the difference between original and aftermarket iphone screens

Let’s Talk About The Difference Between Original and Aftermarket iPhone Screens

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Let Me Be Honest With You

No third party iPhone repair shop uses “original” iPhone screens.  Apple, in their infinite wisdom will not sell repair parts to third party repair shops.  They are not like Ford that will sell Motorcraft alternators to O’Reillys Auto Parts.  Apple prefers to keep their parts available only at Apple Stores or Authorized Apple Repair Centers.

This sucks, because I would love to use Apple original parts, even if they were more expensive.

If you need an iPhone repair for a broken screen or other problem, click here to learn how I can fix it.

As it stands right now, I have to use aftermarket parts, or refurbished screens that use original LCDs and touchscreens.  Every time you order original screens from China you are taking a gamble with US Customs.  Apple has a pretty tight grip on imports of Apple parts.

That is not to say that aftermarket parts are bad.  Just like a person may choose to install an aftermarket part on their car to save money, you can save money with aftermarket iPhone parts.

Aftermarket iPhone screens for instance are around a third of the price of even refurbished screens.   If you went to an Apple store to replace the screen on your iPhone 7, you could expect to spend around $149.  I can replace that screen with an aftermarket one for around $85.  That is quite a savings, and that may make a difference to someone who doesn’t want to spend a ton of money getting their iPhone fixed.

So what are the visible differences between original and aftermarket iPhone screens?

What is Original and What is Original Quality

When I say original quality, I mean a screen that has been refurbished by a company that has the proper equipment to do so.  They buy cracked screens with working touchscreens and LCDs from companies like mine.  They take these cracked screens and remove the glass, and replace it with new glass.  This means that these screens have an original LCD and touchscreen on new glass.  There is quite a bit of labor involved with refurbishing these screens so you will see that reflected in the prices.

When I say original, I am referring to the same part that Apple would install.  

They Can Have Color Differences

Aftermarket iPhone screens tend to have a cooler, bluer hue.  Let’s say you had your iPhone screen replaced.  If you set your iPhone next to someone with an original screen, yours would have more blue tint.

The screen still works properly, and you can see and touch things just like normal, but the difference is there, and it would be noticeable.

Lets take a look at the photo below comparing the two.

iphone 6s screen color difference at hotshot repair in columbia mo

At Hotshot Repair I tend to use screens that have a Tianma LCD.  This is a middle ground between a super cheap screen and an original LCD.  You can see the difference between a Tianma LCD and and original LCD in the photos above.  You will notice that the whites are a little bluer and the greys are a little lighter.  On the home screen you can see that the Tianma screen appears a little lighter.

These are things to consider when getting your iPhone screen replaced.

They Can Be Thicker

Because aftermarket screens use a thicker LCD with more layers, the overall screen thickness is greater.  It isn’t much but it will be noticeable.  Overall aftermarket screens tend to be .42 mm thicker than original screens.  This will manifest itself in a slight edge where your new screen meets the frame.

You can see this in the photo below.

It isn’t much, and it doesn’t render your iPhone unusable, but the difference is there, and my potential customers should be made aware of it.

Aftermarket Screens can be Dimmer

On average, aftermarket screens can be 50 to 100 nits dimmer (what is a nit?) then an original screen.  It isn’t a huge difference, but you may have to up the brightness a bit on the aftermarket screen to get it to a comparable level as your original screen.

There can be Polarizer Issues With Aftermarket Screens

This is a rarer occurrence these days.  In the beginning we had issues with the polarizer on some aftermarket screens.  If you wear Ray-Ban sunglasses you may be familiar with the term.  LCDs use a polarizer film to direct the light from the backlight forward throught the LCD.  If this polarizer film is installed incorrectly it will make your screen hard to see through polarized sun glasses.

iphone 6s screen polarizer test at hotshot repair in columbia mo

This isn’t much of a problem these days because the aftermarket screens are tested at the factory.  Still, these screens are still assembled by humans so a bad one can slip through the test.

If you notice that your new screen doesn’t play well with your sun glasses, just let me know.  I am more than happy to install another screen and we can re-test it to make sure that they play nice.

Let's Bring Honesty and Transparency to iPhone Repair

At Hotshot Repair, I try to be as open and honest with my customers as I can possibly be.  Sometimes to my own detriment.  I have talked plenty of people out of a possible repair, because it just wouldn’t make sense.  To that end, I am writing this blog post.  I feel that any potential customer should be made aware of the differences between aftermarket and original screens, and no other shop in Columbia seems to be stepping up to tell them.

Even with all the stuff mentioned above, I feel that this repair still makes a lot of sense.

If we look at the iPhone 6s for example.  That phone with a good screen is still worth around $230 or so, depending on the capacity.  An $85 repair to the screen makes a lot more sense than driving to an Apple Store in Kansas City or St. Louis, and spending $149.

I try to let every customer know about these differences when they are considering a repair, and I would say 95% to 98% of them don’t care.  Seriously, I have had like 3 customers in my entire career who would rather have an original quality screen installed at the additional price.

Come By For A Test Drive

If you are unsure about the quality of these aftermarket screens, just come by.  If you have a cracked screen, I am more than happy to put a screen on it temporarily, so you can test it out.  If you decide that you are happy with the quality, you will save some money.  If you would rather have an original quality screen installed, no problem as I am happy to help you with that too. 

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