Whether you’re the proud owner of a new Samsung Galaxy S4, (im)patiently waiting for yours to arrive, there’s a good chance that you want to know how to get the most out of your phone.

To that end, we have collected 10 tips that can help both old-school Android fans and new users alike. You might not need or want every tip you see here, but you’ll probably find at least one of them useful.

In a hurry? Prefer moving pictures? Check out the video!

1.) Speed Up TouchWiz

There are two kinds of people: those who don’t want to sacrifice features for speed, and those who will do anything for a slight speed increase. Luckily, we have tips for both kinds of people.

If you don’t use S Voice too often, this first tip is definitely for you. Have you ever noticed the slight lag between hitting the home button and the home screen actually appearing? That’s because by default, tapping the home button twice is a shortcut to launch S Voice. If you want, you can open up S Voice and turn off the “Open via the home key” option. Now the home screen will appear immediately after you hit the button.


This next tip is for those who don’t mind digging a little deeper. If you don’t mind sacrificing a few visual enhancements for speed, you can change a few options in the Developer Options menu. First, if you haven’t already, you need to unlock the Developer Options menu by going to Settings -> More -> About Device. Scroll down until you see the build number and tap it 7 times.

Now go back one screen and enter the Developer Options menu. Scroll down to the section labeled “Drawing” and set “Window animation scale,” “Transition animation scale” and “Animator duration scale” all to off. You’ll have a little less animation, but TouchWiz should feel a bit faster and more immediately responsive now.

2.) Get Better Battery Life

With a 2,600 mAh battery, the Samsung Galaxy S4 isn’t exactly a slouch in the battery department, but it’s always nice to know what you can do to extend battery life in case of a long day or a forgotten charger.


One of the easiest things you can do is to turn on Power Saving Mode. You can find this option in Settings -> My Device, and once you have set it up, it’s also available in the quick settings in the notification pane. This allows you to turn on CPU power saving, Screen power saving or to turn off haptic feedback. For best results, you’ll probably want to use all three options.

If that isn’t enough, it’s very easy to start turning things off. One of the biggest culprits when it comes to battery drain is mobile data. Of course, this might not be an option depending on how you need to use your device. BlueTooth, S Beam, NFC and features like Air Gesture or Smart Scroll are all good candidates that are easy enough to turn on and off through quick settings.

Speaking of which…

3.) Customize the Notification Panel

Quick settings, available by pulling down the notification pane, provides an easy way to enable and disable various features. The only problem is that not everybody is going to use the same settings all the time. Luckily, it’s easy to change which settings are shown first.


First, start by pulling down the notification pane. In the very top right, tap the icon that looks like a few squares and two arrows (I don’t really know what to call it). Now tap the pencil icon that appears to the left.

Now all you need to do is drag and drop the icons around to move your most-accessed settings to be the top five. You can still scroll in the notification pane to access other settings, but it’s much handier having the settings you use the most pop up right away.

4.) Take Better Photos

Everybody (including us) has spent a lot of time talking about the more hyped features of the Galaxy S4’s camera: Drama Shot, Eraser, etc. These are interesting, but not really features you’ll find yourself using all the time. Instead, let’s dig down into some features to help you take the best photos you can with your S4.


First, open up the camera and hit the settings button. One of the first things you’ll probably want to do is change the photo size. By default, the Galaxy S4 ships with the photo size set to 9.6 megapixels with a 16:9 aspect ratio. This is a nice aspect ratio for video, but not quite so much for photos. For better quality, you can set the size to 13 megapixels, which uses the more common 4:3 aspect ratio.

You can also change Burst shot, Face detection, Metering, ISO, Anti-Shake and Auto night detection settings here. Off all of them, ISO can be one to pay attention to. With lower ISO settings, your pictures may be darker, but they’ll be far more crisp and sharp. As you turn up the ISO, you can take photos in lower light settings, but at the cost of introducing visual noise to your photos.

5.) Use a Larger Screen

Sometimes you just want a bigger screen. Yeah, the screen on the Galaxy S4 is nice, but not if, say, more than one person wants to watch a video, for example. Fear not, for there are a few ways to hook your S4 up to a bigger screen.

If you have a Samsung TV or you happen to own an AllShare Cast dongle, the easiest way is to simply use the built-in screen mirroring feature. Just head to Settings -> Connections and scroll down to the bottom to find Screen Mirroring. Now all you need to do is wait for it to scan and find your devices.


