Screen burn, image retention or persistence, ghost images — the problem can have several names, but you’ll know it when you see it. Blurred images and colorful after-effects will linger on your screen, making it hard to read and ruining your image quality.
This type of screen burn is most common on mobile devices that use AMOLED or OLED screens (for LCD phones, take a look at our final section). It happens when users leave an image on their screen for too long, causing the pixels to struggle to switch to a new color (the same way your leg falls asleep and makes it hard to walk after sitting down for too long). This may happen more easily with blue colors but can occur with any image that’s left on too long.
This is a different type of burn-in than, say, dead pixels on a plasma TV, which is a more permanent kind of problem. For screen burn on your mobile devices, there are a few things you can do to fix the issue and keep it from happening again. Here are the steps!
Step 1: Turn off your device
This is the simplest solution and is frequently effective, especially when you catch image retention early on and want to fix it fast. Turn your phone off entirely, powering it down fully, and let it rest for a couple of hours. If the screen burn issue is still minor, this gives the pixels enough time to “rest” and get rid of any after-images, so your phone will look normal again when you power back on. This is one advantage of the versatile organic pixel layer used in OLED-based screens, which can correct itself more easily than pixels of the past.
Step 2: Get a corrective app
If turning your mobile device off for a while doesn’t fully solve your problem, you should try re-training the pixels on your screen to get them back into balance. Fortunately, there are apps designed to do precisely this.
On an Android device, try downloading OLED Tools. It’s a fairly simple app, but it has a useful tool called Burn-In Reduce. This cycles your pixels through different primary colors at peak brightness to basically try to reset them. It’s frequently effective and should be the next thing you try.
If you have an iOS device, then you can use an app like Doctor OLED X instead. The cycle function on this app with take your pixels through multiple colors and brightness levels to try and reset them as well.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to download any more new apps, you can visit the website ScreenBurnFixer. This site has a video section with color slides and checkered patterns designed to help get your pixels back on track. Run a few of these and see if they can help.
Step 3: Change your settings
There are also a number of settings on your mobile device that you can change to help prevent or reduce screen burn issues. Make sure you are following guidelines like these:
- Lower brightness settings: The higher the brightness, the harder your OLED pixels have to work, which can cause screen burn issues. If your mobile device is permanently set on a higher brightness, switch it to auto-brightness or a lower brightness level to prevent problems.
- Set lock screen and sleep timers: Smartphones come equipped with automatic timers for locking and going into sleep mode, both of which turn off the screen after it hasn’t been used in a while. Make sure these settings are turned on and set to a minute or so. If you haven’t looked at your phone in one minute, it’s probably fine for it to shut off the screen and lock. This essentially prevents image retention because the screen won’t stay on long enough for it to happen.
- Get rid of menu, status, and navigation bars: Image retention can happen when you are actively using an app that has a permanent bar for tools or notifications, like when you’re playing a game or watching a movie, for example. When these bars don’t disappear, they cause screen burn after long sessions. Look for options to hide these icons and tools after a moment so they aren’t always present. Immersive modes for your mobile OS will also do this.
- Enable dark mode: While it’s not a guarantee against image retention, using dark mode on your mobile device can help reduce the risk, particularly when it comes to overusing brightness levels. You can also try choosing dark keyboard skins.
Screen burn on an LCD screen
Screen burn can also happen on LCD mobile screens, although it’s rare and more difficult to fix since LCD pixels work very different from OLED versions. When screen burn happens on an LCD screen, the results are more likely permanent. However, you can still try using LCD Burn-In Wiper, which cycles colors similar to the OLED versions in an effort to get the pixels working again.
If your screen doesn’t get any better, contact your phone manufacturer quickly to find out about any screen warranties and if you qualify for a replacement.