This post outlines the problems with iPhone screen qualities, the ethics behind quoting whether a screen is actually original or just crap, and how to tell the difference between the qualities. Consumers and technicians are faced with two major problems:
Most LCD’s are original, however LCD’s can be refurbished, seconds (pixel defect) or Grade “A” new. The problem arises when suppliers, wholesales or technicians state they are offering an original screen to the customer regardless of the quality of the LCD. Information is provided as to the screens origin but withheld as to its quality, which are two very different things.
The original glass on iPhones is strengthened Aluminosilicate with an oleophobic (anti scratch) coating. This makes it slippery to touch, resists scratching from keys or coins and the majority of small drops or fumbles. There is also glass made by a 3rd party, which is not strengthened or coated, and in a nutshell will explode if you drop it on your pillow (slight exaggeration implied).
This broadly leaves 3 qualities of screen:
1. Original Aluminosilicate glass & New Grade “A” LCD
2. 3rd party glass with a refurbished LCD
3. 3rd party glass with a new seconds / defect LCD
The problem here is basically the same, a 3rd party glass can be bonded to a defect LCD and you still have an original LCD screen replacement, what is withheld is a screen replacement consists of 3 parts, a Glass touch screen, a digitizer touch sensor and an LCD. What you actually have been quoted refers to only 1 of the 3 parts.
Expected problems with qualities (use numbers above)
1. None, perfect factory original screen that will last for 2+ years without fault
2. Weak glass susceptible to cracking and scratching, LCD may have bleeding or soft spots created in the recycling process, usually a 6-12 month life span.
3. Same as above with a slight pixilation defect and likely touch response issues (avoid this quality like a Huawei smartphone)
At cost price the cheapest economy screen is about one third that of a factory original screen. To an international wholesaler / supplier with little chance of recourse, or an unaware (or unscrupulous) local technician quoting a part as just “original” immediately implies the best quality and therefore more revenue. The end customer really needs to be asking questions like is the LCD new or refurbished, what is the composition of the glass? if they do not know then its probably best to find someone who does, or learn…
How to the difference?
1. If you are able to inspect the screen before installation on an iPhone, iPod or iPad look for a blue holographic circle around the inside hole for the camera, this hologram helps the front camera take clearer pictures and is not visible on 3rd party glass.
2. Do the water drop test, drop a bit of water on the screen, if it forms tight little drops like a newly waxed car it has an anti-scratch coating, if it just splashes on like rain on a dirty old Corolla then it doesn’t.
3. Feel for touch response issues, is the touch sensor accurate, does it freeze or bleed when touched
4. Look for pixilation issues like blown pixels or a blue or yellow hue to the colouring.