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Galaxy S4 tips: 21 hidden features, tricks and hacks

Authored by: Kris Carlon — 6 months ago

The Samsung Galaxy S4 has so many features it's ridiculous. Many of them you probably don't even even know exist. Here we've got a nice collection of Galaxy S4 tips, hidden features, tricks and even a hack or two to get even more out of one of the best smartphones around.

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Galaxy S4 tips and tricks / © ANDROIDPIT

1. Disable S Voice on the Galaxy S4 for faster Home button response

Not sure if you know this, but the double press of the Home key to bring up S Voice actually has a built in delay. This means if you press it once to go back to the Home screen it'll actually lag a little in case you were planning on double pressing. If you disable the double press shortcut to access S Voice, you'll get a faster return to the Home Screen. Just go into S Voice, hit the menu soft key, Settings, and uncheck ''Open via the Home key'' box.

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Turn off S Voice for a faster home page on the Galaxy S4. / © ANDROIDPIT

2. Swipe contacts to call or text on your Galaxy S4

When you're in your Contacts, instead of tapping a contact and selecting the action to perform from their contact profile, you can simply swipe left or right to call or text them instantly. The best thing is you can change your mind: if you start to swipe to the right to call someone, then realize they are at work you just swipe back to the left and you'll get a text window instead. There's no speed requirement either, so if you're a little slow-witted, you can pause mid-swipe, figure out which option is best and then continue with the appropriate swipe.

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Put the gesture controls in the contacts app: Right for calling and left for writing an SMS. / © ANDROIDPIT

3. Use Galaxy S4 hidden settings

This is achieved by using a brilliant app called Note 2 Hidden Settings. Yes, it's for the Galaxy Note 2 but it works on many other Samsung devices too. It simply puts a user interface over the top of a bunch of hidden CSC files so you can change them easily. The only thing is your S4 needs to be rooted for it to work. Some of the great things you can do include managing the various irritating sounds the S4 makes, like disabling the camera shutter sound and more. The app isn't guaranteed to work on every device so please don't ask me to fix it if it doesn't work for you!

AndroidPIT note 2 hidden settings
An XDA Developer wrote this little gem of an app to reveal Samsung's hidden settings. / © ANDROIDPIT/SteinApps
Note 2 Hidden Settings Install on Google Play

4. DIY Galaxy S4 wireless charging

Listen up tightasses! You can make your own DIY wireless charger for the Galaxy S4 without needing to spend a small fortune on Samsung's official Qi-equipped back panel and charging platter. There's not much to this hack, other than buying a cheaper Qi-rear cover and popping the guts out and inserting them into your S4 rear cover. All in all it'll cost you about $25 and brings a little handicraft to your smartphone. Check the video out below from HackinTech to see what you'll need and how simple it is to make your own wireless charging back panel.

Link to Video

5. Use the Galaxy S4 IR blaster to control your TV

This is an old feature that a lot of people still don't seem to use. Just go to the WatchON app, set up your country and service provider (if you want a TV guide as well) and add the remote widget to your Quick Settings menu or even your lock screen so you can control your television, set top box or DVR from the comfort of your smartphone. You can track your favorite shows, set reminders and even get suggestions from WatchON about shows you might like. Definitely an underused feature.

AndroidPIT Samsung WatchON
The TV remote is one of the best, but least-used, S4 features. It can even live on your lock screen. / © ANDROIDPIT
Samsung WatchON Install on Google Play

6. Take photos and control alarms with your voice

An oft-forgotten feature of Samsung's voice control is the ability to take photos or control your alarm clock with your voice. Everyone remembers you can control incoming calls and Samsung's ChatON service verbally, but saying ''cheese'' to snap a picture is a great way to avoid camera shake when you take selfies. Likewise, simply saying ''snooze'' from under your pillow to stop that infernal alarm clock is a godsend. You can of course also control your music playback this way too. Just go into your Settings menu at the bottom of the My Device tab and you'll see the Voice Control switch. Tapping on it once enabled will open the various settings for each voice control feature.

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Use your voice to answer calls and turn off your alarm.  / © ANDROIDPIT
ChatON Install on Google Play

7. Ditch TouchWiz for Android 5.0 Lollipop

Though the Android 5.0 Lollipop update is likely not to come to the Galaxy S4 before mid-2015, there’s no reason why you can’t get some Lollipop flavour beforehand. If you don’t have root access, there are many APKs and apps available, including the Nova Launcher, that will bring many of the Android 5.0 features to your phone. If you do have root, you will likely be able to flash an unofficial version of the Android update in the near future.

8. Use the Galaxy S4 home screen slider

Did you know that you don't need to swipe to switch between home screens? Just above the dedicated app shortcuts on the home screen is a little indicator that shows you which screen you're on in relation to the main home screen. Instead of swiping between home screens, you can simply slide your finger across this indicator to quickly and fluidly scroll through your various home screens which will be slightly minimized. You don't even need to hold your finger down first (although you can), just slide your finger along the indicator and it will bring up numbered screens for rapid navigation.

