How to make your Android device's screen look less or more zoomed-in by changing its PPI value

How to make your Android device's screen look less or more zoomed-in by changing its PPI value
Say, ever used someone else's Android device for a while, only to come back to yours and get the strange feeling that the icons and text are way too big, or too small? Curiously, users of the Sony Xperia Z3 and Z3 Compact have discovered that they get to see the same amount of content on each, even though the former measures 5.2 inches by diagonal, while the latter is just 4.7 inches. It's not your vision, there might is a real problem there, and it lies in how your device's manufacturer decided to scale the content shown on its display.

Take the LG G3, for example - its display's native pixel density is 534 pixels per inch, but LG artificially set the value at 640ppi, which makes everything look big and zoomed-in. Although it looks perfectly fine, you are not getting the most out of the screen's spacious 5.5-inch diagonal. By reducing the ppi to 540, a value that LG G3 modders consider very comfortable, the available screen real estate is utilized more appropriately - icons are less cramped, you can see more lines of text, and it feels like your display grew a little bigger! Here's a before and after comparison:


The best part is, you don't have to do anything complicated to change your display's pixel density for the better. You aren't losing image quality either, although some UI elements might not scale correctly - in this case, it's the app drawer button. Still. here are the steps you need to take:

- Download and install Minimal ADB and Fastboot v1.1.3 for Windows - download here.

- Enable USB debugging on your device. And if you haven't done any modding on it before, find and install an official Windows USB driver from its manufacturer.

- Connect your device to your PC via USB cable. Then start Minimal ADB and Fastboot from the desktop shortcut. Type "adb devices" (without quotes) in the command prompt to check if adb recognizes your phone. Don't worry if you get a server or daemon error message.

- Use this pixel density calculator to find out what your device's native PPI is.

- If your connection is alright, type "adb shell wm density n" (without quotes) where "n" is the pixel density value you want to try. You can start with your screen's native value, which will probably make everything tiny. So try increasing the number from there and see where that takes you! Mind you, the change will disappear when you reboot your device.

FEATURED VIDEO

24 Comments

1. TechNeck

Posts: 656; Member since: Aug 29, 2014

Woah...

2. young0ne

Posts: 32; Member since: Jul 28, 2012

Yo change the Title its not PPI its "DPI"

19. uRiBiTo666

Posts: 55; Member since: Jun 02, 2013

It's the same. DPI (dots per inch). PPI (pixels per inch). In a screen, one pixel is one dot.

22. a_tumiwa

Posts: 393; Member since: Mar 16, 2012

i want to ask because i dont understand, when i did google a long time ago, ppi = dpi, but the spec said Note 4 has 520 dpi, but when i use resolution changer app and some device-info apps to check, they said 600+ ppi , why?

23. Tracy1988

Posts: 208; Member since: Dec 18, 2014

No, it's not the same. A dot can have more or less pixels.

3. diehardnokian

Posts: 148; Member since: Apr 27, 2014

Root required?

4. user996

Posts: 221; Member since: Feb 25, 2013

same question here

7. tury694

Posts: 167; Member since: Aug 25, 2014

Yes, and it is dpi

5. steelew

Posts: 221; Member since: Jun 04, 2012

You can kind of do the same thing in Nova launcher (and most other launchers) by choosing more or less columns and rows and by changing the icon and label size. Just saying.

8. bestmvno

Posts: 251; Member since: Mar 07, 2014

Yes, but that is not device wide. That only affects home screens and app drawer.

15. camera531

Posts: 346; Member since: Jun 30, 2012

Yeah, but pinch-to-zoom basically takes care of the rest.

6. AfterShock

Posts: 4147; Member since: Nov 02, 2012

I use ES file explorer to set DPI in build prop. Adb way can be done without root I believe. Otherwise yes it's needed

9. Planterz

Posts: 2120; Member since: Apr 30, 2012

Textdroider is easier if you're rooted.

10. A.Adel

Posts: 45; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

i have changed mine from 640 on LG G3 to 540 its makes me feel like using a tablet but after reboot it dosent disappear

11. jove39

Posts: 2147; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

Permanent change to DPI need root. Edit - /system/build.prop Set property to whatever value you want, ro.sf.lcd_density= I have made this modification to my Oneplus One...default is 480 and I have set it to 420. This simple change makes best use of 5.5" screen.

12. Captain_Doug

Posts: 1037; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Z3 compact is a 4.6" screen.

13. tacarat

Posts: 854; Member since: Apr 22, 2013

I'm still trying to find the real difference between ppi\dpi and resolution for android. Ever drop your resolution for a faster framerate on your computer? It's the opposite with dpi. It's counter intuitive. I think chainfire had an app for that before. Can anybody recommend am alternative?

14. corporateJP

Posts: 2458; Member since: Nov 28, 2009

Chick on the wallpaper on the right is looking mad sexy in those Air Max 90's.

24. luis.d

Posts: 354; Member since: Dec 04, 2013

Natasha rules! :)

16. camera531

Posts: 346; Member since: Jun 30, 2012

I personally like the bigger icons (Google Now Launcher, etc.). I've never been a fan of large, high-res screens with tiny text and small icons. It almost defeats the purpose of having a larger screen.

17. GenericFanboy

Posts: 50; Member since: Sep 05, 2014

Did this on my s5 with stock TouchWiz and the fingerprint was not in line with the home button, there was unusable space above the dock and the stock gallery app was messed up.

18. medicci37

Posts: 1361; Member since: Nov 19, 2011

That's a lot to do just to change the ppi. Should be able to it in settings like on a computer

20. uRiBiTo666

Posts: 55; Member since: Jun 02, 2013

So that's why iPhone screens feel bigger than Android screens. Not anymore :)

21. tedkord

Posts: 17415; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Ummmm... what?

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at https://www.parsintl.com/phonearena or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit https://www.parsintl.com/ for samples and additional information.