25 Samsung Galaxy S4 Tips, Tricks & Hidden Features
The Samsung Galaxy S4 is host to a number of hidden features that unlock the full potential of the device. These Galaxy S5 tips and tricks can help you do more without upgrading to the Galaxy S5.
Many of the best Galaxy S4 features are hidden deep in menus and behind settings that even experienced users wouldn’t tap on. This Galaxy S4 guide will show you how to get more out of the Galaxy S4 without buying any Galaxy S4 accessories or spending money on Galaxy S4 apps.
These hidden Galaxy S4 features aren’t tucked away behind a secret button combination, but thanks to the way Samsung sets up the menu, many of them are hidden behind toggles and hidden deep in the settings. Many users could spend a year with the Galaxy S4 without finding half of these settings, so we’ve dug deep to pick our favorite settings so you can enjoy the Galaxy S4 more right now.
There is no need to root the Galaxy S4 or install a custom ROM to access any of these functions, though users can root the Galaxy S4 for access to other features and apps if they want to.
These Samsung Galaxy S4 hidden features are available on all versions of the device, though there may be some small differences in functionality.
Here are 25 hard to find Galaxy S4 features the Gotta Be Mobile team uncovered after using the Galaxy S4 extensively for the last month.
Access All Toggles With a Two Finger Pull
The Samsung Galaxy S4 includes over a dozen Notification toggles to quickly change settings on the Samsung Galaxy S4 without diving into the settings.
With a one finger pull down of the notification center you can swipe side to side, but pull down with two fingers and you’ll have access to all of the toggles at once.
From here it’s also possible to quickly edit the notification toggles so that you can remove those you don’t use every day.
Turn on Easy Mode
If the Samsung Galaxy S4 is your first smartphone, the Easy mode is a great way to get started with your first smartphone. This simplified user interface hides some features, but it doesn’t take away from the overall experience much.
Some users will also appreciate the larger icons in Easy mode, which are easier to see and to tap.
It is easy to turn Easy mode on and off, so you can try Easy Mode and then switch to Standard Mode when you are ready for more.
Launch Google Now Fast
Google Now is a cool predictive personal assistant that comes with all new Android phones, but users may have a tough time launching it thanks to Samsung including S-Voice on the Galaxy S4.
To launch Google Now quickly, hold the menu button on the Samsung Galaxy S4 and it should pop up, letting you search with Google Now and ask the phone to do things much like you would with Siri.
You will need to turn Google Now on if this is the first time using it, so you may need to tap on the Google bar on the home screen and follow the prompts to turn Google Now on. This will then combine search and email data from your Google account to push information to you as you need it.
Eventually Google Now will know your home, work, favorite sports teams and will pick up on travel plans and remind you automatically. It’s easy to customize what it does and doesn’t show so give it a try.
Fast Access to Common Settings
Now that you know it’s possible to quickly change settings with a tap of the toggles in the Notification drawer, we want to take things a step further.
A long press on any of these toggles will open up that page in settings. This is great for quickly pairing a Bluetooth device and changing settings on the many builtin gesture and motion controls on the Galaxy S4.
This works in the small single row view and in the expanded group of icons.
Use Two Apps at the Same Time
The Samsung Galaxy S4 brings Multi Window mode. This cool feature, also known as Multi-View is a way to run two apps on screen at the same time. This makes it easier to multitask on the Galaxy S4. While many of us find this works best for productivity when paired with a keyboard it’s possible to do many things.
- Watch YouTube and check Twitter
- Browse the Web and take notes
- Check email and Facebook at the same time
- and many more.
Carriers may limit which apps show up in this menu, so not everyone will see the same apps here. Not all apps work, but the selection is big enough to make it a worthwhile entertainment and productivity feature.
Check Alerts Without Touching the Galaxy S4
The Samsung Galaxy S4 includes a feature that makes it easy to check alerts and notifications without touching the Galaxy S4.
Head to Settings -> My Device -> Motions and gestures-> Air Gesture -> Quick glance -> On.
Once this is on, just move your hand over the display while the device is asleep as we show in the video below.
The Quick Glance feature will turn the display on and show;
- Icons from the Notification bar
- Missed calls
- New Text messages
- Battery Life
- and the current time.
This unfortunately doesn’t let you tap on any of these to jump into the apps or to unlock the Galaxy S4, but it does show what made the phone buzz or ring.
Speed Up the Galaxy S4 Home Button
By default the Samsung Galaxy S4 home button is a bit slow because it is waiting for users to double tap and launch S-Voice. If you don’t plan to use S-Voice or don’t polan to use it from the home button, turning this setting off will dramatically speed up going form an app to the home screen.
To do this, open S-Voice by double tapping the home button. Then tap menu and choose Settings. Uncheck Open via the home key.
