How to Force Apps to Fill the Screen on the Essential Phone

ADB Android for Mobile

When Andy Rubin first unveiled the Essential Phone, many were amazed by the bezel-less design the company was able to come up with. One feature that stuck out though (literally) was the camera and sensor cutout at the very top of the display. Other OEMs such as Sharp and Xiaomi decided to embed the camera and sensors in the bottom chin bezel of their bezel-less phones, but Essential went down a different route. This is actually a feature that some assumed would be very distracting when they first saw the smartphone too.

Reviews poured in and a lot said that the camera and sensor cutout weren’t as distracting as they had first thought. Current owners of the device say that your eyes just start to ignore it and that you stop noticing it, until certain apps make its existence too obvious to ignore. While certain applications are allowed to blend into the status bar on the Essential phone, not every application is able to do so.

force apps

Here’s an example of what an application looks like on the Essential Phone when it does not cover the top of the screen. The rest of the application looks and functions as it should, but there’s a distracting space right above the status bar that just looks ugly. Thankfully, there’s a way to fix this issue without needing root. Essential actually has a whitelist of applications that are allowed to make full use of the status bar area, and thankfully we have a way of editing that whitelist.

Make Apps Fill the Screen of the Essential Phone

The easiest way to do this is to use an application called “Layout Whitelist Editor” available on the Google Play Store.

  1. Download and install the “Layout Whitelist Editor” from the above Play Store link.
  2. Set up ADB as outlined in this tutorial.
  3. Open up a command prompt/terminal and enter the following command: adb shell pm grant in.tsdo.elw android.permission.WRITE_SECURE_SETTINGS
  4. Essential Phone Screen Whitelist

    The ADB driver on your PC is not yet installed if the test fails. If you see your Android device name, on the other hand, then it means your computer's ADB driver is already available.

  5. That’s it! Now open up the app and begin whitelisting whatever apps you want to fill the Essential phone’s status bar!
Essential Phone Screen Whitelist Screen Shot
Essential Phone Screen Whitelist Screen Shot
Essential Phone Screen Whitelist Screen Shot

Once you select the apps you want to whitelist, you should see those applications (especially 3rd-party launchers) start to take up the full screen of your device. If not, it is recommended that you go ahead and reboot the smartphone but it should work instantly. Applications should look much better after this has been done. The wallpapers of 3rd-party launchers (such as Action Launcher) should now expand to the top of the display so it will create a much more immersive experience.

Essential Phone Screen Whitelist Screen Shot

I say should here because not all applications play well with this setting in certain situations. A few people in our forums show it doesn’t work properly with Tapatalk, but then another person says this conflict is due to the application’s dark theme option.