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Whether your power button is broken or you just don’t want to press it constantly, there is a way to turn your Android smartphone or tablet on and off without using it.

Some devices, like the LG G Pad 8.3 LG G Pad 8.3 Review and Giveaway LG G Pad 8.3 Review and Giveaway The LG G Pad 8.3 tablet includes great build quality, specs and software, rivaling some of the best tablets in the market. Read More and other LG smartphones and tablets, come with a “double tap to wake” feature that allows you to turn on the device using a simple double tap on the screen. As most devices nowadays are forgoing physical home buttons in favor of onscreen keys, you’re putting a lot of reliance on that small power button to hold up for the years that you may have your phone or tablet.

The first method works automatically, turning your screen on when you pick it up and off when you set it down or pocket it. If that’s not your style, you can skip to the manual method for some apps that’ll let you decide when to turn your device on or off.

The Automatic Way

Gravity Screen is the app that’ll be doing the heavy lifting here. We’ve reviewed this wonderful app previously Make Your Phone Turn On Automatically Just When You Need It Make Your Phone Turn On Automatically Just When You Need It Your phone is resting on the table; you pick it up, and it flicks on. You didn't press anything -- it just knows. Read More , as its automation skills can make it so that you never have to press the power button on your device again. You can see the full review for a detailed look, but let’s go over it briefly here.

This app basically allows you to have your phone’s screen turn on as soon as you pick it up and turn off as soon as you set it down or put it in your pocket. In our testing, we actually found it surprisingly reliable and useful.

deviceadmin-1

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Upon opening the app, you’ll need to approve it to be a Device Administrator so that it can lock and unlock your screen. This is perfectly safe, but it does add an extra step to the uninstalling process, which will be covered towards the end of this article.

Once installed and setup, you’ll see a list of options that you can customize. The first options are for the screen turning off. You can decide the angle that the phone needs to be at for the screen to be able to turn off. Note that for the screen to turn off, your phone has to drop to that angle and have the proximity sensor covered (as it would be in your pocket).

The proximity sensor is usually located at the top of your phone near the earpiece and the front-facing camera if you want to test it out, though it can vary from device to device.

gravityscreen-1

As you scroll down, you’ll find all sorts of options for turning the screen on, how sensitive you want it to be, and more. Tweak the settings to your liking, and then test it out a bit. It takes a bit of getting used to, but once you do, it’s hard to go back to pushing physical buttons like a chump.

The app is free, but a few of the features require an in-app purchase – like the ability to exclude certain apps so that your screen doesn’t turn off during a game. If Gravity’s approach isn’t quite up your alley, the next method may be for you.

The Manual Way

Don’t want your phone to guess when you want the screen on or off? Then this combination of apps is perfect for you. With a wave of your hand, you can unlock your phone, and with a simple swipe, you can lock it again.

Unlocking Device

First, let’s go over the app for turning your screen on: Wave Unlock. This app works by utilizing the proximity sensor on your device that should be above the top of your screen near the front-facing camera or earpiece. With a simple wave of your hand over the proximity sensor, it will unlock your phone.

waveunlock-1

It works extremely well, and it’s a pretty impressive little trick to show your friends. Our phones have such intricate sensors on them, but we hardly make use of them in the best ways!

As far as the settings go, you’re best off finding the sensitivity that works for you, though I would recommend checking the “Start on boot” option so that the app continues working even after a reboot. You may experience some battery drain using this app, since the proximity sensor is always waiting for a wave, but we didn’t experience too much drain in our testing.

This app can also be used to lock the device by holding your hand over the proximity sensor for a few seconds, but that’s not always ideal. For a quicker, on-screen method, let’s examine a different app.

Locking Device

Swipe-Lock is the app you’re going to need for this. It allows you to swipe in from the side of your screen to lock your device, making for a quick but invisible shortcut to turning off your screen.

swipelock-1

There’s just a bit of customization available: if the activation area is on the left or right, how tall it is, how thick it is, and if you want the icon in the notification bar. You’ll need to shell out $1.57 for the Pro version if you want to swipe up from the bottom to lock your device, though.

