Samsung’s annual S Series flagships compete annually with Google’s Pixel line as the king of Android phones. Plus, its global sales compete directly with the iPhone for the most bought phones worldwide. This year’s flagships include the top-of-the-line Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, the mid-level Galaxy S23 Plus, and the smaller Galaxy S23.
Samsung phones include a slew of awesome features that help make them a perennial member of our best Android phones list, such as Dolby Atmos capability, a new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, and a beautiful screen. You can get them anywhere; at your carrier, on Amazon, or at a store like Best Buy. When you get your new S23 device, here’s a list of tips and tricks to help you take advantage of some hidden features to supercharge your experience.
1 Use Android and Galaxy apps
Samsung phones have access to Android apps through the Google Play Store and access to Samsung apps through the Galaxy Store. The Google Play Store has a much wider variety of apps than the Galaxy Store and is available on all Android devices. The Galaxy Store is only available on Samsung devices, but it has some exclusive apps that the Play Store does not have access to. It also includes themes, which can change the look of your phone. Using both app stores gives you access to a wider variety of apps than a typical Android phone, so take advantage of it. To access each, look for the corresponding app in your app drawer.
Widgets have become a popular feature in phones again, and Samsung has made them even better. They have a feature called Widget Stacks, which is similar to Apple’s widget stacks. This feature allows you to stack widgets in the same screen space so that they don’t take up much of your screen. Swipe left and right to cycle through the different widgets in the stack. One UI’s launcher also tries to move widgets to the top of the stack to give you the most relevant information possible.
To create a widget stack on your new Galaxy device, long press on your homescreen until the home menu pops up. Tap the Widgets button at the bottom and select a widget to add it to your homescreen. Once that widget is added, long press it. Once the edit menu pops up, tap Create stack and select the widgets you’d like to add to your stack. A few new widgets are included with Samsung’s One UI 5.1 version of Android 13, so check them out.
Not only can you make stacks of widgets, but you can also add them to your lock screen. This gives you access to information without even opening your phone. To edit these widgets, go to Settings, select Lock screen, and tap the Widgets image. Here you can toggle the widgets you’d like to see, including music, weather, digital well-being, and more. You can also change the order they show up on your lock screen by tapping Reorder in the upper-right corner. While in lock screen settings, you can change how other items on your lock screen appear. Tap the Lock screen image and tap the element you want to modify.
4 Use the Always On Display to always see what’s going on
It might be useful to see the time or your notifications when you look at your phone, even if it’s locked and sitting away from you. To make this possible, Samsung included an Always On Display with the S23 line. To access this in the Settings app, go to the Lock screen settings, and tap Always On Display. Here you can toggle it on or off, change when it shows up, and how it looks.
5 Colorize your UI
Material You, which matches the colors of UI elements throughout your phone, came with the release of Android 12. This feature was first released on Google’s Pixel phones, but Samsung now includes it in its One UI software. To utilize this feature, go to your homescreen and long press until the home menu pops up. Next, tap Wallpaper and style in the lower-left corner and select Color palette from the available options. Finally, turn on the color palette option and select which wallpaper colors you want. If you’d like to make compatible app icons in your app drawer and on your homescreen, use the same color palette and turn on the Apply palette to app icons option. This feature can help make your new phone feel more like your own special version of an S23.
6 Use Bixby text call to see if you’re getting a spam call
Google has a great feature called Call Screen that lets Google Assistant talk to callers to see who they are. Since this feature is so popular, Samsung decided to make their own version in One UI 5.1 called Bixby text call. To enable this new feature, open the Phone app, tap the three dots in the upper-right corner, and select Settings. Next, tap the Bixby text call option and toggle it on.
Now that the feature is on, any time you receive a call, tap the Bixby text call button to have Bixby talk to the caller. This feature one-ups Google’s Call Screening feature because you can type anything for Bixby to say to the caller instead of pre-written prompts only. You can also customize the Bixby quick responses by tapping the Quick responses button in the Bixby text call settings.
7 Make your video calls better with effects
Video calls are a common way to communicate these days that helps you feel like you’re connecting more with the person you’re talking to. To make video calls the best they can be, Samsung included video-calling effects in the S23 line to supercharge your calls. To find these features, open the Settings app, scroll down, and tap Advanced features. Once there, tap Video call effects to turn the feature on and check out the included features. Here you can choose a background color or add a background image for your meetings. You’ll also see a list of apps that are compatible with video call effects. You must join a video call through a compatible app to access the rest of the features. Once you’re in, an effects button appears, allowing you to blur your background, focus on yourself, and more.
