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15 Hidden Samsung Galaxy S3 Features

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The Samsung Galaxy S3 is packed full of hidden features that deliver a premium experience.

Some of the best Galaxy S3 features are hidden in menus and settings, and this guide will show you how to get more out of the Galaxy S3 without the need to spend any money on apps or accessories.

For users who do need to do more, we have a great list of Galaxy S3 accessories that extends the usefulness of the popular smartphone.

Read: Samsung Galaxy S3 Review

Here are 15 of the lesser known Samsung Galaxy S3 features we found while using the popular iPhone 5 competitor for the last several months.

Starter Mode

The Samsung Galaxy features a handy starter mode that lets first time smartphone owners use a simpler interface without giving up the benefits of apps and smartphone access to information. With the Starter mode turned on, users can access smartphone settings and commonly used features right from the home screen.

Make the Galaxy S3 easier for a first time smartphone owner.

Make the Galaxy S3 easier for a first time smartphone owner.

To turn on Starter mode on the Galaxy S3, Go to Settings -> Home screen mode -> Choose Starter mode -> Tap Apply.

Keep the Galaxy S3 Display On

The Samsung Galaxy S3 can sense when you are looking at it and keep the display active even if you aren’t touching it. This is great when looking at long items, sharing photos or just keeping the screen active when you don’t need to touch it.

To turn on Smart Stay go to Settings -> Display – Smart stay. The Galaxy S3 will show a small icon on the screen when it detects your eyes and will keep the display active.

Fast Camera Access

If you need to get the camera up and ready to take a photo as fast as possible you can turn on a setting that lets you open the camera by holding the screen with a finger and rotating the Galaxy S3.

Launch the camera fast.

Launch the camera fast.

To do this, Go to Settings -> Lock screen -> lock screen options -> Camera quick access. Now, when the lock screen is on, tap and hold ont eh screen and rotate from portrait to landscape mode to launch the camera.

Double Tap to the Top

If you are sick of scrolling to the top of the built in mail and messages apps or other lists on the Galaxy S3, turn on double tap to top. This handy feature senses two taps on the top of the Galaxy S3 and it will jump to the top. This is similar to how iPhone users can tap on the clock to jump to the top of a list.

To turn this on, go to Settings -> Motion -> Double tap to top. Unfortunately the feature will not work in all apps, even the stock Samsung browser. Hopefully Samsung expands this nice hidden Galaxy S3 feature in the future.

Call from Text Message

Users who find themselves constantly calling contacts from the messages app or from the contacts app should turn on the Direct call feature. With Direct call enabled, you simply pick up the phone to your ear while a text or contact is on the display and the Galaxy S3 will make a call.

Turn Direct call on by going to Settings -> Motion -> Direct call.

Lock Screen Facebook

The Galaxy S3 doesn’t support lock screen widgets like the Nexus 4, but it does let users put a Facebook ticker on the lock screen to keep up with the latest status updates.

Users can also choose to see news or stock alerts on the lock screen with this setting.

See facebook status updates on the Galaxy S3 home screen.

See facebook status updates on the Galaxy S3 home screen.

To turn this hidden Galaxy S3 feature on, go to Settings -> Lock screen options -> Information ticker. Users can then tap on the line to pick which ticker they want.

Power Saving Mode

If you need better Galaxy S3 battery life, Samsung includes a Power saving mode which can automatically control settings to help the Galaxy S3 battery last longer.

Read: How to Get Better Galaxy S3 Battery Life

By turning on this setting, the Galaxy S3 automatically limits the processor, screen power level background color and turns off haptic feedback. Together all of these will help the battery last longer without buying the Galaxy S3 extended battery.

Go to Settings -> Power saving mode -> Toggle on. Users can pick which power saving options they want to use.

Hold Menu for Google Now

The Samsung Galaxy S3 includes Google Now, the Android equivalent to Siri that can do much more than Apple’s personal assistant. Hold the Menu button on the Galaxy S3 for a second and it will launch Google Now.

From here, you can see cards of important information about weather, traffic, your sports teams and much, much more.

Avoid Data Overages

Limited data plans can cause big fees for data overages, but the Galaxy S3 features a data monitor that tracks the data you use and can set a data alert limit and a data cutoff limit. The phone may be slightly off from a carrier’s official count, but it’s a good way to easily keep data usage under control.

Avoid data overage fees on the Samsung Galaxy S3.

Avoid data overage fees on the Samsung Galaxy S3.

Go to Settings -> Data usage -> check Limit mobile data usage and Alert me about data usage. Then drag the sliders to set limits int eh bottom part of the screen.

