How to Tell If Oleophobic Coating is Gone?

oleophobic coating

by Alex Gustman

Updated: May 11, 2021

Oleophobic coating is a very thin, invisible layer applied to glass surfaces of any portable electronic devices. The mixture of several fluoropolymers was patented in 2005 and is known for repelling liquids and oil. The first smartphone to ever have it was the iPhone 3GS. Nowadays it is widely used for all portable screens. Let us find out why.

Do we need it?

Yes, we do. Here are three main reasons:

  1. It repels oil and grease, making the device care process faster and easier. As a result, several gentle cotton fiber wipes make the screen look as though it were new.
  2. It provides a better user experience. Fingers slide seamlessly during gaming, browsing, or any other activity. The display is more pleasant to touch and look at due to specific fingerprint resistance.
  3. Additional protection from mechanical impacts. The coating (only to a certain degree) reduces friction and scratching objects can slide off instead of damaging the surface.

Depending on its composition, the layer can wear off for several months or even faster. Several factors can impact its life, including:

  • frequency and way of use,
  • care level,
  • user’s sweat composition.

Besides, device manufacturers tend to use different coating formulas, as well as application techniques. 

Is it possible to prolong its life?

There are several tactics to be used to preserve the oleophobic coating:

  1. Never clean the display with anything containing alcohol – you can easily wipe the layer off. Use cotton cloth instead.
  2. Never mount screen guards – several applications might damage the coating or remove it completely.
  3. Don’t carry your device in the pocket without the case.
  4. Reduce rubbing and any mechanical friction.

This way, the layer will remain effective for a longer time period. Otherwise, you may start feeling deteriorating screen action.

Is the coating still there?

Manufacturers try to make the oleophobic layer as thin as it is possible to make it more effective. Thus, one cannot see it. It is possible to feel it though comparing new and old smartphones head to head. If you do not have any old device available, there is a simple test.


Is the oleophobic coating still on?

Power off your phone and put several drops of water on the screen. It will form neat liquid spheres if the coating is still there. Should you tilt the device, the water would slide off at once. Otherwise, the liquid will not hold the shape. Be careful and make sure not to flood the speakers during the checkup. 

Mobile phone with drops on oleophobic screen
Mobile phone with drops on oleophobic screen

If you are absolutely sure the layer is intact, draw a line on the screen with a marker. The coating should repel it, forming small liquid drops. After you wipe it off, there will be no trace on display. If the coating is gone, it will be necessary to use alcohol to clean the screen. Thus, we do not recommend running this test on expensive devices.

Is it possible to fix it?

The most effective way to prolong the oleophobic layer’s life is to use the device carefully. However, gamers, for instance, cannot reduce friction since they use the phone all the time. If the coating is gone, there are several ways to make your screen feel good again. One can:

  1. Apply screen protector at home after reading this article. There is no oleophobic layer already, meaning there is nothing to damage anymore. Tempered glass is the best choice since it resembles the look and feel of the actual screen. Check the product before purchasing – the description should mention the oleophobic layer. Bear in mind that it can deteriorate touch screen reaction for certain devices.
  2. Don’t expect much from the cheapest guards – a good one cannot cost one dollar.
  3. Buy liquid oleophobic coating solution. You can apply it yourself after reading this article.

Oleophobic coating is a protective layer enhancing user experience. There are simple precautions one can take to make sure it does not wear off prematurely. If it does, there are two ways to fix it – apply the liquid layer by yourself or use a screen guard.


You can’t tell visually if the oleophobic coating is still there or if it’s already gone. But you can do a simple test to know it. In any case, the oleophobic coating should be re-applied to the phone screen every few months if you want your phone screen to always be covered with it.


What does oleophobic coating mean?

This is a special coating, a few nanometers thick, designed to protect the phone screen from water and reduce fingerprints.

Is oleophobic coating worth?

It is not necessary. It does not protect the phone screen from severe scratches. But it does improve the look of the screen.

Does oleophobic coating wear off?

Yes, it does.

How do you fix oleophobic coating?

Only by reapplying.

What can damage oleophobic coating?

The more you touch the phone screen, the sooner the coating will wear off.

Does soap remove oleophobic coating?

Not always, but it can damage the oleophobic coating.

Does oleophobic coating work on glasses?

Yes, it works on any coating: glass, fabric, plastic, metal.

Is super hydrophobic coating worth it?

If this product repels water, and you need it, then yes.

How do you remove oleophobic coating?

Aggressive mixtures such as isopropyl alcohol can help.

What damage does oleophobic coating do?

The coating gradually wears out as it is used. The more you use it, the faster the coating deteriorates.

How long does oleophobic coating last?

Every case is different. From a couple of days to a month or more.

Does alcohol damage touch screens?

No harm in surface treatment.

Does alcohol damage oleophobic coating?

Yes, alcohol can damage the oleophobic coating.

Does tempered glass remove oleophobic coating?

Installed tempered glass will make it inaccessible.

How do I stop my screen from smudging?

Do not touch the screen with dirty hands. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water and degrease your hands before using your mobile device.

Is hydrogel better than tempered glass?

For phone protection, tempered glass is much better.

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About the author 

Alex Gustman

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