Notification LEDs have been a staple of many Android devices for years, but Samsung thinks it can improve on the concept with a feature called Smart Glow.

Smart Glow is basically a multi-color LED ring going around the camera of a phone. Discovered by in a leaked user manual, Smart Glow will probably soon make an appearance on devices, with the budget Galaxy J2 (2016) as a likely first candidate.

Users will be able to customize Smart Glow by assigning specific colors to certain contacts or applications, so they are aware of new notifications even when the phone is lying face down. The light ring will also light up when the battery is low and it will work as a guide when taking selfies with the rear camera by turning blue when the user’s face is in the field of view.

Smart Glow is basically a fancy LED, but it will still be interesting to see what Samsung does with it. Most phones look the same these days, as even cheap devices adopt metallic unibodies and fingerprint scanners. As hardware design becomes more uniform, differentiation will probably come from offbeat, slightly gimmicky features like Smart Glow.

What do you think of the concept?

Bogdan Petrovan
Bogdan is the European Managing Editor of Android Authority. He loves tech, travel, and fantasy. He wishes he had more time for two of those things. Bogdan's phone is a Nexus 6P.
  • Gumbopudding

    Too simple. Trick it out to cover the full phone and make it a Tron phone.

    • Arpan Ghosh

      and then you will complain about battery!

      • Annonymous

        LEDs waste almost no battery. Screens with too much resolution, on the other hand…

  • ESniper

    Xperia XP .RoFL

  • Necdet Ali Özdür

    That looks… meh. Oppo Find 7 had the best looking LED light IMO.

    • AndreaS

      Care to post a picture?

      • Necdet Ali Özdür

        It looks better in action. The light starts from the center and spreads to the sides. Beautiful design.

        • God

          Looks lovely!

        • stfu

          that actually does look neat.

  • dawhoda


  • AndreaS

    What if the phone isn’t lying upside down?

    • God

      There is the front LED. *Sigh*

      • ShahinTr

        There is, but now it’ll just make me want to leave my phone upside down more often.

    • SnakeSplitskin

      guess what, you’ll have that beautiful screen to tell you who is calling or messaging you.

  • Shem68

    But why would the phone be lying face down in the first place ? Who does that ? Why would anyone want to put his screen against a surface, risking scratches ? Makes no sense. Front-facing notification LED + an app like Light Manager or Lightflow does a great job.

    • Tonderai Chambwe

      I screen on my Nexus 6p is more scratch resistant than its back, so yeah I keep the screen against the surface

      • Shem68

        I disagree. I haven’t got a single scratch on the back of my N6P, despite it always rests on its back. The screen on the other hand has several tiny ones and a large, visible one. So no, i wouldn’t say the screen is more scratch resistant than the back :p

        • SnakeSplitskin

          So you’re disagreeing about Tonderai’s experience with his on 6p?

          • Shem68

            No, that wouldn’t make sense. I disagree with his belief that the back less scratch-resistant than the back, because my own experience says the opposite.

          • SnakeSplitskin

            so you both have different experiences which is why telling someone that their experience isn’t based on reality is quite silly.

    • Marius Tomas

      unless you have one of galaxy S6 or 7 with both sides covered in glass then it doesn’t really matter. although I agree even i personaly have S6 Edge with back cover which raises the screen from the ground if I would lay my phone face down its still terrifying to do it. as a camera gadget while taking selfies, this LED idea is pretty nice i think

      • Shem68

        Yeah, that’s why I’ve never been fond of full-glass phones. But actually even with a case raising the screen from the ground, which I had on my S3 back in the days, it never even crossed my mind to put my phone face down. What an inconvenience: you would have to turn it around each time you want to use it, and then turn it on its front again to pose it. Really never made much sense to me :p

        • stfu

          i don’t know about you, but flipping a phone over to use it is in no way an inconvenience. for one thing, when you pick up the phone from a table or desk, it’s easier to grab the phone face down then flip your hand over to view the screen than pick it up face up and maneuver your hand so that it’ll rest underneath it. for another, it’s just a simple flip. since when did the world become so lazy that one flip becomes inconvenient?

