Every Android device has a secret ‘developer menu’ that unlocks the true power of your device.
It can only be unlocked by touching a hidden option seven times and is intended for software developers working on the device.
But it actually unlocks some useful features for everyday users, like making Bluetooth headphones sound better, forcing the screen to refresh faster for better responsiveness, and forcing reluctant apps into “dark mode.”
Once you’ve unlocked developer mode, it stays unlocked on that device until you turn it off (which you can do via a tab in the menu you unlock).
The process to unlock developer mode may vary slightly depending on the phone 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 (Image by Rob Waugh)
On most phone brands, go to Settings > System, then select About phone.
On Samsung and other brands, it’s Settings > About phone > Software info.
Now tap on the ‘Build Number’ option seven times (it’s at the bottom of the screen).
When it works, you’ll see a message saying: “You are now a developer” (if you do it again, it says: “Already a developer”).
You’ve now unlocked the developer menu, which should appear in the menu above (or find it in Settings > System).
Again, this can vary slightly by phone – if it’s not there, use the search bar in Settings to locate it.
There are a lot of options you can play with here, though many of them are developer-focused and you should only play with the ones you understand.
Here are some of the most useful:
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 is needed rather than the full capacity of the screen).
Forcing the maximum refresh rate makes your screen smoother (Rob Waugh)
But if you want to enjoy better touch responsiveness and smoother animations, you can force your screen to reach its maximum refresh rate.
Select the Force maximum refresh rate setting in the Developer menu (but be aware that this burns your battery faster).
Make headphones sound better
Codecs like LDAC offer better sound (Rob Waugh)
One of the best things about Android compared to iPhone is the option to use Bluetooth audio codecs that offer better sound, like Qualcomm AptX HD or Sony’s LDAC.
These offer clearer sounds than the standard Bluetooth codec.
You can force your phone to select a different codec from the developer menu under ‘Bluetooth Audio Codec’, or just see what codecs are available with paired devices.
If the options are grayed out, it means this doesn’t work on your phone.
force dark mode
You can force apps to go into dark mode (Image: 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 into dark mode.
Be careful, some will not work perfectly as a result (i.e. you may not be able to
See which apps are hogging your RAM
Like the Task Manager in Windows, running services let you see which apps are using a lot of RAM.
The menu shows you how much each individual installed app is using, in addition to system processes.
You can stop apps from running from this menu, but it’s not a good idea as they can malfunction.
Keep your screen on permanently
Choose the ‘Stay Awake’ option and your phone will never go into sleep mode while charging.
If you’re trying to keep up with election night or sports scores, this can come in handy, but keep in mind that this can damage your screen in the long run.
Disable absolute Bluetooth volume
If you have a Bluetooth speaker or headset that isn’t working right, this menu option can help.
Bluetooth absolute volume is enabled by default, which means that your Bluetooth device and your phone will have the same volume.
If the Bluetooth volume on your device is not working properly, disable this option and adjust it manually.