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How to prevent AMOLED burn-in and image retention

Windows 10 Mobile Start Lumia phone tiles
Windows Phone Area

More about the big disadvantage of AMOLED – burn-in!

With industry shifting from LCD to AMOLED displays, and from hardware navigation buttons to software based, the negative effect on frequently displayed images may become an issue – some UI elements may imprint onto the screen – temporarily or permanently.

The AMOLED displays (found in many modern smartphones) have many advantages over the LCD panels. They have deeper blacks and use less power, especially if you switch to a dark theme. Windows Phone’s Glance doesn’t create a glow, thus it consumes less energy. But the AMOLED screen may often burn-in pixels as a result of the natural degradation of the polymers used.

You may never notice imprints if you have a device with hardware buttons – like the Lumia 930 and 1020. But as Windows, Android and even iOS are moving away from hardware buttons, the burn-in problems become far more pronounced.

If you swipe up the navigation bar to hide the buttons, you may notice some display damage on the place of the icons. The reason for that UI-buttons burn-in is that they are white if you choose the dark Windows theme. White light is being produced by the AMOLED display using three colors – red, blue and green. And the different diodes don’t decay at the same rate – the blue diodes decay faster. That causes the screen to lose its color accuracy over time, thus the burn-in UI elements appears as faint ghosts when you hide them.

How to prevent AMOLED burn-in and save your display

Hide the navigation bar

The best way to avoid image burn-in is to limit the display of any pictures / elements for extended periods of time. Thus, you should hide the navigation bar if you don’t need it inside apps. Swipe up to hide the software buttons when you watch videos, read books, browse with the Microsoft Edge, or in any scenario you don’t need a navigation bar. Hiding the navigation bar would eliminate the solid color, in this case white, and reduce the pixels wear off.

Reduce display brightness

Leave your screen on auto to let Windows choose the brightness depending on the conditions. Generally speaking, the brighter display you have, the safer your AMOLED display is. However, sometimes leaving the display on auto is not the best option. In this case, manually adjust the brightness to the lowest possible level.

Change the background regularly

Many people never change their Start / Lock screen backgrounds. Theoretically, these permanently used pictures may cause burn-in. To eliminate the possibilities for image retention you can regularly change the backgrounds – for example once a week. An even better decision is to install an app that automatically rotates the images. Such an app is ‘Dynamic Theme’.

Set screen timeout to the minimum

Decrease the screen timeout by going to Settings → Personalization → Lock Screen. Select 30 seconds from menu.

How to reduce the effect of image retention

If your screen already has some noticeable faint ghosts, you may try to reduce the appearance of these burn-in elements on the screen.

Invert the colors of the on-screen buttons

If you use a phone with white on-screen buttons (like in Windows Phone’s dark theme), you can simply invert the colors by changing the theme to Light. By doing this, you will reverse the colors displayed for extended periods of time. Thus, you will make the imprinted buttons less visible by burning-in the area surrounding the navigation bar.

Go to Settings → Personalization → Colors. Select the Light theme. Turn off the switcher to apply color to the navigation bar.

Stick with the Light theme for a couple of days and you should notice a difference.

Play a video with a color sequence

Flashing red, green and blue colors for a certain period of time may remove the burn-in or reduce the visibility of the ghosts. Make sure your screen is switching from one color to another, because displaying a solid color for long time will have a negative impact on the color accuracy and won’t decrease the burn-in.

Image retention and severe display burn-ins may become major concerns for the regular smartphone user. Although the effects could be visible only in certain circumstances (if you hide the navigation bar), they show us that AMOLED is still far from perfect, no matter the manufactures tell us.

  • undude

    Great article. Thank you!