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Galaxy S20 Set Up Guide: First 10 Things to Do



If you just got a shiny new Galaxy S20, Galaxy S20+ or Galaxy S20 Ultra you probably have a lot of questions. In this guide we’ll show you how to set up the Galaxy S20 so you can get up and running quickly and enjoy all the best features it has to offer.

These are the first 10 settings to change, things to do, or tips and tricks to help you get started.

We’ll cover everything from that first time you turn it on, take you through some of the questions and settings, then share additional tips for the best experience possible. This includes using Samsung Smart Switch to easily transfer your old phone to the Galaxy S20.

  • How to Setup the Galaxy S20
  • Transfer data from your old phone
  • Create or sign-in to your Samsung account
  • Set up the fingerprint scanner
  • Change the refresh rate, screen zoom and font
  • Buy a case, extra chargers, cables & accessories
  • Customize the always-on display & lockscreen
  • Clean up the app tray
  • Choose nav buttons or gesture controls
  • Set up do-not-disturb and night modes


How to Setup the Galaxy S20

Getting a new phone is pretty exciting, and so is taking it out of the box for the first time. It’s big and slippery though, so don’t accidentally drop it. The first thing you’ll want to do is fully charge your phone, although most people don’t because they’re too excited. Then, you’ll want to remove ALL the plastic on the sides that Samsung adds to keep it safe during processing and shipping.

Plastic is on the sides, top, and bottom and you just need to peel them off. Honestly, I keep mine on because I’m weird. Then, don’t forget to remove the factory screen protector provided by Samsung. We recommend everyone does this right away. It’s terrible, plastic, makes the fingerprint scanner struggle, and it’ll get scratched really easy and look terrible. You’ll want to buy a real Galaxy S20 screen protector right here.

Right out of the box the Galaxy S20 is a fast and capable smartphone. During the first boot, you’ll be prompted to do some very important things. This includes the fingerprint scanner or screen lock, signing into all of your accounts, or transfer data from an old device. We’ll cover that and more below.

Transfer your old phone to the Galaxy S20

One of the next things you’ll do (or be prompted to do) is to transfer the data from your old phone to the Galaxy S20. This is actually really easy with Samsung’s SmartSwitch app that’s pre-installed on every Samsung phone. This will transfer data, apps, settings, contacts, calendar, app icons, photos or video and even text messages to the S20. It’s really easy and you’ll thank me later.

If you’re coming from another Samsung phone just follow the SmartSwitch instructions and connect the two with a cable. If you’re not coming from another Galaxy phone, download the Samsung’s SmartSwitch app. Install it on your old phone or a computer, then hit next on your new Galaxy and simply follow the instructions.

It’s a scary thought, transferring everything to a new phone, but this tool literally does everything for you. You’ll be prompted to plug the included USB Type-C cable into your old phone, use an adapter that comes in the box, or you might have to find a regular USB to Type-C if you’re old phone is really old.

Choose what you do (or don’t) want to transfer which is shown on the screen, and then hit Start at the bottom. You can tap the gear-shaped settings icon next to any category to control the content. This entire process takes anywhere from 10-15 minutes, to over 3 hours. It just depends on how much you’re actually transferring from an old phone to your new Galaxy S20. Once it’s finished unplug both and you’re all set. Now, continue setting up your phone.

Create or sign-in to your Samsung Account

We know it sounds funny or not all that important, but the next step is to create a Samsung account.  Whether that’s by heading to Settings > Accounts > Add Accounts or during the setup process when you first turned on the phone.

There are a few very important reasons to create or use a Samsung account. For one, you can back up your entire device to the cloud. This way if it’s ever lost or stolen you can restore everything from apps, texts, or photos to the new phone without SmartSwitch. And for two, if you do lose your phone or it gets stolen, you can track it with Samsung’s Find My Mobile. Here’s more information on using Samsung’s lost phone tool. Trust me, you’ll want to have a Samsung account, plus you’ll need one for Samsung Pay, which is an amazing feature.

Set up the fingerprint scanner

Unfortunately, the Galaxy S20 has the same fingerprint scanner as the Galaxy S10. So while it’s pretty neat and works through the screen, it’s not the best and we were hoping for an upgraded model. That said, if you use our tips it’ll work pretty great and be the easiest way to unlock and use your phone.

During the initial set up you probably rushed to scan and train your fingerprints, and that’s fine. However, now that you’re comfortable with how you’re holding the phone every day and even put a case on it, go in and delete the fingerprint saves and redo the entire process. Trust me, this will save you frustration later.

  • Go to Settings > Biometrics & security > Fingerprints > and delete your saved fingers
  • Now, re-add your main fingerprint again but hold the phone naturally and not the way Samsung pictures it on the screen
  • Complete the entire process and you’re all done (Do this after you add/remove a screen protector)
  • For better accuracy do it again, add the same thumb 2-3 times
  • Additionally, add your index finger and your off-hand thumb, too

You probably held the phone all funny and scanned your finger the way Samsung showed in the on-screen prompt, but that’s not how you hold the phone every day. I hold mine how you see above, so that’s how I registered my finger, and you should do the same.

Change your Galaxy S20 refresh rate, screen zoom and font

Samsung added huge beautiful screens to these phones, then made a big deal about the all-new 120Hz refresh rate on the Galaxy S20. But… it’s turned off by default. Yes, the phone is set to 60Hz out of the box and you’ll never see the fast, smooth, beautiful 120Hz refresh rate unless you change it yourself — so let’s do that first.

