[Novice Guide] You Just Bought a Galaxy S4? - 50 Tips and Tricks


Senior Member
Dec 26, 2011
Original source by Andrew Williams :-> HERE

50 Samsung Galaxy S4 Tips and Tricks​
For novice users​

Hi everybody

So you decided to join the ranks of Android and the millions of happy Galaxy S4 owners. But It can be troublesome to setup your phone at the beginning. So I decided to search for you some little tricks you can use to better know and use your phone. I found this excellent article by Andrew Williams. I modified some content to better fit XDA's forum format but the info are the same. I also add a touchwiz tweaks that was not in the article. Here are 50 useful tips and tricks for new (even less new) Galaxy S4 users to pull out the best of your phone. Enjoy!

This is a Tips and Tricks guide, to see all you can do with your new Galaxy S4 please read ->Galaxy S4 Bloatware explained

Make Touchwiz go faster.
To make Touchwiz look good, Samsung created some animations to transit between screens. These animations take some times and can make your phone seems slow. The solution is to go in your phone Settings-> Developer options and turn off -> "Windows animation scale", "Transition animation scale" and "Animator duration scale". Now check how much snappier your phone is.:good:

If Developer Options is not enable go to SETTINGS->About Phone and tap BUILD NUMBER for 7 times.

***You can also turn on "Force GPU rendering" but SOME applications don't like that, so you can try it, but if you find you start having problem with some of your applications, turn it off.

Ringtones - Alarms - Notifications - Media Files​
Put your Sounds in the system.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 allows us to use mp3 as ringtones, alarms or notifications. But if like me you have over 16G of music on your phone it might be annoying to "Go To Files" and search for them. Another way to do it is by creating a folder where Android will automatically look in and put the files in the "Ringtones". To do this just create a folder called "Media" on your sd-card. Inside the Media folders create 3 more folders "Ringtones", "Alarms" and "Notifications". It should look like this.
Now move/copy your mp3 files in the according folders. Now if you go on your phone settings->sounds->device ringtones you should see your mp3 files in the list.(Phone restart might be needed)

Remove unwanted media files
To remove unwanted media files (pictures, audio) that do not belong in the gallery or in your music player, just create an empty file and name it ".nomedia". Place a .nomedia file at the root of any folder you don't wan't to see appear in your Gallery or Music player. Android will skip scannnig those folder. You can always open those files later by using a file explorer.

Screen and video

Get AMOLED colours in check
OLED-based screens like the Samsung Galaxy S4's tend to bring oversaturated colours that make skin tones look unnatural. They pop, but they pop a little too much. There's a solution, though. In the settings menu is a Display Setting submenu that lets you choose how vivid the colours are. We recommend the "natural" or "movie" settings.

Fill video codec gaps with third-party players
The Samsung Galaxy S4 has an excellent inbuilt media player, but there are some files it can't handle. We found that high-quality 1080p MKVs were too much for it. Snag a third-party media player like MX Player from the Google Play app store, though, and you'll be flying. These can use software encoding to fill gaps in native video support.

Video multi-tasking is in
One of the neatest additional features of the Samsung Galaxy S3 and Galaxy S4 is that you can overlay a video playback screen on top of any part of the phone. Just press a button in the nav bar of the media player and a little window will pop-up on the homescreen, playing the vid. Watch an episode of Peep Show while browsing the web? Don't mind if I do.

Free games to show off the screen
One of the best ways to show off the Sasmung Galaxy S4's screen is with a fancy 3D game. Top free picks to try include Dead Trigger.

Not bright enough? Turn off auto
The standard setting of the Samsung Galaxy S4 uses automatic brightness, which judges the intensity of screen brightness using an ambient light sensor on the front. If it's still not bright enough at the max slider point, switch off the auto mode for real searing intensity. But it will affect battery life.

The microUSB port can output video
The Samsung Galaxy S4's microUSB port is more special than you might guess. It has MHL capabilities when used with a special Samsung cable, letting it output HD video and surround audio. The Samsung adapter, which is essentially an MHL-to-HDMI converter costs around £25. The Samsung Galaxy S4 does not come bundled with one, though.

Mini home cinema? Tick the surround box
If you want to output surround sound, make sure you tick the Surround box within the Settings menu. This isn't within the Audio bit, which you might expect, but is actually in the Accessory submenu.

