Android Screen Density

Recently a Droid X owner I know showed me a software that can change the screen density on Android phones (I can’t remember if it was a part of his rom or not). I thought it was cool, so I set out to find a way to manually change screen density without installing any additional software since I try to run as minimalistic an install on my phone as possible (my fellow Evo users out there, you know why).

Just before we start things off here, I’d like to put a disclaimer on this one. You likely won’t brick your phone (you’d have to try really hard or have really bad luck), but you can mess it up pretty bad as we will be editing a system configuration file. If you cause some problems, please feel free to ask questions about it and I will try my best to help, but I offer no warranty or guarantee on this.

With that out of the way, let’s get started!

As many things do in Android, this requires root as we will have to remount the /system partition.

First things first, crack open your terminal emulator. If you don’t have this, you can find it on the market, however most roms includes this application by default.

Once in terminal emulator, run the following command:


This logs your terminal session in as root(or Super User so we can perform the various operations needed to make the change. Obviously, your superuser software will kick in here. Just select Allow.

Now that we are logged in as root, run the following command.

mount -o remount,rw /system

This will remount the /system partition with read/write permissions. Without running this command, we can’t save the config file we will be editing in a few. The default android has for this on boot is read only permissions, as this partition contains some pretty critical stuff (it isn’t called system for nothing). This is a good security measure to keep programs from changing all kinds of stuff on your phone. No worries however, we will only have write permissions set up for a few minutes.

Now, open up the build properties file located at /system/build.prop I am assuming here that you know how to use VI. If you don’t, I am in the process of writing up a post on using VI in Android terminal emulator. If you know how to use it on a desktop, VI on Android is very similar and you should be able to proceed as I detail later how to hit the escape key when you don’t have one on your phone.

vi /system/build.prop

Scroll down until you see ro.sf.lcd_density = 160. If you change this number and reboot your phone, your screen density will change on startup. I typically use 120.

Finally, save the file and reboot. For you EVO users who don’t have a qwerty keyboard with an escape key (who has one of those anyways), press volume up
. I believe volume up is the terminal emulator equivalent of ctrl.

Reboot phone for your changes to take effect.

WARNING (Wik) : Don’t change this value to too small or you won’t be able to use your phone because everything will be tiny. You have been warned.

WARNING WARNING (Also Wik) : When I discovered the build.prop file, I was most excited and started poking around. I noticed a lot in there that could cause problems for your phone. Be careful when changing the values in this file. It can be fun, but you might end up with an unusable phone until you reflash it.