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How to make your Nexus 5 screen bigger

If you're perfectly happy with the size of the Nexus 5 but find yourself looking enviously at all those 5.2 and 5.5-inch screens floating around right now, today is your lucky day. We're going to show you how to grow your Nexus 5 screen. OK, not really, but we will show you how to change the display resolution so it looks like a bigger screen.

AndroidPIT google nexus 5 screen comparison
Which one of these Nexus 5's looks like it has a bigger screen? / © ANDROIDPIT

The process is surprisingly simple: all you need to do is change the pixel density of the Nexus 5. The native screen density of the Nexus 5 is set at 480 (whereas the physical screen resolution is 445 pixels per inch). This mod allows you to change that value to whatever you like – making everything on-screen larger or smaller. You can very easily go from five app icons across the screen to six app icons. You can do this whether you are rooted or not and we'll show you both methods below.

AndroidPIT Nexus 5 lcd 480 density lcd 400 density home screen
Stock standard Nexus 5 home screen (left) and the new, more spacious layout (right). / © ANDROIDPIT

Change Nexus 5 screen density (non-rooted)

To change the pixel density without root access, you'll simply need to use an ADB command. ADB is the Android Debug Bridge and it allows you to issue commands on your phone via a computer.

1. Enable USB Debugging on your Nexus 5.

2. You'll need to download ADB Tools on your computer if you don't already have it.

3. Connect your Nexus 5 to your computer with a USB cable. If prompted to accept your computer's RSA key, say yes.

4. On your computer, navigate to the ADB Tools folder. In some blank space, hold Shift and right click. Select Open Command Window Here.

5. Confirm your Nexus 5 is recognized by typing the following command (you should see a number in the command window afterwards):

adb devices

6. Type the following command (and then reboot your Nexus 5):

adb shell wm density 400

AndroidPIT ADB shell Nexus 5 density 400
This simple ADB command will let you test the density that is right for you. / © ANDROIDPIT

7. You can change the value to whatever you like – the lower the number the more space you have on-screen. 380-400 opens things up nicely and provides plenty of ''breathing room.'' You can go smaller if your eyesight can handle it or slightly larger if you don't want five app icons across the screen.

8. If you find the text is now too small you can go to Settings > Display > Font Size and increase it to your liking. You also have an option for Large Text in your Accessibility settings.

AndroidPIT Nexus 5 lcd 480 density lcd 400 density settings
If you find the text is too small, just change it in Display or Accessibility settings. / © ANDROIDPIT

9. It is a good idea to test various densities through ADB and then make your final selection by editing the build.prop file. This, however, requires root. Editing the build.prop file does seem to clear up visual glitches that some users have experienced when simply making the change through ADB, but it works best if you reset your density before doing so.

10. If you want to reset your screen density, simply connect to ADB again and type the following command, then reboot:

adb shell wm density reset

AndroidPIT Nexus 5 lcd 480 density lcd 400 density app drawer
A more dense screen also lets you fit more app icons in the app drawer at once. / © ANDROIDPIT

Change Nexus 5 screen density (rooted)

This method doesn't suffer from any of the visual glitches some have experienced on the non-root method above. You do this by manually editing the build.prop file in your Android system.

You can do this easily enough with ES File Explorer with Root Explorer mode enabled, or you can do it via a ROM management app like ROM Toolbox Lite, available for free from the Play Store.

ES File Explorer File Manager Install on Google Play ROM Toolbox Lite Install on Google Play

ROM Toolbox

1. In ROM Toolbox Lite, simply swipe to the Performance tab and tap build.prop editor.

AndroidPIT ROM Toolbox buildprop editor lcd density
In ROM Toolbox, go to Performance > build.prop editor and locate LCD Density. / © ANDROIDPIT

2. In the list that follows, scroll down to ro.sf.lcd_density and change the property value to whatever you like (again, we recommend 400).

AndroidPIT ROM Toolbox buildprop editor change lcd density
Change the LCD Density value to whatever you like. / © ANDROIDPIT

3. You may be prompted to reboot your Nexus 5. Do so. You'll now be enjoying a more compact screen, opening up more space and giving the impression of a larger screen.

ES File Explorer

Using this file manager is pretty much the exact same, it is just laid out slightly differently.

