Touchscreen gradually becoming unresponsive - disassembly/reassembly 'fixes' it - what's going on?


For the last year or two, my Fairphone 2 has had spells of gradually decreasing touchscreen responsiveness. Every few months, a time comes when it starts to not register all taps, swipes etc, and this gets worse over the course of hours or a few days.

I found that I could gently ‘force’ responsiveness by applying light pressure to the top part of the back, above the ‘fairphone’ label and next to the camera. However, eventually this doesn’t help anymore.

The first time this happened I had a look inside the phone, up to the point where you loosen the two blue tabs and slide off the touchscreen. Couldn’t find any obvious issues, so just wiped the exposed internal contacts with an electronics cleaning wipe. After reassembling the phone, I found the touchscreen now worked perfectly again.

However, as said, the issue will resurface every few months. Without fail, disassembling, wiping, reassembling temporarily fixes it… for now. (Not sure the wiping is imperative.)

Does anyone know what is actually going on?

There may come a day when the ‘fix’ no longer works…

It may be that the unresponsive spells are hastened by the phone getting the occasional knock (not ideal, but happens), but not sure there’s a causal link.

Many thanks for any insights!

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Probably helps so keep doing that, you are removing oxidation of the contacts. As an alternative to wipes you can use a cotton bud soaked in surgical grade alcohol (90°) or isopropanol. Make sure to leave the modules to dry for 3h before reassembling.
I would say that any problem that is resolved by disassembling the phone is to do with internal contacts between modules. It’s an important disadvantage of a modular phone, by definition.
Bear in mind also that while each disassembly fixes the problem for a while, it’s likely to return with gradually increasing frequency, due to internal mechanical stresses and gradual deterioration of the materials.
The FP2 was released 8 years ago, though yours might be younger, but they have all now passed their expected working lives (production ended in 2018).

So, “Keep that gem going” as the badge says (you must be entitled to at least one!), but also be prepared to replace it. That means making adequate backups, in particular!


Have you also tried using a stylus. That also helps aging by removing your fingers from the equipment. Each time you touch, You leave a little oil behind. That can also degrade the screen. Seeing that this is a second Gen. product. I figure a Wii U or DS stylus might work because of pointed tips and the screen might not support newer features like multi-touch. I’m thinking along the lines of PDA screens that were around in the 2000’s if you know what I mean by that. Yes this means I’m old. LOL. And I’m proud of it. :slight_smile: it just means more wisdom in the end. Hope this made you smile and hope this helps you with your issue.

Thank you for the replies!

That makes sense - never considered that downside of modularity.

I’m happy with this ‘old’ phone; it’s pretty up-to-date software-wise thanks to LineageOS and FDroid (and the awesome apps on there). But I’ll take your backup warning to heart!

Hmm, I wouldn’t suppose the oil would leak through in some fashion though?

The device is young enough to have multitouch - would miss that if using a stylus.

(BTW, dad’s Palm Pilot was still working last time I took it out of the drawer :wink: )

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Yes, and there’s /e/ OS as well. Purists would however warn that low-level software from the SoC manufacturer Qualcomm is no longer getting updated.

Yes I like it too, it’s tolerably light and fairly slim and for many people it does the job.

Congratulations for your very long use.
I had some issues once with a faulty phone(not a Fairphone). In that case the phone was absorbing sweat and the screen and antennas where malfunctioning over time. No fix available.
The screen or other components may absorb water or oil (or even salt sweat is a nasty mix) which move the components out of specifications.

However, i agree with the assumptions here that it’s a contact problem. There are special sprays to remove residue and reduce oxides. Often called contact cleaner or similar. I would recommend that and giving it a good scrub.
I would recommend something like this: KONTAKT CHEMIE KONTAKT 60 PLUS

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Good suggestion - I was able to to fix contact issues with my camery module using KONTAKT 60 :+1:

So you might give it a try, too. The chemicals in KONTAKT 60 are designed to solve oxidation and might be harmful to other components of the phone. So instead of spraying inside the phone, pour or spray a little of the liquid on a cotton swab and rub the contact pins carefully.

Hmm. Are there actual known issues/dangers to this?

My one issue with the phone is that it will occasionally (on average twice a week?) reboot of its own accord. The reboot is fast so it’s not been a major issue, but it could be. No idea if this is due to LineageOS or firmware/hardware. [EDIT: there seems to be plenty of info on this]

Yes. And you can just about reach the whole screen with one thumb, speaker quality is decent, etc :slight_smile: But I can’t really compare - only had one small smartphone before the FP2!

I wasn’t aware of such products. Thanks @Geron for the idea, and thanks @rkbwde for the application tip! :slight_smile: