Top 50 Samsung Galaxy S4 Tips and Tricks

Top 50 Samsung Galaxy S4 Tips and Tricks

Enjoying your new Samsung Galaxy S4? We bet you didn’t realize just how much your new Galaxy S4 would have to offer! It can sometimes be overwhelming to use a new smartphone with lots of nifty features that are hidden away. So we decided to search and compile a list of some of the most popular tips and tricks for your Galaxy S4. We hope it makes using your new S4 more fun and productive. So, without further ado, below are the Top 50 useful tips and tricks for your new Samsung Galaxy S4. 

Samsung Galaxy S4 Tips and Tricks


1. Make Touchwiz go faster.
To make Touchwiz look good, Samsung created some animations to transit between screens. These animations take some times and can make your phone seems slow. The solution is to go in your phone Settings-> Developer options and turn off -> “Windows animation scale”, “Transition animation scale” and “Animator duration scale”. Now check how much snappier your phone is.

If Developer Options is not enable go to SETTINGS->About Phone and tap BUILD NUMBER for 7 times.

***You can also turn on “Force GPU rendering” but SOME applications don’t like that, so you can try it, but if you find you start having problem with some of your applications, turn it off.


Ringtones – Alarms – Notifications – Media Files

2. Put your Sounds in the system.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 allows us to use mp3 as ringtones, alarms or notifications. But if like me you have over 16G of music on your phone it might be annoying to “Go To Files” and search for them. Another way to do it is by creating a folder where Android will automatically look in and put the files in the “Ringtones”. To do this just create a folder called “Media” on your sd-card. Inside the Media folders create 3 more folders “Ringtones”, “Alarms” and “Notifications”. It should look like this.
Now move/copy your mp3 files in the according folders. Now if you go on your phone settings->sounds->device ringtones you should see your mp3 files in the list.(Phone restart might be needed)

3. Remove unwanted media files
To remove unwanted media files (pictures, audio) that do not belong in the gallery or in your music player, just create an empty file and name it “.nomedia”. Place a .nomedia file at the root of any folder you don’t wan’t to see appear in your Gallery or Music player. Android will skip scannnig those folder. You can always open those files later by using a file explorer.


Screen and video

4. Get AMOLED colours in check 
OLED-based screens like the Samsung Galaxy S4’s tend to bring oversaturated colours that make skin tones look unnatural. They pop, but they pop a little too much. There’s a solution, though. In the settings menu is a Display Setting submenu that lets you choose how vivid the colours are. We recommend the “natural” or “movie” settings.

5. Fill video codec gaps with third-party players
The Samsung Galaxy S4 has an excellent inbuilt media player, but there are some files it can’t handle. We found that high-quality 1080p MKVs were too much for it. Snag a third-party media player like MX Player from the Google Play app store, though, and you’ll be flying. These can use software encoding to fill gaps in native video support.

6. Video multi-tasking is in
One of the neatest additional features of the Samsung Galaxy S3 and Galaxy S4 is that you can overlay a video playback screen on top of any part of the phone. Just press a button in the nav bar of the media player and a little window will pop-up on the homescreen, playing the vid. Watch an episode of Peep Show while browsing the web? Don’t mind if I do.

7. Free games to show off the screen
One of the best ways to show off the Sasmung Galaxy S4’s screen is with a fancy 3D game. Top free picks to try include Dead Trigger.

8. Not bright enough? Turn off auto
The standard setting of the Samsung Galaxy S4 uses automatic brightness, which judges the intensity of screen brightness using an ambient light sensor on the front. If it’s still not bright enough at the max slider point, switch off the auto mode for real searing intensity. But it will affect battery life.

9. The microUSB port can output video
The Samsung Galaxy S4’s microUSB port is more special than you might guess. It has MHL capabilities when used with a special Samsung cable, letting it output HD video and surround audio. The Samsung adapter, which is essentially an MHL-to-HDMI converter costs around £25. The Samsung Galaxy S4 does not come bundled with one, though.

10. Mini home cinema? Tick the surround box
If you want to output surround sound, make sure you tick the Surround box within the Settings menu. This isn’t within the Audio bit, which you might expect, but is actually in the Accessory submenu.