Hold Home For Running Apps

If you want to switch between your recently used apps on the Galaxy S3, hold the physical home button for about a second and a list will appear. Tap on one of the apps to switch to it. Swipe to the right on an app to kill it.

Check the currently running apps on the Samsung Galaxy S3.

Check the currently running apps on the Samsung Galaxy S3.

This feature is on by default and is a handy way to toggle between apps.

Show Battery Percentage

Some users prefer to see the Samsung Galaxy S3 battery life percentage instead of a hard to decipher battery icon. This setting puts the percentage and the icon in the notification bar for fast and precise access.

Watch the Galaxy S3 battery percentage on notification panel.

Watch the Galaxy S3 battery percentage on notification panel.

Open Settings -> Display -> Display battery percentage -> toggle on.

End Calls with the Power Button

Users who prefer to quickly end calls will like the option to end a call with the power button. This mode lets you tap the power button on the right side of the phone to end a call without turning the screen off.

To turn this on, go to Settings -> Accessibility -> The power button ends calls -> toggle on.

Wake with your voice

Another really cool feature is the ability to unlock the Galaxy S3 or perform other commands with your voice. While on the lock screen users can pick from several customizable commands that can unlock the Galaxy S3.

Go to Settings -> Lock screen -> lock screen options ->Wake up in lock screen. Next tap on Set wake up command and customize the commands and the actions.

You can set it up to open the camera, unlock the phone, check your schedule and more.

Share Files with a Tap

The Samsung Galaxy S3 features NFC and support for S-Beam, a cool feature that lets users tap two Samsung devices back to back and share files instantly We’ve used this to quickly share a movie from the Galaxy Note 2 to the Galaxy S3 without any pairing  or emailing.

Go to Settings -> More Settings -> Turn on NFC and S-Beam. Next open up a photo or a video in the gallery and then tap the Galaxy S3 to another Galaxy S3 or Galaxy Note 2 and tap to send. The file will share wirelessly between the two devices.

Turn Over to Mute Calls

The Samsung Galaxy S3 also allows users to turn the phone over to mute a call or to pause music. This is a great way to stop a vibrating phone while in a meeting or to just ignore the 5th sales pitch of the day.

To set this up got to Settings -> Motion -> Turn over to mute/pause. Once this is on, turning the phone over will stop the ringer and vibration, but won’t end the call so the caller won’t know you’ve muted them. You can also respond with a text message after doing this.

Josh Smith is Editor of GottaBeMobile and Notebooks.com. He's always looking for ways to help you get the most of your gear and loves to talk about tech on radio and TV. Josh uses an iOS and Android devices as well as Mac and Windows Computers. Josh Smith on Google+ Email: [email protected]

76 Comments

  1. Bhavna Singh

    03/01/2013 at 10:14 pm

    Wow awesome features and the blog describe all these features well.

  2. Me

    03/02/2013 at 11:26 am

    Nothing new..

    • scubadog2000

      05/08/2013 at 5:50 pm

      Just what I thought. These are just some functions you can easily access by going trough your settings menu. These aren’t “Hidden”. The jellybean easter-egg is hidden. These are just some features that it bluntly offers when you first start using the phone with help enabled.

      • joe

        11/03/2013 at 4:15 pm

        Well they were hidden for me…..thanks tech dude

    • vana

      09/28/2013 at 11:41 am

      My thoughts too. I already knew all of that. And they are not ‘hidden’ .

  3. Cheryl Brees

    03/02/2013 at 11:29 am

    Great information and easy to follow instructions. Already tried a couple of them and love it. Thanks.

  4. Craig

    03/02/2013 at 12:35 pm

    Thanks. Great tips

  5. Joshua

    03/02/2013 at 1:24 pm

    …. None of these are, and wait for it, hidden. They are all just features… Hidden is a word meaning out of sight./undisclosed. All of these features were disclosed…

    • joeybear

      03/14/2013 at 5:30 pm

      Joshua, I for one am really happy I read this article. If you don’t like it, go away. No need to pull out the dictionary and correct someone who is just trying to help people better use their devices. Go to your room- hater

    • scubadog2000

      05/08/2013 at 5:51 pm

      My thoughts exactly.

  6. joseph

    03/02/2013 at 4:06 pm

    Please help. My menu as far as when he is talking about the lock screen and unlock features, quick camera, etc r not there as he stated. I feel I wasted money on this phone because I dont see anything special. I dont have google now and the voice assistant sucks….

    • Rocks

      03/02/2013 at 4:14 pm

      If you don’t see Google now on long pressing home key then it means it’s off and you have to turn it on. When you see the Google search press the left touch button to home button and go to settings option. The first option is to turn on Google now. Enjoy!