The video above shows how to do this and the speed difference from turning this setting off. Users can still launch S voice by tapping on the S Voice icon in the app drawer.
Supercharge the Galaxy S4 Keyboard
The Samsung Galaxy S4 ships with Swiftkey, a smart keyboard that learns from what you type to deliver better predictive text, but Samsung hides the most important settings. Users can also move this keyboard freely around the screen. Check it out in action in the video below.
To turn on predictive text on the Samsung Galaxy S4 keyboard and have it learn from what you type, follow these directions.
Open the keyboard -> long press on the microphone for Settings -> Tap on Predictive Text -> link to you accounts.
From here it learn your typing style and your common phrases and words.
Another great option is to long press on the microphone and then choose the right-most keyboard icon. This shrinks the keyboard and lets you move it around on the screen. Another long pres and then a tap on the icon to the left of that one will turn this feature off.
Find A Lost or Stolen Galaxy S4
The Samsung Galaxy S4 will soon offer a Lojack feature that lets users pay a monthly fee to track down a stolen Samsung Galaxy complete with a team of trained professionals, but users who want a free solution that includes finding a lost Galaxy S4 should install Lookout Mobile.
Lookout Mobile is a free app and service that will track down, sound alerts and with an upgrade wipe the phone. There’s also a signal flare alert that will send one last location when the battery dies.
Control the Galaxy S4 With Your Eyes
The Samsung Galaxy S4 includes several features that let users control the device with their eyes. Once turned on users can scroll with their eyes or with a tilt, keep the screen on when they are looking at it and automatically pause videos. These features don’t work in all apps, but they are handy for many of the standard Samsung apps.
To turn these settings on go to Settings -> My device -> Smart screen ->
- Check Smart Stay
- Check Smart Pause
- and turn Smart scroll on and then tap on the text to choose more options.
Smart stay will keep the display on when you are looking at it. This happens automatically throughout all apps and is a great feature. Smart pause will automatically pause some videos when you look away, but it doesn’t support every video player. The Smart scroll feature lets users tilt the device or their head to scroll in the Browser and a few other apps.
Avoid Data Overages
The Samsung Galaxy S4 includes a built-in data monitor that can track data used and push alerts to help you save money and use data wisely.
To check this go to Settings -> Connections tab -> Data Usage.
From here it is possible to set alerts and even a a data limit which will turn off mobile data when you reach your limit. This screen also allows users to see which apps are using the most data.
For users on a shared data plan it’s worth noting that this only tracks dat use on your phone, not on all phones combined.
Hover for More Information (Air View)
The Samsung Galaxy S4 includes Air View, a feature that allows users to hover their finger over a spot on the screen to see more information.
To turn this on, go to Settings -> My Device Tab -> Air View -> On. Next, tap on Air view to see the settings and fine tune what you want it to do.
Now, just hover your finger over a text message, a photo in gallery or a spot in a video to see more details.
Use the Samsung Galaxy S4 with Gloves
The Samsung Galaxy S4 display is sensitive enough to let users use the phone with gloves on, but the feature is turned off by default.
To set this up, go to Settings -> My Device tab -> Display ->High-touch sensitivity -> On. Check it out in action below.
Once this is on you will be able to use the Galaxy S4 with gloves on, but in our testing it works best with thinner gloves. Heavy gloves we would wear while skiing or hiking worked, but not as well.
Block Annoying Callers
If you get annoying telemarketing calls, calls from an ex boyfriend or girlfriend or anyone you never want to talk to, the Samsung Galaxy S4 features a call rejection mode that automatically blocks calls from specific numbers.
This is a great way to avoid an alert when an annoying person or company tries to reach you.
Open the phone app -> tap on Menu -> tap on Call settings -> Call rejection.
From here users can set up specific numbers in the Auto reject list. Once on the list, those numbers will not rung the phone, but will still go to voicemail.
Better Sounding Music and Phone Calls
Turn on and set up Adapt sound to customize the Samsung Galaxy S4 sound to your hearing. This short setup session identifies hearing shortfalls and compensates by changing the audio profile of calls and music to fit each ear.
Go to Settings -> My device tab -> Sound -> Adapt sound -> follow the prompts.
You will need headphones in to set this up, and afterwards the difference will be most noticeable with headphones, though it may also make a difference for phone calls made without them, depending on the user.
Smart Alerts When You Pick Up the Galaxy S4
The Samsung Galaxy S4 has a buried setting that makes the phone vibrate when you pick it up if there are new notifications. This is a nice way to know if you should check your phone or if you can toss it in your pocket.
To turn this on, go to Settings -> My device tab -> Motions and gestures -> Motion -> Smart alert -> On.
