Phone Touch Screens: Resistive and Capacitive

Dec 4, 2020

While we service a wide variety of phone repair needs at FixIT Mobile, perhaps the single most common form of repair need from our smartphone clients is phone screen repair. Whether due to a crack or other damage from being dropped, issues with refresh rate or several other potential concerns, we’re happy to repair numerous iPhone and Android phone screens so they work good-as-new. As the smartphone world has evolved over the years, so has the complexity of the technology used for their touch screens. There are several different methods utilized for this purpose by iPhone and other models – what are the most common out there on the market, and how will each differ in terms of basic use, repair needs and other factors? This two-part blog series will go over several varieties of phone touch screen.

Resistive Touch Screens

Likely the most common touch screen type available throughout many public areas today, including use in some smartphones, resistive touch screens use two thin, flexible metallic layers separated by a small gap. In addition to phones, you’ll often find these screens used for items like ATMs, supermarket kiosks and other similar needs.

The two metallic layers contain an electric current that runs through them. When the top layer is touched, it pushes down and contacts the lower layer, interrupting that current flow. The device tracks this contact in its precise location, and matches that to a corresponding command for the device.

We should note that resistive touch screens are only responsive to pressure alone: They do not differentiate between what is actually touching the screen. For this reason, not only fingers but also stylus, gloves or other options will generally work. However, swiping and multi-touch features are not supported by resistive touch screen technology.

Most new smartphones do not use resistive touch screens, however, as there are more advanced formats that are more commonly used.

Capacitive Touch Screens

A capacitive touch screen, on the other hand, is one that uses a transparent electrode layer set on top of a glass panel. The entire setup will then be covered with a protective layer, which is what users actually contact.

When a finger touches the capacitive touch screen, electrical charges transfer (in very small amounts) to the user. Sensors on all four sides of the screen detect this change in current, and a controller pinpoints the part of the screen it came from. Unlike the resistive touch screen, capacitive touch screens are tuned directly to human fingers or a designed stylus. They also have excellent clarity and durability, resisting surface contaminants, liquids, dust and even grease. However, they may be at-risk of certain electromagnetic interference in some cases. For more on the various forms of touch screen that might be used in your smartphone, or to learn about any of our phone repair services, speak to the staff at FixIT Mobile today.