What Causes AMOLED Burn-In? How to Fix, Avoid, and Prevent It

AMOLED burn-in on screens and displays is permanent. Fortunately, you can slow it down and reduce its visibility by using a few simple tricks, which can also increase battery life.

What Is AMOLED Screen Burn-In?

If your OLED screen has blotchy, uneven coloration where your navigation bar is, you have burn-in.

Each pixel within an Active Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode (AMOLED) comprises red, green, and blue (and sometimes white) sub-pixels. When they emit light, they decay. Burn-in appears because individual sub-pixels lose brightness at different rates, depending on its color. The most-used light-emitting sub-pixels, such as for navigation and status icons, wear out first, leading to uneven light production.

So the more you use the device, the more visible its burn-in. And the longer you display the same image, the more that image’s outline will persist on the display.

It doesn’t help that many user-interface buttons are white. For an AMOLED panel to produce white light, the display switches on three different sub-pixels in proximity to one another. Each sub-pixel produces a different color: red, blue, and green. Together they appear white to the human eye. However, each of the three colors wears out at different rates, depending on the manufacturer.

For the AMOLED on most smartphones, red sub-pixels are the most durable, followed by green. Blue decays the fastest. When you see burn-in, it’s often caused by a weakening blue sub-pixel. All “fixes” aim at addressing the failing blue sub-pixel. Remember, there are also tools available to fix dead pixels.


AMOLED Screen Burn-In Test (Android)

Everyone with an OLED display has some burn-in. But often, it’s not fully visible unless you display a solid color at maximum brightness. The Android operating system has access to many apps that detect burn-in damage. The best of these is Screen Test.

Screen Test is ultra-simple: install and run the app. Touching the screen shifts between colors and patterns. If you see a persistent image impression or blotchy coloration, you have burn-in.

For my AMOLED phone, I’ve taken every precaution against screen burn-in. Even so, the display is still a little blotchy after over a year of use. Fortunately, there are no indications of burn-in where the navigation buttons are.

If the app indicates burn-in (and almost always does), some options are available to reduce its appearance.

Download: Screen Test (Free)

AMOLED Screen Burn-In Fixes and Hacks

Here are some of my favorite methods for avoiding AMOLED screen burn-in:

  1. Lower screen brightness and timeout.
  2. Use an immersive full-screen mode.
  3. Change wallpaper to black.
  4. Change the launcher.
  5. Install OLED-friendly dark icons.
  6. Install Firefox Mobile with a dark theme.
  7. You can even install an OLED-friendly keyboard.

Take a look at each of these in more detail, so you can fix a burned-in screen.

1. Lower Screen Brightness and Screen Timeout

Phones with their brightness cranked up to max combined with long screen timeouts contribute to burn-in. The first steps everyone should take:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Then go to Display.
  3. Reduce screen brightness (or set to automatic brightness).
  4. Lower screen timeout.

2. Turn on Dark Mode (Android)

Android 10’s dark mode finally allows for Android system menus and apps to appear dark in color. It will turn Chrome’s user interface black, as well as the Settings menu, navigation bar, and notifications shade.

To turn on dark mode, go to Settings > Display > Dark mode and turn it on.

3. Enable Gesture Mode

Android made it possible to get rid of the navigation bar in Android 10. Once enabled, gestures allow navigation by swiping your finger on the screen. You can enable Gesture mode by doing the following:

  1. Go to Settings > Gestures.
  2. Choose System navigation.
  3. Choose Gesture navigation.

After a brief tutorial, you’re ready to go.

4. Change Wallpaper to Black (Android)

Some might notice that the stock wallpapers in Android aren’t usually suited for OLED screens. OLED screens consume very little energy when displaying the color black, and they do not burn-in when displaying black. Unfortunately, older Android versions don’t include a solid black wallpaper option.

Fortunately, the free app Colors, from developer Tim Clark, allows users to change their wallpaper to a solid color. Just install and run the app, then choose a solid black background as the new wallpaper.

Using black wallpaper will improve the battery performance of your device, so this one is a win-win. However, if you have Android 8.0 or newer, you might already have solid colors available as a wallpaper.

