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How to distinguish original iPhone Screen from OEM one

Posted on 31st Mar 2014 @ 2:24 AM

Your suppliers for iPhone LCD screens are everywhere to be found within the USA and Asia. Broken iPhone repair locations ultimately make their decision based on two main factors, price vs quality. No matter your decision, it’s very important for all iPhone LCD buyers to know the correct way to identify fake iPhone LCD screens.

  • Supplier AdvertisingMany LCD suppliers will use catchy phrases and advertising to relate the quality of ther parts. These tactics are used to avoid the use of “OEM” or “Original” and replace these with words such as “AAA Quality” or“Grade A+”. More importantly, the suppliers would be violating Apple trademark and patent laws by advertising LCDs in this manner.
  • Fruitless Up-Sell: Suppliers will often attempt to up-sale New Original OEM LCD screens by a few bucks to buyers who took the advertising bait. In most cases, you’ll receive the same quality LCD screen that was a bit cheaper. Most buyers won’t catch onto this.

Identifying OEM iPhone Screens

There are many ways to tell fake iPhone LCD screens from original OEM without having to put each one under a microscope or taking up too much of your time.  Many identification methods are out-dated and the factories that manufaucture the fake iPhone LCDs are always coming up with new methods to mask known visual inspection methods.

You can identify fake iPhone screens easily with a few simple techniques that will cover 98% of product no matter how much a supplier tries to replicate the real thing. 

  1. Resolution Quality – Cell phone LCD screen resolutions are being manufautured with higher resolutions in a rapid way. Cutting corners on resolution quality is the #1 way for factories to reduce costs. Being that most new models have retina or HD quality DPI, you should be able to easily identify a fake iPhone screen from the original. Make sure you have a known real original LCD to compare with and download a high resolution photo for testing comparison.

Fake iPhone LCD High Copy Resolution


  1. Flex Cable Markings: The second most common way to identify a fake iPhone LCD is through markings on the digitizer and LCD flex cables. The main one I look at is just the digitizer flex because it wouldn’t make sense for anyone to manufacture a fake LCD with an original digitizer. That would be like putting V8 engine in a VW Beetle. Additionally, Apple does work with customs officials in various countries to size fake poor quality refurbish screens. It’s a way that custom agents can spot fake iPhone parts without Apple having to provide a field manual that’s too hard to enforce.
V on Digitizer Flex V on LCD Flex Digitizer / LCD Condition Grade
Yes Yes Original Digitizer and LCD
No Yes Original LCD but fake Digitizer
Yes No V8 Engine on the Beetle / Foolish Factory
No No True OEM iPhone LCD screen.
The chart above can be used for iPod, iPad and Iphone 2G, 3G, 3GS, 4 and 4s LCD screens. I haven’t confirmed for the iPhone 5 yet but I will update this article shortly with my findings.
You should also be aware that if you see the flex cable’s white lettering marked over with a black sharpie and has a “V”, it’s most likely a refurbished original part. The factories will mark over this again to avoid scrunity with customs.
3. LCD Flex Cable IC Chip - There is a chip on the LCD flex cable that regulates power and display information from the main board to the LCD it’s self.
iPhone LCD IC Chip on Flex Cable

iPhone LCD IC Chip on Flex Cable

You’ll know you have a fake iPhone LCD (or at best poor quality refurbished original) if the up-side-down triangle is missing from the IC chip. One would think the copy factories would enjoy reducing their cost by removing a chunk of raw material on this cover but they don’t. I would assume it’s more costly to cut out the triangle design on the cover than to save the material cost.

Tips and Recommendations for Identifying OEM or Original iPhone LCDs

  • Ask your suppliers directly if the product is “Genuine Original Apple digitizer and flex cable. If their response still leaves questions, ask them to add the guarantee on your invoice. I’ve never had an LCD supplier willing to write that on an invoice no matter what wording tactitcs they use.
  • Purchase small samples from various suppliers to check consistancy and quality.
  • Check every order upon reciept, no matter how long you’ve been dealing with the company.
  • Board testing samples upon reciept can can be time consuming but pays off in the long run.
  • Scrunitize samples, current orders and future orders. Provide suppliers with this information if a future order is to be made.
  • Return defective and misrepresenated product. RMAs to China or the USA can be easy to neglect. Ensuring that your supplier knows you’re going to return items will better your chances that they screen your product more closely before shipping next time. 
  • Have supplier confirm their RMA policy and include it on their invoice.
  • A legitimate supplier will provide references in your country and location. 
  • Be vary of suppliers offering both new and all original LCD screens at a bargain price. You’ll probably be buying refurbished original.

The truth is, not so many fake iPhone LCD screens are on the market these days. There are so many broken LCD screens being reclaimed that it costs less to refurbish a used cracked iPhone screen than it is to manufaucture a new fake iPhone screen. No matter what the LCD model the trends to spot fake iPhone parts tends to stay the same. LCD screens are becoming larger and smarter and it shows in the more expensive parts costs for models such as the iPhone 5, Note II etc. Neglecting to keep your suppliers product in check is a recipt for being taken advantage of and wasting money and by knowing how to spot fake parts will ensure your staying competitive in the cell phone repair business.