Battery life

Keep battery life riding high with auto management
The Samsung Galaxy S4 has a massive 2600mAh battery. Stamina is good at the worst of times, but there's also an auto power management mode to make the most of the phone's juice. It's called Power Saving and has its own section within the main Settings menu. It can throttle the CPU, change the background of the web browser to conserve power (it turns the white background blue), and turns off haptic feedback. These are compromises, but they do work.

Switch off features for extra battery life
The best way to conserve power in any phone is to switch off features - most importantly 3G mobile internet. You can do this manually in the Samsung Galaxy S4, directly from the pull-down notifications menu, and apps such as MySettings let you do the same thing.

Reduce screen timeout time
Another dead simple trick is to reduce the screen timeout time. This is in the Display submenu within settings, and lets you choose between 15 sec and 10 minutes of time the screen stays lit after a screen press. It's hardly a secret, but it is something not enough people consider.

Grab a spare battery, live forever
In a time of non-removable batteries - the HTC One and iPhone 5 to name but two - we love that the Samsung Galaxy S4 has a removable battery. You can swap it out within about 15 seconds. Spare batteries are available from eBay for well under £10. We recommend shopping around for a reliable brand though as some third-party batteries are as dodgy as Del Boy's VCRs.


One for your grandma? Easy home screen mode
Here's one feature we were a little surprised to see in a device that's such a geek's dreamphone. The Samsung Galaxy S4 has a mode called Easy home screen, which simplifies the layout of the phone's home screens in a way that even your technophobe grandma might be able to get along with.

Full screenshots are easy
Like the Samsung Galaxy S3, the Galaxy S4 makes it pretty easy to take screenshots of whatever's on the phone's display. Just hold down the home button and the power button at the same time, wait or a white flash and a screenshot will be taken and whisked over to the Gallery app.
A cooler/easier way to take screenshot is to swipe the palm of your hand from right to left. For this to work you need to enable "Motion" in Settings and check "Palm swipe capture".

Don't forget side-loading of apps
The Samsung Galaxy S4 is an Android device, with all the benefits that brings. You don't have to rely on the official Google Play app store for one, with APK installation files available for all sorts of other apps online. Be careful, though, as Android viruses are a real issue.

Customise your phone with non-Samsung widgets
Samsung supplied a nice handful of widgets with which you can customize your home screens, but far too few people try a new look with third-party widgets from Google Play. And there are loads out them out there. Some of our old faves include those of the Beautiful Widgets package.

Gadgets and Gimmicks

Motion control
Here's one we're not big fans of, but some of you may like it. The Samsung Galaxy S4 lets you control things like the photo gallery and the navigation of you home screens using the accelerometer - by tilting your phone, basically. You can turn it off, though, and it's set to "off" as standard. Phew.

Face unlock
A bit Minority Report, this one. The Samsung Galaxy S4 can scan your face to unlock your phone. It takes a picture of your mug, remembers the basic geometry of it and then scans your face whenever you try and unlock the phone. It works pretty well, but as a security measure is about as flimsy as the padlock on a filofax.

Smart Stay
The last user-facing camera gimmick is one that sounds kinda neat in principle. It scans for your eyes to check if you're reading, and if it spots them, Smart Stay stops the backlight from turning off. It's designed to make reading on the Samsung Galaxy S4 a good deal less frustrating. It's a feature you'll find in the Settings menu.

Jelly Bean easter egg
The Jelly Bean easter egg has made it in the Samsung Galaxy S4. Go to Settings menu > About device and tap on the Android version number entry. You'll be transported to a screen with a picture of a giant jelly bean on it. Hold your finger down on said jelly bean and the screen will fill up with dozens of the blighters, which you can flick around. Pure joy.

Arrange your music by moods
The music player of the Samsung Galaxy S4 features a fun little extra called Music square. This scans through your music library, arranging the tracks by mood - passionate, calm, exciting, joyful or a little in-between. Tap a block in the 5x5 square grid and you'll be greeted with a tune to match your mood.


Expandable storage - where to get it cheap

If you're out to spend as little as possible (and the Galaxy S4 doesn't come cheap as it is), your best bet is to buy the cheapest 16GB model, and supplement any other storage needs with a microSD card. Top retailers for bargain basement-price memory cards include 7DayShop and Ebuyer. A 32GB microSD card these days will set you back less than £15 if you shop hard enough.

