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Galaxy S4 tips and tricks: get the most out of Lollipop

Authored by: Kris Carlon — 3 weeks ago

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 greater you can make it.

1. Disable S Voice for faster navigation

S Voice can be launched by double-pressing the S4's home key. This shortcut actually slows down the home key response, however,  because TouchWiz pauses momentarily after the first press, waiting to see if you press it a second time, before taking you to the home screen. Go to S Voice, press the menu soft key, select Settings and uncheck the box next to Open via the Home Key to make home key navigation faster.

AndroidPIT Galaxy S4 Lollipop S Voice home button shortcut
Ditching the S Voice shortcut will speed up home key navigation. / © ANDROIDPIT

2. Turn off annoying Samsung sounds

While you're at it, why not turn off some of those annoying Samsung sounds? Even if you like them I can assure you that everyone on the train, at work and in the supermarket hates them. To do the world a favor, go to Settings > My Device > Sounds and Notifications > Other Sounds and un-check the boxes for as many sounds as you can live without.

AndroidPIT Galaxy S4 Lollipop turn off samsung sounds
Do the world a favor and lose the annoying Samsung sounds. / © ANDROIDPIT

3. Use shortcuts to call or message contacts

Why use messy menu buttons when a gesture will suffice? In your contacts list you can simply swipe a contact'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.

AndroidPIT Galaxy S4 Lollipop contacts shortcut message call
Call or text your friends even faster with gestures. / © ANDROIDPIT

4. Access the Galaxy S4's hidden settings

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 it and giving it a shot because there's heaps of cool stuff in this app.

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Hidden Settings aren't visible on all S4s but it's worth finding out if they are on yours. / © ANDROIDPIT


5. Secure your lock screen notifications

Lollipop comes with lock screen notifications meaning you don't have to completely unlock your phone just to read a text or email. But perhaps you don't feel comfortable having the contents of your notifications plastered all over your lock screen for anyone see. If so, 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.

AndroidPIT Galaxy S4 Lollipop lock screen notifications
Choose your lock screen notification apps and content settings. / © ANDROIDPIT

6. Use your phone to control the TV

Download the WatchOn app and use it to set up your TV guide, favorite channels, control your TV, 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 in charge.

AndroidPIT Galaxy S4 Lollipop WatchOn remote control
Use your Galaxy S4 as a remote control. / © ANDROIDPIT

7. Use your voice for hands-free control

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.

AndroidPIT Galaxy S4 Lollipop voice control settings
Use your voice and save your fingers from working too hard. / © ANDROIDPIT

8. Get a better launcher

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.

s4 tips 11
Mix things up with a custom launcher. / © ANDROIDPIT


9. Make your own Qi wireless charger

If you want the wireless charging experience that the Galaxy S6 offers, without needing to fork out a fortune to actually get an S6, why not buy a wireless charging pack? All you need to do then is take the back off your phone and align the tab as instructed in the packaging, before replacing the phone's back panel.

phone battery
Get a wireless charging pack online, and your S4 can enjoy the benefits of wireless charging. / © ANDROIDPIT

10. Activate Smart stay

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.

s4 tips 9
Smart stay means your phone stays on as long as you're reading or otherwise looking at the screen. / © ANDROIDPIT

11. Customize your lock screen

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.

s4 tips 7
Customize your lock screen so you can access what you need more quickly. / © ANDROIDPIT

12. Customize your Quick Settings

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 rearrange your Quick Settings.

s4 tips 5
Add your favorite shortcuts to your Quick Settings. / © ANDROIDPIT

13. Make the keyboard smarter

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.

AndroidPIT Galaxy S4 Lollipop keyboard settings swipe
If you're not swipe typing with predictive you're living in the early 2000s. / © ANDROIDPIT
SwiftKey Keyboard Install on Google Play

14. Use Do Not Disturb mode

Another great Lollipop feature is Priority Notifications, which is also known as Do Not Disturb mode. It lets you set times where you won't be interrupted by any but 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.

AndroidPIT Galaxy S4 Lollipop priority interruptions
Enjoy a little peace and quiet with Priority Notifications. / © ANDROIDPIT

15. Supercharge your camera

Install the Samsung Smart Camera app and connect your phone to your camera with NFC to trasfer photo 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.

AndroidPIT Galaxy S4 Lollipop smart camera nfc pairing
Pairing your phone to your camera is very worthwhile. / © ANDROIDPIT

16. Always get the best display

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 got to Settings > My Device > Display > Screen Mode and choose Adapt Display or check out the other options.

s4 tips 1
Optimise the Galaxy S4 display. / © ANDROIDPIT

17. Try the floating keyboard

Your keyboard isn't actually locked to the bottom of the screen. Depending on what you're doing, a smaller, floating keyboard might be more suitable. 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 be movable.

s4 tips 2
A mini floating keyboard can be really useful. / © ANDROIDPIT

18. Save battery with smarter Wi-Fi

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 having it turn off and on and search 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.

