I currently have a rooted HTC Legend. In light of the current Android Market sales, I would love to be able to purchase some of the apps on sale without a compatible handset, since I plan to get a GNex in the next few weeks.

I've read that it may be possible to modify my build.prop file to a more modern handset, however beyond this suggestion, I can't find any more specific details, nor which phone model would be ideal for this. How can I do this?

I note that a number of people complain they've bricked after messing with build.prop. Is this a real danger or would it just require fixing the build.prop from adb, or reflashing the ROM?

  • 1
    Found this reddit.com/r/Android/comments/ha5oh/… which looks very likely to apply in my case.
    – DanH
    Dec 7, 2011 at 6:38
  • I would just like to advise to tread carefully when messing with build.prop. I went through a phase of tinkering with it and I got myself in a right mess at one point! Jul 1, 2014 at 12:56

1 Answer 1


There is no particular phone that's ideal, given the app devs can choose to support whatever subset of devices they wish. The Nexus devices are probably the most likely to be broadly compatible though.

You can't brick with build.prop as far as I know, though you can certainly prevent your phone from booting if you change the wrong setting. Make a backup of the file and don't edit anything under this line:

# end build properties

Just edit anything that has the device name, e.g. 'ro.product.device' or similar. Replace it with the corresponding entry from the build.prop for the device you're emulating (extract it from the ROM or see if it's been posted somewhere). Updating any other text to be accurate (like manufacturer) is best too. Note that changing the version of Android in this file won't help, since it looks like the Market polls the system directly. Nothing you can do about that unfortunately.

After editing, make sure /system is mounted read-only. Then reboot and clear the data for the Market.

Below is the relevant portion of my Vibrant's build.prop, with which I just got Minecraft for 10 cents :)

# begin build properties
# autogenerated by buildinfo.sh
ro.build.display.id=Bionix NextGen 1 by TeamWhiskey
ro.build.date=2011. 01. 18. (화) 21:53:23 KST
# ro.build.product is obsolete; use ro.product.device
# Do not try to parse ro.build.description or .fingerprint
ro.build.description=SGH-T959-user 2.2 FROYO UVKA6 release-keys
# Samsung Specific Properties
# end build properties
  • I tried modifying the fingerprint here: forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=973919 which seems to have worked for others, how had no effect for me. There does seem to be an element of luck in how long it takes for the Market to update after you've changed the fingerprint though which I might need to wait for.
    – DanH
    Dec 7, 2011 at 7:58
  • OK, the problem seems to be that I'm not able to write to build.prop, or in fact /system at all, despite either running the remount command, or enabling mount r/w with ES Explorer. Fishy stuff going on, and I also can't get HTC Sync to install so that I can use adb.
    – DanH
    Dec 8, 2011 at 15:47
  • 1
    @DanH I use Root Explorer, you might have better luck with that. I assume ES requested and you granted escalation via the SuperUser app, right? Dec 9, 2011 at 1:58
  • Yeah it's really weird, I grant ES access, then it appears to write successfully initially, however that just makes the build.prop file totally disappear, including from terminal emulator. After this initial "success" and then disappearance, I'm no longer able to write to anything under /system. Rebooting just seems to restore the build.prop to it's original state.
    – DanH
    Dec 10, 2011 at 2:52
  • @DanH I wonder if you might need to re-root for whatever reason. That's really strange. Dec 10, 2011 at 3:45

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