Flush the cache for extra memory
If you find yourself running low on memory, you can easily delete the cache and temporary files of any apps you have installed. To do this, go to the Applications Manager section within settings and tap on an app to see how much memory it's leeching. There will be buttons to wipe the cache and data for the app here.

Comes with 50GB of dropbox storage
Cloud storage is the future - you may not like it, but you may as well embrace it. Samsung Galaxy S4 owners get to benefit from 50GB of free cloud storage from one of the best providers out there - Dropbox. There are Dropbox apps for mobiles, tablets and computers, and it honestly works like a dream. If this won't convert you, nothing will. You only normally get 2GB of free from Dropbox, making it a pretty sweet deal.

Don't sync, drag 'n' drop
If you chose to go Android rather than opting for an iPhone, there's a good chance that the open-ness of the platform had something to do with it. Samsung is keen on trying to make its users adopt the Kies desktop software, but it's actually completely unnecessary. Plug the Samsung Galaxy S4 into a computer with a microUSB cable and it'll show up as a media player drive, which you can drag and drop all kinds of files onto. Transfer speeds are impressively fast too.


Nab contacts from Facebook and Twitter

When we first got our Samsung Galaxy S4 in, it didn't have any of the usual social apps installed. Even if you're not a massive mobile Facebook-er, it's worth giving the app a download because it lets you harvest contacts from the network, making populating your contacts book a good deal easier.

Blocking Mode
Do you have a bug-a-boo stalking you? Is there a creep who keeps calling? The Samsung Galaxy S4 lets you keep them away with the blocking mode. It restricts notifications and calls from all but your approved contacts - and that can be at all times, or just during the hours you choose.

Camera and Video​

Use HDR mode in mixed lighting - or all the time

The 13-megapixel sensor of the Samsung Galaxy S4 is pretty good on its own, but the neat camera app ups its skills significantly. One of our favourite bonus bits is the HDR mode. This effectively combines multiple exposure in a single shot to bring out extra detail in shadows. Both the HDR and normal shots are saved, meaning there's very little downside - other than that taking shots is a little bit slower.

Check out slow and fast motion modes
Nestled within the menus of the video camera app are fast and slow motion modes, capturing either more or fewer frames per second than normal. It's not quite the 120fps mode you get in some dedicated cameras, but will come in handy if you're trying to video a sports event, for example.

Don't forget video effects
The Samsung Galaxy S4 doesn't have the fun face-distorting video effects you get with a vanilla Jelly Bean phone, but it does have a range of funky filters. There are colour pop modes, extracting all but certain shades from your videos, and the cartoon filter is perfect for some arty rotoscope-style vids.

Give the exposure longer time than the sound effect suggests
Each time you take a photo, a shutter sound plays in the Samsung Galaxy S4. However, we found that occasionally the phone needs a little bit longer to attain a solid focus. Hold still for an extra half-second for good measure.

Get vid previews with Air View
Using Air View, if you hold your finger over the transport bar of a movie clip in the media player, you'll be given a preview of what's going on in the film at that point. It makes finding the right part of a film or TV a doddle.


Don't go over you allowance, with Data Usage

A staple Android feature is the Data Usage counter. This can be found within the Settings menu, and it monitors your data usage, showing it as a colourful graph. You can use it to cut off your mobile data connection once you reach a certain limit, to ensure you won't get charged by your carrier.

Wi-Fi sync with Kies
We've already endorsed drag 'n' drop file transfers over Kies sync'ing, but if you're a Kies fan, don't forget that you can also sync wirelessly. To set this feature up, scroll to the bottom of the More Settings sub-menu, where you'll find the Kies via Wi-Fi option.

S Beam
A feature introduced with the Samsung Galaxy S3, S Beam uses a mixture of NFC and Wi-Fi Direct to let you transfer files between compatible Samsung phones. You just need to tap the phones together to get them playing. S Beam needs to be switched on, though, from within the Wireless and Networks menu.

NFC lets you buy coffee
The NFC connectivity of the Samsung Galaxy S4 also let you buy small items such as cups of coffee, sandwiches and the like. Several big high street chains have taken the NFC plunge, including Starbucks and EAT, using apps to let you dump credit onto your phone.

Share screens with Group Cast
Group Cast used to be just about sending a video file from, say, your phone to your Blu-ray player. But now it does a lot more. Group Cast lets you send your Galaxy S4's screen contents to another display, a bit like AirPlay Mirroring.