The less laggy option is to use MHL. Now, for this to work, you’ll need an 11-pin MHL adapter, as the standard 5-pin adapters won’t work for the S4. Samsung sells an official adapter for the S4. Simply plug it in and run the HDMI out to your television and you’re all set for everything from videos to games.

If neither of the above options works for you, you can use DLNA to share media from the S4 to other DLNA-enabled devices like Blu-Ray players, televisions, game consoles or other electronics. No, you can’t mirror your screen this way, but it works in a pinch for photos, videos and music.

6.) Control Your Communication

The Samsung Galaxy S4 includes two different options for controlling who can contact you and when.

The first, Blocking Mode, is an excellent option for getting a good night’s sleep. To find it head to Settings -> My Device and scroll down a little. With Blocking Mode on, you can disable incoming calls, notifications, the alarm, and the LED indicator. Either turn the option on manually or set it to disable communications between certain hours.


If you want to deal with one specific number, call rejection might be a better option. To find it, head to Settings -> My Device and you’ll find it under the “Call” menu. The most common way to set it up is to use the Auto reject list. Simply enter a number, check the box next to it, and you’re all set. If you want, you can have the S4 automatically send a message to the person explaining why their call was rejected.

7.) Customize the Lock Screen

By default, the Galaxy S4’s lock screen isn’t the most interesting or useful lock screen we’ve ever seen. It’s functional sure, but for those of you who like a bit more action in your lock screen, there are a few things we can do to improve it.


To get started, head to Settings -> My Device and select Lock Screen. First, you’ll want to check the “Multiple widgets” option. If you’d like, you can select the “Shortcuts” option to enable shortcuts to various apps on your lock screen. In the “Lock screen widgets” sub-menu, you can choose between a few options for defaults on the lock screen.

Now for the real fun, lock your device and head to the lock screen to check it out. By swiping near the top of the screen you can now get to the camera widget located to the right, or add your own widgets on the left. Everything from communication notifications to Gmail to Google Now is available.

8.) Make Videos More Fun

If all you want to do is capture something happening, the Galaxy S4’s camera is great right out of the box. If you want to get a little more creative, though, we’ve got a few options to spice up your videos.

First, open up the camera app and select the settings icon at the top of the screen. Now select the icon that looks like a small video camera to bring up the video options. You’ll notice that aside from “Normal” and “Limit for MMS,” there are two other options: “Slow Motion” and “Fast Motion.” Both do exactly what you’d think.


Once you have either of these options selected, you’ll notice another icon pops up to the right of the camera icon. This allows you to select how slow or fast the video is. Slow motion allows for 1/2, 1/4 and 1/8 of normal time. Fast motion can go 2x, 4x or 8x normal speed.

It’s worth noting that these will negatively impact the overall quality of the video, but come on. Fun is fun, right?

9.) Use Adapt Sound

A lot of people are talking about Samsung’s Adaptive Display feature in the Galaxy S4, but there’s another feature that doesn’t get discussed nearly as much: Adapt Sound. Before I used it, I assumed it was a feature like those you see on televisions: Movie mode, Music mode, etc. I was wrong.

Adapt Sound is a feature that tests your hearing and headphones to tune its audio to focus on frequencies you can actually hear. To find it, head to Settings -> My Device -> Sound. Now scroll all the way to the bottom to find Adapt Sound.


Plug in your headphones and start the test. Basically all it does is play a series of tones to test what frequencies you can hear, and whether you hear better out of one ear than the other. Going through the whole test takes about a minute. Once you’re finished you can preview the feature to ensure that you like the results.

Personally I found that audio sounded a bit clearer and more detailed with Adapt Sound turned on. Your mileage may vary.

10.) Use Auto-Brightness for a Brighter Screen

Now, if you use Auto-Brightness all the time anyway, this tip probably isn’t a big deal. If you’re like me, however, you generally turn off Auto-Brightness as soon as you get a new phone. While, most of the time I prefer to have control of the screen brightness, there actually is a reason for using this feature on the Galaxy S4.


While the Galaxy S4’s screen is likely the brightest Samsung has produced to date, you aren’t able to turn it up to maximum brightness manually (probably to prevent burn-in or other screen damage). With Auto-Brightness, however, this isn’t a problem. So the next time you’re squinting and trying to make out what’s on screen on a bright day, remember to tick the checkbox for Auto-Brightness in the notification pane.


