"Are Your Screens Apple OEM?"
We, and other Phone Repair Shops from Tulsa to Oslo, are all asked this same question by our customers hundreds of times a day.
Why is it asked? Well, the customer wants to be sure that the screen you are about to install for them on their iPhone 7 is identical to the one they found broken on their nightstand yesterday. After a quick Google search to confirm that "OEM" is the proper reference, they march into your store, prepared to get the best possible service and the best parts. Any discrepancy with the color temperature, brightness, or glass will not be tolerated – and you can bet on them coming back tomorrow to point out the Obvious inconsistencies.
Now, it may seem like I am railing a little too hard on the customer here – that is probably true. It is only because of the tortuous nature of this topic, and how often we must deal with it.
So, what is the answer? Do we use OEM Screens?
The Short Answer: NO.
The Long Answer: No, but, YES... Let’s Expound.
If they could, every shop would use Original Apple OEM Parts. What I mean by “Original,” is components used by Foxconn in China in the assembly of Apple Products such as the iPhone 7. You see, Apple is merely a Design & Engineering Company. They do little to none in terms of actual manufacturing or assembly. The assembly work gets outsourced to Foxconn. Now, when Foxconn sources a part for Apple, they give it a nifty little stamp in one or multiple places. This stamp transforms the previously basic part into an Original Apple OEM Part - fit for production.
However, repair shops can’t use them – unless they are comfortable gambling with the consequences of fines and jail-time.
U.S. Customs is the first line of defense protecting Apple’s Trademark & Planned Obsolescence. Any shipment of Original Apple OEM Parts bearing the Apple logo headed into the U.S. will be seized by US CBP if discovered. Apple will be notified, you will be notified, your parts will be destroyed, you will be out for the cost of the order, and you could face further legal consequences. It will be a fun day all around!
Let’s assume you manage to discretely acquire some Apple screens, and use them repair customers’ devices. Well, if either Apple or the Feds catch wind of this, it will only be a matter of time before ICE comes knocking on your door with a Search & Seizure Warrant. You may face fines, closure of your business, and possibly jail-time. Again, another potentially wonderful day!
Do not take my explanation as an insult. I personally have nothing but admiration for all branches of law enforcement. The men and women at both US CBP & ICE work hard every day, enforcing the laws of the land. It isn't the enforcement of the law, or necessarily even the laws concerning counterfeit/patented product which Phone Repair Shops have an issue with. Our qualm lies with the lack of regulation existing within the technology industry, which enables companies such as Apple to work towards monopolization of everything to do with their products.
Now, at this point you may be asking “Why don’t repair shops simply become Apple Authorized Service Provider?” Seems to make sense logically. And, it would – if any of it were logical. That, however, is a blog post for another time.
So, what parts do repair shops use then? There is a wide spectrum of parts, ranging from cheap Aftermarkets up to New OEM. “OEM!? What? I thought we just established those can’t be used!”
Again, nothing is as simple as we all wish it were.
To understand, we must further expound on the manufacturing process of Apple Products.
Just as Apple outsources the actual assembly process of their devices to Foxconn, Production of individual components is outsourced to other Manufacturers around the world.
While Foxconn is obligated by contractual agreements with Apple not to sell these components to any third parties, many of the component Manufacturers are not held under as strict obligations (or, if they are, let’s just say they turn a blind eye). When Apple Quality Control determines a batch of LCD panels are not up to par, they forgo Apple Authorization. Not wanting to destroy a mostly good batch, these Manufacturers will often sell them off via parallel traders. Many of the LCD panels end up in Shenzhen.
One thing leads to another, and you have a “New OEM” iPhone 7 LCD/Digitizer Screen Assembly on the market.
Along with this “New OEM” grade screen, there are, in ascending order of quality, B, A, AA, & AAA screens on the market. Also, you can purchase OEM Refurbished panels.
There is essentially NO difference between a New OEM screen and an Original Apple OEM Screen - apart from the Apple Logos on the inside.
As far as where Phone Repair Stores source their parts, that varies as much as the grades of the parts. There are regional wholesalers scattered all across America. Tulsa's local solution is Wholesale Gadget Parts, which you can find in Bixby. In addition, many shops order parts in bulk from overseas, through courier services such as DHL. One well-established China-based supplier is REWA.
All that really matters from a consumer viewpoint is Price, Warranty, and Reviews.
- If the price for your screen replacement is significantly lower than competition in your area, Stay Away! Chances are, they are using a low-quality screen. Just Remember: If something sounds too good to be true, It Probably Is.
- If the repair shop does not have a comparable warranty on parts and labor to their competition, Stay Away! Even New OEM panels can be defective. Warranty is a must.
- If the reviews don’t add up to the quality indicated by the repair shops pricing, warranty, & advertising, Stay Away! Even with good parts and a good warranty, a shop with incompetent technicians could put other aspects of your device at risk. Give them a call, and ask detailed questions about their repair process. Most professional technicians are happy to explain this to a customer, and some may even let you watch the repair – depending on its intricacy.
As for Us here at Part Swap, we do use “New OEM” components as much as is available! When necessary, we will resort to using Grade AAA and so forth. Low quality components do come with risks, however, and we do our best to articulate this point to the customer prior to the repair. Ultimately, repair is a choice.
What is important is that you as a customer understand your options and the service being sold to you.
Hopefully this article has helped to clear up some of the confusion surrounding OEM Apple Screens! However, I get the feeling I may have only added to it...