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10 Ways to Make Your Samsung Galaxy S5 Awesome

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The Samsung Galaxy S5 is a good device, but with the freedom that Android allows, plus the thousands of apps available to users through Google Play, there are always ways to improve your experience.

Below, we have listed ten simple ways that you can make your Galaxy S5 more awesome. They not only include ways to change the look of the software setup of your device, but also ways to utilize certain features that Samsung baked into that same software, which allow you to get more work done in less time.

We sometimes complain that Samsung went overboard with their inclusion of so many features, but out of the countless tweaks they have made to Android with their TouchWiz skin, there are definitely a few winners that you should be using.

Check out the list below to see how you can make your Galaxy S5 even better. 


1. Install a third party launcher and keyboard.

I’ll be honest, as soon as I am done reviewing a device, the first app I download on them is usually a third party launcher or third party keyboard. My launcher of choice is Nova Launcher. The reason third party launchers are so popular is because users can easily customize their home screens with just a few clicks. Not only can you change your number of home screens, or switch up the grid for your icons, but with most launchers, you can apply icon packs, which is the easiest way to bring new life to the look of your phone.

There are countless amounts of icon packs and launchers to choose from on Google Play, but we highly recommend Nova Launcher and all of the icon packs from our buddy kovdev. If you have become tired of the TouchWiz home screen experience, head on over to Google Play and switch it up.

Next up, download a different keyboard – we recommend Google Keyboard or Swiftkey. The keyboard that comes equipped on the Galaxy S5 is rather inaccurate, and Google’s offering brings a much more polished experience. It features swipe to type, personalization options, and much more. It’s a thing of beauty, trust us.

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2. Customize your camera shortcuts.

Not only does the Galaxy S5 feature a beast camera, but Samsung allows users to change up the shortcuts found in the camera app’s UI. With the ability to skip having to dive in the camera’s huge cluttered mess of a settings menu in app, users can access buttons for picture size, selective focus, and HDR modes – all while snapping pictures of that special moment. To change up your shortcuts, long press on a particular shortcut and then drag to the left to sticky it to the left-side bar, and you are good to go. You can customize up to three shortcuts.

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3. Customize your notification panel.

Having quick access to system settings is key for any Android user. On the Galaxy S5, you can access screen brightness, toggles for WiFi and NFC, and tons of other features from the notification panel; all without having to go into Samsung’s ridiculous settings menu. Samsung gave users the option to change up the order of these settings, depending on how ofter you want to use them. For example, I place WiFi, GPS, Sound, Screen Rotation, and Bluetooth as my first five, given that I use them the most. If you use another setting more often, you change them. It’s the freedom of choice that makes this so great. And don’t forget, you can choose different settings for your battery, too. If you would like the device to display your exact battery percentage, and not just the battery icon, you can do that.

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4. Remove the bloat!

If you purchase a Galaxy S5 on one of America’s carriers, there is no doubt that it came filled with nearly 20 applications that you will never use. Don’t blame Samsung – blame the carriers. If you are not using these apps, then there is no reason they should be enabled on your device, just to waste your time when you see updates for them on Google Play. We recommend disabling them immediately.

To do so, grab the icon of the app from the app drawer, then drag it to the top of the display where it either says “Edit” or “App Info,” depending on what launcher you are using. From here, press “Turn off.” Boom, problem solved. Do this process for every app you do not use that came preinstalled on your Galaxy S5. If for some reason Samsung isn’t allowing you to turn them off, you can always hide them in your app drawer settings.

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5. Give Toolbox a shot.

While we don’t necessarily love all of Samsung’s software baked into the Galaxy S5, a few of the apps are pretty handy. Our favorite is Toolbox. With Toolbox, you can add up to five favorite app shortcuts to a circle that is accessible from anywhere on your device. Regardless of what app you are in, the circle is always present, allowing you to jump from app to app with no troubles at all. You can move the circle to wherever you want on your screen (so it’s not in your way), and it also dims when you aren’t using it, which means it is not a complete eyesore when in use. If you haven’t tried out Samsung’s Toolbox, give it a whirl. We think you will like it.

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6. Master motions and gestures.

While introduced a few Galaxy S devices ago, Air Gestures and Motion Gestures are back on the Galaxy S5. You have probably seen a few commercials showing off these features. Well, we are here to tell you that they aren’t all that bad. The ones which I utilize myself are Palm Swipe to Capture, for taking screenshots, and Air Browse. Usually, taking a screenshot means pressing the power button and the home button at the same time, but with Palm Swipe enabled, simple swipe the edge of your hand across the screen. The device recognizes this command, and instantly takes a screenshot. Very easy, very nice.

