Samsung Galaxy S5 Notification Bar Icons Explained

Now that the Samsung Galaxy S5 is here and has been readily available from US carriers for nearly a month, more and more consumers are starting to buy the latest smartphone and are now full of questions.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is filled with features, options and settings, and surely consumers have seen a few odd notification bar icons and been confused regarding what they are, or how to remove them. The phone’s been available nearly a month and we’ve received more than a few questions regarding specific icons in users notification bars.

Read: 5 Best Samsung Galaxy S5 Wallet Cases

While we’ve covered tons of details and how to’s for the new Galaxy S5 already, one question we keep getting over and over again is regarding those icons at the top of a users screen. If you’ve recently purchased the Galaxy S5, or have family wondering what that “eye-shaped icon” is doing on their device, below is a quick rundown of what they all mean.


From users asking about a book with a keylock hole, to what’s this bulls-eye icon on my new Galaxy S5. They’re all valid questions, and one’s that we’ve seen more than a few time in the few weeks the Galaxy S5 has been on the market and in consumers hands.

Sadly not all Galaxy S5 models are the same. In fact, some US carriers change certain things and want more control of the notification bar. As a result, not all the icons will always be in the same place, some could differ, and others simply won’t show up at all. So while you may see the “eye” icon on your Galaxy S5 (which is the eye-tracking feature) others may not at all.

Read: 100+ Galaxy S5 Details Released by Samsung

Before the release date Samsung revealed a 270 page PDF full of answers to nearly any question a user may have, and that’s what’s detailed in the link above. However if you don’t want to skim through  pages and pages, we’ll attempt to explain what some of the more popular seen icons are, and how to remove them if you’d like.

On the Samsung Galaxy S III and Galaxy S4 there was a full icon glossary right on the device in the help menu. However, while the Galaxy S5 has an extensive help menu right on the device, it doesn’t detail what each icon means. Instead, you can check out this full PDF with all the details.


Now most users are probably familiar with what some of these mean, but for the first-time smartphone owner the many different icons can be confusing. 4G is what you want to see, but some regions won’t have that, or you’ll be on WiFi instead. Above are a few very general icons, but the more confusing ones are also detailed below.

The bulls-eye, weird hand icon, and creepy eye icon are the few we’ve received the most questions about. If you (or a family member that calls you for help) has been wondering what that eye means on their new phone, it’s simply a feature that can be disabled in settings.


As shown above the bulls-eye icon is for GPS, which is used to retrieve location data for Google Maps, weather applications, Facebook, and a few other various apps and features. This is needed for navigation, which is another time it may appear on a device. GPS drains battery, so if you’re seeing this all the time there’s probably something keeping it awake, so be sure to check out our tip below to get better battery life. You may need to head into settings and change location from “High accuracy” to “battery saver mode” to cut down GPS usage.

Read: How to Get Better Galaxy S5 Battery Life with Ultra Power Save Mode

The eye icon is one that my brother was concerned with, and immediately called wondering what it was about. Galaxy S5 owners will be happy to know this is just alerting users of a feature in use, it isn’t the NSA. Smart pause, smart scroll & smart stay are all eye-tracking features of the Galaxy S5. If you look away from the phone while using Samsung’s built-in video player it pauses the movie til you’re watching again. Smart Stay keeps the screen on so long as you’re looking at it, instead of dimming at the usual 30 seconds, or whatever you’ve chosen in settings.

Pulling down on the notification bar with two fingers will bring up the “quick settings” menu, and here you can quickly disable some of these things. Turning off Smart Stay or Smart pause will remove the eye icon, and possibly improve battery life too. If you enjoy the features there’s nothing you can do here, but we don’t find ourselves using them much and just disable them.

For the real beginner the squiggly B symbol is for Bluetooth, which is how your phone connects to your car or some wireless accessories and speakers, which should be turned off if you’re never using it. The same two-finger pulldown will bring you to quick settings and tap to turn it off.


Another icon which we’ve received a few questions about is the book and key lock you see below. This is in a different place on the Galaxy S5 from Verizon, as some carriers change things a bit, and this also is a feature of the Galaxy S5. It’s called Private Mode, and you’ve either enabled it, or did it on accident.

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Private mode is in the settings menu, and once enabled allows the owner to hide pictures, video, apps, and even documents securely behind a password from prying eyes. Never worry about someone flipping through your gallery again when you hand your photo to show off a picture. Not everyone obeys the “don’t swipe through my gallery” rule, so private mode hides anything that needs to be hidden. You can even secure it with the fingerprint scanner on the Galaxy S5.

Simply find this in settings and disable it if you don’t need it, but then those hidden private files will be open to easy access. You can’t remove the icon if Private Mode is enabled.

The “N” shaped icon stands for NFC, which is Near Field Communications. This is a wireless standard for Tap to Pay as we’ve seen with Starbucks, instantly bluetooth pairing with a tap for speakers or accessories, and many other functions. If you don’t use Samsung’s S-Beam, Android Beam, or any wireless payment options like Google Wallet or ISIS, you might as well disable NFC.

For whatever reason Samsung has a pretty decent list online, but not on the smartphone itself. In fact, the Galaxy S4 glossary was longer and more informative, so there’s probably a few missing here that users will likely see on their own Galaxy S5. If you’ve ever wondered what an icon was, or what it did, the details above should help clear things up.