Some Android apps on Google Play claim to be incompatible with various devices. There’s a good chance that these apps will run fine on many of these devices – you can bypass this check with root access.

Some apps won’t actually work after you install them, but many will. This also solves problems with games that will install but refuse to play – for example, Gameloft games with the “this device is incompatible” message.


To perform this hack, you’ll need to root your Android smartphone or tablet. After you do, you should install ES File Explorer from Google Play.

Editing Build.prop

The build.prop file contains a few strings (bits of text) that identify your device model. If you edit this file, Google Play and other apps will think you’re using a different device than you actually are. Be very careful when editing this file – we’ll just be editing a few tiny parts of it. If you edit other parts, you could cause serious problems with your device.

First, launch the ES File Explorer app. Open its Settings screen and enable the Root Explorer and Mount File System options. You may also want to enable the Up to Root option on this screen, so you can easily tap the Up button and navigate to your root directory.

Navigate to the /system/ directory on your device and locate the build.prop file.

You should create a copy of the original build.prop file elsewhere – long-press on it, select Copy, and then Paste it into another folder – say, your /sdcard/ folder.

Now you’re ready to edit the file. Long-press it, select Open As, select Text, and select the ES Note Editor app.

Look for the ro.product.model and ro.product.manufacturer lines. These are the important ones.

Change these lines to pretend your device is another model. For example, to imitate a Nexus S, use these lines:

  • ro.product.model = Nexus S
  • ro.product.manufacturer = samsung

After making this change, tap the menu button and select Save.

Final Steps

Go into the Settings screen, select Applications, select Manage Applications, tap the All category, and select the Google Play app. Clear its cache and data, and then restart your device

Open Google Play and you should be able to download apps that claim they’re not compatible with your device. Games that detect your device should also work, too – Gameloft games seem to be particularly guilty of this. Some apps may still not install or work with your device for other reasons — for example, Google Chrome won’t work on pre-Android 4.0 devices, and some apps may be restricted to certain countries.

Profile Photo for Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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