In a move designed to save $1B a year, Apple is now replacing damaged iPhone screens in-store in place of its previous policy of swapping them for a new handset. 512pixels.net grabbed this photo of the machine used to calibrate the screens after replacement.

The move is good news for customers too, as out-of-warranty screen replacements will cost $149 instead of the $229 cost of a replacement handset, and you won’t have to restore your data from backup (although you are of course still advised to do a backup before any kind of repair is carried out).

The move raises a question-mark about the value of AppleCare coverage for an iPhone … 

AppleCare for an iPhone costs $99, and you then pay a discounted price of $49 for a replacement for a damaged screen. So you’re effectively making a $99 bet that you’ll damage your screen, and only come out even if you do. Of course, AppleCare covers more than the screen, but it’s the most likely thing to get damaged, and it’s also rumored that in-store screen replacement is just the first of a series of other repairs Apple will be offering in-store, meaning that other repairs too are likely to get cheaper.

However, changes may be afoot for AppleCare itself: another rumor suggests that Apple is planning to introduce the coverage on a per-customer rather than per-device basis, with a single subscription covering all the Apple devices you own. We’ll of course bring you details when we hear more.

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About the Author

Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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