Have you ever called around to get a price quote for your iPhone, iPad, iPod or Mac computer repair? If you have you already know how difficult it is to decipher what you are paying for. Everyone claims their parts are "original apple" or "oem screens" they assure you that the only difference is what they make on the repair. They make you feel like they take a smaller profit or have better sources for parts so that you can benefit from a lower price. The truth is, you are getting exactly what you are paying for; inferior iPhone replacement screens. Right now you can have the cracked screen replaced on your iPhone for less than 100 dollars in most cases but how do you know what you are paying for? I will outline for you the two main qualities of iPhone replacement screens I have seen over the years, OEM and A/A- iPhone screens, and how this can result in a 20 to 40 dollar difference in your iPhone repair.
Is this an original Apple part? No!
Any person or company willing to say they have "original" or "genuine" iPhone, iPad, iPod parts is either grossly misinformed or lying to your face. The sad truth is, we would love to offer genuine apple replacement parts there is just no way of getting them (outside of being an apple authorized service center; you can check here https://locate.apple.com/). Apple, with their closed eco-system, wants to sell you their products and fix their products, if they want to, all while charging you a hefty premium to do so. That leaves independent iPhone, iPad, iPod and Mac repair shops with a few different choices. The dominant two are OEM and aftermarket (A/A-), again neither one is an "Apple Genuine Part".
Now that you have 3 quick visible differences for all iPhone replacement screens you can finally know if you are being misled to the quality of your replacement screen and why some companies can offer you deep "discounts" that blow the competition out of the water! Since an OEM iPhone replacement screen will have identical features to your fresh out of the box iPhone screen I will outline a few ways the aftermarket A/A- screens differ to offer a lower price. A/A- replacement screen are going to be what you will find in most, even the big guys, repair shops because they can save lots of money and most customers will never be able to tell the difference.
1 - Weak Glass - The glass used on the A/A- replacement screens is, in most cases, either thinner or un-tempered (tempering a a process used to harden glass.. read more), often both. They break much easier, we know from experience, causing you to need another iPhone screen.
2 - LCD Flex Cable and Copy Digitizer - It may not seem like a big deal to have an aftermarket cable running from the iPhone replacement to your iPhone motherboard but it is. Often times this result in slightly slower performance, lower sensitivity to touch, all while consuming more battery.
3 - Aftermarket Back light - perhaps the easiest to spot as you iPhone will no longer be as bright or have a slight hue that was not their before, common hues blue and yellow. If that was not another, this is another way an aftermarket screen will effect battery life and performance
4 - Weak Glue Attaching the Plastic Frame - To me this is just ridiculous. Manufactures will save pennies to put less glue or use inferior glue to connect the plastic frame to the lcd assembly, when you make millions of iPhone replacement screens even a cent will add up, resulting in the already fragile glass to separate from the housing. This will happen on occasion for both qualities but is more common with the lower quality for the obvious reasons.
5 - Quality Control Tests - Another reason these screens are so inexpensive is that when a manufacture is testing the quality of each screen, they find minor defects (dead pixel, small dead spots on the digitizer) or they are determined by the machine to be at a significantly higher risk for malfunction in the future.
How SEVERELY does this affect price?
I will outline the pricing behind based on real numbers that I have from our own suppliers and others we have dealt with in the passed. For this example I will use an iPhone 4 replacement screen since it is a less common repair and I only wish to show why someone can charge one price while someone is charging another for the same service.
OEM iPhone 4 screen from china 12-17 dollars ---> us markets 30-35 dollars ---> repair price 70-80 dollars
Aftermarket A/A- iPhone 4 screen from china 6-9 dollars ---> us market 17-20 dollars ---> repair price 50 - 70 dollars
These numbers have been over simplified to show just how different a price can be for two different qualities. These prices are based on my experiences and orders I have placed. The price for screens differs across vendors and markets and is only intended to be used as an educational tool for iPhone screen repair. iPhone 5, 5c, 5s, 6 and 6 plus screen prices are much higher but follow a similar pattern.
Author - Javier
As owner of Service Nerd, inc. I take great pride in all aspects of my repair business. I hope that reading this blog helps you make an informed decision for your iPhone, iPad, iPod and Mac needs.