How to spot a non-original iPhone screen

A trained eye – 

As a reseller of used mobile phones, we’ve handled 1000s of iPhone. When you get to see so many devices, your eyes are trained to spot the little differences between them. A bit like an art dealer or an antique dealer being able to spot the differences between a real and fake piece. We’d like to think we can spot the difference between a genuine iPhone screen and a non-original one. Unlike fake art, non-original Apple screen is easier to spot. Before we tell you what to look for, a few points on non-orginal sreen.

What is a non-original screen –

Non-original screens are screens that are not made by Apple. They are made by unknown manufacturers in China. These manufacturers are not trying to imitate Apple nor are they trying to trick the user. They are there to fill a market gap. The cost of replacing the screen at Apple ranges from $219 to $520 for the iPhone 11 Pro Max. Not everyone is keen on paying those prices.

Can you get an original screen outside of Apple?

Apple does not sell its parts. You can only get original Apple screen at an Apple store or an authorised service provider. If you’ve replaced your screen at a non-Apple store then your screen is a non-original screen.

Are all non-original screen the same?
At the wholesale level, there are different grades of screen e.g. A or AA or AAA. There is no predefined standard to what constitutes A or AA. One manufacturer’s A grade might be another AAA grade. Every manufacturer would claim their screen is the best. Besides the price point, we’re not sure what differences, if any, between A or AAA.
From the cost perspective, the most expensive one would be “Apple refurbished screen”.

What is an “Apple refurbished screen”?

When you cracked a screen, usually, it’s the glass that’s cracked not the LCD beneath it.

To refurbished this, you need to replace the broken glass. You can see how they do it here. Because they contained the original Apple LCD, it’s considered as “Apple refurbished screen”.

This screen, if refurbished to a high standard are the hardest to spot.

How to spot:

Colour tone –

For us, the most obvious way to detect if the screen is an original Apple LCD is the colour tone. Apple’s LCD produces sharp and vivid colour. The white background is subdued, with a milky like tone. It is designed to reduce eyestrain. 

Apple Original vs Non-original screen

Apple original vs non-original screen
It’s easy to see the difference when they are side-by-side, but it won’t be easy without a point of reference. So, bring a friend with another iPhone to compares.

A note on this:

As mentioned, it is possible to get a replacement screen that has an original Apple LCD. If this was the case, the colour tone would be the same.

Does it fit?

Apple’s screens are precision manufactured to fit into the phone’s body. Get a new iPhone, run your finger along the edge and feel the how well the screen is fitted to the body of the phone.

A non-original screen does not fit so well. When running your finger along the edge, you will feel a groove between the screen and the body of the phone. This an important tell, it is not an end-all tell. It is possible to have a slight groove even if you’ve replaced the screen at Apple. This is due to the body of the phone is no longer the same after you’ve dropped it. A slight damage can cause the screen to not fit properly resulting in a slight groove.

3D Touch –

From iPhone 6s, Apple introduced a new feature called “3D touch”. 3D touch-enabled you to open another menu on the app by pressing it down harder. It’s like a short-cut.

It is possible to get an aftermarket screen with 3D touch but not all have it. It is possible to turn this feature off so make sure it’s turned on (Settings >> General >> Accessibility >> 3D touch) before testing it.

Does it work?

Non-original screen can be non-responsive at times. When buying a used phone, test the screen out for as long as possible. Play a game, browse the internet, send a txt message. If you notice that the phone/screen temporarily freezes, then it is a big sign the screen is non-original.

Wrong bezel colour –

The bezel of the screen comes in either black or white. This colour is depended on the back colour. For example, a matte black phone will come with a black bezel screen. Generally, the repair shop will replace it with the same colour as the original one but we have seen phones with the incorrect colour bezel. This is a deadset giveaway that the screen is not an original screen.

Non-original screen with wrong colour bezel
Matte Black phone with white colour bezel. The home button retains the orignal bezel colour.


These are the things we look out for, we hope it is helpful in some ways. As always, safe buying.

More Tips –
What to look for when buying used phone from Facebook or Gumtree
How to check for Australian stock phone
Refurbished vs Used phone