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Troubleshooting Touch Functionality on the iPhone

written by: luis84•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 8/19/2010

Find out everything there is to know about the iPhone Digitizer. Learn about what it is, what it does and how to fix it when it's broken! This great guide will teach you everything about it including how to replace it step by step!

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    You may have heard the term iPhone digitizer used when speaking of iPhone problems. The iPhone digitizer is a device which isiPhone Digitizer adhered to the glass iPhone screen. Typically it is not visible (unless the screen is damaged) and almost resembles a plastic film. The iPhone digitizer connects to the motherboard of the iPhone and sends information about your finger position and movements on the iPhone screen.

    The iPhone digitizer is responsible for the touch functionality of the iPhone. The iPhone digitizer most commonly becomes damaged when the iPhone screen glass cracks. iPhone users may have experienced the glass cracking when the iPhone is dropped, stepped on or slams against a hard surface. Once the iPhone digitizer becomes damaged the iPhone may become unusable due to loss of touch functionality.

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    Troubleshooting the iPhone Digitizer

    Typically damage to the iPhone digitizer is not visible. Damage to the glass screen may be visible, however the digitizer may experience problems on its own even if the glass is not damaged.

    Several basic symptoms can be used to identify problems with the iPhone digitizer. If your iPhone has been experiencing problems and has one or more of these symptoms then your digitizer is likely the cause.

    Symptoms of digitizer problems include:

    • Erratic behavior of the touch screen
    • Poor response of the touch screen
    • Dead spots on the touch screen
    • Applications randomly opening
    • No touch response

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    Resolving Digitizer Problems

    There are not any known solutions for iPhone digitizer problems except replacing the digitizer. Due to the unique design of the digitizer it is not possible to replace just the digitizer. It will be necessary to replace both the iPhone glass and the iPhone digitizer at the same time. Replacing the digitizer will restore touch functionality to your iPhone.

    Replacement screen kits can be purchased for the iPhone over the internet. These kits are easily obtained on websites such as Ebay and Amazon. These basic instructions will give you an introduction to replacing the digitizer on your iPhone:

    Things you'll need:

    • #000 Phillips Head Screwdriver
    • Replacement iPhone Screen + Digitizer
    • iPhone Case Opener Tool
    • iPhone SIM Remover Tool
    1. Power down the iPhone. Power down the iPhone by holding the power button until the slider appears. Slide the slider to theiPhone Internals  right to power off the iPhone. Use the iPhone SIM remover tool to remove the SIM card and the SIM tray.
    2. Open the iPhone. Insert the iPhone case opener tool into the space between the iPhone glass and the chrome bezel. The easiest place to open the case is just below the home button. Pry the screen away from the base of the iPhone gently.
    3. Disconnect the rear case. Disconnect the rear case from the motherboard. Disconnect the three cables that hold the rear case to the motherboard using your finger or the iPhone case opener tool.
    4. Remove the battery. Remove the battery by gently prying it loose. Remove the five screws located around the edges of the iPhone as well. There may be black tape covering the screws, remove it if necessary.
    5. Remove the motherboard. Remove the iPhone motherboard by carefully lifting it out of place. Disconnect any cables. Depending on your iPhone model you may need to disconnect the two smaller logic boards as well.
    6. Remove the LCD screen. Remove the LCD screen and iPhone digitizer by gently separating them from the frame. Inserting a small exact knife between the glass and the frame is a good way to simplify this process.
    7. Insert the new screen. Insert the new iPhone screen which should be composed of the new glass and the new iPhone digitizer. Some kits may require you to attach the digitizer to the glass with adhesive. Follow the instructions with your replace screen kit.
    8. Reassemble the iPhone. Reassemble the iPhone by replacing the motherboard and the screws. Place the battery back into place and re-attach the rear case. Gently press the rear case onto the iPhone to secure it into place.

    This should resolve any iPhone digitizer problems. If you experience any problems with buttons not working after the repair, reopen your iPhone and ensure all of the cables are properly secure.

    Check out this great article for information on How to Fix a Stuck of Broken Home Button. Also, read these handy iPhone Maintenance Tips to keep your iPhone functioning properly.