  7. Bhalla

    03/02/2013 at 5:55 pm

    Not of much use.

  8. syed hassan

    03/02/2013 at 7:40 pm

    Informative…

  9. Andres de Teixido

    03/03/2013 at 4:21 am

    I bougth a great S3 in http://www.kingonline-tech.com/tienda/smartphones/ a Spanish web with really cheapt prices what i,ve found somo days ago

  10. harsha

    03/03/2013 at 5:06 am

    im unable to use the smart stay and nfc transfer efficiently

  11. karl

    03/03/2013 at 6:39 am

    Newbie, please help.. When I hold the physical home button, it only brings up the power off screen. I don’t get the list of running apps. Also, is there a way to setup a one touch soft key home button to take you from anywhere to the main screen like there was on my HTC?

    • Eric

      03/06/2013 at 6:28 am

      That’s the power button. The home button is at the bottom center of your phone, between the capacitive (non mechanical) menu and back buttons. If holding that button brings up the power menu then you might want to get that checked out. And you can’t change the soft keys without rooting, which I don’t recommend if you are new to android. The physical home button in the middle does do that though. Hope that helps!

  12. George Davis

    03/03/2013 at 9:24 am

    my girlfriend and i have the same phone. the Galaxy s3. On mine, i can set individual alert tones in the contacts list, her’s does not show this option under the contacts as mine does. where can we find the option to add to her phone?

    • Joe

      03/10/2013 at 9:41 am

      this is a stock feature, meaning that you shouldn’t have to “turn on” this feature! so i’d be talking to the place where you bought the phone for replacement…or assistance

  13. Mohd Aktar

    03/04/2013 at 8:06 am

    Nice information i got about this smartphone. great job, keep it up.

  14. king kade

    03/05/2013 at 1:59 am

    george davis u rookie once u save the number on ure phone and not inure sim u get more options duuh

  15. Vicky Puia Clark

    03/05/2013 at 4:09 pm

    If I lost or had my phone stolen Galaxy S 3 Which is the most reliable Tracking app to purchase

  16. Liesl

    03/07/2013 at 10:57 am

    Can anyone help? I am very much a rookie….How do you edit photographs taken with your S3? red- eye, crop etc etc?

    • Joe

      03/10/2013 at 9:42 am

      It’s a free app called photo editor…the best!!!

  17. Carl Otto

    03/11/2013 at 2:51 pm

    No wonder no off these features worked for me, i have a razor

    • Lynn

      04/13/2013 at 6:02 am

      Hahaha. …. that’s too funny , I need to laugh more, happiness is bliss so I’m told but I wouldn’t know. Any tips for me living a tough life for almost 35 years, that long anything will help. Cheers!

  18. Dave

    03/18/2013 at 8:11 am

    Hey, great article and even greater tools!! Thanks…just a note, though: on “End Calls with the Power Button”..you missed a step, although it is pretty self explanatory on the phone!! Thanks again!

  19. joedom

    03/20/2013 at 7:52 am

    Do you know if all these features are available for the Galaxy S3 mini?

  20. abet mapi

    03/23/2013 at 4:21 pm

    How to make a screenshot on my s3 ?

    • STEVEN DAVIES

      03/26/2013 at 12:33 pm

      abet mapi 03/23/2013 at 4:21 pm

      How to make a screenshot on my s3 ?
      Reply

      Just slide the side of your hand across the screen. You will see a scanner-like line move over the screen. The image will be saved in your “Gallery”.

      • tish

        06/03/2013 at 4:51 am

        I know how to take a screenshot pic by holding the home and power button, but I don’t understand the sliding of the hand thing? Lol, were u only joking or is that real…I tried that and it didn’t work.

        • Stephanie McNabb (@Stepherzme)

          09/04/2013 at 1:35 pm

          This feature has to be turned on in your motion settings. But yes, you can screenshot by swiping your hand across the screen

      • dena

        10/07/2013 at 4:25 pm

        That’s for the S4

    • taylor

      04/16/2013 at 8:34 pm

      Swipe with side of your hand from right to left or hold down BOTH your power button and menu button at the same exact time

    • marthava

      05/01/2013 at 1:33 pm

      You swipe your whole hand from left to right across the screen. Took me a while to figure out when I would dust off the screen, it would take a screenshot. lol

    • Paula Hayden

      07/11/2013 at 12:16 pm

      Hold the home button and power button at the same time

  21. krissyluv

    03/29/2013 at 1:31 pm

    how to copy and paste like a blackberry is able to ? I have tried to copy and paste emails ,text . and nothing what am I not doing right ?