Battery life

11. Keep battery life riding high with auto management
The Samsung Galaxy S4 has a massive 2600mAh battery. Stamina is good at the worst of times, but there’s also an auto power management mode to make the most of the phone’s juice. It’s called Power Saving and has its own section within the main Settings menu. It can throttle the CPU, change the background of the web browser to conserve power (it turns the white background blue), and turns off haptic feedback. These are compromises, but they do work.

12. Switch off features for extra battery life
The best way to conserve power in any phone is to switch off features – most importantly 3G mobile internet. You can do this manually in the Samsung Galaxy S4, directly from the pull-down notifications menu, and apps such as MySettings let you do the same thing.

13. Reduce screen timeout time
Another dead simple trick is to reduce the screen timeout time. This is in the Display submenu within settings, and lets you choose between 15 sec and 10 minutes of time the screen stays lit after a screen press. It’s hardly a secret, but it is something not enough people consider.

14. Grab a spare battery, live forever
In a time of non-removable batteries – the HTC One and iPhone 5 to name but two – we love that the Samsung Galaxy S4 has a removable battery. You can swap it out within about 15 seconds. Spare batteries are available from eBay for well under £10. We recommend shopping around for a reliable brand though as some third-party batteries are as dodgy as Del Boy’s VCRs.



15. One for your grandma? Easy home screen mode
Here’s one feature we were a little surprised to see in a device that’s such a geek’s dreamphone. The Samsung Galaxy S4 has a mode called Easy home screen, which simplifies the layout of the phone’s home screens in a way that even your technophobe grandma might be able to get along with.

16. Full screenshots are easy
Like the Samsung Galaxy S3, the Galaxy S4 makes it pretty easy to take screenshots of whatever’s on the phone’s display. Just hold down the home button and the power button at the same time, wait for a white flash and a screenshot will be taken and whisked over to the Gallery app.

17. Don’t forget side-loading of apps
The Samsung Galaxy S4 is an Android device, with all the benefits that brings. You don’t have to rely on the official Google Play app store for one, with APK installation files available for all sorts of other apps online. Be careful, though, as Android viruses are a real issue.

18. Customize your phone with non-Samsung widgets
Samsung supplied a nice handful of widgets with which you can customize your home screens, but far too few people try a new look with third-party widgets from Google Play. And there are loads out them out there. Some of our old faves include those of the Beautiful Widgets package.


Gadgets and Gimmicks

19. Motion control 
Here’s one we’re not big fans of, but some of you may like it. The Samsung Galaxy S4 lets you control things like the photo gallery and the navigation of you home screens using the accelerometer – by tilting your phone, basically. You can turn it off, though, and it’s set to “off” as standard. Phew.

20. Face unlock
A bit Minority Report, this one. The Samsung Galaxy S4 can scan your face to unlock your phone. It takes a picture of your mug, remembers the basic geometry of it and then scans your face whenever you try and unlock the phone. It works pretty well, but as a security measure is about as flimsy as the padlock on a filofax.

21. Smart Stay
The last user-facing camera gimmick is one that sounds kinda neat in principle. It scans for your eyes to check if you’re reading, and if it spots them, Smart Stay stops the backlight from turning off. It’s designed to make reading on the Samsung Galaxy S4 a good deal less frustrating. It’s a feature you’ll find in the Settings menu.

22. Jelly Bean easter egg
The Jelly Bean easter egg has made it in the Samsung Galaxy S4. Go to Settings menu > About device and tap on the Android version number entry. You’ll be transported to a screen with a picture of a giant jelly bean on it. Hold your finger down on said jelly bean and the screen will fill up with dozens of the blighters, which you can flick around. Pure joy.

23. Arrange your music by moods
The music player of the Samsung Galaxy S4 features a fun little extra called Music square. This scans through your music library, arranging the tracks by mood – passionate, calm, exciting, joyful or a little in-between. Tap a block in the 5×5 square grid and you’ll be greeted with a tune to match your mood.



24. Expandable storage – where to get it cheap

If you’re out to spend as little as possible (and the Galaxy S4 doesn’t come cheap as it is), your best bet is to buy the cheapest 16GB model, and supplement any other storage needs with a microSD card. Top retailers for bargain basement-price memory cards include 7DayShop and Ebuyer. A 32GB microSD card these days will set you back less than £15 if you shop hard enough.

