Samsung’s new Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge are the hottest Android phones on the market right now, and supply is tight. Simply getting your hands on the phone is just the first step, though. You have to make the most of your shiny new mobile companion, and there are a ton of interesting and useful features packed into these devices. Here are all the things you need to know to make the most of the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge.
Disable bloatware apps
Samsung and your carrier have colluded to stuff a few distracting (and sometimes downright terrible) apps and services on your new phone. Worry not! You can get rid of most of them in a few taps. For those apps that can be uninstalled, you can find them in your app drawer, then drag up to the uninstall icon. Easy.
For the apps that can’t be uninstalled, you can do the same thing, but instead of uninstall, the icon at the top of your screen will be called “Turn off.” This disables the app so it won’t run in the background or show up in the app drawer. You can also save a little time by going into your main application settings and scrolling down the full list of apps to find the ones you want to disable. Tap on any of them, then hit the Disable button at the top of the screen. There, now things look much tidier.
Set up fingerprints
The Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge have a fingerprint sensor embedded in the home button, and you should take advantage of it. With the support in Android 6.0 Marshmallow, there are apps and system features that understand how to use the fingerprint sensor for added security. To add and manage your fingerprints, go to the “Lock screen and security” menu and open “Fingerprints.” When adding a new print, make sure to hold the phone naturally as you would when unlocking it and move your finger around to capture all parts of it. You can allow fingerprints to confirm your identity for Samsung Pay, Google Play purchases, and more.
Rearrange the app drawer
Samsung’s TouchWiz home screen is faster and a bit more feature-rich this year, so you might actually want to use it. First, it’s smart to customize the app drawer. The default drawer layout has folders of certain apps on the first page, then the rest in a custom order. This doesn’t make it particularly easy to find things, though.
You can get rid of the folders by hitting the Edit button, then tapping a folder. This puts the apps in the main list. Feel free to make your own custom folders or change existing ones in the edit interface as well. You can arrange apps however you like in edit mode, or simply use the A-Z button to snap everything to alphabetical order. New apps will always be added onto the end of the app drawer, which is rather counter-intuitive if you prefer alphabetical. You can fix that by tapping the A-Z button again from time to time.
Disable the Briefing screen
Samsung’s Flipboard-powered Briefing screen is easily the worst part of the TouchWiz home interface. It’s slow and not particularly useful. In fact, some carriers have it disabled by default. If your carrier is not among them, you should shut it off yourself. It’s easy—long press or use a pinch gesture on the home screen to zoom out to editing mode. Scroll over to Briefing on the far left and uncheck the box above it.
Move apps using top bar
When your home screens get congested and you want to move apps around, you would usually have to remove things to make space so you can resize widgets or swap icons. Not so on the Galaxy S7. There’s a handy “Move apps” icon at the very top of the screen when you drag an app around.
Simply drop it on that, and you’ll get a bar across the top of the screen where you can temporarily place icons while you reorganize the home screen. It even scrolls you so you load it up with as many icons as you need.
Move and resize home screens
As you start adding apps and widgets to your home screen, you might change your mind about where things ought to go. Don’t just start from scratch, though. You can simply move one of your home screen panels to a different spot. Long-press or pinch on the home screen to enter editing mode, and then long-press and drag to move an entire panel to a different place. Should you need more room on your home screens, you can do that from the editing mode as well. Tap “Screen grid” at the bottom and bump the grid size up to 4x5 or 5x5.
Customize always-on display
Samsung is taking advantage of the GS7’s AMOLED display with a new always-on display mode. Some carriers have this off by default, but you should give it a try. You’ll find the always-on display menu under the “Display” settings.
You can choose between a clock, calendar, or just an image (not very useful) to show on the screen while the phone is asleep. There are also a few different styles for each always-on setting.
Customize Edge Feeds (Edge only)
Edge feeds are available only on the Edge variant of the phone (obviously), and only while it’s asleep. It’s activated with a swipe back and forth along the edge, and a feed of news and information pops up. Swiping up and down moves between feed items. It can be useful, but only if you take a few minutes to make sure it’s showing you relevant information.
You’ll find the Edge Feeds options under your “Edge screen” settings. Several items like notifications and Yahoo news will probably be on by default, but you can also activate a stock ticker, a step counter, and even download some more feeds like CNN news and an RSS reader from the Samsung app store. The order of the feed items can also be changed.
Customize the Edge panels (Edge only)
If you picked up the Edge variant of the Galaxy S7, you’ve got a few features not available on the regular phone. Probably the most useful of them is the Edge panel. That’s the little tab on the right edge of the screen. Swipe in from that and you’ll be able to page through several screens of shortcuts and info, including a tools panel with a ruler for some reason. You can customize them by tapping the settings icon in the lower left corner as well.
The panel order can be rearranged, and you can shut off the ones you don’t want. A few panels (eg. the app shortcuts) have additional settings you can access. The Samsung app store lists a few more panels that can be downloaded in addition to the included set. If the Edge panel is distracting to you, it can be disabled, but consider just moving it to a different part of the screen, making it smaller, or increasing transparency. Those are all options.
