So you have scratched or cracked your new smartphone or tablet screen. Looking for a quick fix, you will come across endless lists that advise you to use car wax, toothpaste or even a glass buffer. Does one of these methods really work?
Usually the answer is no. Some can even make your problem worse. We have some real tips that can fix your scratched screen from your smartphone or tablet.
Do not sand your scratches on the screen
Sandpaper is an abrasive material designed to gradually remove a thin layer of whatever you use. You can get it in different grits, from very coarse to very fine. People usually use it on wood to remove splinters and create a smooth surface.
When you build a picnic table, you may want a roll of sandpaper. If you are trying to remove scratches from your smartphone, sandpaper is one of the last things you should use. Even if you use a very fine grain on the environment, it is still a bad idea.
If you sand the surface of a touchscreen, you simply scratch more. You wear off any remaining oleophobic (oil-repellent) coating and the screen almost certainly looks worse than before you first started. If you don't want to trade in the scratches for a blurry mess, leave the sandpaper alone.
Avoid glass buffer with cerium oxide
To polish something with glass, use a drill and a polishing wheel to gradually wear a layer of the glass, removing any scratches in the process. Professionals do this to remove scratches on car windows and shop windows; it is an accurate and demanding process. It also requires a steady application of cerium oxide and water, plus careful thermal management.
John Herrman tried this process for Popular Mechanics but it did not go well for him:
“Glass grinding requires the steady application of wet mixed cerium oxide, which is quite messy, and sprayed water, a sprayed water natural enemy of all electronic things. I tried to seal the phone with adhesive tape, but the sticky cerium slop found its way to almost every opening and dried like a fine cement. "
Despite the messy process, John continued with disappointing results:
" My inconsistent water application had led to overheating, destroying an area of the underlying LCD. In other words, grinding glass is too much for a touchscreen. ”
Even with careful thermal management, precise application of water and cerium oxide and masterful use of a polishing wheel, you still remove a layer of your touch screen, which is badly advised.
Skip Turtle Wax and other Auto Scratch products
Turtle Wax and other automatic cutting means are designed to remove scratches on metal and paint by removing a fine layer of the scratched material. Because the cutting agent works magically, scratches appear less deep and in some cases they disappear completely with good polishing.
However, the screen of your smartphone is not made of metal or covered with paint. The glass in your smartphone was never meant to be "cut" in this way. Auto wax will at least completely remove the oleophobic coating from your display. This means more stains and grease on your display.
Real-world car wash testing reveals even more disappointing news, as John Herrman of Popular Mechanics also noted:
“A striking claim is that a layer of Turtle Wax minimizes scratches; in my testing it did nothing like that and left behind a thin film of wax that attracted fingerprints. Others point to 3M scratch remover for cars as a possibility; three rigorous applications did nothing for the iPhone. Displex, a varnish for plastic screens and another favorite with online do-it-yourselfers, left the screen immaculately glossy and seemed to darken the appearance of scratches, but this was a temporary effect of persistent residues. ”
Do not use toothpaste or baking powder to polish away scratches
Toothpaste and baking powder work in the same way as other abrasives. They cut away a fine layer from the scratched surface, so that the scratches appear less deep or disappear completely.
Depending on the brand and ingredients, toothpaste can vary from soft to abrasive. Even if you apply toothpaste to your screen and polish it vigorously, you still keep removing one layer from your touchscreen. Goodbye oleophobic coating, hello stains.
You may find that toothpaste is completely ineffective and switch to baking soda, which is also a common ingredient in many whitening toothpastes. This is similar to cutting your screen with car wax or other cleaning products, and it will only make things worse.
Although you may start the process with a few nasty scratches, you can end up with a spotty screen that is unpleasant and impractical to use.
You cannot fill a scratch with oil
The rumor that you can fill scratches with oil is bizarre, but somehow it stays online. Although oil tends to find its way into corners and holes, there is no reason to stay there once it is applied.
If you put vegetable or mineral oil on your screen, make a mess of it. As soon as you put the device back in your pocket or pick it up, the oil will spread. The scratch will still be there, and you just have oil on your hands and in your pocket.
What to do instead
Now that you have successfully avoided the worst advice about removing scratches from your phone screen, what can you do?
Applying a screen protector
It may seem "too little, too late", but a screen protector can reduce the appearance of scratches. If you apply a soft plastic screen protector, it can “fill up” scratches and provide a small layer of protection.
A screen protector made of tempered glass is even better! It applies a new layer of glass to the touch screen. You may still be able to see the old scratches underneath, but you will not be able to feel them. Moreover, the glass offers superior protection against new scratches.
Before applying a screen protector, thoroughly clean the screen with a soft, damp, cotton cloth. Avoid abrasives, cutting agents or household products such as Windex.
Replacing the screen
If you cannot live with the scratch, you can always have the screen replaced. Most people wait for the screen to crack before taking this step because the costs are relatively high.
The cheapest option is to replace the screen itself. With an iFixit guide, the right set of tools and replacement parts and some technical know-how, you can often replace a screen yourself at a reasonably low price. However, do not attempt this unless you are sure that you can disassemble your device, replace the screen mount, and reassemble it.
Another option is to take your device to a third-party repair center. However, the replacement parts are probably also from a third party. They can perform poorly, even when compared to a damaged device with a first-party display. Scratches are purely cosmetic; they do not affect the functionality of a device.
You can also go for a repair by a first party. If you have an iPhone, Apple will replace the screen for you at a premium. However, the parts are of high quality and are replaced by a trained technician. You also do not have to deal with the problems that you may encounter if you get repairs from third parties on an iPhone or iPad.
If you have AppleCare +, this service costs $ 29. And remember that AppleCare + only covers two incidents with accidental damage. Contact the manufacturer of your smartphone for more information about the options available.
The cheapest option is to ignore the scratch. After all, the screen is not broken and a few spots do not affect the functionality of your phone. You probably replace it in a year or so.
When you upgrade your phone, you must use a high-quality glass screen protector. It is a lot easier to replace a protector than to remove scratches or replace a damaged screen.