When you tap an icon or otherwise perform a command on a touchscreen device, you expect the device to immediately respond by taking the appropriate action. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen. Some touchscreen devices suffer from long response times, resulting in poor usability and equally poor user satisfaction. Known as lag, it’s a serious problem that shouldn’t be overlooked. The first step to preventing it, however, is to understand what causes touchscreen lag.

Dirty Screen

A dirty screen can cause touchscreen lag, though it usually only occurs with capacitive touchscreen devices. When the screen on a capacitive touchscreen device gets dirty, it may restrict the flow of electricity from the device to the user. Capacitive touchscreen devices are designed to transmit a small electrical charge to the user. It’s not enough that you can physically feel or notice, but the device can use this transference of electricity to detect touch commands. If the screen is dirty, however, a capacitive touchscreen device may not be able to transfer electricity to the user, or it may take longer than usual, resulting in lag. To prevent this from happening, you must clean your touchscreen device’s screen on a regular basis.

Damaged Resistive Layers

If one or more layers of a resistive touchscreen device are damaged, it may cause lag. Resistive touchscreens identify touch commands based on the location where the upper and bottom layers meet. When you touch the interface, the upper layer presses against the bottom layer — and the precise location where these two layers meet is registered as a touch command. But if any of these layers are damaged, it may cause a longer delay from when you perform a touch command to when the device responds with the appropriate action.

Too Many Apps Running

Touchscreen devices can’t support an infinite number of apps running simultaneously. Whether it’s an iOS or Android device, you’ll only be able to run a limited number of apps at once. Once you pass this threshold, performance will decline, resulting in slower speeds, random crashes and lag. This is because apps use system resources like memory and processing power. There’s only so much of these resources available from the touchscreen device’s hardware, and exceeding this limit can cause performance issues.

These are just a few common causes of touchscreen lag. Any manufacturing defect, hardware failure or software in general can cause an increased delay from when you perform a touch command to when the device responds with the appropriate action.