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Long press and slide the dots on the home screen to quickly go to each home screen page. / © ANDROIDPIT

9. Quickly access apps from the Galaxy S4 lock screen

To quickly access some of your main apps, choose which app shortcuts you would like to have access to on the lock screen. In addition to the camera app shortcut, there are some other ones, like phone, messages, Google Search, and Internet.

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Add shortcuts to the Galaxy S4 lock screen. / © ANDROIDPIT

10. Get more out of your camera

Did you know you can add a camera shortcut to your lock screen and connect your Samsung camera to your smartphone? To get the camera shortcut on your lock screen, go to Settings, My Device tab, Lock Screen, enable multiple lock screen widgets (if you have others already enabled), tap on lock screen widgets and flip the switch for Favorite apps or camera, then select Camera.

Now, you can simply swipe to the left from your lock screen to launch the camera. To link your digital camera with your S4, download the Samsung Smart Camera app and you'll be able to launch Remote Viewfinder, AutoShare and MobileLink direct from your smartphone. The best thing is that when you're using your camera the app will automatically connect to your phone.

AndroidPIT Samsung Camera App
Link your Samsung camera with your S4 and get a lock screen camera shortcut. / © ANDROIDPIT
Samsung SMART CAMERA App Install on Google Play

11. Browse Galaxy S4 Quick Setting buttons

Want to check out your Quick Setting buttons in a jiffy? That is not too much of an issue, as all you need to do is swipe two of your fingers down on the status bar, and you’re good to go. From here, you can access a variety of settings, like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, as well as some Samsung specifics, like Smart Pause, and Smart Scroll. To edit the Quick Settings, tap on the pencil icon on the top right corner.

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The Quick Settings on the Galaxy S4 are very useful and you can customize them. / © ANDROIDPIT

12. Trace-To-Type on your Galaxy S4

Forget about tapping on individual letters on the virtual keyboard to compose an e-mail or send a text message/SMS. All you need to do is turn on Trace-To-Type on the virtual keyboard, and you will find your text input efficiency level shoot through the roof in no time at all. To turn on Trace-To-Type, go to the keyboard, tap on the ‘Cog’ icon, turn on “Predictive Text” and choose “Continuous Input”.

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Trace to type makes word input a lot quicker. / © ANDROIDPIT

13. Set up Adaptive Display on your Galaxy S4

You know how early generation color displays on mobile phones tended to deliver washed out colors whenever you stepped outdoors? Well, technology has certainly advanced a whole lot, especially when it comes to mobile displays. On sunny days, it is advisable to turn on the Adapt Display function so that you can still keep tabs on your connected life under direct sunlight without squinting. Go to Settings > My Device > Display > Screen Mode > Adapt Display, and you’re good to go.

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Adaptive Display on the Galaxy S4 will adapt to your surroundings./ © ANDROIDPIT

14. Switch on the floating keyboard

Be like David Copperfield and make your virtual keyboard float (if your attempts at floating corporeal items have fallen flat). Folks who tend to multitask on their Galaxy S4 can attest to the added flexibility and convenience of a floating keyboard. All you need to do is pop open the virtual keyboard, hold down on the keyboard settings button, and enable “Floating Keyboard”.

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Samsung is a pro at multi-tasking features, like the floating keyboard. / © ANDROIDPIT

15. Prolong Your Galaxy S4’s battery Life by setting a Wi-Fi timer

Ah, one of the banes of modern day smartphones that come with just about everything but the kitchen sink would be its battery life - or rather, the lack of it. After all, when you’re done playing with all the functions and enjoying games on it, the low battery warning should pop up pretty soon. To eke out additional battery life, how about ensuring that your Galaxy S4 has been set to auto connect/disconnect from a Wi-Fi network? Doing so is a cinch, just go to Settings > Wi-Fi > Menu > Advanced, and set the time frame under Wi-Fi Timer.

Check out our Android battery life saving tips, as well as our Galaxy S4 battery saving tips.

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If you forget to turn off Wi-Fi scanning and you are on the go, this could save you some battery life. / © ANDROIDPIT

16. Exploit Samsung's secure boot

Some network providers provide the Galaxy S4 with an unlocked bootloader, so you can easily flash whatever custom ROM you like. But AT&T (SGH-I337) and Verizon (SGH-I545) models have a locked bootloader. A little while back, a whiz by the name of Dan Rosenberg identified a critical weakness in Samsung's locking mechanism that allows custom, unsigned kernels and recovery images to be booted without the usually-required signature checks. It's all a bit technical, but if this has piqued your interest, head over to Dan's site to get the lowdown on how he figured it out and how to bypass the secure bootloader.

