What Is a Lens Digitizer?


A lens digitizer is the three-component part of a mobile phone or tablet computer’s touch screen that tells the device where you have touched the screen, and enables you to navigate through the machine’s functions and features. Although the lens digitizer has three parts, it is typically referred to as a single lens digitizer unit. It resides behind a glass cover, and consists of the lens, digitizer and call function keys.


  • The glass that covers a computing device’s lens digitizer unit acts as a buffer, protecting the digitizer from damage and excessive pressure. When you touch your computing device’s screen with your finger or other stimulus, the pressure or electromagnetism activates the lens digitizer, which produces just enough energy to inform the device’s operating system which application or feature to activate. When the device’s screen is damaged, the lens digitizer is also damaged, and must be replaced.

TFT Screens

  • At the time of publication, most mobile computing devices that feature touch screens employ an LCD flat-screen technology known as thin-film transistor technology. Each display contains a certain amount of pixels, or lights, which is designated by the screen’s resolution. For instance, the BlackBerry Bold 9780 smartphone features a TFT (Thin Film Transistor) screen that displays at 480 by 360 pixels of resolution, which means it has 480 tiny lights arranged vertically and 360 lights arranged vertically that makeup what’s displayed on the screen. Each light is powered by a single accompanying transistor that provides the pixel with power when it is needed. These transistors react to the pressure or electromagnetism provided by the lens digitizer, and enable the pixels to illuminate and turn off quickly, providing the user with a clearer and more responsive display feedback.

Touch Screen Types

  • Mobile computing devices use one of two touch screen technologies: touch resistive or touch capacitive. Touch resistive touch screens react to the pressure exerted through the screen and lens digitizer to activate its onscreen commands. Touch resistive screens react to all types of stimuli, including styluses and eraser tips. Touch capacitive touch screens react only to the electromagnetism emitted by human flesh, and do not respond to other types of stimulation. The electromagnetism travels through the screen and to the lens digitizer, which provides the transistors with the proper command to operate a file or feature.


  • Depending on the type of computing device, fixing a damaged screen and lens digitizer is pricey, and might cost more than replacing the device altogether. If you are technologically astute, you can fix the components yourself, which is less expensive than paying someone else to do it, but still might cost more than replacing the device. This is especially true with mobile phones, which are often provided by wireless carriers at low or no cost.

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  • Photo Credit David McNew/Getty Images News/Getty Images
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