How to fix screen burn-in on your iOS and Android smartphones

How to fix screen burn-in on your iOS and Android smartphones

Ghost image or screen burn-in are names given to permanent discoloration of your smartphone’s screen caused by irregular pixel usage. The prolonged use of static images can create a permanent shadow or ghost of that image on the screen. This problem is more common than you think and happens most often on AMOLED screens (although LCD displays aren’t always immune).

In this article, we explore ways in which this issue can be fixed- and, more importantly, prevented from happening in the first place.

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If you are looking for a screen burn-in fix for your smartphone, let us inform you at the outset that severe cases of screen burn-in are difficult to fix, and the solution almost always involves replacing the display.

Screen replacements, however, are an expensive proposition - especially if your phone is out of warranty. And in cases where the screen burn-in issue isn't that prominent, it is best that you look for other fixes. And that is what this article aims to explore. 

The workarounds offered below, therefore, are best applied to cases of minor screen burn-in.  

What is screen burn-in?

At the outset, it is important to know what this problem actually is. A screen burn-in is the phenomenon observed on displays where a part of the display suffers from permanent discoloration - often caused by prolonged use of a static image. It is also important to note that OLED displays are much more susceptible to screen burn-in than their LCD counterparts. In fact, what people think of as screen burn-in on an LCD panel might usually another issue. 

While modern AMOLED displays are much better at resisting screen burn-in, if your phone tends to display many static images (Hint: Always-on display), the chances of screen burn-in do increase. But newer smartphones and wearables feature several mechanisms (aptly named burn-protection) that reduce the chances of screen burn-in. The way this works is by shifting a static image or text by a few pixels so that the pressure to stay on is not borne by a group of pixels. 

OLED Manchas
A really bad instance of screen burn-in / © NextPit

Also important to note is the fact that screen burn-in is a hardware issue and affects OLED-based panels across a wide spectrum of products. For the same reason, any product that uses an AMOLED panel - ranging from Apple iPhones to Samsung Galaxy devices and OLED TVs could be prospective victims.

The scope of this article, however, is limited to addressing screen burn-in issues on Android and iOS smartphones.

How effective are screen burn-in fixing apps?

In a desperate attempt to find a fix for the screen burn-in problem on your phone, you search on Google, and it turns out there are several apps that claim to address the problem. But how effective are these apps, really?

First things first, you need to know that a screen-burn-in is a hardware problem. Attempting to fix it using software is almost always an exercise in futility. It is no surprise, therefore, that the reviews of most of these apps are mixed. But then what exactly do these apps do? And what about users who claim that their issue was fixed after they installed and used the app? 

While some of these apps can be of help, and there are reviews where people have claimed they work, the general philosophy of these apps is to try and "burn" the rest of the screen to match the colors of the area. While this might work for you initially, you should know that eventually, you aren't helping solve the issue. Think of these apps as temporary workarounds until you replace your display.

screen burn in tool
Screen burn-in fix tools are mere workarounds - but can help in some less severe cases / © AndroidPIT

For LCD screens, there's a dedicated app, LCD Burn-in Wiper that could possibly fix minor cases. However, this tool is not suitable for OLED or AMOLED displays, such as those found on most modern flagship smartphones. For that, you'll need a different app.

For Android smartphones with OLED/AMOLED screens, it is a good idea to try an app called Ghost Screen Fix - Burn-In. iPhone users can try out an app called Doctor OLED X from the App Store.

In most of these apps, the "fix" is to display a sequence of primary colors in an attempt to restore the "burnt" pixels. Interestingly, this was the original function of computer screen-savers: one dynamic image that appears when the screen is idle to make the pixels "exercise" and ensure that the same area of the display doesn’t remain constantly illuminated.

The results that you may get from these apps will vary based on how bad the screen burn-in issue on your phone actually is.

burnin1
This is what you will see in your display when an app tries to fix screen burn-in on your smartphone / © NextPit

Other screen burn-in fixes

A workaround that has been suggested by one of our users involves an app called 'Negative Image' from the Google Play Store. This is what NextPit user Chai Bula did to fix the screen burn-in issue on his smartphone. 

  1. Take a screenshot of your screen when the screen burn-in issue is the most visible.
  2. Download one of the many 'Negative Image' apps from the Google Play Store
  3. Use the app to create a 'Negative" image of the screenshot you just saved.
  4. Open the negative image, which matches pixel to pixel with the original screenshot, and for the same reason, it will precisely overlay the affected pixels. 
  5. Turn the brightness up to maximum, and this could help in improving things

What if nothing works?

As already mentioned in the introduction, screen burn-in is an issue with the actual hardware. As such, a proper fix to the problem usually involves replacing the display.  However, do note that modern displays are much more resistant to screen burn-in compared to their older counterparts, and the devices they are attached to also boast of several screen burn-in protection mechanisms. For the same reason, chances are high you will rarely see a screen burn-in issue on newer devices that are so severe, a screen replacement becomes necessary.

However, in the rare instance the problem is awful, the best bet is to contact your manufacturer directly. If your smartphone is under warranty, they will offer you a fix. Do note, however, that an out-of-warranty screen replacement might be quite an expensive affair. In fact, in some cases, it is cheaper to simply buy a  new phone instead.

How to prevent screen burn-in from happening?

As you might have understood by now, screen burn-in can be an annoying problem. That being said, there are quite a few simple steps you can take so that your smartphone never encounters this issue at all. Note that the steps below are applicable for both Android smartphones and iPhones.