17. First smart phone? Try Easy Mode on your Galaxy S4

Let’s face it, everybody has to start somewhere. If the Galaxy S4 is your first phone, it may seem a bit overwhelming when you first get it. Rather than having to call your 12 year old cousin over to explain how to use it, Samsung has integrated an “Easy Mode” into their device.

To enable this mode, simply head to Settings > My Device > Home Screen Mode and you’ll be able to switch between your options (current mode and Easy mode).

Easy mode includes a much easier to use interface (which can be also customized), larger icons, and just provides a more intuitive environment for people who are new to using smart devices.

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Easy Mode makes the Galaxy S4 a little simpler to figure out. / © ANDROIDPIT

18. Use your Galaxy S4 with gloves

By far one of my favorite options for this device, however, it is turned off by default when you get your S4. As I’m out and about and live in a climate that often requires me to be wearing gloves, it’s always been a pain having to remove my gloves to use my smartphone (…or having to buy special gloves to be able to use this feature).

To turn this setting on, simply head to your settings, then the Controls tab and scroll down to Auto-adjust touch sensitivity. Once enabled, this will allow you to use your touchscreen with gloves on your hands. Important to note: thin gloves do work the best, but we’ve had success when using thicker ski gloves.

19. Adapt the sound produced by the Galaxy S4

Another great feature about the Galaxy S4 is the ability for the device to customize the output of sound to your hearing. This is particularly useful for people who have some hearing issues or just want to be able to tweak the audio profile of their device.

To turn on Adapt Sound, head to Settings > My Device> Sound > Adapt Sound and then follow the prompts. Once completed, you should notice a difference in the way the audio is output on your device and most improvements will be noted when wearing headphones.

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Adapt the sound so you get perfect quality when using your own headphones. / © ANDROIDPIT

20. Save battery with Galaxy S4 Smart Alert

I find that if I leave my phone down somewhere, I’ll subconsciously have the urge to keep checking it in case I get any alerts that I may have missed. This leads me to picking up my phone, unlocking it, looking at the screen, and then putting it back down. If I’m sitting at the computer typing (or doing anything really), this can lead to a bunch of useless checks within the span of an hour. I know. I need help.

The S4 has an interesting feature that allows the device to vibrate when you pick it up if there are any important notifications that you missed. If you pick it up and nothing happens? Nothing to check!

To turn on this feature, head to Settings > My Device > Motions and Gestures > Motion > Smart Alert and turn it on. Really small feature, but ridiculously useful for someone like me.

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Instead of always having to check your phone, it will let you know when there's something new to check out. / © ANDROIDPIT

21. Let the S4 choose your best photo

When you have the Best Photo mode activated on your S4, it will take 8 shots in quick succession (think of it like the camera taking 8 burst shots) and then suggest what it thinks is the best one. This is great for when you’re taking a photo of a group or another setting where you might have some variables that will cause a shot to come out wonky, such as kids and pets.

To access this mode, open up your camera app and then click the Mode button. From there, just choose the Best Shot option. And while sometimes the “best” photo that it picks might not be the one you were thinking of, you can still scroll through the other 7 photos that were taken and choose them instead.

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It's often hard to get the right shot, but with Best Photo it will provide you with a selection of eight and even suggest the best one. © ANDROIDIPT

There are obviously a lot of really cool Galaxy S4 camera features, many of which you might not use all the time but are fun once in a blue moon.

Did you try any of these Galaxy S4 tips? Do you have any others?

Kris Carlon comes to the AndroidPIT Editorial Team via a lengthy period spent traveling and relying on technology to keep him in touch with the outside world. He joined the Android community while resurfacing in civilization back in 2010 and has never looked back, using technology to replace his actual presence in other people's lives ever since. He can usually be found juggling three phones at once and poring over G+ posts, Reddit and RSS feeds.


Write new comment:
  • Amber Harmon 6 months ago Link to comment

    I have tried to flip the switch on the Favorite apps and camera to on but it's grayed out and won't turn on. How do I turn it on?

  • joy kant 6 months ago Link to comment

    tips & tricks for note 2???

  • Edward Netherton 6 months ago Link to comment

    It's good to know the hidden features of Galaxy S4 to make the most out of it. The features and functions of your S4 should be all in used.

  • Nelson Ford Jan 21, 2014 Link to comment

    With my Galaxy S4, I have more hiden features when I unlock that.
    There are a few tutorial where you can unroot samsung galaxy s4. You should see that you can use more hidden features. Thank anyway for these insights.

  • Ali Raza Dec 29, 2013 Link to comment

    I love Smart camera app

  • Dr. Alan Mandel Dec 28, 2013 Link to comment

    I have the MSL code from sprint for my phone and can get to the #data# page, but what can I modify on it to to improve my phone? I used to have the HTC evo3d and modded some settings but I have no idea what to do on the galaxy s4. Any info and ideas would be helpful and appreciated. Happy holidays!!

  • Angel Ramos Dec 23, 2013 Link to comment

    ha just when I think I figured this phone out there is more to learn. plenty of pretty neat options with this