AndroidPIT Galaxy S4 Lollipop Wi Fi settings off while asleep
Keeping Wi-Fi continuously on is actually better for battery life. / © ANDROIDPIT

19. Fix bugs in Safe Mode

If your Galaxy S4 is acting strangely, you might want to restart it in Safe mode until you solve the problem. To do so, 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 have been disabled when it boots up. To get out of safe mode, just turn your phone off and back on again.

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Safe Mode lets you play around with most apps disabled. / © ANDROIDPIT

20. Make things simpler with Easy Mode

If you're a bit bamboozled by all the Samsung widgets and doodads in TouchWiz, give Easy Mode a shot. It'll clear things up, so you only see the most important stuff, as well as enlarge icons and make everything easier to manage and navigate. Go to Settings > My Device > Easy Mode to make the switch. 

s4 tips 3
Easy Mode is great for beginners, grandparents and those with vision impairments. / © ANDROIDPIT

21. Get a custom sound profile

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 with, why not get a custom sound profile? Go to Settings > My Device > Sounds and Notifications > Adapt Sound. Put in some headphones, tap Start and follow the prompts.

AndroidPIT Galaxy S4 Lollipop adapt sound
Getting a custom sound profile makes everything sound better. / © ANDROIDPIT

22. Always get the best photo

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 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 pis and let your phone choose the best one automatically.

AndroidPIT Galaxy S4 Lollipop camera best photo
Best Photo always knows which shot is best. / © ANDROIDPIT

23. Get better battery life

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 are in the settings. 

AndroidPIT Galaxy S4 Lollipop power saving mode
Power Saving Mode will help extend your S4's  battery life. / © ANDROIDPIT

24. Enjoy Silent Mode

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.

AndroidPIT Galaxy S4 Lollipop mute mode
The Galaxy S4 is one of the few Lollipop devices still with mute mode. / © ANDROIDPIT

25. Make security smarter

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 the trouble of unlocking your phone in certain places by adding a trusted face or voice, or a smartwatch or other trusted device.

AndroidPIT Galaxy S4 Lollipop smart lock trusted device
Smart Lock is one of the coolest Lollipop features. / © ANDROIDPIT

26. Make Chrome easier and better

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.

AndroidPIT Galaxy S4 Lollipop merge chrome tabs
Keep Chrome old-school and don't merge tabs and apps. / © ANDROIDPIT

27. Get lazy with Hands-Free Mode

If don't want to miss any incoming messages or notifications, but 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.

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Samsung has even hands-free options for the lazy amongst us. / © ANDROIDPIT

28. Disable pointless gimmicks

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.

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If you're not using it, disable it. / © ANDROIDPIT

Did you try any of these Galaxy S4 tips and tricks? Do you have any others? Share them in the comments.

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:
  • Please help! Since i did the most recent software update about a week ago, the "back" and "menu" buttons on my samsung S4 have stopped working. Inly the middle button works. Thanks

  • Just a quick note, for point 12 you can use 2 fingers to scroll down the top screen and voila, the full list will be there, whereby 1 finger will only display a summary..

  • Just updated my samsung nook device and now there's a folder that acccesses my files and i don't even want to look at let alone have it in my face all the time. how do i get rid of it and get my nook last read back??? please help a sister out. thx

  • I received a s4 as a gift 2 weeks ago with a new replacement battery, and my phone screen went into sleep mode and now it won't turn on or take a charge. Also, when charging phone I had to power off the phone and play with the charger connection to phone so it would charge up. This is my very first Samsung phone and if this is how these phones work, I think I will be going back to Apple... Also, this phone has never been dropped and has a Otterbox protective case on it.

    • Dont give up on your droid; I much prefer t it over the iphone. It sounds like u received a used phone & the charging port is worn out. It is an inexpensive repair. U can even buy the part on ebay for $5 if you're up for doing it yourself. Watch the video on how to. In the meantime, wrapping thr chargng cord tightly around the phone activated mine to charge until I got it repaired locally. Sleep mode may just be a setting issue but obviouly u need it charged first.

  • Just updated my phone to lollipop and now I can no longer use my widgets nor can I mute or put my phone in silent mode. How can I default back to old system? I don't even like how it looks. The screen almost looks like something designed for seniors with large print.

  • Shane 5 months ago Link to comment

    Before the update, my lock screen would show percentage of battery charge while it was plugged in. Now, nothing but the battery symbol. Is their a way to change it back? It was nice seeing 55% charged versus a battery image that's half full :-(

    • The option is located in the settings under Display. At the bottom of the display settings list there is an option to "Show Battery Percentage". :D hope this helps

  • Root, and install Cyanogenmod 12.1 Lollipop.. Runs sweet..!!!

  • 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?

  • tips & tricks for note 2???

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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!!

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

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