Do you have a favorite tip we mentioned? How about a tip that we didn’t cover that you might want to share with other readers? Let us know down in the comments!

Next > Download the Samsung Galaxy S4 Manual

Kristofer Wouk
Kristofer Wouk is a tech writer, gadget reviewer, blogger, and whatever it's called when someone makes videos. In his free time, he likes to make music, read and write short fiction.
  • Very nice tips

    Thank you , I already know most of them

    But I guess that Many people would find them pretty useful

  • Steve

    Thanks for the tips. I am a converted iphone guy and I am glad I made the leap. I do have one question on tip 7. When I go into my devices>lock screen, I do not have the multiple widgets option. Nor do I have shortcuts. Do I need to turn somethin on somewhere else?

    • Kristofer Wouk

      If your Screen lock is set to something like “Secured with PIN,” these options won’t be available.

    • Kristofer is right. And that’s a real annoyance, because IMHO, the whole point of lock screen widgets is to make some features available quickly for those WITH a real lock on the lock screen. We need to take a picture fast sometimes, or look at the next calendar entry.

      If you’re not locking your phone, you don’t really need lockscreen widgets, since you don’t really have a lock screen. Why not just go to your main UI pages? They’re only an easy swipe away…AND BTW, you should lock your phone.

    • john

      Congratulations, for the change.
      In your case maybe, you can turn on developer option in “about” and press 7 times in the “build number”. You can check if multiple widgets appear, if not, the s4 version is uncommon.

      • Chris

        Thanks for the tip! Didn’t work for me. I’m guessing Sprint disabled it, in my case. I’m hoping I don’t have to look into rooting the phone for this and one other annoyance.

        • Chris

          Oh, I just read about the lock screen security, and how it’s not compatible. That stinks. Hmm…

  • Austin Forbes

    I sent the video to my friend who transferred from an IPhone 5, he knew nothing about the phone and I didn’t know as much about TouchWiz.

  • 702Mike

    Very nice tips video. Being a Motorola guy I’m impressed by the amount of options and customizations available for the Galaxy line. My question is, are all of these options, shy the lock screen widgets obviously, available on the S3 and Note 2 currently? Or all these options S4 only currently until the other devices get the software upgrade? I’m ready to make the switch… but I’m up in the air between the Note 2 and S4.

    • NewSamsungLover

      I have the S4, but actually wishing I got the Note. I prefer the settings from the previous version. S4 is cool if you want to play around with the air gesture and what not, that’s about it.

  • loonz123

    Does anyone know if you can change the background of the lock screen?

    • brendan

      Yep. Settings. Display. Wallpaper. Lockscreen. Took me a minute to find that one too

  • The adapt audio is AMAZING!!! I haven’t heard music that clealy in quite some time. Thanks for the tips!

  • Nick

    How do you change/delete/replace the icons in the bottom tray of the home screen (the default ones i.e Phone, Contact, Messaging, Internet, Apps) etc

    • FlamesFan89

      I don’t have my S4 yet (getting it this week) but if it is anything like other Galaxy phones, you will have to install a 3rd party launcher like Nova or Apex. It is as simple as installing an app, and gives you all kinds of additional functionality! I use Apex and it is great but I’ve heard good things about Nova as well. Best part is, you don’t lose and features offered by touchwiz

      • Nick

        I’ve tried the 3rd party launchers and Im not a massive fan of them, as im happy with the simplicity of touchwiz. Im pretty sure ive seen online videos of peoples homepage bottom icon trays containing different apps than the default on touchwiz, so im very curious to figure this out

        • FlamesFan89

          I got my S4 yesterday and without a new launcher I was able to change the icons in the tray. Well, so far I only changed the browser to chrome, but a simple long press allowed me to drag and drop without issue.

          • dcar

            I have the icons in the tray but they don’t do anything. I’ve tapped, double tapped, swiped, but nothing. so why are they there?

          • john

            You can use Nova

      • Galaxxysux


        • FlamesFan89

          I’ve got one now, had it for a little over a week, and it is a freaking amazing phone. I couldn’t be happier that it isn’t an iPhone.

          • krym73

            I have the Nova Launcher and really love it, but im into trying different launcher because hey, why not?
            have you tried Yandex shell launcher?