1. Go to ES File Explorer and swipe out the left-hand navigation menu.

2. Go to Tools and enable Root Explorer.

AndroidPIT ES File Explorer Tools Root Explorer on
Make sure Root Explorer is enabled in ES File Explorer. / © ANDROIDPIT

3. Now, head to /device/system

AndroidPIT ES File Explorer device system
Navigate to /device/system/ / © ANDROIDPIT

4. And tap on build.prop. You'll be asked to open the file in an editor app. Choose the one you like.

AndroidPIT ES File Explorer device system buildprop edit
Open the build.prop file in a text editor. / © ANDROIDPIT

5. You'll see a long list of entries. Tap the overflow button in the top right of the screen and hit Edit. The one you want is called ro.sf.lcd_density

AndroidPIT ES File Explorer device system buildprop edit value
Open the file for editing and locate the correct entry. / © ANDROIDPIT

6. Change the value in the ro.sf.lcd_density line (which is 480 by default) to 400 (or whatever value you like). When you hit the Back arrow in the top left of the screen you'll be prompted to save your changes. Say yes.

AndroidPIT ES File Explorer device system save value
Change the density value and tap the back arrow to be prompted to save. / © ANDROIDPIT

7. Once you've saved the build.prop file you just need to reboot your phone to see the change take effect.

What do you think of your new ''larger screened'' Nexus 5? What screen density do you prefer?

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32 comments

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  • Although it doesn't turn the home screen icons and app drawer icons into 5 columns. I am rooted and used build prop in es explorer. I've kept it at 420.

  • Will this mod cause unrooted stock to fail OTA update installations?

  • Hi, would reducing the ppi also help in boosting battery life?

  • I get error type 2
    android.until.AndroidException: Can't connect to window manager; is the system running?………
    Please help

  • Or use a launcher to get this desired effect without modifying anything.

  • yes it is in usb debugging mode still ......

  • sampath Apr 14, 2015 Link to comment

    Works.. Like a charm..thanks

  • I tried this on Android One device (micromax AQ4501) it's working but system icon looks blurry original dpi is 240

  • When i tried as:-

    adb shell wm density 400

    or

    adb shell vm density 400


    I am always get the following:-

    /system/bin/sh: wm: not found

    /system/bin/sh: vm: not found

  • Adrian Apr 10, 2015 Link to comment

    I had no problem on changing DPI with this tutorial, but if you open whatsapp and you click on a contact, when you see the profile picture, it's too big... This is the only issue that I'm experiencing when changing the DPI. Or if you want to change your profile picture, the images are too big.

    So I decided to reset the DPI at the factory defaults.

    PS: I did it with the non-rooted steps!!

  • Try this (emulator):
    adb shell wm density reset
    or
    adb shell vm density reset

    else you can re-issue same command:
    adb shell wm density <> -> to your previous value (e.g. in my Nexus5device it was 480 before)

    -Pramod

  • Try this (emulator):
    adb shell wm density reset
    or
    adb shell vm density reset

    else you can re-issue same command:
    adb shell wm density <> -> to your previous value (e.g. in my Nexus5device it was 480 before)

    -Pramod

  • Tried this, but SwiftKey keyboard turned huge. Had to revert back to original resolution for now. Any suggestions?

  • Can I do it with my moto g2
    I.e;can I also make my moto g2s screen bigger,will this work on my device

  • Can this work on a moto e first generation?

  • Ishit Apr 10, 2015 Link to comment

    I feel its become way more smoother than it was before. Well, it's an uneducated guess...

  • Note for all (just for information only).. if you encounter this:
    /system/bin/sh: vm: not found when running the non-rooted ADB tool way (adb shell vm density 400)

    Try wm which worked for me than vm which fails in my Android kernel, that is:

    <adt>\platform-tools>adb shell wm size
    Physical size: 1080x1920

    <adt>\platform-tools>adb shell wm density 400

    <adt>\platform-tools>adb shell wm density
    Physical density: 480
    Override density: 400

    <adt>\platform-tools>adb shell wm density reset

    <adt>\platform-tools>adb shell wm density
    Physical density: 480

    • Note.. i just reset it back to 480, you can retain or set any values you prefer. Again this needs to be tested at your side before performing on actual device and just for information purpose only.

  • Alex Farr Apr 10, 2015 Link to comment

    Step 1: Buy a Nexus 6
    Step 2: Enjoy your bigger screen

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