Ever since the Galaxy S4 got the Lollipop update, the old beast has been chugging along just fine. We're so fond of the S4 that we thought we'd share our ultimate list of Galaxy S4 tips and tricks, specifically for the Lollipop update. The Galaxy S4 is still a great phone, but read on to see just how much better you can now make it.
Jump directly to:
- Battery tips
- Display tips
- Software tips
- Disable S Voice for faster navigation
- Secure your lock screen notifications
- Turn off annoying Samsung sounds
- Customize your lock screen
- Supercharge your camera
- Customize your Quick Settings
- Make security smarter
- Use Do Not Disturb mode
- Use shortcuts to call or message contacts
- Always get the best photo
- Enjoy Silent Mode
- Get a custom sound profile
- Common problems
- Advanced tips
If you have your Wi-Fi set to disconnect whenever the screen is off, you might think you're saving battery. That's not the case. Most of us turn our screen on an average of 150 times a day, so keeping Wi-Fi connected is actually better than turning it off and on, and then searching for connections every time. Go to Settings > Wi-Fi, tap the soft menu key and then Advanced and set Keep Wi-Fi on During Sleep to Always.
The Galaxy S4 doesn't have the stock Android Lollipop Battery Saver mode, but it does have Samsung's Power Saver Mode. Go to Settings > My Device > Power Saving Mode and flip the switch to enable it. It works by disabling certain functions in order to conserve battery life. You can choose which functions these will be in the settings.
Samsung has always been known – at least until recently – for packing its phones with some occasionally less-than-useful features. Some of these features are enabled by default and are continuously sucking battery and processor power to work, even if you never use them. If you're not a gesture kind of guy, why not turn them off? Go to Settings > Motions and Gestures and turn off the features you don't want. The same goes for Smart Screen and Air View.
One of the best things about Samsung displays is that they adapt to different conditions, so you always get the best possible viewing experience, whether you're reading, looking at photos or watching a movie. Just go to Settings > My Device > Display > Screen Mode and choose Adapt Display, or check out the other options.
Smart stay uses your phone's front-facing camera to detect whether you're looking at the screen or not, and makes sure that the screen remains on for as long as you look at it. This is great if you want to have a short screen timeout but also do a lot of reading on your phone.
To activate Smart stay, go to Settings > My device > Smart screen and press Smart stay.
S Voice can be launched by double-pressing the S4's home key. This shortcut actually slows down the home key response. TouchWiz will momentarily pause after the first press to see if you press it a second time, and then take you to the home screen. Go to S Voice, press the menu key, select Settings and uncheck the box next to Open via the Home Key to make home key navigation faster.
Lollipop comes with lock screen notifications, meaning you don't have to completely unlock your phone just to read a text or email. That said, you may not feel comfortable having the contents of your notifications plastered all over your screen for all the world to see. If you do, go to Settings > My Device > Sounds and Notifications. You can select which apps will display content on the lock screen in Application notifications and the level of content in While locked.
While you're at it, why not turn off some of those annoying Samsung sounds? Even if you do like them I can assure you that everyone on the train, at work and in the supermarket hates them. So, do the world a favor: go to Settings > My Device > Sounds and Notifications > Other Sounds and uncheck the boxes for as many sounds as you can live without.
Don't settle for a boring old lock screen, add a camera and dialer shortcut, select a clock or private message and give it some pizzazz with a custom wallpaper. Go to Settings > My Device > Lock Screen and check the box for camera, then customize your lock screen widgets.
Install the Samsung Smart Camera app and connect your phone to your camera with NFC to transfer photos faster, use your phone as a remote viewfinder (hello, selfie sticks!) and more. Best of all, your camera will automatically connect to your phone when it's on.
Why settle for the standard Quick Settings when you can curate a custom batch of the most useful toggles and switches for the way you use your phone? You can even arrange them exactly how you like. Swipe down from the top of the screen, tap the little grid in the top right corner and then the little pencil to edit, and then rearrange your Quick Settings.
Why would you want to unlock your phone with a PIN or pattern when you're at home where (I hope) you can trust everyone? That's where Lollipop's cool Smart Lock feature comes in. You can save yourself the trouble of unlocking your phone in certain places by adding a trusted face or voice, or a smartwatch or other trusted device.
Another great Lollipop feature is Priority Notifications, also known as Do Not Disturb mode. It lets you set times so you won't be interrupted, except for the most critical notifications or alarms. You can keep calls from your family and boss on the white list, set days and times of the week and choose between calls, messages and calendar reminders. Go to Settings > My Device > Sounds and Notifications > Interruptions and get busy - or not.
Why use messy menu buttons when a single gesture will suffice? In your contacts list you can simply swipe someone's name to the left or right to instantly call or message them. Now you can stay in touch more easily and save time while you're doing it.
Let's face it, not all of us are Pulitzer Prize-winning photographers. So when a moment really maters, why not shoot a burst of pics and then have your S4 choose the best one for you? Just open the camera app, tap Mode and Best Photo. Hold down the shutter to shoot a bunch of pics and let your phone automatically choose the best one.
The Galaxy S4 is one of the few devices to enjoy true Silent Mode, even on Lollipop. You can go to Settings > My Device > Sounds and Notifications > Interruptions > Sound Mode > Mute or you can use the toggle in the Quick Settings to switch from sound to vibrate to mute.
