Windows Phone 8.1

Does the third row of tiles make your Windows Phone 8.1 Start Screen too small?

One of the many features of Windows Phone 8.1 is the ability to add a third row of tiles to your Windows Phone Start Screen. We’ve already gotten used to seeing the third row in action on the larger screened Nokia Lumia 1520 but how is it performing on the smaller screened devices?

WPCentral member nexialbinding has started this discussion in the forums asking just that. Nexialbinding updated a Lumia 920 and is a little put off on how terrible things look with the extra row added.

Others have a mixed reaction to the new third row.

Raghave94 writes,

“It looks extremely small and bad on my HTC 8x

On the other hand, Franceso Savioni has Lumia 720 and thinks the extra row looks fantastic. Several Lumia 1020 owners note similar positive results as well.

Windows Phone 8.1 Live Tile Settings

So how do you throw the switch and add that third row of Live Tiles on Windows Phone 8.1? It's simple.

  • Go to your Windows Phone Settings
  • Choose the Start + Theme setting
  • Scroll to the bottom of the Start + Theme page to turn on the option to show more tiles

Easy as pie.

Personally, with my aging eyesight the third row is way too small for my Lumia 520 but not too shabby on the Lumia 1020. But what say you?

If you’ve updated your Windows Phone to the Windows Phone 8.1 Preview for Developers, jump on over to this WPCentral Forums discussion and let us know what you think of the new third row feature.


Reader comments

Does the third row of tiles make your Windows Phone 8.1 Start Screen too small?



I have the opposite opinion :P I love it on my lumia920 and because of the third column I can add more normal-sized tiles instead of small tiles without scrolling too much.


The "small tiles" are way too small on Lumia 920 ... but the medium sized tile is just awesome :)

I like the small tiles on my 928. But they are small. If you think they are too small, don't use the small tiles. I think having 3 medium tiles instead of only 2 is great. Being able to have a wide tile next to a medium is great too. It is definitely great having the option. You don't need to enable the setting if you don't want to.

Yes, no scrolling needed but then the start screen background looks really good when there is something to scroll.

Also, Live Tile text on a few apps like WPCentral's is very small and almost unreadable. Maybe a bigger font with the next update and I'll be very happy with the extra column.

I'm using it on a 925 as well & like it.  The small tiles are definitely small, so it's better to use apps with no live tile for those.

BTW... I think WPC should have a "Post Your Home Screen" thread so we can all get ideas on how others are organizing things.  It might help some people organize their own home screens. :)


Same for me. I added/changed a lot of the tiles to wide to make use of the extra space.

The start screen looks a lot more LIVE now :)

Yes, I had a lot of tiles in the small size to save space, but I compromised on live tiles as a result. With the third row I now have far more live tiles on my 925s home screen. I think it's great. 


The small tiles are a little too small, but time will tell if they are difficult to read and tap, but my hunch is that I'll adjust pretty quickly. 

Agree, did the same on my 920.

Not going back to 2 columns :)

And having a pic as background works great too!

Yeah, I love that I can now have the full/large-sized tiles for all of my apps and STILL see more on the homescreen than before.  

agreed.  I like it on my Lumia 920 as well.  I definitely bumped up the size of more of my apps that used to be small or medium.  And I'm liking the new background picture option.  Definitely gives a freshness to the operating system on a phone that is already two years old.  I'm also liking that fact that even with a significant OS upgrade it is not causing any slowness in older hardware (unlike some other smartphones I've had in the past *cough* apple *cough*. 

It depends from your style - i'm using to be comfortable, notes from calendar, many digits etc. Somebofy using more for quick access - it's totally different style of use. In my style - icons too small - reading is not comfortable.

agreed, but the moment when I swipe right on my 920 to get into the app list, the difference in text size across the UI is very glaring. I wish they would have normalised the text size if the 3rd column is chosen 

Edit: My reply was meant to be the post regarding 920, well WPC

That's my only gripe as well. The larger tile doesn't stretch all the way across.

I'm quite OCD so it bothers me quite a bit (I guess a large tile in the middle and then 4 small tiles on each side would work)

But thinking about it, I guess some images, like the ones displayed on the photos live tile, would proably look too stretched out.

I would like a collum tile, eventually.

Hmmm, I might try having the large tile in the middle...i would think if they do make it stretch, it would be up to devs to adjust the live tile image to look proper.

I really love this three column feature! Information on Live Tiles are still visible for me, and I dont need to scroll too much anymore and I can put lots of apps on my start screen now.

I also love it on my 920, but I have always been one to set my computer resolution as high as possible. The more I can fit on the screen the better.

This. I wanted to upgrade my 920 for a bigger screen, but now it feels really larger! Love it!

It is a tad small on the 920, but i think more tiles with small 1x1 tiles is a fair trade compared to the old version.

