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Transparent soft keys on N5?

Discussion in 'Android Devices' started by shark974, Apr 10, 2014.

  1. shark974

    shark974 Well-Known Member
    Thread Starter

    For screen size I think every MM counts. Coming from a SGS3, I immediately notice in a store that the SGS5 screen is bigger, and I love it.

    You might say get a Note, however for one I kind of want to go to an MVNO (thus need an affordable phone). Second I like one-handable phones.

    So here's the prob, Nexus 5 is listed at 5" screen, a nice step up from the 4.8 " of my SGS3, and just a bit below the 5.1 SGS5. However mostly what I do is websurf, and it's here where the size matters most anyway imo.

    So the problem is on any phone with soft menu/home/back keys, those keys take up space. A lot. I'd venture the "true" screen size of the 5" N5 when surfing is 4.5", or even less! That's unacceptable imo. I've watched side by side vids, and the usable screen space when websurfing on the N5 is significantly less than the SGS3 when placed side by side, which is only a 4.8! The SGS4 stepped up to 5 and the SGS5 5.1, so the discrepancy only grows. It's disturbing to me to actually take a step back in websurfing screen size from my SGS3.

    But I saw one video where the N5 was websurfing, and the soft keys were transparent. So the whole screen was being used. Every other vid the keys were a solid black bar, drastically reducing usable screen.

    So I wonder what was different about the transparent keys vid? Is it a browser thing? A Kit Kat thing?

    Is there a way to get the keys to be transparent on a stock N5 while surfing? Rooting is out of the question as far as that goes.


  2. zipred

    zipred Android Expert

    My Nexus 5 is fantastic. The capacitive on screen buttons are _below_ the 5" display, therefore they do not reduce the available viewing area. I greatly prefer these to the mechanical analog physical button that Samsung, Apple and others use

    One huge advantage is capacitive buttons are impervious to water damage. Also since they use the same technology the touchscreen uses, they don't fail like I've experienced my iPhone's.
  3. JBentleyR

    JBentleyR Android Enthusiast

    Although the buttons remain when using Chrome, I find they automatically disappear when I open a downloaded book.

    Perhaps some other apps do the same?
  4. shark974

    shark974 Well-Known Member
    Thread Starter

    Nah, you aren't getting it. Here's what I mean in a video I found. This is in an app but the same applies in web browsing. It's SGS3 on the left


    See how the SGS3 has more screen area because the buttons are offscreen? And the SGS3 is only 4.8" and two gens old. The SGS4 stepped up to 5.0 and the SGS5 up to 5.1.

    Like I said, the usable screen area on the N5 is probably more like only 4.5".

    Dont get me wrong it's nitpicking, N5 is a great phone with a huge screen. It's just something that bothers me a bit. Especially since I was so impressed with SGS5's huge screen in store recently.

    I think that there's no way to make the keys transparent at least on Chrome/defualt browser, to answer my own question. Certain apps or videos they will be transparent or disappear on a fullscreened video, which is nice. But doesn't apply to the web browsing I'm worried about.
  5. jlede

    jlede Android Expert

    Keep in mind that the s3 is taller but the n5 Is wider (l have a s3 laying around and I can know what you mean)
  6. charliecc

    charliecc Android Enthusiast

    Buy an SGS5, simple. Next.
  7. Mehta23

    Mehta23 Android Expert

    One of the main UI redesigns of KitKat was the introduction of the translucent status and navigation bars. Unfortunately, only a few apps support this (not even Google's own!), but the GEL, Pushbullet, and Whatsapp+ are a few of the ones I've found that do.

    There's also the introduction of "Immersive Mode" which is like PIE mode or Expanded Desktop in that it hides the status and navbar, and then brings them back with a swipe. I think this is what you are looking for.

    I know that more and more apps are natively supporting this, but if you really need the feature (I don't think it's available on the stock ROM), you'd probably need to root (easy job) and either run a custom ROM, or download and install Xposed.

    Here's what I mean:


    Further Reading: A List of Apps that Support Android 4.4 “Kit Kat” Immersive Mode | Droid Life

    And there's also this app, but it doesn't work for some games, and the keyboard wont work with it enabled:
    Rxpert83 likes this.
  8. jj14x

    jj14x Android Expert

    To add to what Mehta23 said, if you are rooted, installed the XPosed framework, and then, the gravitybox module. That supports Pie controls and immersive mode in Expanded desktop mode. The Immersive mode can be configured to hide the status bar and/or nav bar, and this would be on every app, and every screen (including home screen).

    Pretty neat!

    Gravity box
  9. shark974

    shark974 Well-Known Member
    Thread Starter

    I likely may, but as I pointed out, there are other issues. Basically I'm at a crossroads with my ATT contract ending in 3 months, and part of me wants to move to an off contract phone, but not pay $650 (which is what off contract SGS5 costs) for it.

    If I get the SGS5 it will basically ensure I would have to stay with a contract on ATT. Which might not be all bad, just a decision I'll have to make.