Download: Colors for Android (Free)

5. Change Your Launcher (Android, iPhone)

Install Nova Launcher (Android)

If you don’t have Android 10 or newer, the default Android Launcher isn’t OLED friendly. In Android 5.0, it forces the App Drawer wallpaper to white (the worst color for OLED screens). One of the best launchers for darker colors is Nova Launcher. Not only is it more responsive, it offers better customization options.

Download: Nova Launcher for Android (Free)

Enable Dark Mode for iPhone and iPad

Apple added a dark mode for its devices. We’ve covered how to use dark mode on the iPhone.

6. Install AMOLED-Friendly Dark Icons (Android)

Minma Icon Pack changes your bright, screen-damaging icons into a darker, OLED-friendly palette. Over 300 icons are available, which cover the default icons as well as many others.

Minma is compatible with most Android launchers, and, best of all, it’s completely free.

Download: Minma Icon Pack for Android (Free)

7. Install Firefox Mobile With a Dark Theme (Android, iPhone)

Firefox Mobile is infinitely customizable. While they, unfortunately, removed many of their browser’s mobile add-ons, you can still turn entire webpages black. And, on top of that, Firefox includes a dark theme.

I recommend installing an add-on. The easiest-to-use add-on is Dark Reader. Dark Reader does more than just change the color of Firefox’s user interface; Dark Reader can change webpages’ to black backgrounds with red text, reducing eye strain and burn-in while also improving battery life.

Download: Firefox Mobile for Android | iOS (Free)

8. Install Dark Reader Add-on for Firefox Mobile (Android, iPhone)

Firefox is the most extensible mobile browser out there. You can also install an extension that turns websites dark and inverts text to white.

Download: Dark Reader for Firefox (Free)

9. AMOLED-Friendly Keyboard (Android)

Android’s dark-themed virtual keyboard options can reduce burn-in (and improve battery life). The best of these is SwiftKey, which allows users to change the color of their keyboards. The best SwiftKey theme I’ve seen so far is the Pumpkin theme. If you turn on Android’s dark theme, it automatically turns the keyboard black. In this case, you can simply use the default keyboard.

If you do use SwiftKey, my favorite theme is Pumpkin, which uses black keys with an orange typeface.

Download: SwiftKey for Android (Free)

There are a few other burn-in repair tools, but I don’t recommend them since they either require root access and/or can increase screen damage. However, for reference, you can read about them below and why using them is a bad idea. They fall into two categories:

  1. Invert colors.
  2. Screen burn-in tools.

1. Invert Colors to Reduce Existing Burn-In

I do not recommend using this option unless your screen is already trashed. It will cause additional damage but may reduce the appearance of already existing on-screen burn. Inverting colors simply reverses the colors displayed on your screen. Whites become blacks and vice-versa.

If you use the phone with the colors inverted for extended periods of time, it will burn-in the areas surrounding the burned-in navigation bar, reducing its visibility.

Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) introduced the Invert colors option to help the visually impaired. It’s not at all designed to combat burn-in and remains experimental. To invert colors, take the following steps:

  1. Navigate to Settings.
  2. Select Accessibility > Display.
  3. Turn on Color inversion.

2. Screen Burn-In Tools

Several tools claim to reduce the appearance of burn-in by attempting to age the entirety of your OLED panel. These screen burn-in tools flash red, green, and blue (or other) colors on your screen.

None of these are very good, although they might do what they claim. Unfortunately, they are even more likely to make your burn-in far worse.

The reason is pretty simple: AMOLED burn-in occurs as a natural part of an organic LED’s life cycle. Therefore, tools that claim to fix AMOLED burn-in will cause uniform damage across all AMOLED pixels thus potentially worsening its image quality.

Do You Have AMOLED Screen Burn-In?

None of these methods will stop the inevitable and slow destruction of your device’s screen. However, using all the recommended options in this article will dramatically decrease the rate at which it decays. That said, some of the oldest AMOLED phones have very little burn-in. The decay of organic LEDs is almost entirely aesthetic, particularly on newer phones.

How to Fix Screen Burn-In on TVs: Plasma, LCD, and OLED

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