How to fix Nexus 4 unresponsive soft navigation menu buttons

Android 5 soft menu navigation buttons

My Google LG Nexus 4 started showing a very annoying issue after the recent upgrade to Android 5.0 Lollipop. At first, I would just occasionally be unable to use the back, home or open-apps softkeys but within a few days it became increasingly worse up to the point where I would not be able to navigate out of an app at all any more and sometimes could not turn off the alarm clock or even answer an incoming call.

Here is a short video (not mine) that shows the issue well:

At first, I thought it was because of a recently installed app so I removed the most recent ones and even did a factory reset. No dice. Then, I hoped the 5.0.1 update that came soon after, would fix the issue but it didn’t. Finally I tried reverting to Android 4.4.4 but that made things even worse. So bad that I could not even complete the installation process because of unresponsiveness and random erratic taps.

Is your Google LG Nexus 4 phone starting to show this behavior too? Then you’ll find we’re not alone as there are many threads about the soft menu issue on the Nexus Support Forum and other forums. The accepted answer on the largest thread on this topic is that the issue is a hardware problem and the device should be returned for repair. Also, see the official bug report.

However, getting a replacement part or a new phone is expensive when your device is no longer under warranty. Too expensive for an issue that may pop up out of the blue for no reason, on a phone that may be in “mint condition” only just over one year old, never dropped, scratched or even bumped more than in normal daily use like mine.

So understandably, many have complained and many have sought workarounds.

Someone started a petition for Google / LG to service those outside the one year warranty on Please take a minute to sign!

Some have reported that the soft menu buttons still work when the device is in landscape position but only when the buttons are on the earphone jack side (see video above!)  while others (as I) completely lost button responsiveness. Some have found that adding some combination of apps that allow customizing the menu position or menu size serves as a good work-around while others report that after a while this will not be enough any more, up to the point where half of the screen becomes a dead zone. I’ve even read a report from someone who installed Ubuntu Touch / for Devices or Firefox OS (I forgot, maybe both) only to find that the “dead zone” issue exists there too.

Luckily, a brilliant young developer named Grigoriy Kraynov has found that even though the issue may be caused by a hardware problem, it is also software related — they are called soft menu buttons after all — and even better: He has created a patch called nexus-4-navfix which he graciously decided to share with the world, just around the time I started to witness the issue on my Nexus 4. Oh, happy happy joy joy! (Not being cynical here, I actually was about to give up on the whole thing.)

So in this how-to, I’ll be showing you the steps I took to apply this marvellous patch to my Nexus4.


1. A Google LG Nexus 4 that is:

a. showing the menu buttons issue as described above. Please note that we’ll need to do some changes in the device settings so if your phone’s state is such that you cannot even do that any more, then I guess you are really out of luck. Still, there might be moments where the issue is less than usual. I’ve seen two days of uninhibited menu use after I re-installed a clean Android 5.0 (I thought I had fixed it!) but that did not last long.

b. running Android 5.0.1 Lollipop or later. On June 23, 2015 the latest patch for Android 5.1.1 was released. It is advised to upgrade to that version of Android if you can, before following this how-to.

2. The phone’s charger and USB connector cable.

3. Computer with Ubuntu 14.10 (or higher) Linux installed. If you are a Windows user, this might be the time to try Ubuntu. It can be installed alongside Windows giving you the option to choose your OS at boot time. Or you can use it to revive that three-year old computer that you considered a write-off after carrying the burden of Windows for three years… My personal flavour is Ubuntu GNOME because I just love the Gnome Shell desktop but Ubuntu ‘regular’ will do fine too.

But if you REALLY do not want to take this opportunity to leave your M$ comfort zone, or if you’re on a Mac, then you should still be able to follow these steps as general pointers. Ignore the Linux specific terminal commands and follow the links I provide for further reading.


A. This process or rather the step where you unlock your phone’s boot loader to be able to install ClockworkMod Recovery (if you have not done that before) will wipe your personal data and settings. How to back up your personal stuff is not discussed in this tutorial.