Uninstalling These Apps

Since all of these apps need to be become Device Administrators to handle the locking of your device, you need to remove them from that position before uninstalling. If you try to uninstall a Device Administrator, you’ll simply get a pop-up letting you know that it can’t be uninstalled.

deviceadmin-2

To do this, go into your Settings, go to Security, and choose Device Administrators. Uncheck the box next to the app you want to uninstall,

Which Do You Like Best?

Other methods of achieving this feature are possible – like installing a custom kernel Why You Should Consider Using A Custom Android Kernel Why You Should Consider Using A Custom Android Kernel Do you want the best performance out of your Android device? Or maybe you want the best battery life? Consider a custom kernel. Read More  – but those methods are complicated and involve root access. For those who don’t want to go through all that, this offers a quick and fuss-free alternative.

What’s your favorite method for unlocking/locking your Android device?

  1. Riccairdo
    September 14, 2016 at 12:06 am

    Holy smokes! Must I attend and pass Calc 460 before I am able to figure this muther out?
    Whoa dude - - all the options are super cool, but this is NOT for the average joe cell phone user.

    I am so dumb i had to uninstall after about 10 seconds and installed a waaaaaay user friendly version.

  2. Sambit Das
    February 14, 2016 at 8:36 am

    I use a magnetic flip cover on my tablet (no proximity sensor). Is there any app that locks the device when the magnet is near, and unlock it when the magnet is away?

    • luis D
      April 26, 2016 at 9:35 pm

      smart screen

  3. Tyson LeForgey
    June 26, 2015 at 10:51 pm

    A couple days ago the power button on my Galaxy S3 began to randomly send my phone into a restart loop from hell. I had to pull the battery and wait 5 minutes before it would stop. This happened several times. I can't even begin to express how crazy this made me.

    I tried using Gravity to fix the problem but I wasn't able to lock the phone whenever I wanted
    because Gravity uses the stock lock-screen settings. It either locked every time I turned it on or not at all. After a lot of trial and error I finally hit on a combination of apps that worked for me and
    I've decided I'd like to share this fix here. I've only used this with Nova, I doubt it will work with a stock launcher.

    The apps.

    Nova Launcher Prime. (Y'all should have it anyway)
    Gravity
    Smart Applock (free version)
    Tasker with the Auto-Shortcut plugin.

    The steps:

    Set up Gravity however you want it. ( I've found that it's less annoying with the proximity sensor turned off and the sensitivity set way down around 4 or 5)
    Gravity has a ton of options. So it takes a while to get it dialed in.

    Set Smart App-Lock to lock just Nova launcher. This lets you lock the phone from a shortcut you can create using Tasker with the Auto-Shortcut plug-in.

    Here's how I set up the shortcut. It's extra detailed in case If you haven't had any experience with Tasker.

    1. Create a new task in Tasker. I named mine "Lock Toggle"
    2. Touch the +.
    3. Go to "plugin"
    4. Then choose AutoShortcut.

    5. Configuration. Choose "Smart App-Lock" from the list. Hit OK. *If "unlock now" pops up just hit cancel. It will still work. Press the check-mark to exit configuration.

    6. Press the back arrow (next to action edit) at the top to go back to the previous screen which will now have an entry saying "Smart Applock(on/off)"

    7. Repeat steps 2-6 once. This creates an automatic toggle. The toggle launches Smart App-locks pattern lock (or whatever lock method you like) when the screen is turned off by the next step.

    8. Hit the + again. Go to plugin then Auto-Shortcut. Configuration - Gravity screen off.

    That's it. Hit the back arrow again. Then exit Tasker.

    Gestures are one of the many great things about Nova Launcher. I have mine set-up to turn the screen off (without the screen-lock) on a double tap to the desktop. And to turn it off (with the screen-lock) when I swipe one of my icons.