It took me a day to get used to it but now I don't think I could go back. I also wish more tiles utilised the clear option now to increase the visibility of the background image. The bing apps especially should.

They should add an option to have the empty space back on the right hand side if you don't want the third row of tiles. 

Download 'tile gap', it allows you to put an 'empty' transparent tile of any of the 3 sizes on your home screen ;)

Love it on my 1020... Need the extra real estate with all the apps I like to pin. The thing is that if you think the small tiles are too small then just use the medium you would still have almost as much room with the extra row, or just roll it back to the elementary way it was before. Options are good ;)

Yeah, small is clearly subjective to people. I helped my friend install 8.1 and I wish still had my 920. Too bad I want a higher resolution device. 1520 will do for now.

What's wrong with ants? :D

I like how the third row looks on my 620, I can use more medium and wide tiles now. 

likewise i have the 620, while they are small i dont have trouble with them and havent hit a wrong tile/window as of yet.

The icons are small, but I like it on my Lumia 920. Text on news tiles like NBC News are not difficult to read. I like to keep relevant apps on the same row. The new tile column does make it a challenge. I want to fill in the gaps, but at the same time, I don't want to clutter up the Start Screen.

I disagree, I think it's fine. However, the background image thing sucks because Microsoft didn't make the Music and Games apps capable of cooperating with it, so it leaves a big chunk of the picture unfilled. It makes the whole thing look stupid, so I turned it off.

Not necessarily - I switched to show more tiles but I'm using all of them in medium and large sizes. This way I get an in-between small and medium amount of tiles on screen: more than just mediums, less than all small, so I effectively have 3 columns of medium tiles that are easy to see with live info.

Personally I'm pretty happy with how my 920 looks now.


On 920, it is very small. I tend not to use small tiles now. I am using the wide tile for the first time. Loving it!

I have a Lumia 820 and when I first turned on the third column I also thought "too small." But after living with it for a day, the whole "too small" thing went away. Basically, it was a change and it took a little while for it to seem normal. Now that I'm used to it, wouldn't go back.

At first it looked too small on my 620, but before my day was over I was used to it. It makes the phone look like it has a higher resolution screen.

The same way a higher resolution screen makes your desktop icons smaller.

that is excatly how i feel but yeah it does take time getting used to ......glad the screen sze is small can easily pull down the action centre .....1520 people will have a hard time pulling it in one hand though.....

Same here, I'm also using 3 tiles setting on my Lumia 620, I mainly t use medium n large size tiles

On my 1520 it looks as though there are now two black spaces at the edges which weren't there before? Did it look like that before? I don't like it, I want the tiles to reach the edges.

But I do like the new smaller keyboard, text and buttons

We're both right, I just checked side by side screenshots of my home screen, you're right that they didn't go all the way to the edges, but they were a lot closer. It's because the gaps between the apps are smaller, so it pulls in from the sides. It used to be nice and even, gaps at the side and in between apps, now it looks odd and disjointed. Plus because the background is black is makes it look like I has a really skinny but tall iphone5 style screen.

I do like the way they've moved the apps up a bit, I didn't like the big gap at the top before.

If you keep all your tiles small, of course third row will make them even smaller. I'm fine with two rows.

Really, is it available for Lumia 520?, i heard that they were dumping this feature on 520 & 620 because of their 4" screen size

I also have a 520 and it definitely does have the feature.  The small tiles look to small and i don't think the phone is powerful enough to handle the animations well.  It looks like the animations are cut short for speed.  That isn't necessarily all bad.  I use small tiles for minor apps like the calculator, calendar, etc. and the ones i originally had as small tiles are now upgraded to normal sized tiles.  Tile fonts are too small but it still is a welcomed feature despite it's issues.

The extra wide black gutter doesn't help either. I wish the screen went edge to edge.


If you hold a phone one handed your fingers natually curl around onto the screen (unless you have a phablet).

Why is it so hard for people to grok usability is the reason behind "arbitrary" UI decisions?

I use my phone with only one hand all the time and I call bs for that excuse. It's a phone, it's not a boob that you wrap your hands around. Put the phone in one hand and look at it. You never even get close to the borders of the screen.


Unfortunatly they need to keep the margins for people using white background, it would look odd without white space on the edges.

The border plus the gutter is about the width of a small tile. I would prefer to see it more on par with what the HTC m8 and Samsung does which is edge to edge. That would be MAJOR for our OS.

There's always the option to turn it off. There isn't much to complain about honestly. On a small screen cramming more information means everything gets smaller. Its called physics. Lol.

dont wait man. you'll be waiting at least 2 months...just man up and sign up for the developers preview!

920 here, I like it and it has actually let me take advantage of certain live tiles more. The ones I don't need info from I am able to make very small which then gives me more room for the live tiles with useful information.

