New Smartphone Touchscreen Works When Wet

John Lister's picture

A high-end smartphone may solve one of the main problems with touchscreens. The OnePlus Ace 2 Pro works even in the rain or when the user has wet fingers.

A touchscreen works by passing a very low-powered (and safe) electrical charge across the screen. When a finger touches the screen, the charge is diverted to run across the finger. The device can then see which part of the screen "lost" charge and thus where the finger pressed. (Source:

This is why touchscreens don't work well with most gloves, which are made of various materials that work as insulators and don't conduct electricity. Special touchscreen compatible gloves have small patches of conducting material in the fingertips.

Water Confuses Touch Signal

Unfortunately, water is an extremely good conductor, which means if there's any droplets on the screen, the charge will be diverted away from the screen. The device will often struggle to figure out which "breaks" in the charge are caused by water and which by a finger.

Chinese phone maker OnePlus says its new Ace 2 Pro handset overcomes this problem. It made a video that appear to show a user able to type in an unlock code during a rainstorm that leaves an iPhone 14 Pro user locked out. The video also shows a similar contrast during foggy conditions.

The company says the solutions starts with three custom algorithms, but doesn't elaborate on how they work. There's a good chance that they use an approach that's obvious to imagine but complex to pull off: making informed guesses about whether a "touch" is by a finger or by water.

Dedicated Chip Required

This could involve a combination of considering the size of the "touched" area and also looking at what was on the display and thus where somebody might be most likely to intentionally press.

It seems this requires a lot of calculations to pull off accurate as OnePlus says it uses a dedicated chip to handle input on the touchscreen. That likely means that even if other manufacturers copy the approach, the feature may be restricted to premium handsets. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Have you had problems using a touchscreen in wet conditions? Do you buy OnePlus's claims to have solved the problem? Is it enough of an inconvenience to make it worth paying more for a handset?

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Wing and a Chair's picture

Boy howdy! The next thing you hear will be that someone has invented a fountain pen that writes under whipped cream!

shooter_7243's picture

Water is an extremely good insulator unless it has certain impurities in it.