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Friday, July 10, 2015

...Fixing the touch screen on an Android cell phone

How to fix the touch screen on an Android cell phone

Is the touch screen on your Android cell phone unresponsive or responding incorrectly? Do some parts of your phones screen respond while other parts do not? When trying to make a selection on your phone does it end up selecting something else instead? Looking for a way to try to fix this and prevent it from happening? Then you have come to the right place. This tutorial describes not only how to test the touch screen on an Android but also what can be done to try and fix it.

Before we begin

Before we really dive in to testing and troubleshooting your touch screen the first thing that you should do is power cycle your cell phone. Simply powering your phone off, counting to 10, and then turning your phone back on can often solve minor software glitches or software hiccups, especially if you haven’t powered your phone off for a while.
If power cycling your phone does the trick then enjoy your working cell phone; if your phone continues to have problems then we are going to want to run a diagnostics test on your touch screen.

Testing your Androids touch screen

If restarting your cell phone doesn’t resolve the issue then we are going to want to verify that the touch screen itself is in fact malfunctioning and that it’s not simply being affected by some software problem.
Now the method that you are going to use in order to accomplish this task is going to depend on what make and model of Android cell phone you are trying to test the touch screen on. The general process should be the same on most Android smartphones but could differ slightly from device to device. So just keep that in mind when doing this as a phones make, model and version of Android can affect the steps involved in this process.
That being said what we are going to do is attempt to open the Device Diagnostics Tool on your Android. This will allow us to test many of the components of the smartphone including the touch screen. To access this powerful tool we are going to need to use an Android Star Code. These codes can also be extremely useful when troubleshooting an Android device and can not only be used to access information about a phone (such as its IMEI number etc.) they can also be used to tell the phone to perform certain tasks or carry out useful commands.
While many Star Code commands seem to be less and less common on recently released Android devices and may not necessarily be available on every Android smartphone (why they seem to be trying to phase out such a useful feature I will never know) the code used to access the Device Diagnostic Tool is still often available on most Android cell phones; so long as you enter the proper code for your specific smartphone that is. But I digress.

Opening your cell phones Device Diagnostics Tool

Start out by accessing the dial pad on your cell phone as though you were going to type in some ones telephone number.
Once the keypad is open you will need to type in the Android star code used to open the Device Diagnostics Tool.
Some common Star Code commands used to access this diagnostics feature include:
  • *#7353# - is a command frequently used on many Android smartphones; especially Samsung devices.
  • *#*#3424#*#* - is used to access the diagnostics tool on most HTC Android smartphones.
  • *#*#7378423#*#* or *#*#SERVICE#*#* - can be used on many Sony Xperia cell phones.
  • *#0*# can be used to pull up the Device Diagnostic Tool on a Motorola that is still using Android 2.1 Eclair.
Once you type in the proper command for your phone the Diagnostics tool should immediately open. If it does not instantly open then you might have to actually hit the dial/call button for it to go through. Once it’s open you will need to select the option(s) to test your phones touch screen and then proceed with the actual test itself.

Step by step instructions (with pictures)

This tutorial is going to use screenshots taken with a Samsung Galaxy S 4 running on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean to demonstrate how to test the touch screen of an Android cell phone but like I mentioned earlier the steps used may differ slightly from your cell phone depending on what make, model and version of Android it is using. I will try to be specific if there is a major deviation but the steps below should be pretty similar to whatever phone you are trying to test the touch screen on.
Since we are using a Samsung device for this demonstration once we open up our phones dial pad we are going to type in *#7353# as if we were dialing a telephone number.
 
On a Samsung as soon as you type in *#7353# the Device Diagnostics Tool should pop right up and you should see a list of options to choose from.
 
The Samsung Galaxy S4 actually has two separate options which allow you to test its touch screen.
TSP Dot Mode and TSP Grid Mode.
   
TSP Dot Mode will put a mark (in this case a small x) anywhere that you press on the touch screen.
 
The TSP Grid Mode creates a grid overlay on your phones display screen and allows you to test each section of your touch screen to verify if it is working properly or not. This is my favorite option of the two as you can quickly drag your finger across the entire screen to try and pinpoint any dead spots or parts of the screen that are responding incorrectly.
 

Fixing your cell phones touch screen

After you have run the Diagnostics test on your cell phones touch screen it’s time to proceed to the step that you came here for and that would be How to fix the touch screen on your Android smartphone.

Touch Screen Passes the Diagnostics test – Software issue

If you run the test on your cell phone and discover that your touch screen passes and doesn’t show any bad or malfunctioning areas or dead spots and everything looks to be responding properly but when you close the diagnosis tool you still notice problems with your phones responsiveness then the good news is that it’s likely a software issue as opposed to a hardware issue and it is definitely solvable. You don’t want a hard ware issue if you can help it as you would have to find a replacement touch screen and then swap out the malfunctioning touch screen with the working one, but we’ll get to that a little later.
So if your mobile phone passes the touch screen diagnostic test then the next step will be to try and pinpoint and resolve the problem by doing the following.