B. Please be aware that the patch must be reverted before installing any new Android upgrade that may arrive in the future. Even though the reversal is not difficult, you must remember to do so when that time comes! I have no idea what happens if you forget. You might want to ask … please share his answer in the comments below!

C. Of course, the usual caveats apply: Do this at your own risk! As the steps given here are from personal experience, your case might be different and YMMV — your mileage may vary. In a worst case scenario, this might mean: Render your phone useless other than to serve as pavement material, otherwise known as “bricked.” Do not attempt this on a device that does not suffer the described issue. Author will NOT accept any responsibility either for successful or for failed attempts.

D. I advise to — at least — quickly read through the steps before actually beginning to get a feel of what you need to do and to be able to estimate if you are up for the task. If you feel you will not be able to complete the steps or you do not understand parts of the procedure, please do not dive in head first! Consider searching on the internet some more or asking in the comments below before you begin.

Hope I did not scare you too much 😉

Still here? Then you’re serious and ready to continue reading the steps to apply the patch below. At the end, I’ll give a quick description of reversing the patch which you need to do later on if/when a new Android upgrade notification arrives on your phone.


I. Preparations

A. First and foremost: hook your phone to its charger and let it charge to at least 50% but preferably 100%. Also check if your phone charges when hooked with the USB connector cable to your PC. Normally it should charge but if not, please keep an eye on battery level during the process and consider hooking it to the charger during the steps where a PC connection is not needed.

It might sound obvious but it’s no laughing matter if you get a drained battery at just the wrong moment: Your phone will get bricked — read the caveats!

B. Either forget about or create a back-up of your personal stuff like photos, messages etc. If you do not care about what’s on your phone or if you’re already syncing everything of importance with your Google account, then you should be fine. Otherwise, you can find good tutorials on the interwebs about how to create and restore a back-up. I’m not going to discuss that here…

C. Install ADB and Fastboot.

Win/Mac users: you can read all about installing ADB and Fastboot (Windows, OS X and Linux).

On Ubuntu 14.04 it’s pretty simple:
1. Hit Ctrl+t to open a terminal window;
2. Type or copy/paste (note: Ctrl+v does not work in a terminal window but right-click and “Paste” does!)

sudo apt-get install android-tools-adb android-tools-fastboot

and hit Enter. After you’ve entered your password, the tools will be installed.

Setings > About phone > Build number

D. Check build number.
On your Nexus 4, swipe twice from the screen top down and tap the gear icon to open the Settings app. Scroll all the way down and tap About phone. Scroll down again and find the Build number.

Take a note of the number that’s shown there. The number should correspond with one of the “prebuilt” packages on or on the more recent forks by Marcus Buchholz or by Alexander Seliverstov

If it does not correspond with any one of those, then do not continue with this how-to. You will need to use the “git clone” + “./” method mentioned on

E. Get the patch and roll-back zip files.
On your computer in terminal, enter the following command while replacing __BUILD_NUMBER__ with the number that you noted during step D above. Replace the github username gkraynov with mbuc82 or seliverstov if you found your matching build number on any of those forks.


Hit Enter and a file called will be downloaded to your home directory. Now do similar to get the roll-back zip that you need when reverting the patch, before doing the next Android upgrade.


Keep this roll-back zip for later use.

F. Get the ClockworkMod Recovery image.
In terminal, do


This will download the ClockworkMod image for Nexus 4 as listed on to your home directory.

G. Enable USB Debugging mode.
Still on the same About phone page, tap Build number 7 times. You’ll see a message that says Developer Mode has been activated.

Allow USB debugging

Now tap the back/left arrow at the top of the screen to go back up in the Settings menu. You should now have a new item called Developer options above About phone. Tap Developer options and find the option called USB debugging. Tap the check box and then OK after Allow USB debugging? to activate this option.

After USB debugging has been enabled, you’ll need to authorize the computer (that you have installed ADB and Fastboot on in the preparations) to access USB debugging. This will be done in the next step.

II. Install ClockworkMod (CWM) Recovery

Now it’s time really do some stuff.

