I found a dead pixel on my laptop screen! What do I do?

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Recently, I found dead pixels on my laptop screen. It was rather frustrating given that I only purchased my laptop (MacBook Pro 13-inch, 2019) for less than a year! This is the first time I have encountered this issue among all of the laptops I’ve used thus far (this is my sixth laptop including company issued laptops). I’ve used Dell, Lenovo and Apple laptops so far.

So I headed to the authorized service provider for a quick check (Malaysia sadly doesn’t have an Apple Store yet, whereby our neighbors – Thailand and Singapore already do). Thankfully, my laptop is still under warranty, and they agreed that they would replace my entire screen for free. I was also told that normally a replacement of the screen would cost upwards of RM2,000. The only downside was that if I agreed to turn my machine in, I would be without my personal laptop for 7-10 working days, with further delays if they are unable to obtain the necessary parts from Singapore quickly.

I decided to send it in for repairs anyway… since the black dot was bugging me so much. Thus, begins the long countdown to get back my laptop (it’s only Day 2, and I already miss my laptop).

What are pixels?

Most electronics use liquid crystal displays (LCD) these days. LCD technology uses a grid of definable points (i.e. rows and columns of addressable points, known as pixels) that render text and images on the screen. As Apple puts it:

Each pixel has three separate sub-pixels—red, green and blue—that allow an image to render in full color. Each sub-pixel has a corresponding transistor responsible for turning that sub-pixel on and off.

Apple Website, link

Since my laptop has a 2560-by-1600 native resolution, it means that there’s approximately 4.1 million pixels… and a few of them decided to stop working.

Types of pixel fault classes

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) distinguishes between three different types of defective pixels, although certain companies tend to have further distinguishing types.

The ISO 13406-2 – “Ergonomic requirements for work with visual displays based on flat panels – Part 2: Ergonomic requirements for flat panel displays” defines three distinct types of defective pixels:

  • Type 1 = A hot pixel (always on – white in color);
  • Type 2 = A dead pixel (always off – black in color); and
  • Type 3 = A stuck pixel (one or more sub-pixels (red, blue or green) are always on or always off)
Dark pixel anomaly (Dead pixel) / Bright pixel anomaly (Stuck pixel) / Foreign material (from left to right) – Apple

My laptop had a Type 2 pixel fault class. It was just a tiny black dot on the screen. But because it was located quite center of the screen, it really bugged me.

It’s also noteworthy that any these pixel faults can occur at any random time, like mine.

How to fix a hot / dead / stuck pixel?

Always go to your authorized service provider first if your laptop is still under warranty. Otherwise, you may try the following steps I found on the internet at your own risk (do note that these will not guarantee a fix to your problems and might result in a damaging your screen further):

  • Restart your laptop;
  • Apply a little pressure with a blunt object to the area; or
    To avoid scratches, cover the object with a cloth and gently rub the area.
  • Play this video on loop for 15 minutes or more to attempt to re-energize the pixel or try JScreenFix.

None of the above worked for me though, though based on some YouTube videos and articles, it worked for them (though usually for hot or stuck pixels, and rarely dead pixels).

Now all I can do is wait. Fingers crossed, I hope I’ll get back my laptop as good as new with no further issues when it comes back from repairs.

Update (06/11/2020)

I actually got back my laptop from the service provider today, which was pretty quick given that I only sent in my laptop on 3 November. Turns out it was indeed a dead pixel, and it was unrepairable. Hence, they changed the entire display screen for me. Based on the receipt, if I were to change without warranty, it would have costed a whopping RM2,620 to change the display! So, AppleCare guys?

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