    To do that. Long-press the icon. Press edit. Swipe action. Shortcuts. Task shortcut, then the shortcut you just created in Tasker. Or you could just have a shortcut on the desktop if you'd prefer.

    One more thing. You'll need to assign an icon to the shortcut the first time you try and launch it. I just downloaded a pic of an ignition lock that I liked and used that.

    Hope this helps. Good Luck.

    Ty

  4. Chris Ali
    June 1, 2015 at 12:03 pm

    As my tablet's power button is hard to reach, I lock my android using this tiny app called Go-Sleep https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.gmailraidenbits.gosleep_iab. I'm using the free version, but how can I hack it to unlock the WIDGET ?? Thx

  5. Atrusty
    April 2, 2015 at 6:30 pm

    Is there a setting/app for tap-screen-to-lock-unlock without draining battery ?
    GravityScreen drained battery, had to uninstall.
    Samsung Galaxy GT I9082 Android 4.2.2

  6. k kgb
    March 1, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    I use Smart Screen Off, which has the option Of wave, speak, or flip to turn your screen on or off. I can't even find it in a search in the app store but I've been using it for a couple of years using the flip to turn off ONLY and it works great.
    I still use the button to turn on.
    I want a tap to turn on app but can find one that seems tonott drain the battery.
    Galaxy S3

  7. 8bitG33k
    November 27, 2014 at 8:25 am

    GS freezes up my phone. Nexus 5 on stock Lollipop. 5.0

    • Justin Dennis
      February 18, 2015 at 12:59 am

      weird, might be that it isn't compatible with 5.0 yet... hopefully they'll update soon.

  8. dan shaw
    November 25, 2014 at 11:26 pm

    I just double tap my screen on my HTC one m8!

    • Justin Dennis
      February 18, 2015 at 12:59 am

      i love phones that incorporate that :)

  9. Richard Allen
    November 25, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    Some interesting apps I've not heard of before. I was also wondering what the impact would be to battery life. I would imagine the first two apps have at least one service running in the background and would have a noticeable impact on battery life. Just speculation on my part and really should have been mentioned in the article. For something with a big battery like one of the Notes or the LG G3 probably not a big deal, for most other phones...

    • Justin Dennis
      February 18, 2015 at 12:55 am

      you're right, that would be a good thing to look into. thanks!

  10. Sparx
    November 25, 2014 at 7:20 am

    There's no mention of the impact these apps have on battery life and whether they allow the devices to enter the power-saving Deep Sleep mode. This is certainly the case for unlocking the device or keeping it awake to ensure the prox sensor is always "listening".

    • Justin Dennis
      February 18, 2015 at 12:55 am

      you're right; I didn't notice severe battery drain, but that would be good to look into in the future. cheers!

  11. Vishnu
    November 25, 2014 at 2:09 am

    Gravity Screen is a great App offering lot of customizations

    But there are few issues with it lately and Needed to manually disable/enable some settings each time when you want to play games or watch videos else you need to pay about $2 to unlock the option to exclude some apps from locking.

    You can try Pocket Lock which has a free solution for landscape mode. But I personally feel that unlock phone option is not as good as in GS.

    I will suggest you to try both and look at the performance of them and use it as per your requirement.

    • Justin Dennis
      February 18, 2015 at 12:54 am

      ooohhh sounds cool, thanks for the recommendation

  12. Mark Messinger
    November 24, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    Gravity Screen is far and away my favorite. On the HTC One (M7), it not only works flawlessly, it means I rarely have to go to the top of the handset, to use the power button. Gravity Screen: highly recommended!

    • Justin Dennis
      February 18, 2015 at 12:54 am

      sounds good! thanks for sharing your experience

  13. Thomas Erskine
    November 24, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    Well, Swipe Lock is no use to me as all the edges are already taken. Gravity Screen seems to do everything that Wave Unlock does, so I'll try GS first.

    • me
      November 25, 2014 at 4:57 pm

      MagnetUnlocker is much better of all of the above

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