The next one we recommend is Air Gesture. With Air Gesture, you can scroll through pages or lists of items by moving your hand over the sensor in the direction you would like to scroll. This feature is usable on the web browser, as well as your Gallery app. Once you show your friends that you can control your phone without touching it, they will be mesmerized.

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7. Make window and transition animations faster.

One of our biggest gripes during our review of the Galaxy S5 was its performance. While this next tip won’t exactly cure its lag problem, boosting the animation times will help offset the lag, giving off a placebo effect that your device is running faster. To do this, you will need to enable Developer Options in your Settings menu. To do that, head into your “About device” menu under Settings. From here, rapidly tap on the “Build number” option. After a few taps (around 10), it will say “You are now a developer!”

Back up into the main Settings menu and you will see a new row for “Developer options.” Go in there, then scroll down until you see Drawing. Tap on “Window animation scale” and set it to 0.5x, and then the same for “Transition animation scale.” Again, it won’t actually make your phone faster, but this should give the effect that your device is moving quicker, which is very welcomed with the Galaxy S5.

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8. Increase touch sensitivity.

If you live in a part of the country that is still cold and wet, then we won’t blame you if you are wearing gloves more times than not when outside. A feature that Samsung has introduced with the Galaxy S5 is the ability to increase the touch sensitivity on your screen. With this enabled, using gloves with your phone is super easy, which allows you to keep your fingers nice and toasty while posting up selfies on Instagram. You can leave the feature enabled 24/7, so you need not worry about leaving it on, or draining your battery with it.

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9. Select a Screen Mode which works for you.

On the Galaxy S5, users can select different Screen Modes, which will immediately effect the way your phone’s display looks. Think of them as presets that come on a TV. One preset is best for video watching, while another is best for reading a book. The Galaxy S5 comes out of the box with Adapt Display enabled, which uses sensors to analyze incoming light and the contents you are viewing, then automatically optimizes the color range, saturation, and sharpness of your display. While this may seem totally awesome, sometimes the user may want a different effect on their phone’s display. Thanks to Samsung, you can choose whichever setting you like best. Check them out under the Display menu in settings and you may be surprised to find one you like better than Adapt Display.

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10. Turn off Touch sounds. The world thanks you.

Sorry, but if you are using Samsung’s built-in Touch Sounds, turn them off. Everyone around you that is overcome with the need to use the restroom after hearing your phone go “drip drip” is upset with you. Please, go into the Sound menu under Settings and uncheck that box. We all thank you.

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  • Your lame

    Not even close to what I searched for, but made first ranking on google? However, the author needs to find something better to write about. A much shorter quick start “manual” comes with the phone. There is no need to waste space. Sorry not wasting anymore of my time and registering.

  • jony

    I lost my s5’s have must apps folder. How can I get back this folder

  • Ronin

    Third party launcher is fine, but keyboard :O, nayyy

    btw how about some internal modification ? like getting custom touch recovery http://www.cydiaos.com/install-touch-recovery-on-galaxy-s5/

  • iloveflf

    which clock widget is that?

  • http://twitter.com/jdrch jdrch

    1) Agreed, but I don’t find the Samsung keyboard inaccurate at all. It’s just that SwiftKey is better.
    7) Actually, just turn animations off completely. No need to waste CPU cycles rendering window transitions.

    Agree with everything else.

  • Jbeam

    In tip 3 on the notification panel you said you put GPS in your top 5 quick pics. I would really like the option to turn off GPS to save battery but I don’t have the toggle on my Verizon S5 and don’t see the choice in your screenshots. Is there a way to add a GPS toggle to the Verizon S5?

  • DeAnna Sowder

    Thank you for this article! I’m getting mine today and could not be more excited! I was interested in the G2 but was mostly thrown off that I couldn’t add more storage. And I got a LOT of music. So that was a no go for me. Yay new phone! Time to retire my Rezound!

  • DanThompson87

    Thanks Tim, I just hope samsung updates it soon and removes the LAG. then I will be completely happy with the phone.

  • turdbogls

    wow, there’s a lot of hate on this phone.
    maybe it sucks for the typical droid life user, but my Mom got the phone and she doesn’t have many complaints….then again, it is her first smartphone, and she didn’t even look at any other smartphone, so…… “I want it to be similar to dads (S4)”

    • JeffColorado

      The hate is mostly for touchwiz, not the phone. Samsung makes awesome hardware for the most part.