    • sheetal

      05/19/2013 at 8:34 am

      just hold on the text to select. two bars will apear. then you can move them acc to the text you want to selct. one at the starting of the item selected and another at the end….then click on select..and then hold 4 a sec on the position where u want to paste..paste option will appear..simply click on it.

  22. Amelia

    04/03/2013 at 3:01 pm

    hold your finger on the text you want to copy, you will get two blue cursers, move to highlight the text that you want and click the scissors to cut or the clipboard to copy. When you want to paste, hold your finger in the text box that you want to paste in and choose paste.

  23. Mike

    04/04/2013 at 9:30 am

    None of this is a secret, this is all standard stuff..anyone with an owners manual and common sense should know s3 does this. I’m not hating or bashing but this is all common knowledge.. I just wasted data by viewing this, now I’m wasting time leaving a comment. Lol. And btw, tapping the top of the phone with won’t get my s3 to the top of a Web page, will yours?

  24. cazanne

    04/11/2013 at 10:55 pm

    I found this very imformative and i am sick and tired of people that think well everyone should know this stuff well sorry to upset you but i didnt and i am greatful that someone took the time to share this information so to all the whingers who know best dont waste our time and take up space just to show off that you better than us.

  25. taylor

    04/16/2013 at 6:45 pm

    How bout the palm swipe to screen shot? I had never heard of it…. so this was a hidden feature to me! Hold your hand in a “knife hand” position and press down on your s3 with the side of your hand from the pinky down, and swipe across phone. Bam! Screen shot!

  26. Iffy

    04/19/2013 at 2:22 pm

    I can’t access the starter mode on my gs3. Please help.

  27. Rajib Aditya

    04/20/2013 at 8:54 am

    Don’t you just love it when people post just to say “it wasn’t much use”? Well why don’t you post something useful then?
    THANKS Josh Smith! It was good to read and informative. Best.

    • Mark

      11/29/2013 at 8:52 pm

      Eat shit and die.

  28. mvrkrishna

    05/02/2013 at 10:22 pm

    Hi Group,

    During the incoming call’s…..suppose my friend “Nickle” is calling me. My phone used to say that “Incoming call from Nickle”. Now-a-days, its not saying like that. What could be the reason? Do I need to change the settings? Please suggest.

    Thanks.

    • sWeEtThAnG

      05/10/2013 at 12:15 am

      @mvrkrishna
      Settings>Language and Input>Text-to-speech output>Driving mode>ON

      This is the menu you set up to use this feature.
      Great article.

      • mvrkrishna

        05/15/2013 at 9:25 pm

        Thanks!! It works now.

  29. everwonderful

    05/10/2013 at 6:48 pm

    Thanks so much! This is my first smartphone and this info has been very helpful.

  30. Fonzy Manipis

    05/15/2013 at 7:09 pm

    The “Call from Text Message” feature is not responding really well. Not all features responds really well.

  31. sri

    05/18/2013 at 5:54 pm

    Oh my god whst a crap is this cheap samsung ive beenn using lumia 820 sofarafter hype about this too much from my friends ive been feeling cheated not at all good screen quality proximity sensors r dumnb we cant compare with nokia and tis crap never gonna be equal in quality with nokiaa

    • C House

      07/24/2013 at 9:43 am

      Learn how to spell so we can understand you!

  32. doug

    05/23/2013 at 4:03 pm

    How can I take a pictiure of whatever I sm looking at. It was easy with my atrix. Cant seem to get it on my galaxy III.

    • tish

      06/03/2013 at 5:18 am

      If u havent figured it yet, I will explain. U can hold the power and home key at the same time and it will take a pic OR (lol, this one is fun) hold ur palm out then turn sideways so ur pinky is down, then simply slide it across the screen. I just (literally) read how to do that. Have fun!

  33. ashu

    05/25/2013 at 1:53 am

    thanx eork ///

  34. tish

    06/03/2013 at 5:05 am

    Ok…I read further and someone better explained the screenshot by using ur hand. Wow, that was cool. I’m not completely novice on a smart phone but I’m also not a genius. I agree with others…if u already know some of this stuff, well good for u! Some of us don’t and we appreciate any and/or all help and advice! I will continue to read ur postings/articles, personally i find them helpful! So thank u Josh for taking the time (out of ur busy day) to give tips to us that are not smartphone geniuses!