          • Shem68

            Trust me, grabbing it from a table face up is fairly easy when you get the hang of it. As far as I’m concerned at least, it’s as easy as grabbing it face down.
            Besides, it’s not about being lazy, it’s about convenience, which I believe are two very different things. And as I’ve stated, you would need to pick up the phone and turn it around each time you want to interact with it (which could be often !). It’s inconvenient and makes you lose time. When it’s face up, you don’t even have to pick it up at all. It makes you lose a very little amount of time, sure, but on the scale a full work day, it can get significant. So actually it’s not about being lazy, it’s more about giving you more time to be productive. It’s quite the opposite :)
            Now these are just my two cents, of course :)

          • stfu

            if either is just as easy as the other, then where is the inconvenience? and tell me, what exactly will you be able to accomplish in a fraction of a second? i highly doubt there is any earth-shattering significance behind the time “lost” in picking up a phone. i mean, a single breath lasts longer than that.

          • Shem68

            The inconvenience is that you have to pick it up in order to use it. You can’t access the screen whenever the phone is face down. When it’s face up, you can.
            As I said, it’s a ridiculous amount of time when you pick it up once. Throughout a whole day, it can sum up to a very large number of those ridiculous amounts of time, thus summing up to a not-so-ridiculous-anymore amount of time. Nothing earth-shattering of course, but still something. And the way I see it, something’s better than nothing.

            To sum up, all I’m saying is I only see inconvenients in putting a phone face down on a surface. And I mustn’t be the only one, because I can’t think of anyone I know who does so. But in any case, it’s really no big deal :)

          • SnakeSplitskin

            But you’re ignoring the reason why someone would choose to put their phone face down in the 1st place. If you’re at your own desk at work, then yes, most people would have the phone face up so they can interact w/the phone without picking it up. That’s a no-brainer. But what about when you’re surrounded by others in a meeting or at lunch and don’t want people seeing what type of notifications you’re receiving and from whom? That’s when placing the phone face down while still knowing which notifications (and from whom) becomes a major convenience rather than inconvenience.

          • Shem68

            I do get that, I feel exactly the same. Hopefully Android allows to hide notifications content on the lock screen (although I set the screen not to light up at all when receiving a notification), and that does the trick for me. This way I protect my privacy (so to speak) while not going through the inconvenience of having my phone face down.

            Ultimately it all comes down to the same basic idea, we just have different ways to achieve the desired result :)

          • SnakeSplitskin

            Agreed. for me, picking up a phone that was face down and immediately using it is quicker than picking one that’s face up requiring me to scoop up the phone.

    • God

      You barely need lightflow if you own a samsung device. Also, many apps these days allow LED colour customisation inapp. And if you have a case, letting the phone lie face down is pretty common. Not everyone wants the full screen glare in their eyes everytime there is a call.

      • Shem68

        You don’t need lightflow, I’d just say it’s a plus. it allows more customization, and without having to configure each and every app individually: it all happens in one place, it’s more convenient. Besides you get more options, that you may or may not want to use. So IMO it’s not a necessity, but it’s still more convenient to use it than not :)

        As for the glare… Well hey, that’s something you can configure. On my N6P the LED is tiny, so no glare at all really, but even on my old S3 with it’s huge LED, you could configure the light intensity in order to make it very discreet. And you do it with… Lightflow. See my point now ? :p

    • levoila

      Because you don’t want to scratch the back camera’s cover

      • Shem68

        Well, never happened to me at all on any of my phones, but I guess I see your point :)

        • keithbe

          I put my phone face down to stop silent mode vibrations. Once face down no notification vibrations happen until I pick the device up. Great for meetings that aren’t boring as hell.

          • Shem68

            I see. I put mine in silent mode all the time for similar reasons, but i just use the volume button to activate fully silent (i.e. non-vibrating) mode.

      • ImClaux

        oh ya, let me just risk scratching the entire screen then
        also wanna add, for that price camera covers better be sapphire glass anyway

        • SnakeSplitskin

          indeed people who spend top dollar on phones will most likely be covering their screens with a screen protector & a case thus protecting the camera & the screen. Those many many smartphone owners are able to set their phones face down or face up whenever they feel like it without worry.