        • john

          Yes, go away, what do you do here! go to machell. your jailphone doesn´t have anything of those settings, because is JAILphone has dumb OS with 5*4 icons and they want plagiarize Android, windows phone, etc.

    • aday12345

      you just drag and drop like any other icon on the phone

      • Nick

        This didn’t work. I would love to know how to change it

        • aday12345

          worked for me I replaced my internet icon with firefox

        • Chris

          Are you holding before you drag? It works for me.

    • vampyren

      Go to Settings–My device–>Lock screen–>shortcuts, click on the
      shortcut and there you can choose any program, no need to use other

      • Georgia

        i have tired holding down on the icons and moving them nothing happens at all, and even in the lock screen menu i do not even have the shortcuts option there… anything else???

        • vampyren

          I dont know what your doing wrong but when i hold the short cut i see a trash been in the bottom of the screen, if you drag one shortcut there you can replace the one you just removed.

          Again go to Settings–My device–>Lock screen–>shortcuts
          It works just fine, i have replaced the default browser with Chrome and have mediaplayer there just as an example.

    • DiordnaFan

      In order to place items on the tray, you must ensure there is enough room for it. If not, then drag one (or more) apps to the bin from the tray to make room and then drag the desired app(s) to the tray.

  • libaione

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    Third, this battery of tests, after an hour of testing, such high quality. of hands to another terminal with a single central processor. fluidity of the phone is very good. in very good condition. Now check the durability, what scares me, but it looks very good. Jelly Bean Android 4.1.1. You can configure both Spanish and can disable all.

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  • am seeing two issues wit my new galaxy s4.. messaging hangs often and issue is seen with camera as well. I take a pic, its ok till that point and wen i click on the latest captured pic for viewing it hangs for a while.. feel disappointed after investing so much money on this.. messaging is the frequently used one for me.. :( any suggestions for improving tht?

    • jaleel

      Use device memory to save captured images.


      WHOLE CAMERA/VIDEO ON GALAXXY IS NOTHING LIKE Apple phones!! it’s sooo dumb!! ;( soo DISAPPOINTED!!!

      • NewSamsungLover

        Go away! iPhones are shit! Had many for the last 5 years, they’re stupid! All iPhone users are changing to Samsung, get with it! #StuckInTheOldDays!

      • john

        If your Jailphone is so good, what do you do here? go away, go to hell, go to macworld or whatever web for mac loosers.

      • coffeehouse


  • mieshia redd

    Does anybody know how ii can lock my messages and make them appear without me going all the way in the messages

  • Galaxy s4 is just……AMAZING. Got white frost s4 on may 11th. This phone can do it ALL no doubt phone of the year.

  • Or get an extended battery from Mugen! HLI-I9500SL 2750mAh is out already, 5500mah is expected later.

  • Mlinar

    I found 2750 mAh battery (HLI-I9500SL) for Galaxy S4! I think it will allow to use its features more effectivly.

  • Snoopy

    Check out this huge base of Samsung Galaxy S4 tips and tricks:

  • Just got my s4 on Thursday still figuring it out, how do I get the air gestures to work?

  • Nancy C

    Received my Galaxy s4 today from Verizon, & was dismayed to see that the Blocking Mode (item #6 in the above article) is NOT available for Verizon users (I called when I couldn’t locate it using shortcutmaker). Grrrrr. Only available for ATT & Sprint users. Thanks Verizon for once again NOT looking out for the best interests of your customers.

    • Bill Carpenter

      Yep…ticked me off too…why pick THAT feature? Probably one of the best features for a night shift worker like me…..reject all calls but the whitelisted numbers (wife & kids, who would only call in an emergency) Thanks Verizon

      • Thin_Teacher

        If it’s useful… Verizon will disable it. Doesn’t that company know how many people HATE that????

        • Bill Carpenter

          I do nights every 6 weeks (it sucks…don’t know how else to describe it), wife works nights as well (My oldest boys teacher calls us the “vampire clan”, and only calls after 3).
          I thought this would be the 1st phone that I wasn’t going to root (I’ve been doing it Since Droid 1, and my Iphone4s), think I’ll be changing my mind soon.

      • Buck

        Thanks Obama!

        • Bill Carpenter


    • kp

      I have it on mine and I have Verizon. .I use this feature all the time!



