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Smartphones & gadgets

Android touchscreen acting up? Here’s how to troubleshoot it

Most of us have at least a few touchscreen devices on hand at a time. Whether it’s a touchscreen laptop, your smartphone, a tablet or some other gadget, it’s common for tech these days to be touch and play.

It’s also common for those touchscreens to be finicky and unresponsive at times. Touchscreens can stop working suddenly or have issues just like any other device component. When it happens, it can be pretty frustrating — or even render your device useless.

If you’re having issues with your touchscreen, don’t run out and replace your device right away. There are ways you can try to fix the issue before shelling out cash for a new device. Here are steps you can follow for fixing a broken touchscreen.

Related: 5 ways to fix and Android phone that won’t charge

1. Clean the screen with a lint-free cloth.

The first thing you need to try is cleaning the screen with a lint-free cloth. Your touchscreen stops responding due to a build-up of sticky, grimy dirt on the screen in many cases. Luckily, it’s easy enough to deal with if that’s the issue. All you need is a clean, lint-free cloth to get the job done.

Wash your hands before you clean the screen to keep from adding more dirt to the mix. Once your hands are clean, you’ll want to wipe down the screen with a cloth. You can use a slightly damp, lint-free cloth if you think there might be a sticky residue that won’t come off easily. Dry will work too.

2. Remove your case or screen protector.

If wiping your screen down doesn’t do the trick, you may want to remove your case or screen protector to see if that’s the issue. Some of those protective covers can cause issues with the touchscreen due to the thickness alone.

If they get dirt or moisture underneath, it can greatly interfere with the way a touchscreen functions. If the cover is causing it to get too warm, it can also stop registering your touch — so it’s worth removing the cover or screen protector to see if that’s the issue.

3. Restart your device.

This might seem basic, but you may want to restart your device if the touchscreen isn’t working. It’s an easy fix in some cases. There’s always a chance that simply restarting your device will resolve the issue.

Each device uses a different method to restart, but you’ll hold down the power button in general.

Related: Three apps to diagnose and treat Android problems

4. Disconnect peripherals like Bluetooth headphones, etc.

There are times when Bluetooth headphones or other accessories can interfere with how your phone is working. If your touchscreen stops working, you might want to disconnect anything that’s connected to your phone — whether that’s a speaker for listening to music or your Bluetooth wireless headphones. If a peripheral accessory is causing issues, disconnecting it should resolve the problem.

5. Remove your SIM card and the memory cards.

If none of the simple fixes above work to resolve your screen issues, you may have to remove your SIM card and the memory cards in your device. This is a little more complicated, so you’ll want to make sure you’ve tried the other fixes first. Before you start, you should be sure to power down fully and unplug your device. You’ll also need a paperclip to get the SIM card cover off (or a SIM card remover).

The methods to remove the SIM and SD will vary based on the device you’re using. You will be able to find directions in your device’s user manual. Don’t have the manual? Tap or click here for thousands of free online user manuals.

The easiest way to find your SIM card is to inspect the frame for any ports or small holes. Some SD and SIM card ports are labeled, and others are hidden behind a small panel, which will require a paperclip to open.

To open the SIM port, you’ll straighten out the paperclip and insert it into the cover over the SIM card. Pull gently to remove the small tray with the SIM card. If you can’t remove it, you may want to visit your carrier’s local store for help. They can help you out, so you don’t damage your phone.

Related: How to defend yourself from SIM card swap attacks

6. Switch to safe mode.

An app or program could also be causing your touchscreen to stop responding. You won’t know if this is the issue, though, until you restart your phone in safe mode. You’ll want to use this mode because apps and programs won’t load in it. If your screen works in safe mode, there’s a good chance the issue stems from an app or program you’re using.

To restart your phone in safe mode on most Android phones:

  1. Press and hold the Power button.
  2. Tap and hold Power Off.
  3. When the Reboot to Safe Mode prompt appears, tap again or tap OK.

7. Update or reinstall your drivers.

If you’re using a Windows-based device and the touchscreen stops working, you may need to update or reinstall the drivers to fix the issue. Note that this is only for Windows devices. You’ll also need to connect your keyboard and mouse or touchpad to your device before starting this process.

To uninstall and reinstall the driver or update your drivers:

Step 1: Uninstall the Touchscreen Device Drivers

  1. Press Windows Logo + X keys on the keyboard.
  2. Click on Device Manager from that list.
  3. Search for the Touchscreen device from the device list, right-click on it, and then select Uninstall.
    1. On the un-installation window, if you have an option: “Delete the driver software for this device” you may select that and then remove the corrupted drivers from the computer.
  4. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete it and restart the computer if prompted.
  5. After the restart, you may again open Device Manager and click on the Scan for hardware changes button at the top of the Device Manager window and check if Windows 8.1 detects the Touchscreen device and installs an appropriate driver for it automatically. If that happens, then check if it resolves the issue. If the issue persists, then go with the next step.

Step 2: Check the Windows updates for any latest driver updates.

Check in Windows updates if any driver updates are available. If so, install the same and check if it helps.

  1. Press the Windows Logo + W keys on the keyboard.
  2. Type Updates in the search bar and click on the icon Windows Update from the search results.
  3. On Windows Update, click on the link: Check for updates from the window’s left-hand side to receive a fresh list of updates.
  4. If the updates are available, install all updates listed.
  5. If Windows Update does not offer the latest Windows 8.1 driver, then try the next step.

Step 3: Update Driver Software from the manufacturer’s website:

  1. Go to the device manufacturer website and search for the latest Windows drivers available for the device model and install it by following the website’s instructions. Also, update the chipset drivers provided on the portal. 

8. Check the screen sensitivity settings.

One other potential fix would be to check the screen sensitivity settings on your device. If your settings are incorrect, your phone may not register your touch on the screen. This is an easy fix for Android devices.

To check the screen sensitivity settings:

  1. Open your Android’s Settings. It’s usually located on the home screen or in the app drawer.
  2. Tap Languages and input.
  3. Tap Pointer speed. This should pull up a slider on your screen.
  4. Drag the slider right to increase the sensitivity. Note: You can also drag the slider left to decrease sensitivity. This decreases how fast the screen detects your touch.
  5. Tap OK.

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