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If you're in the market for an iPhone screen, you've probably come across terms like: genuine refurbished, OEM Apple, aftermarket, original refurbished and copy but what on Gods beautiful Earth is such a thing and what do these phrases mean? In this post we will attempt to clear up the confusion.


So what is a refurbished original iPhone Screen?

Put simply a genuine or original refurbished iPhone screen is an original Apple screen, removed from an iPhone that's had its top glass or touchscreen replaced.

When your iPhone is freshly unboxed and removed from its cossetted boxy surroundings - it's brand spanking new and all the parts and components are genuine Apple - clearly stating the obvious here!
Then the inevitable happens when this shiny new iPhone takes a tumble and gets damaged.

Invariably in this all too common situation its the screen that's affected, ranging from a hairline crack to being completely smashed or anywhere in between - but crucially the LCD screen or image layer beneath the top glass has to have remained intact and fully functioning for it then to be re-glassed and sold on as an original or genuine refurbished iPhone screen .


Original (OEM) v Copy

The phrase OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) is more often used in the Far East whereas in the UK we would say “Original” or “Genuine.”
Apart from colour spectrum rendition and pixel density, these copy screens have the digitiser (or touch controlling element) and LCD separate, whereas original OEM screens come as a single complete unit. This means that if you're an Instagram addict for example noticing the difference in colour vibrancy between an original and copy would be more apparent.

A simple search for 'iPhone screen' on Ebay will offer up a confusing array of terminology, its easy to get lost.

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

What you need to know is that there are many varying degrees of copy screen quality and only ever one original screen quality and a few qualities of refurbished screen.


Refurbishing Companies

iPhone LCD refurbishing companies purchase broken glass screens which would have otherwise been binned to be sent off and recycled. These screens are factory assembled with these original Apple LCD panels and re-layered with a high quality aftermarket glass. In essence this display panel (LCD/ OLED) is given a second life. 

The list below is generally whats accepted for a chance of rejuvenation, and much needed recycling of precious materials.

  • Original OEM screen - GOOD
  • Fully working 3D touch – GOOD
  • Original screen with a backlight issue - STILL GOOD
  • Original screen with badly broken top glass - STILL GOOD
  • Broken LCD or missing flex cables – NOT GOOD
  • Dead pixel/ colour bleed in LCD - NOT GOOD
  • Pressure damage, distortion, pink hue on screen (most common on the 5 series screen, giving the LCD has a pink tint) - NOT GOOD

Before 2016 this process was exclusively handled in China, with the continued high demand for this valued product, specialist companies now take care of the whole process in the UK. Indeed the processes are streamlined enough now that broken iPhone screens removed from completed repairs are sent away and returned fully refurbished in a matter of days.


iPhones on repair mat celltech blog

More about the process:

The damaged screen is initially inspected to check for inactive or dead pixels, image discolouration, distortion and also tested for 3D touch sensitivity.

Genuine iPhone screens up to the iPhone X generation have an amalgamated touchscreen embedded onto the LCD panel itself. If the display or touch is not working perfectly this would deem the screen non-refurbishable.

Once the screen has passed testing it can be prepared for re-glassing.

iphone screen refurbishing celltech blog

Specialist equipment is used to separate the LCD from the old frame assembly.

The top glass layer has to be removed and the screen panel cleaned.
Depending on the severity of the damage to the top glass this can take anything between 10 minutes to an hour to complete. Tiny pieces and shards of glass must be delicately removed so as not to break the all important LCD, this is the most time consuming and laborious part of the process.

Once complete a final clean with adhesive debonders and isopropyl based solutions is performed priming the screen for the next stage, 

A polariser film layer is fitted. Then the backlight is replaced, this involves de-soldering of the old flex cable and re-soldering the new one.

This is followed by the application of optically clear adhesive by process of lamination and a new top glass is cold press fitted under pressure. Now this refurbished screen unit is ready for re-installing onto a new screen frame assembly. 

The final stage is 'bubble' or micro air pocket removal in a vacuum chamber under heat.

The complete refurbished screen is now thoroughly inspected and tested for touch response and sensitivity to a provide high quality finished product


Conclusion on Original Vs Copy

These original refurbished screens offer an alternative to the aftermarket or copy screens that have proliferated the repair sector.  For a reduced price you could be sporting an original Apple screen compared to one from the Apple Store.

Today the difference in quality between these two offerings is much less than it was 3 years ago.

Our conclusion is that a top quality aftermarket screen, like those fitted by celltech is ultimately the best choice for quality and price point.