Refurbished iPhone Screens: Are They Worth It?
If your the overly clumsy type you’ve likely had your iPhone LCD screen replaced multiple times. This is pretty common, especially with 8+ iterations of Apple’s famous smartphone on the market, and has caused a surge in the third party repair market which is now a multiple billion dollar market. What many serial phone-breakers don’t know is the different types of LCD screens that are being installed on their device, what the difference is, and what’s worth paying for and what’s to be avoided.
You may have heard shops refer to screens as original, OEM, Apple Certified, copy or refurbished and for non-tech people this can be confusing. Today’s post will go over the differences and ideally help educate you on the differences between each type of screen.
How Replacement LCD’s Work On iPhone’s
Whether you’ve broken your iPhone screen or it’s damaged and has issues responding to touch, the entire front assembly will have to be replaced. There is currently no consumer-facing method that’s cost-effective to fix small cracks, blemishes or surface damages without replacing the entire front assembly.
What many Apple users fail to realise is that Apple themselves don’t fix screens individually and opt to give you a previously refurbished device if you go to them to remedy a physically damaged device. They will install a new and original Apple LCD on your replacement device, but are the screens you’re getting a the mall phone repair kiosk in Halifax or Toronto any better? Let us explain.
Copy vs. Refurbished iPhone LCD Digitizers
Often these shops may not be 100% transparent with their customers and offer to explain the type of screen they are installing. For newer phones this can make a huge difference in terms of quality, color and general usage, but for older phones not so much. Before we get into what the difference is, it’s important to know that ALL cellular parts and accessories are sourced from China and there is nothing wrong with this. It is simply the reality of the markets at the moment, and just because low quality parts come from the Far East, doesn’t necessarily mean all parts are lacking.
What does ‘Copy’ LCD Mean?
A copy LCD is basically a manufacturer that has taken all the schematics of, say for example an iPhone 6S LCD digitizer and produced an exact duplicate that preforms the same functions. These do not contain any original Apple components but preform ALL of the same functions. Your touch will work, the glass will look and feel the same – your essentially good to go. The benefits of these is they are much cheaper to acquire than refurbished screens and these savings are always passed onto you.
The pitfalls of copy LCD’s are that generally for newer models of iPhone’s such as the iPhone 7/7+ when it was released, the quality isn’t stable. Manufacturers haven’t been producing them in enough quantity to smooth out quality defects and often the colour and vibrancy of the LCD is not up to par. The difference is noticeable early on, but generally by this point – the end of 2017 – quality has sufficiently improved.
OK, So What About Refurbished/OEM?
The basic difference between refurbished and copy LCD screens are pretty stark. Refurbished screens are 100% Apple original screens that have been removed from original Apple iPhone devices. Typically larger repair outlets may keep their customers screens that have broken glass and working LCD’s and either replace the glass overlay themselves with refurbishing equipment. This leaves the backlight and LCD underneath one hundred percent original, which solves the issue of the faded or low quality colours in the LCD.
Refurbished LCD’s are often sold as OEM, due the threat of copyright infringement from Apple themselves. For newer devices, we would advise going with OEM screens as you avoid the quality stability issues that plague copy LCD’s.
Telling The Difference Between OEM & Copy iPhone LCD’s
The way you can tell difference between a copy and a refurbished or OEM LCD is simple. The flex cable on the back of the screen itself should have a clear and uninfringed white Apple logo if it’s original. These are very hard to fake due to shipping restrictions on material that is seen as a copyright infringement. If you are being offered an OEM screen at a slightly higher price point which is normal, we’d recommend asking to see the screen for yourself to verify that it is actually an original OEM assembly.