One of the most common misconceptions we see in the iPhone repair business is the true meaning and understanding of the definition of Non-Original LCD Screens and Original (OEM) LCD Screens.

It seems every company that sells LCD screens or buys back broken LCD screens uses slightly different terminology.

If you’re a bit unsure, don’t panic! We’ll try to define the root differences between the various stock conditions in hopes that some sense of common knowledge is put in place.

Why so Many Different LCD Conditions and Grading Scales?

It boils down to three reasons: culture differences, marketing and name brand copyright infringement.

  • Culture Differences – Most LCD screens are manufactured or reclaimed to be refurbished in the Asian market. Right out of the gate, there is a barrier of culture and language barriers that simply don’t align with other nations terms relating to cell phone replacement parts.

For example: the phrase OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) seems to be used more often in Asia where Americans would tend to say “Original” or “Genuine.”

  • Marketing – Various marketing twists these terms just as much in an effort to advertise LCD screen parts in a manner that sounds more official and tends to keep the focus off some variant of the true condition.

For example: An “Original White LCD Display With Digitizer and Frame Assembly for iPhone 4S” listing title on eBay sounds like a 100% authentic LCD screen and must be “New” since the item condition reflects it being so.

What this really means is you’re buying a full, complete iPhone 4s LCD screen assembly with:

– An authentic iPhone (Sharp or Toshiba) LCD screen; the LCD is “real,” but refurbished.

– Has an “aftermarket” digitizer adhered to the LCD screen.

– Other parts and components are reclaimed from broken LCD screens to make a refurbished LCD screen and could have other “aftermarket” parts used in re-manufacturing. 

  • Brand Copyright Infringement – Unless you’re licensed to sell Apple iPhone parts, you’re not technically allowed to advertise new “Original” parts, even if the item is new and 100% authentic. If you ever see the words “for iPhone 4s, 5, 5s, 5c” etc. at the end of the item title or advertising pitch, now you’ll know why. Apple has actually been fairly quiet about imposing seizures at US customs and online marketplaces for those who sell parts without authorization.

 

In summary, sellers basically twist their advertising pitches to circumvent the risk of selling refurbished, unauthorized Apple parts while confusing the end consumer with fancy technical words that mask the truth.

Common Conditions for iPhone LCD Screen Assemblies and Parts

I scanned my inbox, Alibaba, eBay and Amazon for various sellers of iPhone LCD screens to get the most common terminology used in sellers’ offerings. I’ll list some of the most common terms used in product offerings below.

  • Original
  • OEM
  • Grade A Copy
  • High Copy
  • High Copy Grade A
  • Grade A
  • Grade A+
  • Grade AAA
  • Original Replacement

Seem familiar? I’m sure!

Notice how each and every word or term has a “positive” tone to. If there is a “Grade A” and “Grade A+,” shouldn’t there be a “Grade B” or “Grade A-” in the suppliers condition criteria? Probably, but you won’t ever see it. In grade school we went from an A to a B, not from an A to an “Almost Perfect.” Simply understand that as condition goes up or down, you’ll simply see a different “positive” word used causing more confusion to the condition you’re actually purchasing.

Terms like the above are mainly used to define one major component or part of the LCD screen rather than the word applying to all of the parts that make up an LCD assembly. 

Using Price to Gauge LCD Suppliers Condition

You get what you pay for. Most LCD suppliers are going to be in the same neighborhood in pricing. If you see a price that is significantly lower than another suppliers offering, you’re going to be giving up one of the following:

  • Amount of truly new parts on the assembly.
  • The quality of the reclaimed and refurbished parts.
  • The quality of the manufacturer’s work.
  • The companies service in regards to sales, shipping, ease of returns and duration of warranty.

Let’s take an example of a suppliers offering for the iPhone 5 and dissect the probability of what we’re actually purchasing based on their advertised condition.

Item Price Description Real LCD? LCD Condition Real Digitizer? Digitizer Condition
1 $55.50 High Copy Grade A No – Fake New Fake No New – Lowest Quality
2 $62.10 High Copy Grade AA Yes Refurbished No New – Low to Better Quality
3 $72.80 Original Yes Refurbished Yes New – Higher Quality
4 $84.20 Original with Small Parts Yes Refurbished Yes New – Best Quality

 

So if you went to buy the cheapest LCD screen from your supplier and asked “Are these new?,” they would most likely respond with “Yes.” In the example of Item #1, the LCD is new, but it’s a fake LCD that was made for the sole purpose of shaving cost. It will sacrifice something (if not a little bit of everything), including DPI and resolution, color brightness and quality of workmanship.

Know What to Ask Your LCD Screen Supplier before Purchasing

Asking very specific questions is half the battle when purchasing LCD screens from your supplier. The other half of the battle is getting an honest answer. Be very specific in the questions that you ask. I always try to use some common knowledge questions that don’t involve any of the terms used in conditions to eliminate any discrepancies in the answers you’ll receive. You should ask the following for questions specifically for all three major components of a typical LCD screen.

 

  1. LCD – Is the LCD screen manufactured by the same company that I would find on brand new in box phone that I purchased from an authorized Apple store
  2. LCD – If yes to above, ask specifically “Is this LCD part brand new or refurbished from reclaimed old parts?
  3. Digitizer – Is the Touch Panel manufactured by the same company that I would find on brand new in box phone that I purchased from an authorized Apple store?
  4. Digitizer – Is the Touch Panel new or refurbished, or reclaimed from old parts?
  • Ask the same question in regards to the other spare parts, especially if the assembly you’re buying has working components such as earpiece, home buttons, etc.
  • Most supplier sales reps are trained with sales pitch lines to get past such specific questions. Make sure you’re getting a response that’s specific.
  • Even after I get a “Yes” answer, I’ll follow up with “So if I bought a brand new in box sealed iPhone from Apple.com, the part I’m asking about would be 100% identical with no differences in quality or condition?”
  • Most are great sales reps, but they won’t lie if you ask such specific questions.

 

The truth is: most buyers think they’re getting a new LCD screen when in fact 95% of the LCDs of replacement LCD screens for iPhone 4, 4s, 5, etc. are refurbished. The LCD screens that you purchase simply vary in the quality of the refurbishing process.