We love AMOLED displays here at AndroidPIT. They’re super sharp, super bright and, well, super. But they have one big flaw, and that’s burn-in. If you remember the days of CRT screens you’ll remember the ghost images that would appear on-screen, and thanks to AMOLED they’re back. The good news is that there’s a fix. Here’s how to fix AMOLED burn-in on Android displays.
What is AMOLED burn-in?
Younger readers may not have seen burn-in before, because it doesn’t affect LCD displays (although it does affect plasma TVs). If you’ve been around a bit longer, though, you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about. On cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors or TVs, displaying the same thing in the same place every day would eventually result in that thing being burned into the display. TVs would end up with a ghostly MTV logo burned into the corner no matter what you were watching, and monitors would end up with a permanent reminder of the Windows menu bar or WordPerfect 5.1.
Burn-in is why screensavers exist: by replacing, say, Microsoft Word with flying toasters or carousels of landscape photos, the risk of burn-in was considerably reduced. People used to pay real money for screensaver apps. Seriously.
As you’ve probably guessed by the fact your phone isn’t two feet thick, we don’t use CRT displays any more. But the same problem that affected the phosphor in cathode ray tubes also affects AMOLEDs. The reason is the O in AMOLED, which stands for Organic. Over time, the compounds in an AMOLED display degrade – just like the components of batteries do – and as they do, they can leave ghostly images behind in the areas that have been subjected to the most electronic wear and tear. That’s AMOLED burn-in.
How can I avoid AMOLED burn-in?
The simplest way to avoid burn-in is to ensure that your display doesn’t show the same thing in the same place for long periods. For example, if you leave your screen on while charging your phone, you’re more likely to see faint ghosts of the home screen icons and soft keys even when you’re doing something else. It takes a while to happen and it’s very faint at first, but if it happens to your phone you’ll notice it whenever you use something with a white background, such as a text editing app: there will be brownish marks where images have burned into the display.
Charging isn’t the only culprit. If you use your phone for hours and hours of Google Maps, or use the same app for really long periods every day, that can cause some burn-in too. It isn’t as bad as it was in the bad old days of CRTs, but it’s obvious enough to become really annoying really quickly.
How can I fix AMOLED burn-in?
The honest answer is you can't – but there’s a but so big that Sir Mix-A-Lot would write a song about it. Thanks to some truly inspired thinking, there’s an app for solving the screen burn problem. It doesn’t get rid of the burn, instead it changes your device to make the burn disappear. It’s magic!
OK, it’s not really magic. But it’s pretty clever nonetheless. The app is called AMOLED Burn-In Fixer and if your device runs Lollipop or later, it can take advantage of a nifty system trick called inverted colors. By changing the colors underneath the burn-in, the app can effectively make the burn-in marks disappear. They’re still there, but the screen is effectively doing what noise cancelling headphones do: analysing the signal and defeating it with a mirror image.
AMOLED Burn-In Fixer does three things. One, it tests your device to show you whether burn-in has happened. Two, it can hide parts of the UI to prevent the burn-in getting worse. And three, it can invert the colors of the navigation bar and other elements to make burn-in effectively disappear.
It won’t work on every device – if you don’t have Lollipop you’re out of luck, and if the burn-in is really bad then no amount of system fiddling will change that – but given that it doesn’t cost money, it’s definitely worth a try. It’s currently averaging 4.1 out of a possible five stars on Google Play, which suggests that it’s doing a pretty good job.
Have you encountered burn-in on your phone? Did you try the app and get good results? Let us know below.