I don’t generally bother with AppleCare. My usual view is that, like any other extended warranty, it offers poor value for money. You’re paying a lot of money upfront for coverage you’ll likely never need.
Most Mac faults are going to make themselves known well inside the first year of standard Apple warranty coverage. The likelihood of a major fault occurring in the interval between the standard warranty expiring and AppleCare doing the same is very low. (There’s an additional factor at play in the EU, which I’ll get to later as it won’t be relevant to U.S. readers.)
iFixit’s teardown rated it a 1/10 for repairability, noting the glued-down 5-cell battery, the extreme difficulty in removing the Touch Bar component (they actually broke it during removal) and pointing out that even the most trivial of faults could get massively expensive.
Because the Touch ID sensor doubles as the power button, which pairs with the Apple T1 chip on the logic board, fixing a broken power switch will likely require replacing the entire logic board.
Similarly, because both RAM and SSD chips are soldered-in, a failure with either would likewise require a whole new logic board. Oh, and that lovely new display? Bonded into the lid of the machine. In short, DIY and third-party repairs are not going to be practical, and an Apple repair is likely to be extremely costly. For once, that $349 outlay to protect a 15-inch MacBook Pro looks like a smart move.
Things are a little less clear-cut for those who live in an EU country. EU law says that manufacturers must guarantee products against manufacturing defects for a minimum of two years. In the UK, the law goes even further, stating that products must last for a ‘reasonable’ time, and that this could – in some cases – be up to six years. (Here, what is considered ‘reasonable’ depends on both the product type and the price paid. Home appliances are expected to last longer than laptops, for example, and premium brands longer than budget ones.)
However, in both EU and UK law the operative phrase is ‘manufacturing defects.’ This means you could be placed in a position where Apple says the fault was not present at the time of sale and therefore only the 1-year Apple warranty applies. Unless you can prove otherwise (and how would you?), you may be left out of luck.
So for me at least, with my super-expensive maxed-out machine, I’m handing over the cash for one more dongle: an AppleCare policy.