8 Save your eyes and battery with dark mode
Having a bright, mostly white phone screen can hurt your eyes when it gets toward nighttime. That’s where dark mode comes in. Dark mode turns the bright white features of your phone’s UI to black. This helps save your eyes because bright light can be blinding when you look at your phone. It also saves battery life because AMOLED displays shut off the individual pixels when they display black, which means less battery is used to power your screen.
To access Dark mode, go into the Settings app and tap Display. Here, you can choose dark mode at the top if you want it on all the time. If you only want it on at certain times, tap the Dark mode settings option and tap the Turn on as scheduled toggle. Here, you can choose if you want Dark mode on from Sunset to sunrise or if you’d like to create a custom schedule.
9 Change your side key functionality
Most would call it the power button, but Samsung likes to call it the side key. Either way, it’s the button on your phone that is not the volume rocker, and you can customize what it does on the S23 line. Out of the box, if you hold it down, it opens Bixby, most people’s least favorite virtual assistant. If you’d like to hold down the side key to power off the phone, you can do that. Launch the Settings app, go to Advanced features, and select the Side key option. Once there, you can choose what you’d like to happen when you double-press and hold down the side key, like creating a shortcut to access your camera.
This is a good tip for the Samsung Galaxy S23 line and for all Android phones. You may have seen the list of buttons called the quick settings menu found by swiping down when the notification shade is open. Here you can quickly access commonly used settings and functions such as toggling your Wi-Fi, accessing Bluetooth devices, and making your phone into a wireless charger through Wireless power sharing. To customize this menu, swipe down twice on your homescreen so the full quick settings menu is open. Then, tap the three dots in the upper-right corner and select Edit buttons.
At the top of the screen, you’ll see a list of buttons that aren’t in your quick settings menu. Just long press and drag them into your desired location in quick settings. To move a button that’s in your quick settings menu, long press and move it to your desired location. To remove a button, long press it and move it to the upper portion of your screen. The first six buttons on your first screen appear when you pull down the notification shade, so make sure to put the most important buttons first.
11 Take advantage of Samsung’s great camera and photo editing features
Samsung’s camera app is full of features to help make your photos and videos the best they can be. To access these settings, open the Camera app and tap the gear icon in the upper-left corner to access the settings menu. Here you’ll find all the camera settings Samsung offers with various modes and customization options, including:
: Brighten up your photos. There’s also a setting for scanning documents and text.
: Get suggestions to help you take the best shot.
Scan QR codes
: Scan QR codes with your camera.
: Add a customizable watermark to your photos.
: Make your videos more stable.
: Automatically adjust the frames per second when filming to record brighter video in low-light conditions.
: Stay focused on the subject even if they move in the frame.
There are more settings than these, including some advanced settings, so take a look and decide which ones are best for you.
Once you’ve taken a photo, there are some options in the Samsung Gallery app to help make your photos even better. Select an image and tap the pencil icon to edit your photo. You’ll be able to do things like rotate the image, put a filter over it, or crop it, but there are also some more advanced features.
One of the most useful is Object Eraser, which is similar to the Google Magic Eraser feature that helps you erase unwanted elements from your photos. Select the feature and circle or move your finger over the item you want to erase. Another feature worth checking out is image clipping, which lets you take the subject out of your photos and save it as a separate image or an emoji to use in your conversations. This feature is similar to a feature Apple introduced in iOS 16. To use it, open a photo in the Gallery app and long press on the subject. You’ll see some circles, and then the subject pops out, allowing you to move it around and take it from the photo. With these camera and photo editing features combined, you’ll have amazing shots to share with everyone.
12 Ultra users have an S Pen
If you have a Galaxy S23 Ultra, your phone has a built-in S Pen. The S Pen can be used to do several things, but the simplest application is to use it to navigate your phone without getting fingerprints on your screen. You can also use it for more productive things by tapping the floating Air Command menu icon on the right when the pen is taken out of its silo. Here, you can write and edit notes, send live messages to others, and take screenshots.
Samsung’s phones are jam-packed with features
Samsung’s phones are stuffed with useful features, making them some of the most compelling Android phones available. Many Samsung devices can even function as a sort of computer through their Samsung DeX software. Give it a go!