Why Talk About This?
There are many considerations when looking at getting your phone repaired. First and foremost is the price of the repair itself. We frequently price check our competitors locally and nationally and have found that there is a wide range of pricing for the same repair but no explanation offered for it in most cases. Well, since we repair phones all day we know what the difference is... the quality of the part that is being used. There are many bad actors in the the third-party repair space and we think customers deserve to have at least an abbreviated break-down of why there is such a large pricing discrepancy between some repair businesses.
Do We Know What We're Talking About?
As a repair service provider there are about ten vendors that we purchase parts from on a regular basis. Our vendors are screened and all of our parts are tested when received, before installation, and after installation to ensure that we have as low of a defect rate as possible. Whenever possible we buy either new original parts or refurbished original parts that are as close to what you'd be getting in a new device as possible. That leads to slightly higher prices, but a higher quality and longer lasting repair.
We've been repairing electronics for about a decade and smartphones for most of that time in a professional capacity. In that time we have watched the marketplace for replacement parts grow from a few small websites to some quite large companies that are now investing in component production and infrastructure around the world. This gives us a unique perspective on that supply chain and those vendors. We've learned the hard way that it's very easy to get a crappy part. If it's too good to be true it probably isn't.
New Original ("OEM")
Most expensive option, but this is the same part you'd be getting from Apple/Samsung. These parts are typically in short supply as Apple does not sell parts to third-parties.
Original Refurbished ("A")
These displays are what we typically purchase and are all original Apple/Samsung Components (LCD, Backlight, Digitizer) with replacement glass that matches the original specifications of New Original Displays. Using this quality of part allows us to balance quality and cost to provide the best part for the most reasonable price to our customers.
Aftermarket Premium/Prime ("AAA")
This is the highest quality of aftermarket display that is currently available to repair service providers. Typically none of the components (LCD, Backlight, Digitizer) are Original Apple/Samsung or come from an Apple/Samsung contracted manufacturer. That being said, the manufacturers of these parts are typically able to put together a display that functions and is very similar to what you'd be getting with an Original Apple/Samsung Part. A good part supplier will indicate what manufacturer produced the display (AUO, TIANMA, etc) which can be an indicator of what will be different from an Original Apple/Samsung Part. In most cases departures from the original specifications to save on production costs will cause the backlight to be dimmer or the LCD to skew towards blue/purple which is particularly noticeable when editing photos or when looking at the display with a blank white background.
Aftermarket Select ("AA/AAA")
These displays typically do not try to conform to the original design specifications. The specific cost saving measures that are taken with these parts is making the display glass thinner or lower quality and increasing the thickness of the plastic frame. This leads to your phone being about a millimeter thicker in most cases following installation. If you have a case it's not really noticeable, but the hand-feel of the device is definitely different without one. We don't buy this quality level because the defect rate through some vendors can reach 30% within the first few months following installation. We offer a limited lifetime warranty covering defects on iPhone Displays so that doesn't work for us. Keep an eye out for repair service providers who only offer 30 or 90 warranties. In many cases even within that time period warranty service will be denied even if it's for an obvious defect.
Aftermarket Basic ("A")
The lowest quality part and thus the cheapest part. These parts suffer from the same issues that Aftermarket Select do, but to a greater degree in most cases. Most vendors will not bother stocking this quality level of part as repair service providers do not typically purchase it due to the high defect rates. That being said, this or Aftermarket Select are almost always what you'd be receiving if going through Amazon or eBay and purchasing an Aftermarket part.