If you don’t like the fact that the Samsung Galaxy S4 vibrates every time you pick it up, this is also how you can that feature off.
Take Photos With Your Voice
The Samsung Galaxy S4 camer app allows user to take pictures with a voice command. This is handy if the Galaxy S4 is attached to a tripod or even if you hand it to someone who doesn’t know how to use it.
To turn this on, open the Camera -> press Menu -> tap on Settings -> tap the settings cog -> scroll to Voice control and turn it on.
Once this is setup you can say Smile, Cheese, Capture or Shoot to take a photo without touching the Galaxy S4. Check it out in action in the video above.
Get Better Samsung Galaxy S4 Battery Life
The Samsung Galaxy S4 features a power saver mode that can automatically help save battery life. This isn’t something every user will need all the time, but it is a relatively painless way to get better Galaxy S4 battery life.
To do this, just pull down on the Notification panel with two fingers and tap on Power saving.
This automatically turns on Power saver mode, but if you want to customize it you will need to long press on this feature. Here you can make sure it doesn’t affect the screen, performance or haptic feedback. if one of those is important to you.
Control the Galaxy S4 With Motion
The Samsung Galaxy S4 features a plethora of sensors that make it possible to control the phone with gestures and motion. Air Gesture is the most impressive set of features, which allows users to control the phone by waiving a hand above it.
The video above shows many of these features, and below you can learn how to turn Air View on.
Go to Settings -> My device tab -> Motions and gestures -> Air gesture -> On. Then tap on the text to change the individual settings.
With this you can accept calls with a wave, browse the web, photos, music an more without touching the Galaxy S4.
Control Music and Calls With Headphones
The included Samsung Galaxy S4 headphones allow users to control music and phone calls with the small mic area without taking the Galaxy S4 out of their pocket.
Holding the button will open S Voice, which will tell you about any current messages and let you perform other S Voice actions like making a call. While on a call, the button will hang up. The upper buttons control volume for calls and music.
While listening to music a single press of the button will pause a track. Another press will start playing it again. It’s not as smooth as the iPhone, but a very fast double tap will skip to the next track.
Do Not Disturb for Galaxy S4
The Samsung Galaxy S4 features a Blocking mode, which is essentially Do Not Disturb for Android.
Blocking mode is new and improved for the Samsung Galaxy S4 complete with options to start and end at a specific time. Blocking mode on the Samsung Galaxy S4 also includes the ability to block;
- Incoming calls
- Alarm and time
- and Disable the LED.
Each of these options are separate so users can pick and choose. Users can also set allowed contacts so that calls coem through. In our testing texts do not come through from these contacts.
Connect an Xbox 360 Controller and USB Storage
The Samsung Galaxy S4 supports the use of controllers like the corded Xbox 360 controller. A small and affordable Micro USB to full size USB cable makes this magic happen and also supports the use of a USB drive as extra storage.
Buy a USB OTG cable, we recommend this one on Amazon, and plug it in to the Galaxy S4, then plug in a corded Xbox 360 controller or a USB drive.
Not every game supports external controllers, but there are plenty around. While not as portable as something like the MOGA Pro controller that folds up, this is a solution that’s cheaper for users who already have a wired Xbox 360 controller around.
Customize the Galaxy S4 Lock Screen
The Samsung Galaxy S4 lock screen is customizable with widgets and other settings to make the phone yours. By default the Galaxy S4 features a life companion text on the lock screen and a small clock. This is all up for change.
To get started go to Settings -> My device tab -> Lock Screen. From here we can pick options.
It’s a good idea to pick a screen lock at this time, in order to secure the Galaxy S4. In the Lock screen widgets menu below it you can choose to see a clock or the personal message and to customize the message. This is also where you can turn on shortcuts to your favorite apps.
Quickly Use the Best Photo Feature
Best Photo is Galaxy S4 camera mode that takes eight photos fast, like in a burst mode and helps you shoot and save the best photos from a group shot or of an an individual. Open the camera app and tap on the Mode button to pick Best Shot.
Next, press the shutter and watch as it takes 8 photos of the subject and highlights the best one. This is essential in getting good pictures of kids and pets. The video below shows it in action.
There are many other modes, like Best face, which will let you pick the best look for each person in the group and Eraser, which lets you remove someone from a photo.
Use the Galaxy S4 as a TV Remote
The Samsung Galaxy S4 features an IR port and the WatchOn app which turns the Galaxy S4 into a universal remote control capable of controlling your entire living room and multiple other rooms.
Setting it up is as easy as opening the WatchOn app in the app drawer and following the guide to add your devices. The video below shows where to add more devices and change settings.
The ability to quickly look at a visually appealing program guide and control multiple devices and multiple rooms makes this a great feature.