A. Connect your phone with the USB connector cable.

B. Authorize the connection.
On your computer, open a terminal window with Ctrl+Alt+t or use the one from before if it’s still open and type the command

adb devices

and hit Enter.

Note: if you get the error message

error: insufficient permissions for device

then issue the following two commands

adb kill-server
sudo adb start-server

and then retry.

When this is done for the first time, the response should look like

* daemon not running. starting it now on port 5037 *
* daemon started successfully *
List of devices attached
01b69f85c71cb47e unauthorized

(notice the “unauthorized” after the listed device number)

If there are NO devices listed, you might find the troubleshooting tips on helpful to get things going again.

USB debugging connected

When successful, you’ll get a notification on your phone asking to grant the connected computer access to USB debugging. Check Always allow from this computer and OK to set up the required key pair. When the connection is up in USB debugging mode, you’ll see a small balloon-like icon with what looks like ears and eyes — is it the Android mascot’s head on a stick? — in the phones notification tray.

In terminal, hit the up arrow (or type the command “adb devices” again) and hit Enter. The response should now look like

List of devices attached
01b69f85c71cb47e device

(notice that “unauthorized” has changed to “device”)

C. Unlock boot loader.

Win/Mac users: Read more on unlocking the boot loader (and re-locking) on

Be aware that unlocking the boot loader will (or at least should) wipe your device, so back up all your user data before doing this if you need to keep anything important. There are reports about the process not wiping on phones bought from Google Play (see but I would not count on that.

In terminal, give the command

adb reboot bootloader

After a few seconds, the phone will reboot and display the Android mascot lying on its back with belly/hood open.

In the terminal window on your computer, type

fastboot oem unlock

On the phone, you will now be asked if you really want to proceed as the process should wipe all user data. Use the up/down volume buttons to scroll, and the on/off button to accept.

D. Flash ClockworkMod Recovery image.

Win/Mac users:

Back to the Ubuntu terminal window, flash the ClockworkMod image that was downloaded during the Preparations with

fastboot flash recovery recovery-clockwork-touch-

The response should be something like

sending 'recovery' (8838 KB)...
OKAY [ 0.355s]
writing 'recovery'...
OKAY [ 0.495s]
finished. total time: 0.850s

CWM Recovery is now installed on the Nexus 4.

III. Apply the Nexus 4 Navfix patch

Win/Mac users: see for more.

nexus4 bootloader to recovery

On the phone, still in boot loader, use the up/down volume buttons to change Start to Recovery mode, then press the on/off button to go into Recovery mode.


CWM logoThe recovery mode should show the ClockworkMod Recovery environment which can be recognized by the grey background and CWM logo in the middle.

Once in ClockworkMod Recovery, use the volume down to select install zip and enter with the on/off button. The choose install zip from sideload and press the on/off button again.

Sideload started...
Now send the package you want to apply
to the device with 'adb sideload [filename]'...

Your phone is now ready and waiting to receive the patch in ADB Sideload mode. Finally, we’re getting to the patching part!

Back to terminal again, do

adb sideload

ADB Sideload
Once the file has been sent, the device will be updated.

Terminal should respond with

sending: 'sideload' 100%

Phone should report

Finding update package...
Opening update package...
Installing update...

After the process has finished successfully, choose +++++Go Back+++++ and then Reboot System Now. ClockworkMod will ask: Root access is missing. Root device? upon which you can respond with No as the device does not need to be rooted.

Your Nexus 4 will now reboot and start fresh with a new install. You can safely select to restore synced account back-up during installation and all your usual apps will get installed again.


