Make your phone awesome with these Samsung Galaxy S9 tips and tricks

Now that you have the awesome new Galaxy S9 or S9 Plus in hand, it’s time try out all of its features. While some things may not have changed much from the Galaxy S8, there is still plenty of new surprises to try out.

Once you have the phone out of the box and set up, take a few minutes to check out our favorite Galaxy S9 tips and tricks to learn some features you may have missed.

How to use AR Emojis

One of the most talked about features on this year’s Galaxy S9 is the introduction of AR Emojis. With AR Emoji, you can create emojis customized to your likeness. While it’s definitely not as polished as Animojis on the iPhone X, it’s a fun option for chatting.

How to use Bixby Vision

While it may be fair to say the Bixby Vision is Samsung’s answer to Google Lens, it’s not quite as polished. With Bixby Vision, you use the camera on your Samsung Galaxy S9 or S9 Plus to gain contextual information about certain items and locations around you.

Right now Bixby Vision has seven different categories: Place, Text, QR Code, Food, Wine, Shopping, and Image. In addition to those seven categories, there is also a feature called Makeup that allows you to virtually try on different products from Sephora and provides purchase links when you’ve found the perfect look.

While we have an in-depth Bixby tutorial, we focus on Bixby Vision basics here. First, you need to set up Bixby by tapping on the Bixby button on the left side of the phone or by swiping right on the home screen. Follow the prompts until you see the Bixby Homepage appear showing Bixby Level 1 at the top.

Now that Bixby is all set up, here is the fun part. You can easily access Bixby Vision from the Camera and Gallery apps by tapping on its icon. The first time you use Bixby, you also have an option to add a Bixby Vision icon to your home screen.

When you tap the Bixby Vision icon, you will see the different identification categories appear. Tap the appropriate one and then aim the camera at the image in question. You will see different suggestions begin to appear. Once you have the item in focus, tap on the category again to see what type of information Bixby Vision offers.

How to use Super Slow-Motion video

Shortly before Samsung unveiled its newest flagship, the company promised the Galaxy S9 would reinvent the camera. Along with a ton of other new camera features on the Galaxy S9, Super Slow-Motion was introduced. With Super Slow-Motion, you can capture video at an incredibly high frame rate (960 fps to be exact), creating Matrix-like video footage.

To use Super Slow-Motion, you need to open the Camera app. Swipe over to the Super Slow-Motion option above the viewfinder. You will be presented with two options: One will allow you to automatically begin recording at the slower frame rate when motion is detected within a small box on the screen, while the other allows you to manually control the image.

If you select the manual option, just tap the shutter button to begin recording. When you’re ready to capture the slow-motion footage, tap the three-button icon. Since the slow-motion footage is less than a second (0.2 seconds to be exact), you may want to press the three-button icon several times to capture footage in the same video.

Should you choose to try out the automatic mode, tap the auto mode at the bottom of the camera and make sure the object you want to capture in slow motion is in the defined box. Press the shutter button to start recording. You will see the box turn yellow when it is about to capture the clip. As with the manual mode, you can initiate slow-motion recording multiple times within the same video.

How to set up Intelligent Scan

While Samsung did make a number of upgrades to its camera hardware, don’t expect the latest flagship to have a facial identification feature that matches what you find on the iPhone X. With Samsung’s new Intelligent Scan feature you can unlock your phone using iris and facial data. Be warned, however, that the feature has more than its fair share of hiccups so you may want to set up an alternate authentication method.

If you want to give Intelligent Scan a try, tap Settings > Lock screen and security > Intelligent Scan. Enter your password, PIN, or pattern. Tap Continue.  Select a lock screen option and then agree to the disclaimer. Press Continue two times.

First, you register your face by holding the phone 8 to 20 inches away and making sure it is centered in the alignment circle. Once registered, tap Continue. Finally, you register your irises by holding the phone 10 to 14 inches away and making sure each eye is centered in the necessary alignment circles.

To get the best data you will want to make sure you’re in a well-lit room without a lot of backlight. You also need to remove your glasses for the iris scan, and once set up you may not be able to authenticate with them on.

How to set up Secure Folder

If you have sensitive documents or photos you don’t want to share with everyone, the Samsung Galaxy S9 offers a feature called Secure Folder that allows you to store sensitive items in a private, secure folder.

Setting up Secure Folder takes seconds. Tap Settings > Lock Screen and Security > Secure Folder. Press Next > Start. Sign into your Samsung account and tap Confirm. 

Next, you need to choose the best authentication method to access Secure Folder. If you’re using a PIN, password, or pattern to authenticate, you probably want to select something different than what you use to access your phone. Once you have entered your preferred authentication method, a Secure Folder will be set up and added to your home screen.

To use Secure Folder, simply tap the homepage icon. You’ll see options to add photos, apps, and files.

How to use Samsung Pass / Google’s autofill

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Samsung Pass allows you to auto-populate personal details such as your name and email address. Sure, Google provides a similar feature with autofill, but Samsung Pass works in the native internet browser.

If you want to give Samsung Pass a try, go to Settings > Lock Screen and Security > Samsung Pass. Tap Next. Sign in with your Samsung Account and press Start. Agree to the disclaimer and tap Next. Finally, choose your preferred biometric identification option and you are all set.

Each time you use Samsung’s browser to sign in on websites or enter personal information, it will be saved to Samsung Pass for future use. When you wish to use the information stored in Samsung Pass, just authenticate using an iris scan or fingerprint.