    • Ronald

      The app is called youtube and you can upload the video and share there! Oh wait, wait for it, you could share videos on facebook as well right? Oh my bad, iPHONELOVER(needs to be spoon-fed)

    • hannad

      geez louis, our education system needs help

    • mumkelly

      I’m guessing by the all caps and poor grammar that this phone is just too complex for you. It’s not Samsung’s fault you can’t figure it out.

    • S Unsan

      Seems like a user issue to me. Anyone that cannot communicate without using caps and swear words is clearly not that intelligent.

  • FamousMrEd

    Hi, any tips how to stream content to Apple TV?

    • Your_Mom

      Step 1: Throw away Apple TV
      Step 2: Purchase Chromecast
      Step 3: Stream to your lovely Chromecast

  • seven harvest

    how do i get the telephoto for camera shots to work?

  • NewSamsungLover

    Do you guys know how I can make my lockscreen like the s3 one? This version is so big and annoying to unlock when you get a message. With the previous version it was so simple and sleek looking when it only showed a little icon for notifications :(

    • Amber Rodelander

      I dont know what the s3 lockscreen looked like but when I did tip #7, I ended up with little shortcuts on the lock screen including camera and messaging. Pretty cool :)

  • Amber Rodelander

    lock screen camera access?! thank you!!

  • abhilash

    Me and my friend have s4. He got an update of android 4.2.2 and so did i, but he got more options after the update. Both our s4’s have android 4.2.2 , but he has a semi-transparent notification bar and mine is the same old… do i get the update??

    p.s. i put the update notification on auto…..and i checked for new updates, i don,t have any updates.

  • QueensGambit

    How do I remove images from my google account popping up in my gallery?

    • Cimbo

      Turn off the synching. Once it’s off, go into application manager and scroll to right a couple times till you get to all apps. Find gallery and clear data. It won’t delete your taken pictures but will remove picasa images. Then relaunch gallery and it’ll take a minute to reload your pictures.

      • QueensGambit

        Alright! Cheers

  • rabies white labelz

    using the screen swipe to capture a screen shot can be a bit hit and miss, if you go into- my device,-accessibility,- assistant menu, it brings up a box on the home screen, from here you can access many things one handed including screen capture. the box can also be moved anywhere on the screen to make it easier for you to tap.

  • Winston

    I don’t have a blocking mode in my settings. What I have is a driving mode. I wonder if anyone else has the same thing.

    Winston Hall

  • Elsa

    is there a way to turn on the anti-shake feature in the S4 phone’s camera

    • Buck

      Go into the camera app. Click the settings button. Play.

  • Irene S.

    Just got my new Galaxy S4 and I noticed that whenever I make a call the contact picture is a small 1″x1″. Does anyone know how to make it appear bigger? Thanks.

  • Phone Hater!!!

    I don’t have the Multiple Widget option in #7. I just want the POS to show my music controls on the damn lock screen so I don’t have to sign in just to pause a song or skip 1. Anyone know how to turn this on so it is permanent? I get it once in a while and have no idea why it will work 1 day and not the next.

    • Chris

      Check out the app Cloudskipper, my friend. And it works even if you have lock screen security enabled! By default, it only shows up if music is playing, so when you first download it, it may not look like it’s working. A setting is available to make it show up all the time if you’d prefer.

  • andrew

    I could not customize my lock screen as I don’t have the multiple widgets option. What should I do?

    • Buck

      Are you using lock screen security? If you want to use a password, PIN, or pattern to unlock the device, you’re out of luck (just as I am). No widgets with secure lock screens. Stupid? You betcha!

  • Jennifer F

    Is there any way to turn off the notifications while recording a video? It is really annoying to have a video cut off due to a notification popping up.

    • jaxdax12

      If you turn on airplane mode it will stop all data syncing (email, text calls,etc.) — just remeber to turn it back on after your done recording.

  • Eddie

    I recorded a video and won’t let me share It, too large it’s another way?

  • Devil Dog

    I found out a screen shot can also be done by pressing the power button and home screen button at the same time, just hold for a a few seconds.

  • TheCountDownGuy

    Final Countdown now available for the Android

  • sandy

    In my pic gallery I have an item that has a pic of a keylock how do I open it

  • Billie

    I wanted to know if someone can answer a question for me my galaxy 4 did a recent update and I have noticde some of my phone numbers and contacts have a HD next to the name or phone number if its not a contact. Does anyone know what that means?