If you are happy with the patch, please consider donating to the developer Grigoriy Kraynov who not only shared his solution and patch but also prebuilt zip packages for our convenience. After all, his work saved you a good sum in either replacement parts or a complete new phone! You can find contact info for a contribution on

– This ‘first boot’ will take a long while so please be sure to give the boot process a good five minutes but if you really feel it got stuck and you keep staring at those swarming coloured dots, then simply keep the on/off button pressed until the device shuts down. Then go back to boot loader with On + Volume down. Then move into Recovery mode and choose “Wipe cache partition”.  Then “Reboot system now”.
– Even if the patch may have fixed the issue for you, you have to realize the fix might be temporary. The underlying problem is a hardware issue. The effects of the malfunctioning hardware may increase over time and cause other problems like “ghost tapping” and the screen becoming partially of completely unresponsive. Consider signing
– After a successful patch, treat yourself to a nice Lollipop: Go to Settings, About phone and tap multiple times on the Android version number. Tab the lollipop a few times and finally tap and hold it until the game starts. Enjoy!


Note: roll-back will not delete any data but be prepared to lose your soft menu button control again… First make sure a new pre-built package for the Android upgrade becomes available on, or

To reverse the patch before installing any upcoming Android upgrades:
1. re-activate USB debugging mode following step I.F
2. Connect via USB cable.
3. Open a terminal and give the command

adb reboot bootloader

4. Once in boot loader, follow step II.D to flash CWM Recovery again and step III to flash that you stored in your home directory before. If you lost the rollback package, try downloading it again from, or

Did you do a successful patch? Or did it fail? Anything I missed in this article? Let me know in the comments!



Thanks for this excellent HowTo. I followed it step by step, everything was OK, but unfortunately after having rebooted my Nexus, the soft navigation menu buttons are still unresponsive. And I cry!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Salut Laurent,

Yes I’ve had the same result since a few weeks : the fix does not work anymore for me either. I suspect the hardware problem has now become so bad that the patch cannot work around it anymore. I notice ghost taps happening more often and the “dead zone” at the bottom of the screen has become larger than the soft menu itself. And sometimes the complete screen becomes unresponsive.

I think it’s time for me to replace the touch screen + digitizer or get a new phone 🙁 … you might have the same bad luck.

Hi RavanH,

Thanks a lot for you sympathic reply. Considering that I’m slightly hard-up these days, buying a new phone is not scheduled. Do you think a complet LCD screen assembly (like this is needed or just a spare tuchscreen (like this could do the job ?

Hi Laurent, I’m not sure but I think the official statement (from Google/LG) is that the underlying hardware problem is with the digitizer so in theory only replacing that is needed. But looking at various Youtube videos I get the impression it is VERY difficult to remove the glass + digitizer from the LCD screen. Scratching of the LCD or air bubbles after gluing the LCD to the new screen happen easily.

So in my case (I’m a bit short on cash too) I’m considering the more expensive option of the two because I don’t think I can do the 10 dollar one myself. That’s really more for expert repair men that have all the needed tools and experience…

But before all that, I am tempted to simply open the device and see if loosening and fixing the digitizer cables will be enough. Maybe it’s just a case of a little corrosion on the contacts. If not, it’ll be a good exercise for when I attempt a replacement 🙂 … I read someone even resolved the issue by opening the phone and warming up the inside with a hair blow dryer!

I do not have very good news: I have opened my Nexus, unplugged the touchscreen, checked the M and F connectors under microscope, saw no visible issue, have cleansed them with specific PCB contact cleaner, dryed with canned compressed air, warmed it up with a hair dryer, replugged and reassembled the whole and… all in the previous state. ………Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu ! ! What a misery !

That’s indeed sad news 🙁 … If you get around to replacing the screen, please let me know how it works out!

I am almost ripe to get into the adventure ! but I’m facing face a Cornelian dilemma : For an equivalent price, ordering in UK this digitizer replacement kit that sounds good ( or in China this frame+LCD+Digitizer ( that sounds nothing. On one side, replacing the glass seems feasible to me, even difficult, on the other, I have no idea if I can trust in this Chinese gear. What would you do in my place? Or would you think to another scenario?

