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The best Samsung Galaxy S21, S21 Plus, and S21 Ultra tips and tricks

Samsung has ushered in the S21 Galaxy lineup for the 2021 year. From the base Galaxy S21 to the mighty S21 Ultra, the company offers a range of devices sure to please many Android fans. Whether it’s your first time picking up a Galaxy smartphone or you’ve been around the block a few times, there are a few tips and tricks that everyone can learn. Here’s our roundup of the best Samsung Galaxy S21 tips and tricks to take your experience to the next level.

Switch to Android gesture navigation

By default, Samsung smartphones continue to use the three-button navigation method. This means that you are presented with three buttons at the bottom of your screen that enable you to head back to your home screen, switch between open apps, and step back in an app. However, Android 11 offers a gesture-based system, similar to using an iOS device. This method can feel more intuitive and allows apps a tad more screen space. Here’s how to enable gesture navigation on your Galaxy S21:

Step 1: Open the Settings app.

Step 2: Select the Display option.

Step 3: Choose Navigation Bar.

Step 4: Select Swipe Gestures as your option.

Access a personal Google news feed

One of the features introduced with Samsung’s Galaxy S21 lineup and One UI 3.1 is Google Discover. By swiping to the left of your home screen, you can access an automatically-generated and personalized news feed. Google bases the Discover feed on your online activity in an attempt to only display information that it believes you may be interested in reading. If Google Discover is not enabled, you can follow these steps to show it on your device:

Step 1: Hold down on the Home Screen.

Step 2: Swipe right to access the leftmost screen.

Step 3: Choose to enable or disable Google Discover.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Take advantage of Samsung DeX

Some Samsung fans don’t know that there is an entire desktop experience hidden inside their Galaxy device. With the use of an external monitor and an HDMI cable (wireless Miracast-enabled displays are also an option), you can gain access to an Android-based desktop, where you can drag your favorite apps around in a multi-window experience. For more info, check out our detailed guide on how to use Samsung DeX.

Access calls and texts from other devices

Apple fans love to showcase how they can access iMessages, text messages, and calls across all of their devices, but did you know Samsung devices can perform the same trick? If you have another Samsung device, such as a tablet, you can enable a feature that allows text messages and calls to be shared across your Samsung account. To enable this feature, follow these instructions:

Step 1: Open the Settings app.

Step 2: Scroll down to Advanced Features.

Step 3: Enable the Call and Text on Other Devices feature.

Control your Galaxy side button

There was a time when Galaxy devices came with a dedicated button for Samsung’s Bixby virtual assistant, but that time is no longer. Now, the Galaxy S21 series offers a single side button (known as the “power button” to most people) that can be programmed how you wish. Do you want to access Bixby or quickly launch your camera? Choose exactly what the side button does when you press it, double click it, and more. Here’s how:

Step 1: Open the Settings app.

Step 2: Scroll down to Advanced Features.

Step 3: Choose the Side Key option.

Step 4: Select what function you want the key to perform.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Andrew Martonik/Digital Trends

Always access your notifications

Samsung smartphones, and others in general, appear to keep getting larger. If you’re having trouble accessing your notifications because your finger can’t reach the top of the screen, we have a solution for you. Disabled by default, you can choose to allow notification access by swiping down anywhere on the home screen, not just from the top. Here’s how to make notifications a bit easier to access:

Step 1: Long-press on your Home Screen.

Step 2: Choose Home Screen Settings.

Step 3: Enable the Swipe Down for Notification Panel option.

Enable the always-on display

One of the cooler features Samsung’s smartphones include is an always-on display. This cool feature allows you to see information at a glance, even when your phone is locked. Always-on displays can have a slight impact on battery life, but for those who want information (such as the time) always shown, it’s a nifty trick. Here’s how to enable the always-on display for your device:

Step 1: Open the Settings app.

Step 2: Scroll down to Lock Screen.

Step 3: Toggle on the Always On Display.

Show the fingerprint scanner location

The Samsung Galaxy S21 series’ under-screen fingerprint scanner is a great way to keep your smartphone secure while feeling like James Bond every time you unlock it. However, it can sometimes be a bit tricky to find the right spot. Here’s how to show the fingerprint scanner location when your device is locked, so you know exactly where to place your finger:

Step 1: Open the Settings app.

Step 2: Choose the Biometrics and Security option.

Step 3: Choose Fingerprints.

Step 4: Confirm your PIN.

Step 5: Enable the Show Icon When Screen is Off option.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Keep your files in the Secure Folder

If you have sensitive information on your Galaxy device, you can choose to store it in what Samsung calls its Secure Folder. Even after unlocking your device, the Secure Folder must be unlocked again with another password, adding a second level of security and protection to your device. Once Secure Folder is enabled, you can access it from the App Drawer. Here’s how to set it up:

Step 1: Open the Settings app.

Step 2: Choose Biometrics and Security.

Step 3: Select Secure Folder.

Change your display mode

Samsung offers some of the most vibrant displays on the market within its smartphones thanks to its screen technology, but did you know that there are two screen modes to choose from? A standard 60Hz mode is excellent for keeping your battery life in check, but enabling the Adaptive Smoothness mode allows your device to pick a refresh rate up to 120Hz, showing smoother animation and visuals on screen. Here’s how to choose between Adaptive Smoothness and Standard Smoothness on your Galaxy S21:

Step 1: Open the Settings app.

Step 2: Choose the Display option.

Step 3: Select Motion Smoothness.

Step 4: Choose your display mode.

Enable the Eye Comfort Shield

Samsung’s Galaxy S21 offers what it calls an Eye Comfort Shield, a mode that aims to eliminate blue light and reduce eye strain. If your eyes are feeling a bit tired after staring at your smartphone all day, this is one feature you might want to consider. Here’s how to enable the Eye Comfort Shield:

Step 1: Open the Settings apps.

Step 2: Choose the Display option.

Step 3: Select Eye Comfort Mode.

Step 4: Enable the feature and choose any customizations.

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Michael Archambault
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Michael Archambault is a technology writer and digital marketer located in Long Island, New York. For the past decade…
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