How to Disable Ambient Display on the Nexus 6

The new Nexus 6 is a powerful smartphone packed with lots of features thanks to Google and Motorola, but one a few users will want to disable is something called Ambient Display. With Android 5.0 Lollipop Google added a new feature for the lockscreen, showing little notification previews rather than just a boring notification LED light.

It’s a nice addition, but needs some tweaks and improvements before being something I’ll leave enabled. Ambient Display works similar to Moto Display, giving users small black and white notifications that pulse on the screen even before you unlock the device. However, I accidentally unlock my phone all the time, and have even enjoyed some pocket dial sessions thanks to Ambient Display.


Read: Nexus 6: 5 Things I Don’t Like

According to Google and the settings menu Ambient display will “wake screen when device picked up or notifications arrive” which is a nice touch, and picking up your phone will give you a nice low-power black and white preview of notifications. One tap and the screen lights up for you to interact with the notifications. Read on for more details, as well as why and how to disable the Ambient Display feature on the Nexus 6.



When you pick up the Nexus 6 you’ll see a black and white preview of notifications. Something that’s more user friendly and helpful than an LED notification light. It works great, and I use it all the time. It also does the same thing when notifications arrive. One tap and the screen fully lights up, and double taps can unlock right to those notifications.


The way Android 5.0 Lollipop handles lockscreen notifications is wonderful, but with Ambient Display enabled I’ve had a few problems. When a notification arrives and the screen lights up, then my hand (or pants pocket) touches the display it turns on. I’ve accidentally cleared email notifications, and even done a few pocket dials without realizing it.

Ambient Display is an excellent feature that’s very useful, and one I don’t want to disable, but after about one week I’ve disabled it on the Nexus 6, and some other owners may want to do the same. A PIN or screen password will prevent it from opening apps or pocket dialing, otherwise we’ll need to just disable the feature until Google releases an update or changes how Ambient display works.


As I said above, I don’t want to disable this useful feature, but feel I need to. It also drains the battery a little, especially if the screen is accidentally getting fully turned on in your pocket or a hand bag, so we’ve resulted to turning it off completely.

If you don’t want to use Ambient Display on the Nexus 6 (or other devices once more support it) you’ll need to head into settings and disable it. Thankfully it’s rather easy, you just won’t get neat previews of your notifications anymore.


To start simply slide down the notification bar twice (or with two fingers) and tap the gear-shaped settings button. From here navigate to Display, and you’ll find the setting you need.


From here all users need to do is tap the Ambient Display setting and it will flip the switch and turn it off. That’s it, you’re all done. This will prevent the screen from lighting up when you pick it up, and incoming notifications won’t pulse the display. You’ll still get a quick preview for some notifications based on that apps instructions, but the rest won’t turn on your screen.


This was one of my favorite new features of Android 5.0 Lollipop and the Nexus 6, but I’ve since disabled it. Hopefully an update or new options can change some of the behavior, otherwise this is one feature I’ll leave turned off.


Stay tuned for more details about the Nexus 6, and plenty of how to coverage in the near future.