OLED screens are expensive to replace because they’re a tricky technology, hard to refurbish, and not worth it for the aftermarket makers, except for the most popular phones. For about six months after the release of the iPhone X, there simply weren’t replacement screens available.
Eventually came the weird LCD replacements, and some low-quality hard OLED models; $300 replacements from the original maker remained the only sensible option. But we’ve worked with a vendor in China to source well-tested, reverse-engineered soft OLED screens that are as compatible as possible with existing iPhone X models. And with our guides to performing your own screen replacements for the iPhone X and XS, we can help you through the process from start to finish.
Ah, but here’s the part you really want to know: the price. Our iPhone X OLED screen costs $150 at the moment, and our XS screen costs $170. That’s a nice savings over the $280 Apple charges for out-of-warranty screen repairs. And those prices are likely to go down as time goes on, according to Daniel Demeter, quality control specialist here at iFixit.
These OLED screens are soft, which means they can be flexible and bend around the curved edges of the latest iPhones. If you do some price-comparison shopping on OLED replacements, you can find cheaper hard models, but they’re going to be different than what your phone came with. “The [hard] technology limits the viewable area of the screen, and the display can’t extend all the way to the edge,” Demeter said. “Certain suppliers of these (hard) OLEDs will make the corners wider at the bottom, or widen the bezel around the entire display, to make it fit and work.”
Soft OLED screens are also easier to refurbish, Demeter said, while hard OLEDs are pretty much dead the moment their glass is cracked. That’s not affecting you when you’re using your phone, but it’s something to consider for the long haul of this planet.
There is one notable difference between aftermarket OLED screens and Apple’s original screens. Replacing the screen will likely lead to the loss of True Tone on your iPhone X. To keep True Tone working, calibration data from the phone’s original display must be copied over, using a tool (like this) that is not cheap, nor generally friendly. While repair shops may want to invest in such a thing, most people will have to live without the subtle reading and eyestrain enhancements of True Tone.
To install an iPhone X or XS screen, you’ll need the part, some accessories, and the right tools. All the parts are listed on the guides for the iPhone X and XS, but take note: you can probably save some cash, and set yourself up for future clever repairs, by buying a toolkit and a tool-only iOpener. The Essentials kit can do this job, but the Pro Tech Toolkit keeps your stuff organized and gives you more options for prying or poking. Beyond that, you just need adhesive (for X or XS), connector pads for the iPhone X, an iSclack if you want an easier time opening your device, and the couple hours you’ll need to calmly pull off this accessible wizardry.
iPhone XR owners: your phone has an LCD display, and we have that, too. It’s a bit more expensive than these OLEDs, because they’re from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). We expect similar aftermarket versions to enter mass production as the phone matures.