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Android N Feature Spotlight: Easily Change Your Device's Display DPI With Screen Zoom

Android N keeps spilling more and more of its secrets, and we're still trying to go through all the new features added in this latest and sweetest preview of Android. One feature that any developer will applaud and many users will love is the ability to manually fake a specific DPI on your phone, making it think it's got a larger screen with smaller and tighter elements or a smaller one with bigger and more interspersed items. That was previously possible with third-party apps when rooted or with adb on non-rooted devices, but it's now a native and easy to switch feature.

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XXXHDPI Spotted In 4.3 Source: Prepare Your Eyeballs For Android In 4K Resolution

Super ultra mega HD resolution support is coming to a robot-themed OS near you, but before we get into that, let's talk about Android and DPI.


Android devices come in tons of different resolutions, everything from a tiny 128x128 watch screen to the massive 2560x1600 resolution of the Nexus 10. Higher resolution screens need higher resolution apps with higher resolution image files. It doesn't make sense to serve up super-high resolution assets to low resolutions screens, so to make sure the right screens get the right size files, Android has several generalized DPI categories for image assets. Each of these categories matches up with a range of hardware screen DPIs:

  • Low DPI (LDPI) = 120DPI
  • Medium DPI (MDPI) = 160DPI (The T-Mobile G1)
  • High DPI (HDPI) = 240DPI (The Nexus S)
  • Extra High DPI (XHDPI) = 320DPI (The Galaxy Nexus/N4)
  • Extra Extra High DPI (XXHDPI) = 480DPI (the HTC One)

Apps contain folders for each of these densities, and there are usually a full set of app images in each folder.

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