      • turdbogls

        there is a lot of hate for the actual hardware though (looks) bigger bezels, and that ugly dimpled back really put a lot of hard core folks off.

  • Sabrina

    Here is why I purchased an S5 (and do not regret it): removable battery, expandable storage, 501 snapdragon, 16mp camera, 5.1″ screen, and a Super AMOLED screen. Is the back cover attractive? No. But I always put a case on my phone. Whether the back cover looks like a bandaid, or it’s metal…it’s going in a case. I just like to protect my larger priced purchases. No, Touchwiz hasn’t reached a likable version yet, but I don’t like Sense either (HTC). So, slap a launcher on it and there!

    • XboxOne

      501 Snapdragon? LMAO!

      • Sabrina

        Typo…glad it entertained you. 801

  • Chris King

    great article i turn my animations down to zero

  • Jason13L

    Is there a third-party solution similar to toolbox? My S4 obviously doesn’t have this feature but could see using it.

  • DJyoSNOW

    I tried to master the motion gesture for screen capture…. WTF epic fail couldn’t get it work (note 3) & the power button home key is painstakingly slow and clunky… Gotta love good old Samsung never had DNA troubles

    • Bruce Purvis

      The screen capture motion on the Note III is easy enough to do with your eyes closed. Hold your hand at a 90 degree angle (like you’re going to karate chop your phone) on the right edge of your phone and keep your hand in the same position and slide it across to the left.

  • Akashshr

    Not sure why you guys are trying so hard to make a bad phone look good!
    Its really horrible!

    • cizzlen

      Lol

  • Big EZ

    1. Sell it and get a Moto X
    2. Sell it and get a LG G3
    3. Sell it and get a LG G2
    4. Sell it and get a Nexus 5
    5. Sell it and get a Nexus 4
    6. Sell it and get a Droid Maxx
    7. Sell it and get a HTC M8
    8. Sell it and get a HTC M7
    9. Sell it and wait for the Moto X+1
    10. Sell it and wait for the rumored 5.2″ Moto X

    • XboxOne

      #5 NO. #6 NO. #8 NO. The rest YEAH.

      • Big EZ

        If I had to choose a phone now it would be #6, the 5″ Moto X with extended battery. I’ll wait for the rumored 5.2″ X or G3 though.

  • SION1771

    I had Swype pop up on my S5 today – I’m pretty sure I didn’t install it.

    • Sabrina

      Swipe comes pre-installed.

  • bennyben

    Im a G2 owner… my sister has the S5. Close but the S5 is better in my opinion. I hate the G2 screen and the Shiney build. You can see the panel dots on the G2 screen. Very annoying.

    • SplashMTN

      The only time I ever see panel dots is when the screen is off and when the screen is off I don’t typically look at my phone.

  • ROR1997

    4 ways to make your Samsung Galaxy S5 experience better!
    Step 1- Don’t buy the Galaxy S5
    Step 2- Is it May 27th Yet? Yes? See step 3. No? See step 4
    Step 3- Buy the LG G3
    Step 4- See step 2

    • JoshGroff

      And now I’m stuck on an infinite loop, thanks.

      • ROR1997

        Only until may 27th. Then you finally get to look at Step 3! Until then no peaking

        • JoshGroff

          I sure hope step 3 is worth the wait.

  • jabarri2

    the only way i can see it getting any better is if you smash the crap out of it. it’s a pos

  • Hershel

    Google keyboard beautiful?

    • http://www.droid-life.com/ Tim-o-tato

      Mmmm, simplistic beauty. Yup.

      • Hershel

        swift key is all you need

        • stock android? what is that?

          We only use swift key in this house….

        • turdbogls

          Swiftkey is kinda ugly IMO.

          Swiftkey and Flesky need to have a beautiful baby together.

          • Hershel

            Swift key has themes

          • turdbogls

            and they are all kinda ugly

        • cizzlen

          Swype da bess

        • michael arazan

          I wish they would fix the lag on swiftkey, always takes 3-5 seconds to load up on all my phones, it is slightly faster on my N7

  • MichaelFranz

    man everyone is such a hater. I dont have much to complain about. I had some lag running ART but siwtched back to Dalvik and havent had problems since. The battery is decent but compared to coming from a droid maxx its not nearly as good, but i expected that and have no problems.

    people hate because it has no root or unlockability on VZW or ATT. I say be patient. Stuff doesnt just happen overnight.