    Thanks to the other replies.
  10. GuitarG20

    GuitarG20 Clueless Senior Member

    as someone above mentioned, the n5 screen is wider and shorter than the screen on a gs3. I got out a ruler and measured "usable screen space" and I found it to be around 4.7." I'd be happy to post a picture later when I'm not at work.
  11. Mehta23

    Mehta23 Android Expert

    There's also App Settings (another Xposed module) which (in addition to other settings like DPI) will allow you to set certain apps to use the immersive mode if you don't want it on all the time.
  12. akmsr

    akmsr Android Enthusiast

    hmm... not any option as far as i can see. nexus is a developer phone that is meant to be customized by user. for analogy think of it as a samsung galaxy phone where the customization is done by samsung and marketed as touchwiz. they have the root privilege, uses it to do the job and charges you 200$ extra for it. as of now nexus 5 is the only 400$ feature rich phone that lets you have the proverbial cake and eat it too.
    nexus 5 is a 4.95" phone.
    you can wait till 23rd of april when 400$ one plus one gets released with cyanogenmod to see if immersive mode is on by default saving you the customization.
  13. Mehta23

    Mehta23 Android Expert

    Why is rooting out the question? I really think it's the best option if immersive mode isn't available on stock (or if the App I linked is no good)
  14. zipred

    zipred Android Expert

    When using Google Now my Nexus 5 automatically goes into immersive mode.
  15. lennydude

    lennydude Android Expert

    Had the same issue. From S3 to N5 and a smaller screen.

    I personally use Ultimate Dynamic Navbar. Having the keys taking up real estate was a huge deal breaker for me. The only thing you need is root.......very simple indeed.
    This is an issue and a "helpful" post rather than telling someone to purchase another phone is what should be posted !
    If you can not do root, just ask and you can find a very simple way to do this. You need to make a backup of your system first and unlock and root the phone. Again, very easy to do.
  16. charliecc

    charliecc Android Enthusiast

    I disagree. My post is more useful than yours.

    He expressly stated he didn't want to root ("Rooting is out of the question"). No rootie, no solution with the N5. He wants a larger screen, therefore the only option, at present, is for him to buy a phone with a larger screen.
  17. GuitarG20

    GuitarG20 Clueless Senior Member

    Hey guys, let's keep this on topic and not argue with one another. There are two possible solutions for the OP; can either buy a phone with a larger screen or buy a N5 and look for solutions to give himself more usable screen real estate. Both are valid options; both should be considered.
  18. shark974

    shark974 Well-Known Member
    Thread Starter

    I still doubt I'd root, I never have, but who knows.

    TBH I doubt this is a dealbreaker issue. I'm just making a big deal out of it because I'm kind of OCD about stupid little things LOL.

    I'm still considering the N5, and while I'd much rather it had keys in the bezel like the Galaxy series, it's not the end of the world, or not like the N5 doesn't have a pretty big screen even with the soft keys. Especially considering I suffered for 2 years with my first smartphone, a Galaxy S 1 (4.0" screen)!

    I figured out why in some youtubes I watched it seemed like the soft keys were transparent during browsing. Looking closely, I realized it's when people were using Google Now (which kind of looks like websurfing when say viewing a sports score). Clearly the keys turn transparent when using Google Now, but it has nothing to do with websurfing. I was just wondering if maybe certain browsers behaved differently or something.

    That Dynamic Navbar is definitely something I may check out if I get the N5. It's weird though, wouldn't it cause issues? Wouldn't the N5 browser "expect" the soft keys to be there? I guess not though...

    For "good" news, I called ATT and they agreed to give me a 3 months early upgrade with barely a fight. So I can get the SGS5 for 199 if I want to sign another 2 year deal (I cracked the screen on my SGS3 a couple weeks ago). But they dont have any available at the call center just yet so I'm still in limbo and still undecided they said call back next week. Thinking of getting a N5 and going on AIO wireless off contract. Anyways that's all off topic LOL.

    The usable screen may be slightly less on the N5, but by the same token the stock Android might be a nice perk that evens it out. Plus, it would leave me with more future freedom in many respects. OTOH, the N5 is about $130 more in upfront cost. Decisions, decisions...
  19. thisISjoel

    thisISjoel Android Enthusiast

    I'm with the OP in that I would have preferred off screen buttons, but I'm also with the people advising rooting. Seriously, rooting opens up so many cool options if you're even half way tech/computer savvy there's no reason not to do it.
    Hook likes this.
  20. MartinS

    MartinS Android Expert

    Some apps use immersive mode (full screen).

    Currently Chrome is not one of them but I'm sure there is another browser out there that uses it.
  21. theenextkb24

    theenextkb24 Newbie

    I used to have the same problem with the screen that you do, but rooting and installing custom roms/Gravity Box easily solved my complaints. Right now I have the Elix-R Rom installed, which comes with PIE controls. I entered semi-immersive mode so that the status bar is still present, and there are no more navigation keys taking up unnecessary space. I just have to slide my finger upwards and all the keys I need appear instantly; I even prefer it this way because now I won't accidentally press any keys.
  22. gale65

    gale65 Android Enthusiast

    I said I'd never root either but I did and am still using everything stock (no custom rom, no recovery, etc). The only difference with my phone between pre and post root is that I can use some apps that require root.

    I used the cf-auto root and it was easy peasy.
  23. hamzaknight5

    hamzaknight5 Lurker

    There is an app on play store javelin browser. It has full screen mode and the softkeys are transparent in it.

Nexus 5 Forum

The Nexus 5 release date was November 2013. Features and Specs include a 4.95" screen, 8MP camera, Snapdragon 800 processor, 2300mAh battery, and 2GB storage.

November 2013
Release Date

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