25. Flush the cache for extra memory
If you find yourself running low on memory, you can easily delete the cache and temporary files of any apps you have installed. To do this, go to the Applications Manager section within settings and tap on an app to see how much memory it’s leeching. There will be buttons to wipe the cache and data for the app here.

26. Comes with 50GB of dropbox storage
Cloud storage is the future – you may not like it, but you may as well embrace it. Samsung Galaxy S4 owners get to benefit from 50GB of free cloud storage from one of the best providers out there – Dropbox. There are Dropbox apps for mobiles, tablets and computers, and it honestly works like a dream. If this won’t convert you, nothing will. You only normally get 2GB of free from Dropbox, making it a pretty sweet deal.

27. Don’t sync, drag ‘n’ drop 
If you chose to go Android rather than opting for an iPhone, there’s a good chance that the open-ness of the platform had something to do with it. Samsung is keen on trying to make its users adopt the Kies desktop software, but it’s actually completely unnecessary. Plug the Samsung Galaxy S4 into a computer with a microUSB cable and it’ll show up as a media player drive, which you can drag and drop all kinds of files onto. Transfer speeds are impressively fast too.




28. Nab contacts from Facebook and Twitter
When we first got our Samsung Galaxy S4 in, it didn’t have any of the usual social apps installed. Even if you’re not a massive mobile Facebook-er, it’s worth giving the app a download because it lets you harvest contacts from the network, making populating your contacts book a good deal easier.

29. Blocking Mode
Do you have a bug-a-boo stalking you? Is there a creep who keeps calling? The Samsung Galaxy S4 lets you keep them away with the blocking mode. It restricts notifications and calls from all but your approved contacts – and that can be at all times, or just during the hours you choose.


Camera and Video

30. Use HDR mode in mixed lighting – or all the time

The 13-megapixel sensor of the Samsung Galaxy S4 is pretty good on its own, but the neat camera app ups its skills significantly. One of our favorite bonus bits is the HDR mode. This effectively combines multiple exposure in a single shot to bring out extra detail in shadows. Both the HDR and normal shots are saved, meaning there’s very little downside – other than that taking shots is a little bit slower.

31. Check out slow and fast motion modes
Nestled within the menus of the video camera app are fast and slow motion modes, capturing either more or fewer frames per second than normal. It’s not quite the 120fps mode you get in some dedicated cameras, but will come in handy if you’re trying to video a sports event, for example.

32. Don’t forget video effects
The Samsung Galaxy S4 doesn’t have the fun face-distorting video effects you get with a vanilla Jelly Bean phone, but it does have a range of funky filters. There are colour pop modes, extracting all but certain shades from your videos, and the cartoon filter is perfect for some arty rotoscope-style vids.

33. Give the exposure longer time than the sound effect suggests
Each time you take a photo, a shutter sound plays in the Samsung Galaxy S4. However, we found that occasionally the phone needs a little bit longer to attain a solid focus. Hold still for an extra half-second for good measure.

34. Get vid previews with Air View
Using Air View, if you hold your finger over the transport bar of a movie clip in the media player, you’ll be given a preview of what’s going on in the film at that point. It makes finding the right part of a film or TV a doddle.



35. Don’t go over you allowance, with Data Usage

A staple Android feature is the Data Usage counter. This can be found within the Settings menu, and it monitors your data usage, showing it as a colourful graph. You can use it to cut off your mobile data connection once you reach a certain limit, to ensure you won’t get charged by your carrier.

36. Wi-Fi sync with Kies
We’ve already endorsed drag ‘n’ drop file transfers over Kies sync’ing, but if you’re a Kies fan, don’t forget that you can also sync wirelessly. To set this feature up, scroll to the bottom of the More Settings sub-menu, where you’ll find the Kies via Wi-Fi option.

37. S Beam
A feature introduced with the Samsung Galaxy S3, S Beam uses a mixture of NFC and Wi-Fi Direct to let you transfer files between compatible Samsung phones. You just need to tap the phones together to get them playing. S Beam needs to be switched on, though, from within the Wireless and Networks menu.

38. NFC lets you buy coffee
The NFC connectivity of the Samsung Galaxy S4 also let you buy small items such as cups of coffee, sandwiches and the like. Several big high street chains have taken the NFC plunge, including Starbucks and EAT, using apps to let you dump credit onto your phone.