Hmmm, hard to say… about 30 euro (incl. postage) plus a lot of work versus 45 euro but less work… I suppose you’ll have to trust the comments and evaluations of others. I did once buy a Chinese replacement laptop LCD back light and although it worked, the quality did not come close to the original. In fact, it was terrible. But that does not say anything about these items and I would not be surprised if the UK vendor sells chinese products too 😉

Hi RavanH,

This is to inform you that I have replaced the whole touchscreen/display/frame assembly and it seems to work fine. But regarding the patch, that I had installed without positive result as you know and later uninstalled, I have since then random shutdowns or reboots. The last system upgrade was just installed, so I will wait for a while and see if the issue still exists. In case of yes, I will try to re-install a previous build. Hope this bug will fly away.

Hi Gorakh, it depends on how big the problem is. If the area / dead zone is too big, this patch will not work but if it is only the menu buttons, it should solve your problem… Until the problem gets worse. Then it won’t work any more and you will have to consider getting the screen digitizer replaced or make do with an app like “Handy Soft Keys” to place back/home/apps buttons elsewhere on the screen.

Could I simply root my phone with Kingo Root, for example, and install ROM Manager from Google Play, install the CWM with it, put in internal memory, and load the file with CWM? This could work?

Hi, that might work too yes. But since rooting is not needed and opens up some serious security risks, I recommend doing it without it. But if you already have a rooted phone, I suppose it could work…


I have the same problem in the navigation buttons but it’s responsive in the lock screen and not after unlock.

I can’t consider that a hardware issue when I’m talking about the same area of the screen.

Do you have the same issue?

Hi Matheus, yes that is exactly one of those things why everybody keeps concluding that it’s a software problem. Another confusing effect might be this: Start with your phone in (normal) portrait position, make sure “Automatic rotation” is switched on and turn it 180 degrees to the right, let the view adapt and test the menu. Do this for every position (two times portrait and two times landscape) and you’ll notice there is one position where your menu works…

The truth is that it’s a combination of a software feature (typing on the screen keyboard makes the menu a “dead zone” to prevent accidentally tapping any menu buttons and loosing your text message or anything you where typing) and a hardware issue that has not been officially acknowledged. Having the complete screen replaced will solve the issue but some have reported that simply disconnecting and reconnecting (bad contacts?) can help. Others have reported heating (drying?) of the inside helped and I’ve even read reports about the phone coming in contact with water (static charge?) fixed it.

I cannot confirm any of that but what I can say is that the software patch removes the software feature I mentioned earlier. Thus working around the hardware problem. But I can also tell you that in the long term, this will not help any more when the dead zone gets bigger.

This is what happened with my phone over the course of about one year after patching… I can still use it (I installed Pie Menu and when I need to type any keyboard keys that are too close to the menu side I turn the phone to that particular landscape position that I mentioned before) but the patch has no effect any more.

Hi and thanks for reply!

How long the patch solved the problem?

Replace the entre screen is not the best alternative ($) to a 2 years old phone, but I can’t rid it until it be useless

It works as a brand new smartphone, I realy want to solve it.

It worked for about one year for me. After that, the dead zone got too big for the fix to work around it any more. But I heard from people where the issue disappeared completely after some time, while others have had a partial dead screen from the start… There is no easy prediction to make here so you can just try it. If you’re not happy you can always roll back (see end of the post) and install an app like Pie Menu.

Hello , I am also with this problem and do not have money enough to send in assistance can make a tutorial with the solution ?

Hi Bruno, if you download Ubuntu then make a boot USB and install from it next to your Windows (there are many tutorials on how to do that on the internet), you can follow the steps in this post. It will be all for free 🙂

I thinking about using this patch on chroma, a custom rom with android marshmallow!
Do you think your latest version of the patch for 5.1 will work, or do I need to change anything?


Hi Rob, the patch is not mine. Follow the Github link and ask your question there. I can only tell you my suspicion that each patch package only works on the rom that it was created for…

Hi, I’ll like to try the tutorial but I didn’t underestand what to do if my build number does not correspond with any one of the git link. Thanks!