      • Rob

        At the cost of the screen. Wow.

    • Phillip Pugh

      folks pit there phone upside down all the time when there’s a bunch of people sitting at the same table . guess you don’t go out much with friends to eat do you

      • Shem68

        As a matter of fact, I do, and where I’m from no one (and I mean NO ONE) does that, I’m afraid. Neither at lunch, nor at meetings. AT ALL. Silent mode and the correct phones settings (such as “hide sensitive information” for notifications, or not powering up the screen when recieving a notification) do the trick just fine. You didn’t spend much time in your phone’s settings, did you ?

  • Daan Brandt

    Discoverd by the dutch so I say best thing ever to happen.

  • Tonderai Chambwe

    Remind me of my first phone

  • paul e.

    One of the reasons why I still use my Xperia SP as my daily driver.

  • Kshitij

    well the edge looks so so brilliant and the edge lighting is sufficient to turn heads arundel

    • Rob

      LOL. No one I work with is impressed with the edge I have. I can’t say I am either. The phone itself is fine, but the edge functionality gives everyone a laugh, because it’s so useless.

  • Kshitij


  • BlackBerry Passport has best notification light. It’s huge so when it lights up you can see it even if it’s upside down. I totally love that feature :)

  • raffr

    Do many people put their phone face down?

    • SnakeSplitskin


  • theizaster

    “Loud speaker” LOL

  • Can’t see a light when the phone is in your pocket or bag….

  • Dominick White

    So will be like the droid Dna with a led on the back

  • Noah Jones


  • Mee

    Lg g2 glow power button

  • Daniel Frisch

    who keeps their phone face down?

    • SnakeSplitskin

      people in meetings. people sitting w/others at a bar or lunch table. people at a library sitting around other people. get out more & experience life, you’ll find plenty of examples when you’d want to do this.

  • Kenn Cheek

    What do I think: Moto Display is the BEST!!!

  • Leslie Hogan

    For all the posters asking why turn it over: obviously you need a lesson in group (mtgs, etc) manners. It is best to put your phone away entirely, but you may be expecting an urgent call. Like your partner is in labor or a Dr calling about a sick kid, the client you have been trying to reel in is actually calling you back, etc. If you cannot put it away, every notification will show on your screen and be distracting. It is more polite, and less likely to disract you from the meeting if you flip it over. It is also a signal to the person conducting the meeting or the client you are meeting at lunch that you are paying attention to the her and not your phone. If you can set the color and what # to notify about, then you will be able to know when that important call comes in. And don’t be a jerk. Apologize at the start – “I am sorry to have my phone out, but a family member has been rushed to the hospital and I need to know if she is OK.”

  • Annonymous

    Samsung paid someone to redesign their phones and it just went “fuck this. Let’s put the LED behind the phone.” Then someone from the legal department got paid to patent this bullshit, someone in the patents office got paid to process this bullshit and someone got paid to publish this as news.

    What the fuck am I doing with my life when there is so many people getting paid for literally nothing important?

    • SnakeSplitskin

      or making dumb comments on something they think is nothing important?

  • Say What??

    If they do this (which is strange why they would put this on the back instead of around the home button) then it would be smart to also put the fingerprint scanner on the back.

  • wikwakcow

    Is it like what lg has done since lg g2?

    • Paco Inurreta

      I had to Google that, I didnt know such thing already happened.

  • Rob

    I see absolutely no use for this. Even my LED light I don’t bother with. I couldn’t tell you what color of blink it does is for what. The only exception would be when it’s charging, but I always check the phone anyway, not just the LED. I usually prefer to just turn off the LED, so it doesn’t use battery. Why bother wasting money and overcharging me for something I’m never going to care about? The payoff is so low it’s humorous. I already have this stupid S6 Edge mess that I don’t even use either. I ended up with a phone that never lived up to the hype of the edge functionality. In retrospect, I would have gotten the S6 flat up. If I ever upgrade, I’ll go with the flat version, because the edge mess is so under-featured that I wouldn’t consider it worth the money. This little glow mess isn’t going to do them any favors in sales, either…I predict.