How to customize your home screen

Want to customize your home screen? If you don’t want to go as far as changing your theme, there are still plenty of customization options available. Here are a few of our favorite features.

If you don’t like frames around your icons, go to Settings > Display > Icon frames > Icons only. 

To change the background, long press on an empty area on the home screen. Tap Wallpapers and select your new image. You can also add and change widgets by simply tapping the Widgets icon instead of Wallpapers.

If you want to make more extensive home screen changes long press on the home screen and select the Home screen settings icon. From here you can adjust icon size, change your grid layout, disable app icon badges, and more.

How to customize the always-on display and lock screen

Now that you have customized your home screen, why not tweak the always on display to your liking? While most people are fine with the default always-on display settings, it takes seconds to switch it.

If you want to customize the always-on display, tap Settings > Lock screen and security > Always on display.  From here you can update what you would like to appear on the always-on screen. To change the clock and widgets, just tap Settings > Lock screen and security > Clock and FaceWidgets. 

How to use Live Focus

While plenty of phones offer a portrait mode, the Samsung Galaxy S9 kicks it into high gear with its Live Focus option. Live Focus allows you to create customized portraits that look stunning.

To use Live Focus, simply open the Camera app and swipe right on the viewfinder screen. Position your subject three to five feet away from the camera lens to get the perfect shot. Once the subject is in the perfect spot, use the background blur slider to adjust the degree of bokeh in the background; Samsung allows you to see the adjustments in real time so you can make sure it doesn’t look overly processed.

Next, you can choose to turn off the beauty filter before taking the photo (it’s on by default) by tapping the sparkle icon and moving the slider to zero. Finally, make sure the two Live Focus circles are yellow before pressing the shutter button.

Once you have taken the photo you will see two images in the Gallery. One is your Live Focus shot, while the other is a regular wide angle shot. Luckily you can still adjust the background blur to the Live Focus image from the slider that will appear in the gallery.

While you will see both images in your Gallery, you may still want to manually save the images by tapping the overflow icon and selecting Save image. The benefit of manually saving the images is that both will be uploaded to your Google Photos account.

How to disable Bixby button

Although Bixby has improved exponentially over the past year, it is still not everyone’s cup of tea. While you can’t map the Bixby button to perform other tasks, it’s pretty easy to disable.

Simply swipe right to reach the Bixby Home screen. Tap the overflow icon on the top right side of the screen and select Bixby Settings. Select Bixby Key and tap the Don’t open anything radio button.

How to customize Quick Settings Tiles

Quick Settings Tiles allow you to quickly access frequently used features on your phone. Just swipe down and you can easily connect to Wi-Fi, turn on the flashlight, or even quickly pair a Bluetooth device. If the number of Quick Settings Tiles seems overwhelming, it may be a good idea to make some adjustments.

To customize your Quick Settings Tiles, use two fingers to swipe down from the top of the display. Press the overflow icon in the top right-hand corner. You will see options for Button order and Button grid. While Button grid will allow you to change the number of icons on the screen, Button order allows you to rearrange icons and remove ones you don’t need.

How to change the Navigation bar

Let’s be honest: Samsung’s Navigation bar is wacky. The reason Samsung continues to default to the back icon being on the right side is beyond us. Luckily if you’re one of the people who find Samsung’s custom Navigation bar annoying, it is incredibly easy to fix

Simply go to Settings > Display > Navigation bar > Button layout. Select your preferred option and you’re set.

How to hide apps

Depending on the carrier, your Samsung Galaxy S9 may come with a lot of apps you will never use. Unfortunately, some of these apps are baked in and can’t be uninstalled without rooting the phone. However, you can hide the apps so they don’t take up screen real estate.

There are two ways to hide apps. From the home screen, simply long press on the app and select Remove from Home. If you want to hide app from the App drawer, swipe up on the home screen and tap the overflow icon in the top right corner. Select Home screen settings > Hide apps. Select the apps you would like to hide.

If you need to access a hidden app, simply search for it by name.

How to set up Do Not Disturb

If you have ever been woken up in the middle of the night by a notification alert, you will appreciate the Do not disturb function on the Samsung Galaxy S9. With Do Not Disturb, it’s easy to block notifications as well as set different notification schedules that occur throughout the day.

To give Do Not Disturb a try, go to Settings > Sounds and vibration  > Do not disturb. From here, you can toggle on Do not disturb.  If you want to schedule certain times to be free of interruption, tap on Turn on as scheduled to toggle the feature on and set schedules.

Finally, if you only want to block certain notifications and callers, you can set up exceptions. Simply tap Settings > Sounds and vibration > Do not disturb > Allow exceptions. Select Custom to define your own parameters.

How to turn on Dual Messenger

If you have multiple social media accounts, Samsung has an excellent feature on the Galaxy S9 called Dual Messenger. With Dual Messenger, you can quickly create multiple instances of the same app.

To turn on Dual Messenger tap Settings > Advanced features> Dual Messenger. 

How to schedule software updates

samsung galaxy s9 review
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

While Android defaults to automatically updating apps when your phone is connected to a Wi-Fi connection, sometimes those updates happen at inopportune times. If you prefer to change it, it’s easy to schedule a specific time for any software updates.

Go to Settings > Software Updates > Scheduled software updates. Select your selected time and press Done. 

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