  35. Denise

    06/04/2013 at 5:25 am

    Thanks I learnt a lot from the article, my Mum always told me if you have nothing nice to say don’t say anything at all.
    My Lock Screen Options is not highlighted when I go into Lock Screen so can’t select it, is there a way I can change this blue

  36. Eddie

    06/05/2013 at 11:57 am

    is there a way to keep the camera open, to over ride the time out on Galaxy S3
    I want to be able to use it on the move in my van. I can controll it by voice but it times out if not used for about 5 minutes.
    hope you can help,
    Thanks
    Eddie

    • R. Sorenson

      06/11/2013 at 6:58 am

      Maybe you’ll have to turn off the screen lock, so that the Lock Function doesnt time out. Then go to Developer Options and turn on the Stay Awake (this makes it so while your phone is plugged in, the phone never sleeps).
      Hope u can figure it out:)

  37. Rene

    06/07/2013 at 2:41 pm

    How do I get to the default section. I prefer google n I hate having to choose which browser to use every single time.

  38. R. Sorenson

    06/11/2013 at 6:44 am

    For most of the functions that are being discussed above to work, you need to enable. MOTION Function under Settings.

    Simply “turn on” the Motion on/off switch.

    Then TAP on the text “motion” and youll be in the MOTION Configure screen. In this screen you can toggle on/off any or all of the GS3′s 8 Motion and the 2 Hand Motion functions.

    MOTION FUNCTIONS (have to turn each one on)
    1. direct call
    2. Smart Alert
    3. Double Tap to Top
    4. Tilt to zoom (pretty cool:)
    5. Pan to move icon
    6. Pan to browse image
    7. Shake to update -kinda have issues with this guy.
    8. Turn over to mute or pause.

    HAND MOTION (again turn on or off)
    1. Palm screen to mute or p ause
    2. Slide hand to capture screen shots

    In the Motion Setting screen you can set motion sensitivites and take a tutorial on all of their different thefunctions.

  39. mvrkrishna

    06/11/2013 at 10:48 pm

    Hi Group,

    How to make conference calls using Samsung Galaxy S3? How to record a call?

    Regards,
    Rama Krishna

  40. tish

    06/12/2013 at 6:53 am

    Question…I have the S3 and when using the camera it asked if I wanted to touch the screen anywhere to take the pic, I said yes! That only happened the one time and tho I have searched I can’t find that option! I have no idea how that came up and now its not there??? Does anyone know where that option is in my phone? Thank u!!

  41. ariry

    06/17/2013 at 2:26 am

    Thanks i didn’t know about the fast camera freature.

  42. pierre

    06/26/2013 at 6:24 am

    hi people.how long does a normal battery charge last, seems im always having to charge my phone.

  43. rauf

    07/03/2013 at 4:17 pm

    imei no working samsng s3

  44. Ca

    07/10/2013 at 10:11 pm

    George, I think it depends on where the numbers you want to have personal alerts to are stored. I had the same problem and found that having numbers stored in phone memory would allow them to have personal tones but those stored on the Sim card wouldn’t allow for this.
    You may need to copy all Sim numbers to the phone and then choose to just use
    these numbers in the settings. Hope this all not too confusing.

  45. Tish

    07/12/2013 at 4:15 am

    Hey all….ok I have another 2, questions.

    When I bought my phone in march (S3) at the phone store (brand new) they said it was jellybean??? Well, I have looked all over my phone and I just can’t see it saying that anywhere. They said it was 4g, 4.2 jellybean…..my phone says 3g, 4.1.1. and no where does it say jellybean!

    Also, prob once a week I manually do a system update. It alwsys tells me that I have the latest updates. I had a galaxy prevail that seemed to give more updates? Is it cuz thst phone was older? Any info would be helpful! THANKS :)

  46. Mampoo

    07/23/2013 at 5:14 pm

    Nice…I’ll try it to my S3 Mini

  47. mills

    08/15/2013 at 1:56 pm

    My S3 galaxy do not play music for me simultaneously..I dont know why!Please if you have any ideal of how it can be played simultaneously..Please do instruct me okay.

  48. Pat Powers

    10/22/2013 at 4:19 pm

    This is good. While I agree that a lot of the stuff here isn’t hidden at all, first time userswill cind this useful. Me on the other hand, I found out most of this (had my phone since the week of it’s release). Now a truely hidden feature is the new ui in the browser, and turning it on isn’t hidden (browser settings>labs from memory) but it is. With it on you have to swipe on to the screen with your thumb from eigher side, then slide to the menu you want.

  49. dave

    01/13/2014 at 10:12 pm

    great tips, I just purchased the s3. used several of the tips. B U T…. I did the soft ware update and the quick camera access from the lock screen is no longer an option under the lock screen file, as a result it stopped working,,,,arrrrgh.

  50. scam hater

    03/01/2013 at 7:18 pm

    Below me!

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