Forget Bluetooth, Wi-Fi Direct is better
Wi-Fi Direct is tied into the S Beam transfer feature, but you can also use it easily on its own. This is a version of Wi-Fi that doesn't need an internet connection, as it can hook-up directly with another compatible device. It some ways it's a successor to Bluetooth, letting you transfer files, and at a much greater speed than old Bluetooth could handle.

The Galaxy S4 comes with voice controlled app. Only some Samsung apps can be controlled via S-voice but the most important are covered. Once you start S-voice and pass thru the initial setup just go on settings and enable “control apps”.
You can now take pictures of yourself without holding the phone. Just put the phone on an improvised stand pose and shout SHOOT!
Music Player
You can also control the music player via Bluetooth or directly. It answers to PLAY, PAUSE, NEXT, PREVIOUS, VOLUME UP, VOLUME DOWN and RESUME.
You can also respond to a phone call by just by saying ANSWER or REJECT, This will put the phone on speaker(if previously setup)
You can stop or snooze alarms with the command STOP and SNOOZE(pretty straight forward)

Play Multiplayer games with Group Cast
Group Cast allows for multiplayer games to be played on several phones simultaneously. Of course, only supported games work

Samsung introduced its new Galaxy S4 game controller.

NEW Hide Your Bloatware (from eyecon82)

You can hide icons in the app drawer by pressing menu key and selecting which app icons you don't want showing. You can also arrange your icons alphabetically by going into app drawer, menu key, view type, alphabetical.


PS: Without comments this thread will fall in the abyss of the system(unless it becomes a sticky, which would be good). So please keep it alive with a little reply. thanks.

<-- Don't forget to hit THANKS if I helped
Last edited:


Senior Member
Apr 17, 2013
Great tips, thanks! Some things in here I wasn't fully familiar with, so it's great to have a refresher course. I'm still amazed just by every little function and feature that can be packed into such small devices now. There's multiple ways to perform almost any task or process on the phone, which adds so much flexibility.


Senior Member
Oct 9, 2012
According to Displaymate, Auto screen mode has a higher maximum peak brightness than manual. Also, having HDR camera mode always on is NOT recommended.
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Senior Member
May 5, 2010
Hmm I logged on via the app on my gs4 using me Dropbox account I been using and the 50gb isn't there. Do I need a new account?

Sent from my Galaxy S4


Senior Member
Dec 26, 2011
Hmm I logged on via the app on my gs4 using me Dropbox account I been using and the 50gb isn't there. Do I need a new account?
Do you have Dropbox on your computer? If not, you might need to install Dropbox on your computer and then Log from your computer. I don't know exactly how it works. All I know is when I logged to Dropbox I had 50g available.
Last edited:


Dec 3, 2009
Do you have Dropbox on your computer? If not, you might need to install Dropbox on your computer and then Log from your computer. I don't know exactly how it works. All I know is when I logged to Dropbox I had 50g available.

Edit: Apparently you need to register to Dropbox from the initial setup from when your phone was new. So you might need to make a factory reset. It might also not work with custom ROM.
You don't need to do it from the initial setup.

I tried logging in to my old Dropbox account but haven't used it for ages so had to change password. I skipped the login at the initial setup, changed password on the Dropbox website and then logged into the app with my existing account. I then got an email a couple of seconds later saying I now have 50GB.
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Senior Member
Dec 26, 2011
You don't need to do it from the initial setup.

I tried logging in to my old Dropbox account but haven't used it for ages so had to change password. I skipped the login at the initial setup, changed password on the Dropbox website and then logged into the app with my existing account. I then got an email a couple of seconds later saying I now have 50GB.
Good to know, I will remove my edit.


Senior Member
Mar 21, 2011
this is... amazing.

coming from a droid 3 this is really going to help me out. ive been trying out the display model of the s3 but without a little guidance its impossible to see all the things you can do with it

Rodrigo Vilhena

Senior Member
Mar 20, 2008
Ribeirao Preto
Hello, I don't know if here is the right place to ask that, but I'm thinking about to get one S4, I have a S3 for now, and my question is, the S3 stock ROM has a contact lag, it takes about 1 or 2 sec to open the contacts, it's like it did not keep contacts on main memory, so every time you open it, it take that secs. It really bother me, but Jkay has fixed that on S3.
I'd like to know if S4 has that lag too? Runnig stock.
Thanks a lot.