    And if you all hate and want to trade for a G2 etc etc….then why did you even buy it in the first place….next time dont be gun shy and wait for good honest reviews to come out.

    that said, im happy with mine for now. and thanks for the tips Tim (although ive been running Nova and Domo since a day or 2 after i got the phone )

    • stock android? what is that?

      people complain too easy. it sucks,

    • Jim890

      People will always complain (you should know that by now). We just let them hate all they want. I’m no hater or so call troll, if a phone has top specs no matter who manufacturers it, I’ll be all over it.

    • aaron manuel

      ATT version can now be rooted by the way.

  • Zack Kolev

    I think this can be done in one step: Wait for the GS5 GPE.

    If you are getting this great hardware, why not get great software too? Why settle with the mediocrity that is TouchWiz.

    • Hershel

      Theres more to life then boring old stock

    • cizzlen

      I didn’t realize it was still 2010 around here.

  • http://www.kovdev.com/ kover

    Good list!

  • JBartcaps

    Honestly, I found out Touchwiz actually runs smoother than Nova. Hence why I am returning this phone on Saturday.

    • http://idle0095.com/ IDLE0095

      You got a lemon.

      • JBartcaps

        Nah, the phone runs perfectly fine. It’s just Samsung being Samsung, which is terrible

        • Nexoduss

          sell it and get the g2 and wait for the g3

    • Kane Desousa

      I’ve returned the phone also, and I swapped it for multiple ones too. They all lagged; as in the phone is laggy.

  • http://twitter.com/geoff5093 Geoff Johnson

    You forgot #11.

    11.) Trade in your S5 for a G2.

    • picaso86

      Thats how I made mine better.

    • Carlos Lopez

      selling mine for a g2 too

      • Kane Desousa

        The g2 is only like 440 off contract. Not bad.

      • cizzlen

        I’m getting the G2 2 too

    • burkett375

      Came here to post this!!!

    • http://idle0095.com/ IDLE0095

      LOL. I got ride of my G2. Not enough cases for it. LOL. Live on Seidio and Spigen

      • http://twitter.com/geoff5093 Geoff Johnson

        You laugh a lot

        • http://idle0095.com/ IDLE0095

          Its my way not to be rude. LOL. LOOOOOLLLLOOOLLL

          • cizzlen

            Shut the hell up :P lol. I put smileys and lol’s to make comments seem nicer tho ;P

      • turdbogls

        yeah, I noticed that.

        was pretty disappointed that Ringke and Spigen don’t have their ultra thin cases.

        had to head to eBay china to get something I wanted….well, hopefully at least.

    • JBartcaps

      Why get a G2 when the G3 will be out soon :)

      • http://twitter.com/geoff5093 Geoff Johnson

        I wouldn’t blame any S5 owners if they couldn’t wait that long :)

        • JBartcaps

          That’s funny lol

        • michael arazan

          Going to wait for the X +1, or maybe what ever 2 Devices Google promised would come to Verizon this year

    • rexina

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    • Hershel

      ….

      • http://twitter.com/geoff5093 Geoff Johnson

        You’re dead, what do you know.

        • Hershel

          I know the G3 is around the corner and after that the G4… o.O

        • LionStone

          Noooo!

        • Tyler Lawhon

          Too soon, man… too soon….

    • http://meatcastle.com/ Youre My Boy Bloo

      Yeah unless you want to have functional GPS…

      • SplashMTN

        I’ve had functional GPS since I bought the G2 in November. I’m not saying certain users aren’t experiencing issues, but not everyone is.

        • Nexoduss

          yeah I’ve never had a problem with mine either. It picks up the signal almost instantaneously.

        • Bubba Gump

          Mine worked fine, and then in the middle of my trip to San Francisco, two weeks ago, it started giving me all the routes to my destination from some little town in Texas. I have not been to Texas in years. I ended up uninstalling all the updates and then updating again. Since then it has been working perfectly as before.

        • http://meatcastle.com/ Youre My Boy Bloo

          I had one of the horribly faulty ones from day one. I couldn’t even use the GPS navigation because it would jump me all over the street. Here is some of the My Tracks data off that phone (I ran in straight lines and then did 4 laps around the track):

          http://i.imgur.com/TnQC2Zi.png

    • Jon Rojas

      LOL! Well played good sir.

    • infemuss

      why a G2? im obsessed with my s5. and buddy has a G2 and agrees and wishes he had an s5

  • Apostrafee

    Clock widget?

    • stock android? what is that?

      too much like htc senseless

      • Apostrafee

        Heh?

    • turdbogls

      probably a custom Zooper widget. you could make that clock in a few minutes with that app.

      if you haven’t looked into the app yet, I HIGHLY suggest it.

    • slider112

      Zooper By Beard