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Old 09-03-2010, 05:27 PM
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Free advice for fixing scratches on touch screens...

You know what they say about free advice, it's useless :P But maybe this will help people. For the right way to handle scratches, skip to the end. Or read the rest to see all the ways you can fuсk up :/

====

I got some mild scratches because I foolishly put the phone in my pocket with my car keys. Also foolish was not getting a screen protector... on my next phone I'm getting one as soon as I take it out of the box. Two of them were rainbow scratches, i.e. a little deep.

Two ways scratches get removed: Buff the surface around the scratch down until it's the same level as the scratch, then polish the entire area... or fill in the scratch with some plastic compound, then buff/polish to remove the excess compound that isn't filling your scratch. The first method sounds bad because you're wearing down the perfectly good areas on your screen and making it a little thinner around the scratch. Plus you gotta wonder if that process doesn't make everything look scratched up. But it can be done and it's a permanent fix. The second method fills in the scratches, but from what I have read the filler eventually wears away and must be redone every so often (once a month maybe). And you STILL have to buff the surface of the screen to remove the excess filler.

Here are the products I tried, all of them utilizing the first technique (liquids with tiny particles that wear down/buff the screen, and in some cases actual sandpaper).

1. Displex - don't bother.
It's 10-15 bucks for a tube that someone called "the smallest tube you can possibly imagine". And it's only half full lol. It didn't remove any scratches. Also it didn't feel like it had any "grit" to buff out the area but it must have, because now the screen had lots of little rainbows.

They warn against using displex on touch screens but that depends on the screen. Most WM phones use transistive screens I think. These are ok, the touchable stuff is under the top layer. Capacitive screens (anything that supports multitouch like the iphone) will be ruined if you mess with the top layer.

2. Toothpaste - nonononono.
The little particles in toothpaste are actually very gritty, the next time you brush try gently biting on some. You'll feel/hear the particles "crunch". But it's not the kind of grit that helps buff out the scratches. Another problem is toothpaste is super sticky and dries into a very hard film that's tough to see through. You have to be careful not to get it in the speaker, between buttons, in cracks, etc. You need to remove with a damp cloth (or be ghetto like I was and lick your screen). And of course you must be careful not to let your damp cloth drip any liquid where it doesn't belong.

3. Quixx scratch repair system - No go.
For cars but why not try it on the display? I was a little nervous about using it, it's got two tubes of stuff and some fine grit sandpaper. The problem is that the tubes of stuff didn't seem to have much effect on the scratches (now instead of 2 or 3 deep scratches, I had a million additional little scratches). I buffed hard with the stuff, maybe applying a little too much pressure. But maybe only a 5% improvement after scrubbing until my thumb ached. So I sighed and thought "I got insurance" and got out the sandpaper.

The sandpaper is fine grit, but not quite fine enough. It's 3000 grit. When I finished buffing the area with it, the deep scratches were better, but the entire buffed area was now dull instead of shiny and smooth. When turned off, this area stuck out like a sore thumb. What's worse, I somehow separated a little area of the screen.

The separated area is weird, I'm not even sure it's actually separated. It doesn't act like a bubble, it doesn't move when I press it. It's maybe related to the rainbow/oil slick effect people talk about. When the screen is turned on, it's invisible... and you can still touch it. It's just an area that looks like a lighter black than the rest of the screen when it's off.

At this point I'm in despair... time to call the insurance company. But I don't because when the phone is on, stuff looks fine. It's only when light glares off the surface or it's turned off that this stuff looks bad.

4. Turtle wax scratch repair kit: Yes - this is it.
This comes with two little sandpaper pads, and instead of actual paper the rough surface is on a small foam disc. And instead of 2000 grit (too rough for this job) there's a 3600 and a 4000 grit (very nice). The tubes of stuff provided are actually useful. The "paint clarifying compound" supposedly can remove some scratches, and maybe it helped a little, but what this stuff does that none of the others did... is actually POLISH the screen properly, leaving it very shiny and looking almost wet. One thing the quixx system had that helped here is some nice microfiber polishing towels. That nasty dull area went away after a thorough application of this stuff, and that helped a ton. It even improved the bubble/light patch. Maybe the pressure pushed the layers of the screen back together. Now you have to be looking for it to spot the very very slightly lighter black area when the screen is off.

The sandpaper is also great, I used it without fear... knowing that the compound will polish the screen nicely even if I make it dull again. But this stuff doesn't rough the screen up nearly as much, and they also provide a spray that lubricates the screen so you can get your back-and-forth action going a little faster, and the screen doesn't look so dry and rough during the process. 4000 grit is much safer. I got the deep scratches in one area down to nothing. Then I polished.

I can't say the screen is as good as new, I don't think anything can do that. If you angle it and you're looking for it, it looks like a million microscopic scratches are there where the real scratches used to be. Like the effect you see on polished silverware or on a smooth area of your car. The screen is still smooth and shiny looking, it just looks like there's a pattern there when the light catches it wrong. And when the screen is on, instead of seeing a single rainbow line you see almost nothing, maybe a very faint rainbowing effect that's similar to what you see when you have oily fingertips and leave a little slick on the screen.

The kit includes a tube of filler. I haven't tried it yet, I'm a little worried. The screen looks better than it has in weeks, and I don't know if the filler will help with the remaining microscopic scratches. If I end up doing anything else I'll let y'all know. If this is as good as it gets, it's still a real improvement.
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Old 09-11-2010, 03:35 PM
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Re: Free advice for fixing scratches on touch screens...

A little update: Lots of people say to avoid the scratch filler so I'm not gonna bother with that.

Another nice little trick I've found - the area of the screen that seems separated or whatever was the only part that still stood out. I have greatly improved that area (you won't see it unless you're looking for it) by simply adding a screen protector. At first I was like "what's the point of adding a protector now? The screen's already scratched".. but my boss said it would help to hide that area and any very small scratches. Sure enough he was right. Screen looks great now. My only complaint is the protector seems to get dirty so easily and when I use my stylus on a dirty area it leaves little trails. It doesn't just come right off either, you gotta scrub that f-er.
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Old 09-16-2010, 05:09 AM
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Re: Free advice for fixing scratches on touch screens...

Quote:
Originally Posted by creedo View Post
4. Turtle wax scratch repair kit: Yes - this is it.
I have seen what this stuff has done for plastic car headlights. Mine was a mess, could hardly see out of them, scraches and stains, this got them looking like brand new (and yes, I did use the Turtle wax kit).This should work to get scraches out of a screen.

If you do try this stuff (about $15), spend time with it BUT !!! tape off the rest of the phone, you need to use water and it will damage the finish on painted parts.

Don't expect it to be done in 5 min... spend some time with it, it will work.
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Old 09-16-2010, 07:40 AM
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Re: Free advice for fixing scratches on touch screens...

Great info!
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Old 10-12-2010, 12:53 PM
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Re: Free advice for fixing scratches on touch screens...

can't you just go to a wifi hotspot? like starbucks or something?
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Old 10-20-2010, 09:24 AM
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Re: Free advice for fixing scratches on touch screens...

Fantastic advice! I'm a bit too much of a weenie to use it on the (insanely soft) touchscreen of my i760, but I have a scratch so deep that my sylus keeps catching on it. Hmmm.
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