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Help! Why can’t I see my cellphone screen through my sunglasses?

Polarized screen
  
It’s a beautiful day on the farm, the sun is shining. You take out your smartphone to take a photograph of the amazing vista, but you can’t see your phone screen. What’s the deal?
 
Well before you start cursing out Samsung and throw your phone in the lake, take a second. It’s less to do with your phone and more to do with your polarized sunglasses.
 
Polarized lenses are popular for many reasons, as we have written here. But as a means for looking at your cellphone (or any LCD screen) there are some issues. LCD screens have their own polarizing screen filter, so when you add another filter, (your sunglasses) things get tricky.
 
Here is an awful example of what’s going on-
 
Hold your hand out in front of your face with your fingers spread wide apart (filter one). Then do the same with your other hand (filter two), and place one hand behind the other. With your fingers perfectly in line you can see what’s behind them. Yet with your fingers misaligned they block your vision. This is a simple example of what’s going on with your smart phone screen filter and your sunglasses filter.
 
There is a simple fix for this though. Rotate your phone through 90 degrees, (from portrait to landscape or vice versa). Then your screen will pop back to life.
 
This is also a good test if you have ever wondered, “how do I know if my sunglasses are polarized?” Hold your sunglasses in front of an LCD screen and rotate them. If the screen starts to dim through your sunglasses lens then congratulations. You have yourself a bonafide pair of polarized sunglasses.
 
I hope this post has been helpful in solving your first world problems. Feel free to let us know your thoughts below.
 
Stay Faded,
 
Ben

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