Actually, there is a lot more to a display replacement than some might think. First of there's a variety of different displays out there, most of which are inferior to the original display on your device. Secondly, there's the fitting of these screens.

We often get asked whats the difference between an original and a copy display and which is recommended. Well, an original display is one that has been manufactured for Apple and a copy display is a compatible replacement but designed and manufactured independently by a third party company. We always recommend an original display and that's the only service we offer. It's a misconception that these parts offer higher margins, in fact, the opposite. We only offer original parts because of the far higher quality and reliability and the cost price difference is much greater than the copy components. After all the display on your iPhone is the only input/output of the device, making it the most important part to interact and use your device. Thus you want it to work properly and be designed by the manufacturer to work properly, which copies don’t.

See the difference for yourself

A big problem is customers will choose a replacement based on price alone without first taking the time to try and compare a display. We often get devices in with bad touch response, washed out colours and a poor assembly meaning they can crack easier and often add thickness to the device as the full assembly is thicker. When comparing side by side you can clearly see a much lower brightness, contrast and vibrancy. When looking under a microscope you can see the resolution is generally much lower, taking away the Retina quality that iPhones are known for.

This ultimately can mean a customer who has had a copy display fitted will end up needing to pay twice in the long run to have a poor display fitted again. However, if they had been properly informed prior to the repair they may have chosen an original display in the first place. The price difference between copies and originals can be as little as £10-£20, but it's worth noting there's a big difference between the part costs. A lot of people end up paying over the odds for an inferior product.

When you’ve spent several hundred pounds on a premium device such as an iPhone with a Retina display, it simply doesn’t make sense to replace your screen with a low-quality replacement.

How you could be getting ripped off

There’s nothing stopping any random person without training or experience opening up a smartphone repair shop. As a result of this, the industry is full of companies with little skill or experience who are only interested in making as much profit as possible, which usually involves fitting the cheapest parts that are available.

Many of these shops don’t acknowledge the existence of copy iPhone displays, let alone explain the difference to the customers or what they will be losing by fitting an inferior part. This is not in their interest if they only offer these cheap screens, it's important you understand what you’re getting and we recommend you compare an original to what screen you are being offered. Some people know so little they aren’t sure on the difference between an original and non-original display, however, some companies can deliberately mislead and even outright lie about what they are offering.

Generally, these types of shops are looking for the cheapest price on their replacement screens. We are aware that some companies claim their displays are OEM and charge a hefty price while the part cost can be less than 1/5 of what you have paid, a massive margin for them and you are left out of pocket with what is now an inferior display, no warranty and the higher risk of damage to the display. In fact, some companies will fit a copy display and then sell your broken display to a recycler for more than they have paid for a copy part!

What differentiates iPhone screens?

The influx of copy parts started around 2015, in fact, up until then copy parts were rare, expensive and usually not worth using due to them costing the same as originals. However, in 2015 Apple tightened up their supply chain which reduced the number of screens available for repair and increased all screen prices significantly. This prompted a lot of Chinese manufacturers to start making their own copy displays from scratch, the pricer at first was comparable with originals but they quickly fell in price.

So to be clear copy displays are compatible replacements that have been designed from scratch and as a result, vary a lot in terms of usability and quality.

Let's start with digitizer and touch problems. One of the most important differences is the touch sensor (digitizer), Apple manufactures this as part of the LCD layer. Whereas copies have this touch sensor on the glass. This often means a cracked Apple original screen will still have working touch, whereas a copy usually stops working as soon as it’s been cracked and this touch layer is damaged.

There are only a handful of manufactures of the LCD’s themselves, typically Sharp, LG and Philips (more recently Samsung for OLED panels). Sometimes these LCD’s are bought back by companies who will then add the remaining components into a working display assembly. As such its possible to have an original LCD but a copy glass and digitiser. It’s also worth mentioning there are now plenty of copy LCD’s from other manufacturers which don’t meet the Retina standard.

Since the introduction of the 6S, the touch controller has been manufactured onto the LCD itself, as such a copy LCD means the touch controller IC is usually fake too, this can cause various different issues, such as a blank image, no touch and strange colours. We’ve even seen updates cause these parts to stop functioning altogether as the IC doesn’t have the needed data.

Quicker battery drain can sometimes be caused by copy displays as well as damage to the backlight resistors on the logic board, this can be a costly repair. We’ve also seen copy screens stop Touch ID working as the connector for the home button is manufactured into the display assembly. This can be annoying as you’ll essentially loose quick unlock and security.

We’ve seen many screens lift away from the frame that holds them in place. This usually results in the flex cables getting damaged resulting in the screen needing to be replaced again. You don’t even need to have dropped the phone as this kind of damage often happens through everyday wear and tear.

That brings us to another major issue with the copies. When you drop an Apple original, the glass often breaks, but the LCD remains intact, meaning you can continue to use it until it’s fixed. With the copies, the touch/digitizer is on the glass and often stops working when the glass is broken. The LCD itself is also more likely to break due to the thinner and more fragile glass.

Losing water resistance

Since the introduction of the iPhone 6s the displays have been sealed with a gasket which acts as a dust and water sealant and many shops who use copy parts don’t replace this seal. This means if you have a screen changed, your device could be significantly more damaged than would be normally by liquid had it been sealed. We see this daily with liquid damaged devices, they are usually significantly more corroded inside than those with the seal in place.