The iPhone 14 series (except iPhone 14 Plus) are already shipping out to users globally. In addition, Apple Watch Series 8, Apple Watch Ultra, Apple Watch SE 2, and AirPods Pro 2 have been launched for sale. However, the launch of these devices is not the only thing Apple did. The company also made some salient changes to its policies. According to reports, earlier this month, Apple quietly made some changes to the AppleCare+ program. The company extended the warranties on Apple products and added to the coverage for accidental damage. While AppleCare+ previously offered accidental damage service twice a year, Apple now says repairs are “unlimited.”
Although Apple did not publicly announce the changes, the company do not intend to keep it that way. Apple is now sending emails to its AppleCare customers. The email is a reminder of the changes to the AppleCare+ program.
The email from Apple re-emphasizes the accidental damage repair coverage for the AppleCare+ program. According to the company, the repair coverage for accidental damage is now indefinite. This is way better than the previous twice a year. Of course, users can only have access to this if their subscription plan is active. Apple also says the extra protection is “at no extra cost”. Also, customers don’t have to do anything to get unlimited protection against accidental damage.
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“Your AppleCare+ plan now protects covered devices from unlimited incidents of accidental damage while the plan is in effect (instead of being supported twice every 12 months). Each incident is subject to an applicable service fee. There is no extra charge for protection, and users don’t have to do anything.”
How real is the AppleCare+ program?
As of now, we can not tell whether Apple is serious about the AppleCare+ program changes. It is possible that the company has practical limits so as to prevent abuse of the program. The price for an active AppleCare+ subscription varies depending on the device. Furthermore, customers can choose to either pay monthly or pay the full annual cost at once. For the iPhone 14, AppleCare+ costs $9.99 per month or the full price of $199. It’s worth noting that even if you subscribe to AppleCare+, you still need to pay Apple for the service if your device needs repairs.
Apple’s official website states, “Each iPhone comes with a 1-year hardware warranty and up to 90 days of free phone technical support within the limited warranty period. The AppleCare+ service plan for iPhone extends your service coverage and also provides an unlimited number of accidental damage warranty services, each time a corresponding service fee is charged: for screen or glass back panel damage, a service fee of RMB 188 ($26) is charged; for other accidental damage, a service fee of RMB 628 ($88) is charged”.
Apple also has a more expensive AppleCare+ plan that covers theft and loss. While this plan has also been upgraded to unlimited repairs, it still only covers up to two incidents of theft or loss per year.
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Apple is the largest customer of 4-5 nanometer cutting-edge semiconductors
The more advanced the semiconductor, the more powerful the device. At the moment, 14nm and 7nm chips are chip popular and relatively cheaper. However, the more powerful 4nm and 5nm chips are not so common. These chips are reserved for flagship devices and they are quite expensive too. Apple held a new product launch conference and officially released the iPhone 14 / Pro series. The iPhone 14 / iPhone 14 Plus comes with the old A15 Bionic SoC which uses a 5nm manufacturing process. However, the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max uses the A16 Bionic SoC which uses the 4nm manufacturing process. Apple claims that the A16 Bionic is the first 4nm mobile chip.
According to a report by Nikkei Asia, Japanese research company Techno Systems Research (TSR) recently investigated the foundry status and equipment investment trends of semiconductor foundry companies such as TSMC and Samsung Electronics. The customer share of cutting-edge logic semiconductors released by TSR, from the perspective of logic semiconductor customers with a circuit line width of 4-5 nanometers, Apple in the United States is expected to account for 53% of the global share in 2022. This will make it the largest 4-5 nanometer cutting-edge semiconductor customer. This also implies that Apple uses more advanced chips than other brands. Furthermore, the sales of the iPhone 14 series may affect the equipment investment trends of cutting-edge semiconductors.
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Apple is the largest buyer of cutting-edge semiconductors
At present, Apple has become the largest buyer of cutting-edge semiconductors. After 2020, Apple’s MacBook laptops and iPad tablets always have 5-nanometer semiconductors. Of course, since the iPhone 12 series, iPhones have been using 4-5 nanometer chips. Although there has been a surplus of semiconductor supply at a time when consumer electronics markets such as mobile phones and PCs are shrinking, in the field of 4-5 nanometer cutting-edge semiconductors, supply is still in short supply.
At present, manufacturers that can supply 5-nanometer chips are limited to two foundry companies, TSMC and Samsung. TSR said that TSMC’s leading position has not changed. More than 60% of the supply capacity of 4-5 nanometer chips comes from TSMC. In August, TSMC said that 3-nanometer chips “will be mass-produced soon”. If the number of products using 3-nanometer chips increases in the final products put on the market in 2023, there will be a surplus of 4-5 nanometer supply capacity.
According to a previous report, tech blogger @MobileChipDaren once said that Apple is currently preparing 40 million A17 (N3E) processors for the iPhone 15 series next year (2023). Just as we have in the iPhone 14 series, only the Pro models of the iPhone 15 will switch to new processors.