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Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra: 10 key settings to change

As flagship phones go, the Galaxy S20 lineup set a new standard — and it’ll stick around. The upcoming launch of the Galaxy Note 20 line will likely complement these phones, rather than replace them.

Samsung packed the Galaxy S20 phones with a wealth of features, and it can be almost overwhelming when you take your first dip into the settings menu, wondering what to alter. It’s even worse if there’s something you want to change, but aren’t sure exactly how to do it. If it’s a common alteration, we’ve got the help you need.

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Here’s our list of settings you may want to change on your Galaxy S20, Galaxy S20 Plus, or Galaxy S20 Ultra.

Activate dark mode

Who doesn’t want dark mode? It’s good for your eyes, better for the battery, and cool too. To switch to dark mode on the Galaxy S20, go to Settings > Display, and at the top of the screen tap the Dark option, and watch the lights go out. Under this, tap Dark Mode Settings to either schedule a switch to dark mode, or to set up a blue light filter to activate automatically at night.

Switch to 120Hz refresh rate

Out of the box, your Galaxy S20 Ultra’s screen refresh rate is 60Hz, which is great for battery life, but doesn’t stretch the stunning AMOLED screen’s ability. It can run at 120Hz, resulting in smoother scrolling on the web, in apps, and in certain games too. However, it will drain the battery faster so use it wisely. Switch by going to Settings > Display > Motion Smoothness. Tap this and select High Refresh Rate, then press Apply.

Change the screen resolution

Like the 60Hz refresh rate, the Galaxy S20 Ultra’s out-of-the-box screen resolution doesn’t showcase the phone’s astonishing ability. By default, the screen’s resolution is 2400 x 1080 pixels, but it can run at 3200 x 1400 pixels. To see this, go to Settings > Display > Screen Resolution. There are three options here, and you want to select the WQHD+ option. Again, use this option sparingly because it will add further strain on the battery life, and bear in mind it cannot be used in conjunction with the 120Hz refresh rate.

Customize the Edge Screen

At its most basic, Samsung’s Edge Screen is a slide-in shortcut panel, but it can be a lot more than this with a little customization. To find the Edge Screen, look down the right-hand side of the screen for a gray vertical bar likely next to the volume key. Slide this across the screen to reveal the Screen Edge. It will have a few icons for some frequently used apps. Tap the Plus icon in the empty spaces to add more apps.

However, you can add new panels to the Edge Screen, and also change the way the screen edges light up with notifications. To do this, go to Settings > Display, then scroll down to Edge Screen and tap it. Here, tap either Edge Panels or Edge Lighting to add more panels, or to change the notification lighting effects, or associated apps.

Go to the Home screen without swiping after using Face Unlock

Samsung has opted to make you swipe the screen up after unlocking it with Face Unlock, but you can save time by avoiding this step. It makes it easier to use the phone with one hand too. Face unlock is set up during the initial setup time, but if you skipped that step, go to Settings > Biometrics and Security > Face Recognition to get started.

Otherwise, for those already using Face Unlock, at this point look for the option marked Stay on Lock Screen and turn it off. The phone will automatically unlock when it recognizes your face.

Turn off your phone using the power button

This may sound strange, but when you long-press the power button on the Galaxy S20, instead of showing the power menu, it wakes up Bixby-Samsung’s virtual assistant. To turn off the phone, it’s recommended you use the power menu in the notification shade, but many will just want to press the button like most other phones.  To switch from Bixby to the power menu, go to Settings > Advanced Features, and then Side Key. In this menu select the Power Off Menu under actions for the Press and Hold option.

Use gesture controls

When you start using the Galaxy S20 it will be with the standard back, home, and menu Android buttons at the bottom of the screen, but you can switch to an alternative gesture-based control system if you prefer. Go to Settings > Display, and then look for Navigation Bar. Here, select the option named Full Screen Gestures. This removes the Android buttons and increases visible screen real estate.

Using it is the same as many other gesture control systems. Swipe up to return home, swipe up and hold to access the app menu, and swipe left or right on the screen to go back or forward.

Use Samsung Daily

Swipe to the right on your Home screen and you’re presented with Samsung Daily, which was known as Bixby Home until recently, and was a page of mostly useless cards that could not be reconfigured at all. That’s changed with the rebranding to Samsung Daily, and it could be potentially a little more useful.

To make sure the cards it displays are relevant to you, swipe right to access Samsung Daily. If it’s the first time you’re doing so, you have the option to select which cards are shown and in what order. If you skipped past this, don’t worry, you can still change it to your liking. Tap the three-dot menu button in the top right, then tap Cards. Now, turn off the cards you don’t want to see, and tap Reorder to change the way they’re shown.

Take 108-megapixel photos

The Galaxy S20 Ultra has a 108-megapixel main camera, and under normal circumstances, it defaults to 12-megapixel shots, which use special algorithms and pixel technology to improve photos without using the full 108-megapixels each time. However, you can still take photos at full resolution if you want to.

Open the camera app and look at the top row of icons labeled with image ratios. If you’re holding the phone in portrait orientation, look for the one that says 3:4. If you’re holding it in landscape, it will say 4:3. Tap the icon and select 108MP from the menu which appears. Photos taken at 108-megapixels are large, often at least 10MB, but they don’t allow you to use wide-angle or zoom features.

Shoot 8K resolution videos

The Galaxy S30 Ultra is capable of shooting jaw-dropping 8K footage; it’s up to you to make sure the 8K resolution is turned on. To ensure that it’s working, head to the camera app and select Video. Watch for the icon to shift the aspect ratio automatically. It’ll closely resemble the icon we used to swap the still resolution to 108-megapixels, except now it should say 9:16 or 16:9 depending on the direction your smartphone is oriented. Select the new icon and tap 9:16/16:9 8K to start shooting stunning 8K resolution video. 

We do want to point out that 8K video will absolutely eat up your smartphone’s storage. To give you an idea of just how quickly 8K will take up space: a one-minute 8K video is usually about 600MB in size. 

By playing around with these ten settings, you’ll be a step closer to getting the most out of your Galaxy S20. You’ll be able to experience amazing technology and put your device to the test when checking out these features. For additional tips on this phone’s camera, read our story on using the innovative Single Take mode.

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