Back at the beginning of 2020 (remember that? Good times.), ZDNet ran a survey asking people a simple question -- "How often do you clean your phone?" Almost two-thirds of respondents admitted to having never cleaned their smartphone. Pretty shocking given how much people paw their smartphones after, well, pawing everything else.
How times have changed.
Now it seems that everyone is washing their smartphones, along with everything else they touch on a regular basis.
Problem is, all this focus on cleaning, some people have realized that they've damaged the coating on their screens, either through day-to-day wear and tear, or using harsh chemicals on the display. I've heard lately from a few people who have (although the coating may have already been worn and they've just noticed it).
Fear not, though. You can repair it, for about $15.
First off, what is that coating?
Most modern smartphones and tablets have what is called an oil-repellent -- or oleophobic -- coating applied to the display. This coating helps repel fingerprints and other grubby paw marks, but it can wear off quite quickly, especially if you use harsh chemicals to clean the display, and you'll start to notice dirty and greasy patches appear on the screen.
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So, who do you repair it? Get yourself an oleophobic repair kit. There are quite a few kits out there. If you want to do a single smartphone, you could use this, of if you want to do multiple devices there are bigger kits that aren't much more expensive.
Applying the coating is easy. iFixit has instructions here. I'd add that it's important to be in a dust-free environment -- well, as dust-free as you can be, especially if like me you don't have a clean room -- and to do it overnight of you can, because the less you paw the screen in the hours after applying the stuff, the better.
You can also use this kit to apply an oleophobic coating to screen protectors.
If you repair stuff on a regular basis, having an oleophobic repair kit handy makes sense.
Maybe one of the silver linings of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is that it has raised awareness of the importance of hygiene, regular handwashing, and washing of things we handle regularly. I see this as something come next flu season will help to save lives.