Battery Pull

Since we have already tried to power cycle the phone I recommend you try the next best thing and that is a battery pull. Physically removing the battery while the phone is on is a type of Soft Resetthat you can perform on an Android smartphone and can also help to resolve minor software issues.
If your phone is not designed to have its battery removed then some smartphones like Sony’s Xperia smartphones or Motorola smartphones have a simulated battery pull feature which can be implemented by pushing a series of keys on the phone in a specific combination which instructs the phone to reboot.
If a physical battery pull, simulated battery pull, or if you are unable to perform either of these two options then you can skip this step and try using the Safe Mode feature.

Safe Mode

Safe Mode is a great troubleshooting tool as it instructs an Android cell phone to run with no third party applications. This might not seem like a huge thing but if you have an outdated, corrupt, malfunctioning, or just an overall bad application that’s causing problems on your phone then Safe Mode can help narrow it down to that app.
If you are having issues with your touch screen and then put your cell phone into Safe Mode and then no longer experience issues… then something that was installed onto the phone is causing mischief and will need to be removed for your device to function properly again.
You can read more about this feature in How to use Safe Mode on an Android smartphone

Applications

If you have narrowed it down to a bad application or this issue started to occur around the same time that you downloaded an application then I would check for updates and if necessarily uninstall and remove that application from your smartphone.

Hard Reset

A Hard Reset is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal as it removes all user data from a cell phone. If your phone has any bad applications that you were not able to locate, or any software bugs, glitches, viruses… then a hard reset can be your best friend as it wipes everything from the phone and puts its software and setting back to default and back to like new condition. Just make sure to backup all of your important data before performing a hard reset. Then after words you can restore that information back to the phone and you won’t lose anything valuable or important.
If you need help with this process then I highly recommend reading How to backup and reset and Android smartphone for step by step instructions and advice.
Even if your phones screen is completely unresponsive you should be able to perform a hard reset on the unit to rule out software issues.

A word of caution about performing a hard reset on a cell phone with a malfunctioning touch screen

If parts of your touch screen are working while other parts are malfunctioning but you can still use your phone to a certain point, even if it is difficult, especially if the touch screen diagnostics test fails indicating a likely hardware problem, I DO NOT recommend performing a hard reset on your cell phone and this is why.
After performing a hard reset you will need to setup the phone again which might include selecting the language to use on the phone, setting up your primary Gmail account, preferred Wi-Fi settings, downloading updates, logging into other email accounts, syncing data, etc. If however the touch screen is malfunctioning in the areas of the screen that you will need to select during the setup process then you will not be able to select those options and you may not be able to complete the setup process on your phone and your phone will remain stuck causing you to be in a tighter bind and a worse situation that you are already in. So take this into consideration before performing a hard reset.

Touch Screen Fails the Diagnostics test – Hardware issue

If the touch screen diagnostic fails and there are unresponsive areas or parts of the touch screen are responding incorrectly or the troubleshooting listed above doesn’t seem to resolve the issue then the problem is likely a hardware problem with the touch screen itself and we are going to need to look into some additional options.

Check for Liquid Damage

If you started to have issues with your cell phones touch screen after your phone was exposed to liquid or moisture than before replacing the touch screen you might still be able to fix it by submerging your cell phone in 99% isopropyl alcohol, drying out your cell phone completely, putting it all back together and seeing if it fixed it. This little trick can be a real problem solver when it comes to liquid damage and you can read more about this at How to fix a water damaged cell phone for more information.

Check for Physical Damage

If the screen on your cell phone is cracked or shattered then that’s usually a pretty good sign that there is physical damage and the touch screen (and often the display screen as well) will need to be replaced.

Replacing the touch screen

If you have tried all of the advice listed above and your touch screen continues to malfunction then you will need to look into your repair or replacement options.
Fixing a touch screen your self is not often a difficult process. The hardest part is shopping for the best and most affordable parts.

Buying a replacement touch screen

Online is going to be the best place to buy replacement parts for your cell phone and while it is a good idea to shop around before making a purchase there are a few sites that are really good places to start shopping.
  1. RepairsUniverse.com – this is a great place to buy replacement parts for your cell phone as the parts are easy to find, the prices are good, you can buy the tools that you will need in order to do the job yourself and they usually include easy to follow tutorials and instructions on how to do it all yourself which is very helpful if you have not ever replaced a cell phones touch screen or replaced parts on a cell phone before.
  2. Amazon.com – Amazon is one of the top online retailers for a reason. It’s got just about anything you are shopping for and at the lowest prices available. This holds true for phone parts as well and with some shopping you shouldn’t have too much trouble locating the parts that you need for your specific cell phone and an affordable price.
  3. eBay.com – eBay is still a good place to shop online especially if you don’t mind if the replacement parts are used or not. Sometimes when a phone malfunctions (let’s say the motherboard goes out for example) it’s more cost effective to simply sell the other working parts of the phone and you can end up getting a great deal on parts like a touch screen that has absolutely nothing wrong with it and still works fine.

Thank you for reading

I hope that you found this article a helpful resource for testing and fixing the touch screen on your Android smartphone.
If you did enjoy this guide then don’t hesitate to show me that you liked it by pressing the Facebook Like and Google + buttons below or by simply taking a few seconds to post a friendly remark in the comment section as well.
Thank you for reading, I look forward to any comments and I hope that you are able to get your touch screen to work properly again with minimal fuss. Thank you for visiting the site and I hope you have a wonderful day.

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