After using 3rd row on my 925 for a day switching back makes mw phone seem silly. Everything so large makes it look like a toy.

Awesome on my 1020. It actually puts the outer edges of the outer tiles further out, i.e. It reduces the black margin slightly and makes better use of the screen. The only issue i have is that i now have everything on my start screen and hardly need to scroll and see the nice parallax effect.. :|

Waaay too small on my 520. Have held off on my 928. Will probably wait quite awhile to see if they actually keep tweaking things or if they just ship.

Doesn't help that they shrunk it in on the sides...

Using 1020. At first I thought small but after a day or so I've got used to it. Its nice not scrolling down as far now. Ideally the phone would be 5in, will have to wait for a 1030 maybe...

I already use a combination of small, medium and large tiles matching on both my 520 and 928 and fit pretty much everything I want already...

But why to keep small tile at all? We can have 3 medium or one wide with one medium time in row... For my L720 it's great... Even small tiles rock!

I'm torn over if I'm going to use it or not, but it's nice to have the option for those that do want it.

Perfect on my Ativ. Using it for months through a registry tweak and it would have been hard for me to go back to a standard layout. By the way, I hate the big font in messaging and applications list, hope to find a way to get smaller text soon.
People, try it for some days before telling you hate it :-)

With the 3rd row, the small tiles are quite small on my 4.3" 822, but they're very usable.

I couldn't go back to 2 rows of tiles if I tried. I'm loving the 3 rows.

I enjoy the extra column on my 820; the smallest tiles are simply shortcuts to things like my flashlight, and the text on the other size tiles is large enough for my eyes.

At first i didn't quite like it on my 925, but after 2 minutes it grew on me. I don't see myself going back to two rows after seeing how awesome it looks with the third row enabled.

I like my large tiles to expand across the screen on my 920. With the extra row, it doesn't now. So I'll stick with the regular setup. But, whatever floats your boat yo.

The smallest tile setting is too small, but now I just make most of my tiles the medium size. I like being able to haev 3 of them across the screen, it seems like the perfect size. I have some wide tiles, but like some people have mentioned, it would be nice if those went all the way across still.

It's amazing on my L928.  I can actually use the wide tiles without using a sixth of the screen... :P  Also the text size etc... Everything was too big before (though I didn't really know until I could change it).

Too small for me on the 1020. I wish they had one more size larger for the tiles though. I want my calendar tile all the way across on top, not buried.

I love the new customisation for the start screen.... The third route of tiles is very helpful n plus the dozing is also good..... Really a big improvement to the start screen....

I like it on my 1020. But it is going against the design guidelines for good touch target sizing and spacing. Just like how start backgrounds go against the clarity of content design guidelines. Looks like MS is giving in to the pressure of user demands despite compromising some of their initial (and great) design by guidelines

How is it giving in ? You dont have to enable 3 rows and you dont have to enable the background picture. Choice is better for everyone.

I was confused at first, but then realized we're talking about the third column, right?


I know this will be ironic to write in a comment, but would it make sense for WPC to disable comments in articles when trying to encourage discussion in a forum topic? It seems that the discussion ends up taking place in the comments every time.

I wonder if the people complaining that it's "too small" are the same people who were upset when it was originally announced that the 'extra row' was intended for larger screened devices. MS listened to peoples feedback, included an OPTION to have an extra row, and now people are going to complain all over again? I'm not saying people who claim the tiles are "too small" are complaining, but there are certainly some folks out there who are.

I like them very much on my 920... after modifying the layout of my start screen. Said that I also feel that now MS should add a fourth size for tiles adding an extra wide one allowing me to have, for example, a tile occupying the entire width of the screen for the calendar.

Works pretty impressive on my Nokia Lumia 920! Maybe a bit smaller for some. But this is one feature i always wanted so that i can have a whole on the screen. :)

Not bad on my 925. However it would be nice to keep the double wide tiles the same size, or bigger than what they are with the 3rd row added. Also decreasing the space between the top row of tiles and the battery/cellular info was an awesome touch. Makes the screen look fuller :)

Only three rows of tiles?  Must be a new phone.  As you find more apps, you'll fill up that screen in no time!  I have 16 rows of apps.

Looks fine on my Lumia 925. When you first turn it on it's a little jaring because the tiles do shrink down quiet a bit but you do get used to the new tile size and even the small tiles are easy enough to tap and not miss.

I just like being able to squeeze more information on my screen and reducing the amount of scrolling I need to do to reach lesser used apps lower down my start screen.

Even on my 5" Icon the smallest of the three tiles is too small, imo.  Most of what I have are the middle and large tiles.  And I still wish there was an option to have a tile span the entire screen like I had on my 928.  But overall it's a very minor inconvienence.