  • Go to Settings > Display > Motion smoothness and turn it up to 120Hz

You’ll instantly notice a HUGE difference in how much faster and more smooth the phone feels, which is crazy because it’s already plenty fast. Keep in mind that this will decrease overall battery life, but we think it’s worth the tradeoff. If you go up to 120Hz you’re stuck at 1080p resolution, and can’t use the full Quad-HD+ option in settings, but that’s ok too. Most people never use the highest resolution as you can’t really tell a difference.

While we’re in the display settings menu go ahead and adjust the screen zoom and font to whatever fits your needs, wants, or style.

You can quickly make words and font bigger so it’s easier to see, or even download new fonts like some of those you’ve probably seen on Instagram or Facebook. Then, don’t forget to change the size of app icons with the “screen zoom” option. I increase the app icons but keep the font small, but that’s just me.

Buy a case, extra chargers, cables & accessories

While we’re going over all of this we want to take a moment to remind you to buy a case, screen protector, consider some accessories, and maybe even buy some extra USB Type-C charging cables or wall plugs for every room in the house.

This is an expensive phone and you’ll want to keep it protected. We’ve rounded up the best Galaxy S20 cases available, with styles for everyone no matter the price, size or features they need.

After you finish setting everything up come back to the links above to outfit your phone for the best experience.

Customize the always-on display & lockscreen

One of my favorite aspects of Samsung phones is the always-on display that shows the time, date, battery, and incoming notifications even when the screen is off. And while it’s super helpful a lot of people probably want to turn it off or customize it, so here’s how.

Just go to Settings > Lock screen > Always-on display and either uncheck it to turn this off or tap the selection for more options and customization. In here you can add a schedule for the AOD screen, change the background, icons, font, or even add your calendar. It’s all up to you.

Then, while you’re in the lock screen area go ahead and change anything you’d like to customize in here too. If you don’t want notifications showing on your lock screen at all, for privacy, turn that off in here. You can also add “lost if found” contact information to the lock screen, or notes of any kind if you’d like.

Clean up the app tray

I don’t know about you guys, but I hate that apps are always out of order in the application tray on Samsung phones. Then, when you download a new app, it’s not in the correct spot, but at the end of the list and you have to scroll forever.

Thankfully there’s a way to quickly re-sort them all in alphabetical order. Basically cleaning up the application tray.

Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to launch your app tray, then tap the 3-dot settings button at the top and select “A-Z” and then tap Save. Now all of your apps get displayed alphabetically and are easier to find. The next time you install an app though, you’ll have to do this again, as it reverts back to the list format.

Choose on-screen buttons or gesture controls

The Galaxy S20 runs Google’s latest Android 10 software but Samsung is still shipping the phone with the old traditional on-screen navigation buttons at the bottom of the screen. This is likely so people feel familiar with a new device, but you actually have a few different options for navigation controls.

If you’re coming from something like an iPhone X or a OnePlus 7 you’ll likely want to use Android 10 gesture controls.

Go back to Settings > Display > Navigation Bar and choose which style works best for you. Or, if you don’t plan on changing to gestures at all but you do want to reorder the on-screen buttons, this is where you do that too. Put the back button where it belongs, on the left side of the phone.

Set up do-not-disturb and night modes

Last but not least you’ll want to set up things like the amazing do-not-disturb mode along with night mode to preserve battery life and gives your eyes a break from that big, bright screen.

Using do-not-disturb will keep you free from distractions at night or while working. It’ll be on and available if you need it, yet automatically stay quiet and go silent and in vibrate mode while you’re working.

To use this navigate to Settings > Sounds & vibration > Do Not Disturb or just search for Do Not Disturb. Turn it on or set a schedule so everything happens automatically. Don’t forget the “allow exceptions” at the bottom so select contacts or apps can still get through at all times. Perfect for friends, family members or your boss. Samsung even offers an option where repeat callers will still get through, in case of emergencies.

Keep in mind that this won’t even let alarms get through if you don’t set it up and allow a few exceptions. Once it’s done right though, it’s a lifesaver.

We also recommend using Night mode or Dark themes for better battery life and a better overall experience with the Galaxy S20.

How to Set Up Blue Light Filter

  1. Pull down from the top of the Galaxy S20 screen.
  2. Pull down again to see more quick settings options (the circles above your notifications)
  3. Press and hold on “Blue light filter”.
  4. Tap on Turn on as scheduled.
  5. Choose a custom schedule or sunset to sunrise.

How to Set Up Night Mode

  1. Pull down from the top of the Galaxy S10 screen.
  2. Pull down again to see more quick settings options.
  3. Swipe to the right.
  4. Press and hold on “Night Mode”.
  5.  Tap on Turn on as scheduled.
  6. Choose a custom schedule or sunset to sunrise.

These two settings combined can help you get a good night of sleep even if you decide to use your phone all the way up until you close your eyes.

A Few More Thoughts & Tips

That’s pretty much it for setting up your Galaxy S20, although you might want to wander through the settings menu and do a few more things.

We also recommend turning on and using Digital Wellbeing if you feel like you’re using your phone too much. Don’t forget to set up WiFi calling, take advantage of Samsung Pay, customize your Galaxy S20 with the theme store and delete any apps you won’t use.

At the end of the day everyone uses their phone differently, so choose the tips and advice that works best for you and enjoy everything this phone has to offer. If you have any questions drop us a comment below.

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