Nexus 6 is hiding an RGB LED, can be used for notifications if you’re willing to root


Nexus 6 LED notification light

Seems the more we learn about the Nexus 6, the more it’s sounding like it was quickly hurried out the door. Another piece of evidence? The smartphone’s dormant (hidden) RGB LED light as discovered by some folks over on XDA. Yes, it’s there. Right smack dab in the center of the top speaker. Like most things, you’ll need root if you’re looking to activate it and an app like Light Flow to configure it.

Nexus 6 Red Blue LED light

If you need more help, check out the thread over on XDA. In the meantime, gawk over these pictures imagine what life would be like if you had the option to choose ambient display mode, LED notifications, or both on your Nexus 6.

Chris Chavez
I've been obsessed with consumer technology for about as long as I can remember, be it video games, photography, or mobile devices. If you can plug it in, I have to own it. Preparing for the day when Android finally becomes self-aware and I get to welcome our new robot overlords.

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  1. Oh hells yes! I haven’t had a status light on my phone since my old HTC Apache.

    Not a big deal though. My N7 has a status light, and between all the email, FB updates, Google+ notifications, etc, that I get it’s pretty much useless as it seems to start blinking again as soon as I check notifications and turn it off.

    1. True. My last phone didn’t have a notification light and was thrilled to have one on my current phone, but it does seem like it’s always blinking. Don’t pay it much mind anymore.

      1. You should pay attention to the COLOR then, which is what I do. Blinking white == regular notifications; blinking any other color == more important stuff (missed call, hangouts, etc)

      2. I’ve transitioned myself from Gmail to Inbox. (I’m still not fully comfortable with everything, but I’m giving it a shot.) One big part of the transition is the reduced number of notifications. My status lights blink a lot less now.

  2. How exactly is that proof that the phone was “quickly hurried out the door?”

    1. You’re right since it’s basically a larger moto x which has it too I don’t see where you can say that.Google just didn’t want in enabled

      1. If it’s like the moto x’s… It’s for when the battery is EXTREMELY low (not even enough to power the screen)

  3. Hopefully Google will enable it as an option via software update. I wonder why it was disabled? Maybe because they wanted to show off lock screen notifications?

    1. Why wait and see? Root… and profit now. And not only gain this ability today, gain the ability to do 50 other things Google will never make available to you in any phone/tablet Nexus or not. And that is the point of rooting.

      1. does rooting and keeping the same rom prevent OS updates?

        1. Nope

  4. I like the way it’s done more on the Nexus 5. The textured filter over the light is cool.

    1. I don’t know. Kinda liked the led on my S3. I’ll get used to the Nexus 5’s since I got one last month but the filter sometimes makes it almost too easy to miss.

  5. Isn’t the whole point in having a Nexus is to not have to root?

    1. I honestly thought it was the other way around since Nexus are more developer friendly.

      1. They are, in a sense, more “dev friendly” in that it often does not take devs moving mountains to obtain root or unlocked boot loaders. And so that means the joys of an open phone with root come quick. But the real benefit of a Nexus phone – to most – is the true Android OS experience as intended and not one butchered and layered up with Touchwiz for example.

    2. for some the whole point in having a nexus is so that you don’t have to root.

      1. Say what? I don’t even understand the logic. A Nexus device does NOT get you rooted functions and abilities. Only root does that. I ‘think’ you mean that “the whole point in having a nexus is so that you have a true Android experience” meaning the OS is not all jacked up with TouchWiz or some phone makers skin. But a Nexus still benefits from root heavily and not having root does not get you the awesomeness of root just because it is a “Nexus”. It just gets you the cleanest and truest Android OS as intended. But that in no way means you will not profit from root access.

        1. For me it’s exactly that. Having a pure android experience without having a gunked up overlay put on by a manufacturer. My job won’t allow us to use a personal android phone if it’s rooted for our work phone, so nexus gives me that pure experience, and keeps my work from forcing an iPhone on me as my work phone. If I want to root and tinker, that’s my tablet. Funny enough nearly all the IT guys rock N5s like I do; they are the ones really wanting the root capability, but for now I’m indifferent. Really like the pure experience.

          1. This. What I get out of a Nexus — right out of the box — is where I’d want any phone. I don’t feel the need to mod my Nexus devices (because they already offer what I want), and therefore there is nothing I do that requires root. I’m still glad that the option is there, just in case. I have rooted other devices to “mod” them back to a more stock/Nexus-like experience. That is the way I want my phones, but I don’t expect others to share my tastes. It is great that the capability to root without having to “jailbreak” is available, so that people that do want to mod can do what they want.

    3. What would you have to root for if you didn’t have a Nexus?

      1. Installing AdAway

        1. AdAway
          App Quarantine
          ROM Manager
          Root Explorer
          Voodoo Root Keeper
          SQL Editor
          a custom recovery of choice…. and the list goes on and on and on.

          1. But you would have to root a nexus to do all that as well.

        2. But you would have to root a nexus to do that as well.

          1. I guess I don’t understand your question then. I read it as “What would you have to root for if you have a Nexus”

            You obviously know why you would root if you don’t have a Nexus

          2. Sorry, the guy earlier asked “isn’t the whole point of having a nexus is to not have to root”, I didn’t know what he meant so I was asking why do you not have to root a nexus but you do other phones.

      2. Root allows you to open up functions within the device not turned on to the public – hence this case with the LED. As well, root allows you to install apps that need a certain level of permissions to run and in doing so, you get even more advanced functions & features the device didn’t come capable of doing out of the box. Root also allows you to tweak and modify core phone files – like SystemUI – so you can tweak how your phones interface works. Or use something like Ninjamorph to tweak and modify pieces of the phone software to make it tailored to your tastes. And of course, side loading ROMS, Kernels, improved GPS files, backup utilities, etc. The benefits of root, even for the most basic user, are undeniable and you do not have to be a power user or tech geek to benefit from root.

