Aside from the Google Pixel line, Samsung’s Galaxy phones have the most robust and exclusive features in the Android ecosystem. Whether you like One UI (Samsung’s take on stock Android) or not is a matter of personal preference, but the company has arguably refined it over the years into a genuinely feature-rich, practical custom skin. It’s difficult to go back once you’ve used a Galaxy and its feature set for a while. One UI is so densely packed with features that you may have missed many of them.
For starters, your Galaxy flagship contains a full-fledged desktop environment. The iconic S-integration Pen’s into premium Galaxy phones is unparalleled; this isn’t breaking news. But you might be surprised to learn about the S-seemingly Pen’s endless (and not so obvious) magic tricks. Then there’s customization and multitasking, both of which are emphasized in One UI. Whether you own a Galaxy phone or are considering purchasing one, there are several features you should be aware of.
Modern smartphones are computing powerhouses, but their smaller screen size limits what you can do with all that horsepower. DeX is Samsung’s solution to this bottleneck. Samsung DeX is a mobile desktop solution that converts a PC, monitor, or television into a full-fledged desktop experience powered by your Galaxy phone. The phone connects to the PC or monitor via a USB or HDMI cable, but DeX can also connect wirelessly if both devices are connected to the same Wi-Fi network. The secondary screen boots to the DeX platform with the press of a button.
You’ll be greeted by a standard, user-friendly desktop with resizable windows, right-click context menus, and keyboard shortcuts. Samsung’s first-party apps are already optimized for the DeX experience. The Chrome browser, Microsoft Office, and some Adobe apps are also supported by Samsung DeX. You can use the display on your phone as a touchpad for DeX. Touch and the S-Pen are both supported. You can use the S-Pen to draw on your phone and view it on the big screen. You can also use the phone screen and DeX simultaneously. As a result, the platform enables you to create customized workflows and increase your productivity. If you purchased a Samsung flagship within the last five years, it will by default support the DeX environment, though connectivity features may vary between models.
Another Samsung exclusive that allows you to supercharge the customization features is Samsung Good Lock; it’s a modular app that can load different modules, each targeting a different section of the UI. With all 15 modules installed, you have complete control over all types of customization (via Samsung). Go to the Galaxy Store and search “good lock” to get it. Download and launch the Good Lock app, then select the modules you want. The modules are also downloaded from the Galaxy Store and will be displayed when you tap one.
Lockstar allows you to customize the orientation, widgets, shortcuts, and layout of your lock screen. Clockface can be used to customize the Always-on-Display (AOD) clock. It allows you to customize everything about AOD clocks to your liking. QuickStar can change the swipe area of the notification shade and remove or add UI elements to the status bar, allowing you to customize it. NotiStar gives you more control over notifications by allowing you to filter by keywords and duration, as well as view a detailed history of previous notifications.
Then there’s MultiStar, which creates a multi-window layout that’s free of distractions. NavStar allows you to customize how navigation buttons and gestures appear and function. Edge Touch improves accidental touch rejection, which is particularly useful for Galaxy phones with curved edges. Theme Park, Wonderland, and Home Up all allow you to customize your home screen and wallpaper. Furthermore, SoundAssistant offers advanced control over audio UI and UX.
S-Pen gestures and other tricks
The S-Pen stylus was a defining feature of the Galaxy Note line until it was supplanted by the Galaxy S22 and Galaxy Z lineups. Despite this, it remains a fan favorite nearly a decade after its debut. You can take quick handwritten notes, sketch, hop around the UI, and scroll with air gestures, and the S-Pen button also serves as a remote shutter for the camera. The S-Pen is designed to mimic the tactile feel of a pen on paper, and this is most noticeable in screen-off memos. To take quick notes, you don’t need to unlock or wake up your Galaxy phone; simply take out the S-Pen and begin writing on the black screen. It saves time and money.
You can also write anywhere on the interface with the S-Pen, which allows you to fill out PDF forms, annotate web pages, and even mark the calendar (via Samsung). To capture and write on the screen, first pull out the S-Pen, which brings up the Air Command menu. Annotate whatever you want using the “Screen Write” shortcut from the menu. With a hover, you can quickly translate foreign text using the Translate feature in the Air Command menu. Press the S-Pen button and drag to select text to copy. You can also quickly convert handwriting to text to avoid typing.
Hide data and apps
A quick glance at your Home screen will reveal that you have a plethora of apps that you rarely use. Even if you don’t want to uninstall them, they still clog up the UI. Galaxy phones have a handy little utility that allows you to hide unused apps and declutter the Home screen, keeping your device looking sleek and making it easier to find what you’re looking for. To hide unused apps, do the following:
Swipe up to open the app drawer.
Tap the three-dot more menu.
Select Hide Apps
On the Hide Apps page, select the apps you want to hide.
The hidden apps will not be visible in the app drawer or search menu. The Secure Folder on Galaxy phones can also be used to hide private photos, videos, sensitive documents, and apps. The folder is encrypted with Knox security from Samsung and keeps your data safe and secure with fingerprint or password locks (via Samsung). To create the Secure Folder, you’ll need a Samsung account.
Tap Biometrics and Security.
Tap Secure Folder.
Tap Continue and sign in with a Samsung account.
Choose the lock type for your secure folder: pattern, PIN, password, or fingerprint.
On your Galaxy’s Home screen, a shortcut to the Secure Folder will appear. Tap the shortcut, the small plus “+” button, and then select the apps you want to hide in the encrypted folder. Tap the three-dot menu, add files, and select a file type to hide files. When you open the folder, you must use your authentication method to access it.
The Edge Panel is a bar that appears when you swipe from the edge, and it features a list of quick toggles and shortcuts for your favorite apps. It’s similar to a speed dial, but for launching apps. You can add up to ten panels, but they must be downloaded from the Galaxy Store (via Samsung). You can also drag and drop apps from the Edge Panel into Multi Window mode.
You can use two apps side by side in Multi Window or Split-screen mode. You can resize their windows or even use picture-in-picture mode to pop them out. This feature helps you make the most of your screen real estate and productivity. Open Recent Apps and tap the two-tile icon to enter the split-screen mode. You can also long-press the app card in the Recents menu and choose “Open in split screen view” from the list. To resize the windows, tap and hold the line separating them, then drag it and let go once the size is correct.