Top 6 Settings to Change on the Nexus 6

Late last year Google finally announced the brand new Nexus 6 smartphone along side a new Nexus 9 tablet, the Nexus Player, and the completely redesigned Android 5.0 Lollipop software update. The Nexus 6 and Lollipop have plenty to offer, but below are six or so settings you’ll probably want to change on your Nexus 6.

Hardware wise, there are a lot of reasons to get the Nexus 6 instead of a Samsung Galaxy S5 or Apple iPhone, and there are an array of features, software, and settings on the software side that make the phone pretty impressive too. Below are six or so of the top settings you should change on your device.


Read: Nexus 6 Setup Guide: 5 Steps to Get Started

Whether you already have one or just got a Moto-made Google Nexus 6, these are some settings you can change right away to improve the experience, get better battery life, and just enjoy the phone to its fullest. Adding additional security, enabling battery saver mode, increasing the font and more are all just a few of many settings one can change. Read on for more details.



Yesterday Google announced a new update to the software, which is Android 5.1 Lollipop. So far our Nexus 6 isn’t running the newest software, but will be soon. Most likely all the options and settings explained below won’t change, but it’s worth noting in case anything is different later. That said, lets get started.


Users will love the Nexus 6 and its huge nearly 6-inch 2k resolution display. Watching movies on it with the dual front facing speakers is great, and it’s the first Nexus with truly good battery life. There’s plenty to love, but plenty to change to improve the experience, and here’s just a few of many.

Device Security

While Android is great at going through the first few steps, signing in and syncing your Gmail, and generally getting started it forgets one key important feature. Security! It takes about 30 seconds to set up a passcode or pattern lock, and your device will be protected from prying eyes or in case of loss/theft. There’s even a new measure in Android 5.1 called device protection where once enabled, even after theft the phone can’t be used (after a factory data reset) unless they sign into your Google account, making theft pointless. That said, you’ll still want to secure your phone.

Simply slide down the notification bar and head into settings, or find the gear-shaped icon from the screenshot above in the application tray.

Settings > Security > Screen Lock > and select Pattern, PIN, or a Password



From this same menu there’s also an area to add “Owner info” to the lockscreen. This can be your Twitter account, a call if found number, or anything else for that matter. I’d do something so someone can return it, if you happen to get an honest Joe that finds your lost or stolen device.

While we’re talking about security it’s also worth nothing two other things. One being to enter the Google Play Store and under settings enable password protection for purchases. This ensures a lost device won’t incur charges, nor will kids accidentally buy a bunch of games or apps. At the same time, head to the Android Device Manager and prepare the device for those services. This will allow you to call, lock, or even erase the device if it’s lost, missing, or stolen. There’s even an alarm so you can find a lost device at home too, for those in need.

Screen Shot 2013-11-06 at 10.58.10 AMDevice security is one of those things many think about, but many don’t. This is one of the first settings we change on any device, and should be a top setting to change on your Nexus 6.

Default Text Messenger App

With Android 4.4 KitKat Google made Hangouts the default messenger app for smartphones, not to mention some carriers like Verizon offer something different. The Nexus 6 should use Hangouts for SMS and MMS messages, but you can and may want to change that.


To do so, go the Settings app and tap More. Then Tap Default SMS app. In here you’ll see whatever is installed, most likely just Google Hangouts, but if you’ve downloaded 3rd party messaging apps, they’ll be here, and this is where you select which one to use. Personally I use Textra SMS, but try anything you want if the stock app isn’t quite your favorite.


That’s all you have to do, and now your stock messages will all be handled by the new app, and not the old. This disables the old SMS (text) app, and you won’t receive duplicate notifications on incoming messages like Android smartphones of old. This is a much better way of handling things.

Font Size

The Nexus 6 has a large 5.96-inch display, and the high 2560 x 1440 Quad-HD resolution means some of the text may be too small for some. Every line, every graphic is crisp and clear. Still, there are some people who are going to find the writing on its screen too small. For those people, there’s a way to change the font size in a matter of seconds.



Go to the Settings app inside the app browser, or swipe down with two fingers from the top and tap the gear-shaped settings menu. Then tap Display. Now look for and tap on the Fonts option. There are four different sizes to choose from: Small, Normal which is the default, Large and Huge. Most use normal, but Large may better suit your needs.

Disable Ambient Display

A neat feature called Active Display (or now Moto Display) on the Moto X and most Motorola devices is the phones ability to pulse on and off with at-a-glance notifications and information. This was added to the Nexus 6, but it’s called Ambient Display. When you pickup the phone it recognizes it, and you’ll get a low-power black and white screen giving you a quick look at notifications, then turn off. It’s a nice feature, but one tap fully lights up your screen, and you’ll often accidentally open apps, pocket dial people, and just have your screen on when you don’t need it on, which causes poor battery life.

Read: How to Disable Ambient Display on the Nexus 6

While Ambient Display is great in theory, it was one of the first things I disabled on my Nexus 6. I love the feature, but the downsides weren’t worth keeping it around. 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.


Now 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.

Enable Battery Saver Mode

While we’re talking about the display, which kills your battery the quickest, lets talk about battery life. The Nexus 6 has a large 3,220 mAh battery and some new Turbo Charging features allowing 6 hours of usage with 15 minutes on the charger, but sometimes even that isn’t enough. Like other OEMs, Google’s added a Battery Saver mode to Android 5.0 Lollipop, and you’ll want to enable this at times.

Head into settings, scroll down to Battery, then tap the three dots on the top right and select Battery saver. This isn’t actually a setting we change permanently, but one you should be aware of and change when needed. Battery saver lowers the screen brightness, and kills most background things (like data) to let the battery last longer.


You won’t be able to do most things but the battery will last for hours (even with just 15-20% left) and let you place calls or send a text if needed, or in case of an emergency. It’s a great feature to know about, and use. Set it to turn on at 15% in the options, and it will automatically turn on at 15%, giving you enough juice to get through the night when you truly need it.

Disable Emergency Broadcast Alerts

Last is one of those things you won’t need to worry about often, but when it happens it’s extremely irritating. This is emergency broadcast alerts. Out of nowhere your phone will start blaring an alarm at full volume, no matter what your settings are set to. This usually is for severe weather alerts, Amber alerts, or other Emergency broadcasts your city or state send out.

I keep a few on just in case, but these are extremely loud and very obnoxious, so lets turn some of the less important ones off.


Simply head into settings, select More, then tap on Emergency broadcasts. From here simply uncheck all that you don’t want as I’ve done above. I leave Extreme alerts enabled, but turn off the rest so my phone doesn’t scare me to death at random moments, day or night. Turn off vibrate too, because it vibrates loud, a lot, and at full power.


Of course there are tons of other options, settings, features, and useful things you can do with your Nexus 6 and Android 5.0. Check out our full Nexus 6 Review for more details, then give any of the above settings a try to get a better experience. A few other things worth checking out are Smart Lock, Do Not Disturb Notification options, and a few other things that are new to Android 5.1 Lollipop.

Overall the Nexus 6 is an excellent device, but each user has different wants and needs so in the end you’ll need to play around in settings to see and find what works best for you. Enjoy!