops, spills, or liquid immersion. This is usually the same for iPhones and iPads, except in some territories (including the US and Canada) where the product is branded "AppleCare+" for iPhone and iPad, offering slightly different cover (see next section).
Unlike traditional insurance policies, AppleCare does not cover for loss or theft of devices.
AppleCare Protection Plan 
Users wanting longer cover than the standard amount included have the additional option to extend this cover by purchasing an AppleCare Protection Plan.
The AppleCare Protection Plan is sold by Apple and its authorized resellers. It is available for purchase with every major piece of Apple hardware, including smaller devices and computers, along with many of their accessories. An AppleCare Protection Plan can be purchased at the same time as the hardware, or separately after the original hardware purchase, as long as the original Apple hardware warranty is active, usually this means within the first year (see AppleCare and EU legislation section for exclusions). However for iPhones and iPads, in territories where the product is branded AppleCare+, the plan has to be purchased within 30 days of buying the device concerned.
For all hardware devices, following the included 90 day telephone/Internet support and one year hardware warranty, buying the AppleCare Protection Plan for a Mac computer or a separate AppleCare Protection Plan for Apple displays extends both support and hardware to three years, while buying an AppleCare Protection Plan for iPods and other iOS devices (sold as AppleCare+ in some territories for iPhones and iPads) can extend both support and hardware to two years. Other Apple hardware accessories have similar AppleCare Protection Plans available, generally these extend cover for up to two years following purchase.
AppleCare normally does not cover accidental damage (such as drops, spills, or liquid immersion), but in territories where the extended AppleCare Protection Plan product is branded AppleCare+ for iPhone and iPad, higher cover is offered for accidental handling damage, for an additional service fee per incident, at up to two incidents per plan holder.
Included Mac accessory coverage 
Users who purchase an AppleCare Protection Plan with any Mac computer are also automatically entitled to receive coverage for some other related Apple accessories. Along with coverage for the Mac, any additional Apple display is covered (must be purchased at same time as the Mac though), and/or any Apple AirPort device, e.g. AirPort Express Base Station, AirPort Extreme Base Station, or Time Capsule (although the AirPort device or Time Capsule must be purchased up to two years before the Mac purchase or during the term of the AppleCare Protection Plan coverage).
AppleCare Extended Service 
In some countries or areas, such as parts of Latin America, where there are no Apple offices, the "AppleCare Extended Service" product is instead available, which offers the same hardware warranty without the phone/Internet support.
AppleCare and EU legislation 
Local regulations in parts of Europe gives consumers a minimum of two years warranty on hardware defects, which overlaps the benefits of AppleCare. This effectively means that an AppleCare Protection Plan still extends phone/Internet support from 90 days on all devices. However no additional benefit is derived from purchasing an Apple Protection Plan on those devices where the Plan would only cover hardware for two years anyway. However, for Mac computers with or without any additional included covered Mac accessories, (or separately purchased Apple monitors with their own purchased Apple Protection Plan) this still extends cover to a third year from the statutory two years.
In Italy, Apple has been accused of failing to inform customers about their rights. In other countries consumer organizations are also threatening to sue Apple for not informing customers about their rights.
There are several third-party warranty providers, along with traditional insurance providers, that will also cover Apple products. Some may include accident, loss, and theft coverage as well as hardware failure. Some major retailers that sell Apple products sell their own extended service plans as well. Examples of third-party companies that provide service plans include AuralSolve, SquareTrade and Consumer Priority Service.
- Apple - Support
- Apple - AppleCare products and services
- Apple Products and Statutory Warranty
- European Consumers Centres Network