The "original screen" myth - what you didn't know about the screen you were told was original.

February 11, 2014

We get asked about whether we use original screens to fix iPhones on a regular basis. We're compared to cheaper places that say they use original parts all the time. I want to clarify for a moment what "original parts" can be, and why the two words "original part" are not enough to make an informed decision on the quality of the part offered.

We claim to use original parts. So what? The other guy does too, and he's cheaper.

Let's assume the cheaper guy or gal is telling the truth. Most of the time they're not - they have nothing to gain and everything to lose from telling you "no, it's not original, it's a knockoff." Most will never tell you the truth. Let's assume they're telling you the truth and that they're using an original part.

There are many different types of original! "Original parts" is a misleading term if not expounded upon.

The assembly method matters - how they're put together.

The parts source for original parts matters - where the original part came from.

What is assembly and why does it matter?

Assembly is how the parts of the screen are put together.

The phone's screen is composed of several parts. It looks like one part, however, your iPhone screen is comprised of several separate components.

  • LCD that makes the picture.
  • Touchscreen digitizer that senses your touch.
  • Glass that goes over the digitizer.
  • Frame that fits the screen into the phone.

A five year old can take an original glass, original digitizer, original frame, and original LCD and Elmer's glue them all together. It's still "original parts" - but I doubt you'd want that installed in your phone.

Improper assembly can cause inaccurate touch like typing P and O showing up, and display defects like messed up color. Our parts aren't assembled by a backyard factory of amateurs. You can purchase parts assembled by Foxconn, parts assembled by equally equipt 3rd party factories, or parts assembled by junkyards.

Many parts we buy are assembled by Foxconn themselves, with the lowest industry defect rate.

What do you mean by parts source? It's original or it isn't!

Original parts can come from a factory, or they can come out of the garbage - literally.

Recycling is a common practice in our industry. Most of the time, all you did was crack the top glass - the image is still viewable. This creates a great recycling opportunity.

Most repair shops don't want to bother replacing the glass by itself, along with all of the other work involved in repairing your phone. They replace the entire screen assembly, even if it's just the glass that is broken, and throw away the old assembly.

These repair shops will give broken customer screens to refurbishers who replace the front glass and make them look like new. The refurbisher will sell these parts back to repair shops as new. then use these refurbished screens to fix other customers' phones. The result is that your "new, original" screen literally came out of a repair shop's trash bin!

Since the LCD he took out of the first customer's phone came from a real iPhone, the LCD is technically "original." HOWEVER - the LCD & touchscreen underneath are used, and they were probably dropped & beaten for god knows how long before being refurbished. It could have been in a toilet for all you know.

So why does this matter to you? Reliability. A refurbished screen has been dropped and used for years before it was installed in your phone. This makes it more likely to fail than a new part, but by the time it fails, your 30 or 90 day warranty is up, and you're screwed.

We have confidence in the new screens we use and offer a one year warranty(unless you break it yourself).

Refurbs sound terrible. Why are they used???

Firstly, many companies selling refurbs are convenience, sales based businesses. They come directly to your store when you need parts, you don't have to place an order. They're always there reminding you when you need more stock.

Secondly, price. The price for these parts are excellent. We actually pay less for non-refurbs than the local refurbishers charge for their refurbs, but it did take five years of shopping around to establish these relationships. It is easier to purchase from the first refurbisher who walks through the door, than it is to spend time doing research into developing relationships with quality parts vendors.

Thirdly, appearance. Most new to the business do not know where to buy "original" LCDs. A refurbished part may have come out of someone else's phone - but the upside is that it is indeed original, so the color quality looks the same as the original. This means that newbies to the business bypass a common customer complaint - "why doesn't this look the same as my old screen?"

Refurbs are the easy way to eliminate price and quality issues in the short term. However, using refurbs is bad for the long term reputation of the repair business that chooses to utilize them.

Where we draw the line.

We also sell broken screens to refurbishers. The difference is we don't buy them back - the transaction ends after they've given us money in exchange for the broken screens. We use that money to purchase new screens from a separate supplier.

I've worked with refurbishers for several years. Like everyone I do business with, I believe in good supplier relations - I have some great relationships with the refurbishers in the area; which is how I know that over half the repair shops in Austin buy these refurbs, knowing they are refurbs. I know them, by name. I've got some tact, so I'm not mentioning names. 🙂

My mother always told me not to shit where I eat. I'd like to expound on those wise words and suggest that iPhone repair shops do not shop with the vendors that will buy their trash. If someone will buy your broken screens, don't buy theirs - you know exactly where the "new" screens they're selling came from, and when your customers come back with flickering, intermittent issues, ask yourself if it's worth the few bucks saved on refurbs.

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