Hi Luke, in that case you might want to ask the developer on Git to provide a patch for your build number. If there is no response, that means the developer does not have time (or interest) to work on this project any more. In that case, you can either try to revert your Android to the latest build number for which a patch is available (there are other tutorials on how to downgrade your Android version) or you can search for a simpler alternative like installing the Pie-control app (or similar, these give you a menu elsewhere on the screen)…

Hi Carlos, thanks very much for sharing the link to new build patches! There will be many people happy to see patching continue 🙂

Thanks a lot for this awsome patch .
I tried with Cynogen 12.1 and LMY48B build and its working fine.

Thanks again for the awesome tutorial.
and I would suggest to the guys who are trying for the first time.

Use TWRP and after installing cynogen12.1 and Gapps –
use the build file and just flash it .

Its very easy.

It Worked for me, LMY48T , 3 years with the phone untill now i got this problem, i was thinking it was just old, but never forget to search on google.

Thanks a lot

I saw this soft key issue around 6 months ago. This solution had worked well for me. Now issue showed up again and patch is not solving the issue. Soft key portion on display does not respond to any touches. Planning replace the screen… 🙁

Well all are techie geniuses I suppose and being almost a layman in this regard I thought it too hard to install this so called patch. The process described was too tedious.

I went to Google play store and installed easy touch, literally a patch in my brain. Now for each action I need to perform one extra touch, but it works very smooth, and this floating red-bull icon on the screen looks awesome. I’ve almost forgotten that soft keys exist….

Well I think this is a software issue becoz the keys work absolutely fine when we launch talk back…

Soft keys working again. Thanks. Easy tutorial. However, after the procedure, the display is not working quite well. Most of the times, I must press the on/off button so the touch will work. Again:
(1) before tutorial, touch display was working perfectly, but not the soft keys; (2) after the tutorial, the soft keys and display are working; but all the time I must press on/off button, because the display does not working in the first touch.

Someone with the same problem?

What should I do?

Repeat the procedure?


Hi flpin, I have not heard that before. Maybe you can get an explanation from the patch developer if you create an issue/ticket on Github where you downloaded the patch… If you do, please share a link to it so others can follow and/or chip in 🙂

Hi, I had tried this with an older version and it had worked perfect! Now I’ve updated to CM13 which is a MarshMellow build, and I don’t see a corresponding navfix package for the same. Any idea if there is one somewhere out there?

Hi RavanH,

i tried the instructions given to fix the soft keys issue on my Nexus 4. Am very happy to say that the fix worked for me like a charm! Thank you so much!

I experienced this issue this evening.

Softkeys not working when located on the side of the screen closest to the charging port. Softkeys would work when the screen was rotated such that the softkeys were located on the side of the screen closest to the headphone jack.

Nexus 4 running 5.1.1

Battery was 85%-90% charged

What fixed the issue:
Plugged the phone into a USB charger. I did not use a Nexus charger; I used a random LG charger I had laying around.
Pressed and held the power button for 30 seconds. The phone powered off after ~10 seconds. Shortly after the phone powered off, the notification light flashed red for the remainder of the 30 seconds.
Powered the phone back on. When the phone was finished booting up, the softkeys worked again.

What didn’t work:
Restarting the phone multiple times
Restarting into Safe Mode
Disabling Chrome
Settings >> Apps >> Chrome >> Disable

Hi there, I am having issues too with the soft buttons not working. 2Degrees in Tauranga told me I had no option but to give them my phone for a factory reset! Has anything been successful so far. I have absolutely loved this phone, taken amazing care of it, and can’t afford a replacement. Please can someone assist?

Hi Jan, I have tried a factory reset a long time ago when the issues first started on my phone but even though it seemed to have worked at frist. The issues came back (much harder) a few days later. So my advise: you can try but if you pay someone to do it for you as a “fix” then prepare yourself for having to go back to them at some point. And at that point they’ll probably tell you the screen + digitizer needs to be replaced. This can be expensive (if you don’t want to or can do it yourself) but is the only real solution.

However, following the steps in this post (above) you might be able to keep your phone functional for another year or so without issues. But at some point, unless you’re really lucky, the issue will grow such that even the patch won’t work anymore and you’ll have to replace the screen or get a new phone…

Not a very positive outlook but that’s my experience, sorry.

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