If you have very discerning ears, or simply like to have complete control over what comes out of the device you use to speak to people, why not get a custom sound profile? Go to Settings > My Device > Sounds and Notifications > Adapt Sound. Put in some headphones, tap Start and then follow the prompts.
If you're using the stock Samsung keyboard, make sure you have both predictive text and swipe typing enabled.You'll be amazed at how much time they can save you. Go to the keyboard and long press the button to the left of the space bar. Tap the Settings cog and make sure Predictive Text is on, and that Keyboard Swipe is set to Continuous Input. You could also replace the keyboard with SwiftKey or another keyboard app.
Depending on what you're doing, a smaller, floating keyboard might be more suitable. This neat little feature doesn't lock your keyboard to the bottom of the screen. Go to the keyboard, long press the button to the left of the space bar and tap the tile with the two overlapping boxes. Your keyboard will shrink a little and then be movable.
Chrome on Lollipop is a little annoying. By default your Chrome tabs will live individually in your recent apps list (accessed by long pressing the home button). If you prefer the old way – all your tabs contained in Chrome itself – go to Chrome, tap the three dots in the top right-hand corner, select Settings and turn off Merge Tabs and Apps.
If you're a bit bamboozled by all the Samsung widgets and doodads in TouchWiz, give Easy Mode a shot instead. It'll clear things up. This way you'll only see the most important stuff, as well as enlarge icons and make everything easier for you to manage and navigate. Go to Settings > My Device > Easy Mode to make the switch.
If don't want to miss any incoming messages or notifications, and your hands are otherwise engaged, why not use the Galaxy S4's Hands-Free Mode? Incoming calls, messages and notifications will be read out to you, so you always know what's going on. Go to Settings> My Device > Hands-Free Mode and flip the switch. Tapping the entry will let you choose what is possible.
Download the Peel Smart Remote app and use it to set up your TV guide, favorite channels, control your TV and set-top box, and plenty more. You can even put it on your lock screen or the notifications shade to make sure you're always the couch commando.
Did you know your S4 has lots of voice control options? You can use your voice to turn off alarms, take photos, play music and answer or reject calls. Just go to Settings > My Device > Voice Control and flip the switches for the commands you want to use. You can also use S Voice to set reminders or check the weather.
The S4 can display your most recently opened apps, but did you know it also has a Multi-Window function that allows you to have two open windows at the same time? It is well hidden, but very handy! We've dedicated a whole article to showing how to use Samsung Multi-Window since it's so tricky to figure out.
Some users have had a software bug which silences their Galaxy S4. When there is no sound, it is due to a crashed app that is accessing the audio driver and blocking it. Restarting your phone will usually fix the problem.
When you're at home, you may well have noticed that your phone sometimes seems to have trouble connecting to your wireless network. This is usually the case when the Wi-Fi signal is weak, but it can crop up at other times as well.
You may find that you are plagued with messages informing you that your internet connection has been disabled because of slow speeds. While this may sound counterintuitive, try disabling mobile data – you may just find that it helps. Swipe down from the top of the screen and toggle the Mobile Data setting to off.
Another option is to disable Wi-Fi Power Save mode. Fire up the dialer and type the code *#0011# to enter Service Mode. Tap the menu key and select the Wi-Fi option. Under the Wi-Fi Power Save Mode heading, tap the On button so that it changes to Off. Press the back button to return to the home screen.
Many users are having a hard time playing videos sent via WhatsApp on the Galaxy S4. When you get an error message from WhatsApp telling you, "video playback not possible" it can be fixed. Go into your settings and find the application manager, then reset your app defaults. If that doesn't fix the problem, download VLC media player.
There's a great app called Note 2 Hidden Settings that also works with other Galaxy devices, including the S4. It won't work with some carrier-branded models, but it's worth installing and giving it a shot because there's heaps of cool stuff in this app.
If your Galaxy S4 is acting strangely, you might want to restart it in Safe mode until you can solve the problem. To do this, simply turn your S4 off and then back on again. As soon as you see the Samsung screen, press and hold the volume down key and you will see that many apps will have been disabled when it boots up. To get out of safe mode, just turn your phone off and back on again.
If TouchWiz feels a little slow to you, why not replace with a faster launcher such as Google Now Launcher, Nova Launcher or Action launcher? Give them a try – they're free and you can always switch back if you want to.
If you want the wireless charging experience that the Galaxy S6 offers, without needing to fork out a small fortune to actually get an S6, why not buy a wireless charging pack? All you'll need to do then is take the back off your phone and align the tab as instructed in the packaging, then replace the phone's back panel.
To access your Galaxy S4's hidden developer settings, go into your device's settings, tap More, and go into the software information. In the About device section, tap the Build number seven times, and you'll then have access. Then you're ready to change the animation speed, limit background processes, and use USB debugging, among other interesting things.
To gain access to advanced features for your S4, you can root your device. This can be done at your own risk, and will likely void your warranty. You can find a full explanation of what rooting is, how it is done and reasons why you should or shouldn't do it in our full guide to rooting.
The Galaxy S4 sold very well, and many people still have the devices. So, there are many volunteers who continue to provide software updates for the older device. You can get a Custom ROM update to Android 6.0 Marshmallow. For the full steps on how to get the update, see our article.
Did you try any of these Galaxy S4 tips and tricks? Do you have any others? Share them in the comments.