39. Share screens with Group Cast
Group Cast used to be just about sending a video file from, say, your phone to your Blu-ray player. But now it does a lot more. Group Cast lets you send your Galaxy S4’s screen contents to another display, a bit like AirPlay Mirroring.

40. Forget Bluetooth, Wi-Fi Direct is better
Wi-Fi Direct is tied into the S Beam transfer feature, but you can also use it easily on its own. This is a version of Wi-Fi that doesn’t need an internet connection, as it can hook-up directly with another compatible device. It some ways it’s a successor to Bluetooth, letting you transfer files, and at a much greater speed than old Bluetooth could handle.



The Galaxy S4 comes with voice controlled app. Only some Samsung apps can be controlled via S-voice but the most important are covered. Once you start S-voice and pass thru the initial setup just go on settings and enable “control apps”.
41. Camera
You can now take pictures of yourself without holding the phone. Just put the phone on an improvised stand pose and shout SHOOT!
42. Music Player
You can also control the music player via Bluetooth or directly. It answers to PLAY, PAUSE, NEXT, PREVIOUS, VOLUME UP, VOLUME DOWN and RESUME.
43. Phone
You can also respond to a phone call by just by saying ANSWER or REJECT, This will put the phone on speaker(if previously setup)
44. Alarm
You can stop or snooze alarms with the command STOP and SNOOZE(pretty straight forward)


Other Tips and Tricks

45. Customize Lock Screen
You can also customise the lock screen of the phone! You will need to disable any lock screen security and set it to screen wipe to unlock. If you press, hold and drag down the screen a little pencil symbol will show up and if you click on it you can edit what appears on the lock screen. You can delete the “Life Companion” phrase and type something of your own, change the font, colours, or disable the date and/or time…

We are almost at 50! If you’ve got any other tips and tricks for the Samsung Galaxy S4, please feel free to leave us a comment below and we’ll get it added to the article. Thanks for reading!

Source credit: XDA Developers Forum

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John A

I'm a huge Android fan and also the founder of the DroidLessons website. I started obsessing about the Android platform as soon as I got my HTC EVO phone in mid-2010. Ever since then, I have been obsessed with learning all that I can about the Android OS and sharing that knowledge with my friends and family.
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  1. Graham
    Graham May 13, 2013 at 5:19 pm .

    Heya John,
    I just got my S4 & although I work in IT, I’m not a total gadget-freak – but I was due an upgrade for my S2 so hey! 😀

    I know that there are a whole host of new features. Where’s the best info to check out all of the new features?

  2. Barry B
    Barry B May 23, 2013 at 8:25 am .

    Checked out the top 50 tips. Great help. Got my phone doing things much better than before.

  3. Kelly Mayer
    Kelly Mayer May 30, 2013 at 6:21 pm .

    Hi John,

    Thanks for the tips, just what I needed.
    How’d you set up a voicemail?
    Thanks, Kelly

  4. Santosh Nair
    Santosh Nair June 21, 2013 at 12:15 pm .

    Good one bro ! Thanks for the compilation !

  5. louise
    louise June 23, 2013 at 5:38 am .

    If you drag the top info bar down with one finger and use another finger to tap on it, it displays all of the features in rows and columns.

  6. matt
    matt June 29, 2013 at 12:50 pm .

    How do you get the 50 gig from dropbox? I only got 2

  7. Paul
    Paul August 10, 2013 at 11:59 pm .

    Thanks for the tips John, Big help
    I just upgraded from S2 to S4 and I have 2 questions.
    1. What browser do you recommend?
    2. My vision is not great and on the S2 when I enlarged web reading article it got bigger and readjusted to my screen, I can’t get the S4 to do it. When I enlarge then most of the material is off the screen???

    Please clarify

  8. Danelle
    Danelle December 26, 2013 at 10:21 pm .

    How do you get 50GB from Dropbox?

  9. Josh
    Josh December 30, 2013 at 6:20 am .

    Hello John,
    I’m getting annoying pop-ups on my screen even when I’m not on the apps. As an I.E. I get a pop-ups when I unblock the phone, it’s very frustrating, I haven’t downloaded 3rd party apps. .. and it happened suddenly… Please if you or anyone knows how to remove this rubbish pop-ups, please HELPPP…. I don’t wanna factory my phone… 🙁 I’m just getting used to it, and have settled up to my needs… Thank you for the tips!!!! Most helpful!!!! 🙂

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