  • Keep the brightness levels of your phone display to low or moderate. Never keep it at full brightness for extended periods of time.
  • If you still use on-screen navigation buttons, it is a good idea to learn to use gesture-based navigation. By doing this, you prevent the screen from displaying the permanent on-screen navigation keys.
  • If you are not a huge wallpaper buff, the best solution is to use a black screen as your wallpaper. On AMOLED displays, this effectively turns the pixels off – and therefore, no fear of burn-in!
  • As much as possible, enable the dark mode feature on your smartphone.

Has your smartphone ever have this problem? Did you use another app to fix it? Let us know in the comments.


This article was last updated in April 2021. Older comments have been retained.

28 comments

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  • storm 4 months ago Link to comment

    Seems to me that just using your phone will stop most of this. You know, use a variety of apps and have the notification bar hide unless you swipe to see it or unless a new notification pops up. So while I set a wallpaper image, I'm so rarely on the homescreen it's actually refreshing when I do see it.


  • Ken Sep 27, 2019 Link to comment

    I use Kinscreen for precise screen control...(screen cutoff) Awesome app...and Leadroid (same dev) for simple battery saving...kills wifi and gps (and much more if rooted) after screen off.


  • marco sarli
    • Admin
    Sep 27, 2019 Link to comment

    Good to know


  • Chai Bula Jun 5, 2019 Link to comment

    I just came up with a fix to the screen burn-in for Amoled device. The longer you use it, the more pronounce the buurn-in trace. I could easily recognize the problem, so I went there and take a screenshot of the problem, saved it and looked for an app to revert the image. From Play Store I found one, Negative Image, (there are several, but I was happy with this one).
    Once installed, open that screenshot and do the teversal into negative. Then increase brightness and contrast and save it. Since the image matches pixel to pixel of your screenshot, it overlays 100% of the problem. Open the result image and turn up the brightness to maximum. Leave it on for several minutes and you'll see improvement gradually. I've done it for only a few minutes and it works like magic !!!


    • yudi.15 Jan 3, 2020 Link to comment

      can you explain this in a step by step procedure?


  • Tony Klik Nov 27, 2018 Link to comment

    Sorry Storm that is no correct. I use my phone all the time and not for gaming and I have screen burn in from the task bar at the top which some Idiot at samsung thought was a good idea to leave it on permanently. Previous phones let the task bar disappear if not used.


  • storm Oct 4, 2018 Link to comment

    It's a non issue if you use your phone. If you just gaze at it continuosly, maybe then it would happen


    • TurkeyStink Dec 13, 2019 Link to comment

      I have screen burn-in from G-Board, and despite keeping my phone's brightness at around 70%, I've now twice had the keyboard burn-in to my phone. I'm either a novelist that for some inexplicable reason writes stories on their phone for hours on end, or there's an underlying fault within OLED or Gboard. I'll leave it up to you to decide which of the two scenarios is more rational.


  • Albin Foro Oct 4, 2018 Link to comment

    Never had the problem on my LCDs, because of quick screen blackout setting and using KeepScreen only for active apps. I'd guess it mainly affects gamers and long video watchers who have top and bottom elements always on during play. I recently learned about and tried this currently inactive app to full screen over that fringe area, and found it works surprisingly well on a new Android N tablet:

    GMD Full Screen Immersive Mode (Good Mood Droid)

    It's potentially a burn-in preventive but also increases active screen real estate. Not sure how many other devices it might work on.


  • Brianna Castro Feb 23, 2018 Link to comment

    Nice LOIE FAVRE , Downloaded and I am Enjoying the App, Thanks For Sharing


  • Sascha Zimmer Feb 19, 2018 Link to comment

    "Hey, my screen shows burn-in! Why is that?" -- "Well, some pixels on the screen are worn out more than others. Especially the pixels that mostly show brighter colors age quicker." -- "I see. Can I fix it?" -- "Yes, you can. Just download an app that destroys the better pixels until you don't see the difference anymore!" And that, folks, is how you get people to download an app which systematically destroys the screen.


    • Sven Akee Cavrone Jun 18, 2018 Link to comment

      That’s a keen sense for the obvious you have there. Please, point out more obvious things.


    • Angelos Krestos Nov 9, 2018 Link to comment

      You are a champion of stupidity.


  • Marty Baasch Oct 10, 2017 Link to comment

    Enjoyed the Omni, now it's time to learn!


  • Brandon Rumbarger Jun 24, 2017 Link to comment

    This stuff needs a freaking epilepsy warning, God Damn


    • Joel Sullivan Aug 3, 2017 Link to comment

      The screen changes colour super slowly. Like once a second. Have you even tried using the app?


  • Akash Chandrasekaran Mar 31, 2017 Link to comment

    Is this a permanent fix ?


  • Dustin Sindt Mar 30, 2017 Link to comment

    Works on LG G5 (confirmed) I had a Snapchat chat burned partially into my screen. I let this run while I slept when I woke up I checked it and it was fixed. Thanks alot definitely didn't want to drop another $400 on a g5


    • eekoh Jul 20, 2017 Link to comment

      oh good because i was messaging my friend on an app and i fell asleep and my phone doesn't sleep when the keyboard is up so it was on for 5 hours (also lg g5)


  • jon vazquez Oct 18, 2016 Link to comment

    Thanks for verifying it works ! Going to try it on my old note 2 tonight

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