Every Android device has a secret ‘developer menu’ that unlocks your device’s true power.
It can only be unlocked by tapping a hidden option seven times and is aimed at software developers working on the device.
But it actually unlocks some useful functions for everyday users – including making Bluetooth headphones sound better, forcing your screen to refresh faster for better responsiveness, and forcing reluctant apps to enter ‘dark mode’.
Once you’ve unlocked Developer Mode, it stays unlocked on that device until you switch it off (which you can do via a tab in the menu you unlock).
The process for unlocking Developer Mode can vary slightly according to which handset you are using.
Every Android phone has the option to unlock the developer menu (Shutterstock)
Tap the Build Number option seven times to unlock the menu (Picture Rob Waugh)
In most brands of phone go Settings > System, then select About Phone.
On Samsung and other brands, it’s Settings > About Phone > Software information.
Now tap the option ‘Build Number’ seven times (it’s at the bottom of the screen).
When it works, you will see a message saying, ‘You are now a developer’ (if you do it again, it says, ‘You are already a developer.’)
You have now unlocked the developer menu, which should appear in the previous menu (or find it under Settings > System).
Again, this can vary slightly by handset: if it’s not there, use the Search bar in Settings to track it down.
There are a huge number of options you can fiddle with here, although a lot of them are focused on developers and you should only fiddle with ones you understand.
Below we’ve listed some of the more useful ones:
Make your screen smoother
Many Android devices use a dynamic refresh rate for the screen (limiting the number of times the screen refreshes to what’s needed rather than the screen’s full capability).
Forcing peak refresh rate makes your screen smoother (Rob Waugh)
But if you want to enjoy improved touch responsiveness and smoother animations, you can force your screen to go to its peak refresh rate.
Select the Force peak refresh rate setting in the Developer menu (but be aware that this burns your battery faster).
Make headphones sound better
Codecs such as LDAC deliver better sound (Rob Waugh)
One of the best things about Android compared to iPhone is the option to use Bluetooth audio codecs which deliver better sound, such as Qualcomm AptX HD or Sony’s LDAC.
These deliver sharper sounds than the standard Bluetooth codec.
You can force your handset to select a different codec from the developer menu under ‘Bluetooth Audio codec’ – or just see which codecs are available with paired devices.
If the options are greyed out, it means this doesn’t work on your handset.
Force dark mode
You can force apps to go into dark mode (Picture: Rob Waugh)
If you select dark mode, you’ll still find that some apps don’t play ball – the Override Force Dark setting forces all apps to enter dark mode.
Be warned, some won’t work perfectly as a result (ie you might not be able to
See which apps are hogging your RAM
Just like Task Manager on Windows, Running services lets you see which apps are using a lot of RAM.
The menu shows you how much each individual installed app is using, plus system processes.
You can stop apps running from this menu, but it’s not a good idea as they can malfunction.
Keep your screen on permanently
Pick the ‘Stay awake’ option and your phone won’t ever enter sleep mode as long as it’s on charge.
If you’re trying to stay up with election night or sports results this can be useful, but be aware that this can damage your screen over the long haul.
Disable absolute Bluetooth volume
If you’ve got a Bluetooth speaker or headphones which are malfunctioning, this menu option can help.
Absolute Bluetooth volume is enabled by default, meaning that your Bluetooth device and your phone will have the same volume.
If your device’s Bluetooth volume isn’t working right, disable this option and adjust manually.
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