Change display color mode
Samsung’s AMOLED panels have extremely realistic colors, but they might be a little too vibrant for some people on the default setting. You can tweak that by going into the Display settings and changing the screen mode for different color gamuts and saturation. The phone supports adaptive, cinema, photo, and basic display modes. If you want the most accurate colors, the photo and basic modes are the ones to look at. Photo uses the Adobe RGB gamut for a slightly more vibrant look than basic, which uses sRGB. Cinema and adaptive both push the saturation a bit past “realistic” levels.
Use camera Pro mode
The default camera mode can produce plenty of great images with its competent auto mode, but you can do more by enabling Pro mode. Simply tap the “Mode” button in the lower left corner and select Pro. This gives you full control over the focus, ISO, exposure, and more. You can leave any of the settings on auto and just change a few of them too.
Don’t forget to play around with RAW images as well. When enabled in the settings, you get a JPEG and an uncompressed RAW file that you can process with an app like Lightroom or Snapseed.
Take photos faster with camera quick launch
The Galaxy S7 has a great camera, and you can get to it super-fast just by double-pressing the home button. Keep in mind, some carriers have this shortcut disabled by default. You can activate it in the camera app settings under “Quick launch.”
Stop stretching with one-handed operation
The standard GS7 is rather nice for one-handed operation, but the Edge is a little big for that at 5.5-inches. Both phones have a useful feature called one-handed mode to keep things in reach, but it might be shut off by default.
To activate one-handed mode, head to “Advanced features” in the main settings. One-handed mode should be right at the top. Once that’s on, you can triple-press the home button to launch one-handed mode. The screen will shrink down and move to the right, but you can shift it over to the left with the arrow button. You can optionally set the stock keyboard to slide over to one side in this menu as well. That should keep everything in reach of your thumb
Light up with selfie flash
Some phones like the Moto X Pure Edition have a front-facing selfie flash, but not the Galaxy S7. It has a neat alternative, though. When you switch to the front-facing camera, note the flash option in the settings bar. If you turn that on, the screen will flash white just as it snaps the photo. Since the Galaxy S7 has the brightest screen around, it will be more than enough to compensate for a dim room.
Do more with Smart Capture
The Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge have adopted a feature previously seen on the Note 5 called Smart Capture. This is a set of features available after taking a screenshot. Three buttons pop up at the bottom of the screen after taking a screenshot to provide quick access to sharing, cropping, and capture more.
The last two are probably self-explanatory, but what about “capture more?” Tap that, and the screen scrolls down and captures more of the page you are on. This image is stitched together with the first screen into a taller image. You can do this as many times as you want too.
Check out Samsung Pay
Samsung Pay is exclusive to newer Galaxy devices like the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. It has a leg-up on the other contactless payment systems too—it works almost everywhere. Note, not all banks are supported, and Verizon doesn’t pre-install Samsung Pay (grab it from the Samsung store). If you do have an eligible card, Samsung lets you pay at regular credit card kiosks that lack NFC. It sends magstripe data wirelessly using a technology called MST. It also supports NFC if that’s available.
Run multiple apps with Multi-window Mode
Until Android N comes along, Samsung still has the best multi-window implementation on Android. Not all apps are supported, but a fair number of them are. You can jump to split-screen mode on the Galaxy S7 by long-pressing the overview button. A scrollable list of apps will appear on half of the screen so you can choose an app. The same thing happens on the other half, but if you were already in an app when starting multi-window, it will automatically be placed in the top half.
You can go back and forth, using both apps at the same time in this mode. The dot in the middle can be dragged to change the proportion of each window too. Tapping on the divider also pulls up options to swap the position of your split-screen apps, close one, minimize one to a floating window, or drag and drop elements between them.
Game faster with Game launcher
Game Launcher is another feature your carrier might shut off by default. To enable, head into Advanced Features again, and “Games” should be right at the top. Turn on Game Launcher and Game Tools for the most options.
Game Launcher provides quick access to a screen with all your installed games, which are auto-detected quite well. Games that are not detected properly can be added manually to the Game Launcher. Using Game Tools in this same screen, you can set non-vital notifications to be muted while you play and cap the framerate to save power. There’s also a built-in screen recorder so you can share your moment of victory… or defeat.
Increase speeds with Download Booster
When you absolutely, positively need to download as fast as possible, the GS7 supports Download Booster. This is shut off by default on all variants of the phone as it will gobble up mobile data. Maybe you’re okay with that, though.
Download Booster is found in “More connection settings.” When enabled, it ties your WiFi and LTE radios together to tagteam large downloads. You can effectively double your download speeds. If you have unlimited LTE, there’s really no downside here.
Improve sound with the equalizer
Samsung’s mono speaker isn’t anything to write home about, but maybe you paid good money for some proper headphones. You can get the most out of them by checking out Samsung’s surprisingly capable built-in equalizer. You’ll find it way at the bottom of the Sound and Notification settings under “Sound quality and effects.”
There is a basic mode with presets, but you can also make manual tweaks to the 7-band EQ as well as other settings like bass and reverb. Also take a peek at the Adapt Sound feature that helps you tune the effects to your ear and headphones.