        I have never owned a Nexus device, no interest in them (mostly because the chosen brand or hardware or form factor did not interest me and because with root I can make any phone have the ROM I want), but I have rooted every phone and tablet I have ever had way back to the original first ever Droid. And, I root friends and family members devices whenever possible.

    4. The whole point of nexus is to not have to flash a rom for stock Android. Rooting is always great, no matter the device.

    5. What IS the point of having a Nexus and not laying a single finger on it? Nexus devices were made for that: modding, rooting, custom ROMs, custom kernels… An untouched Nexus is just a waste.

      1. I feel you, man. I have three friends who have Nexus devices who don’t care enough about it or don’t have the time to root, install ROM’s etc. Doesn’t change the fact that that it’s kinda disappointing, though.

      2. I like having the stock Android experience. I have rooted other devices to put stock Android (or as near to stock as I can get) on them so that they would be more like an out-of-the-box Nexus.

    6. No, the point is that you can easily root and unlock without having to jump through bullshit hoops enforced by carriers so that you can truly customize your device to be exactly what you want it to be.

    7. No the whole point of having a Nexus is that it’s easy to root

    8. The point of having a Nexus depends on you. To me having a nexus with root access is a must, but maybe another person doesn’t need it or care about it. It’s as simple as that

  6. after reading below….I am not sure where I fit in on rooting a Nexus. The whole point for me was to find a ROM that brought me closer to stock on my G2. But now that I have stock with my Nexus, I’m not sure I want to mess with the eco system TBH. I guess if we can get the light to work, that’d be great cause I have had a few instances where I got a text….and 20 minutes later, I decided to turn the screen on to find it. Its easy to miss alerts unless that little light tells you that you have an alert. I didnt realize how much I relied on it until now. I’m not sure what to do now.

    1. I have unlocked and rooted all of my Nexus devices. It does not necissarily mean that I was intending to install a custom ROM but I wanted the ability to unlock certain functions in different applications that needed SuperUser permissions.

      1. well I had Xposed on my G2….guess I’ll go ahead and do it. Have u rooted yours?? or are you just speaking in general from your past nexus phones?? Just wondering if its affected at all. I seen the posts about speeding it up writing the boot.img over to get rid of the encrypting.

    2. Crazy they didn’t include a functioning LED. One of the massively awesome components of both my Gnex and N5. I’m always aware of what’s happening with my phone while it’s resting on a charger. Hopefully Google continues with successful traditions when and if they release another 5.

  7. 1. Rooting is the bomb. All my phones and tablets get rooted. Why? For the whole slew of options – like this – that open up. I hope my next phone is the S6 and that, if possible and I bet it will get done thanks to XDA devs, will get rooted ASAP.
    2. Lightflow is an awesome app, I have used it since it was released. Highly recommended for those with phones with LED. Very powerful and configurable app.
    3. My guess is they wanted to eek every bit of battery life out of the phone and so shut off the LED function as it does use some battery. Even the Lightflow dev and app will tell you, surprisingly, that a solid on LED is less battery usage than a flashing LED.

    1. GMD Gesture Control and Tasker rule. I have an unorthodox home screen because of GMD and I love it since it’s just the way I want it. I’ll have to look into Lightflow. I’ve read about it on Phandroid over the past few days.

    2. Maybe depending on the situation, a led could use up less battery than active display.

  8. Shoddy work there on the Nexus 6! At least the LEDs work when coaxed.

    1. It’s entirely possible that Motorola was planning the phone we know as the Nexus 6 before Google even approached them about it. Following that line, it’s entirely reasonable Motorola planned to use that light initially, but then Google said “no” after contracting it as the next Nexus. At that time, it would have made more sense to simply disable the light in software than to retool and rebuild potentially hundreds, maybe thousands, of devices that had already been built.

      Nothing shoddy about that.

      1. SO the batch that had to be sent back because of wrong OS on them, not shoddy at all, gotcha! DO you even know the definition of “shoddy”? Its not that bad and it fits here.

        1. Only AT&T models had to be sent back. So, no, I don’t consider that “shoddy” at all as it was likely something to do with their models specifically and software changes they mandated.

          And yes, I’m well aware of the definition of the word, and it doesn’t fit at all. But you’re entitled to your opinion, so I digress.

          1. Oh you so smart, me think you a Yoda or something.

            adjective: shoddy; comparative adjective: shoddier; superlative adjective: shoddiest
            badly made or done.
            Again “shoddy” work, digress or regress matters not to me.
            I think you like to harangue people.

          2. lol you so funny!

            It is your opinion the N6 is shoddy. You’re entitled to that.


  9. The MOTO X has the same hidden LED on their active display phones…

    1. Its not hidden on the Moto X

      1. How isn’t it?, when you need root to use it and enable it?

        1. When Moto has a user’s guide for the phone, and on page 2 there’s a picture of the phone and in big bold letters it says Hey! there’s an LED right here! and then there’s an arrow pointing right to it, that’s how it isn’t hidden.

  10. Right now Nexus 6 is hiding herself.

    1. But honestly–it seems like they’re trying to pull out these features in order to keep it popular for longer. It’s an interesting concept to use…but them I’m like “oh wait, Google is an ad company…”

  11. This just cements my decision to get one.

  12. I wonder if there is one on the Turbo? I have had such mixed feelings on the active display since my Droid Maxx.

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