So, you’ve decided to get yourself a Samsung Galaxy S9 or S9+, the Android phone that’s on course to set the bar for 2018’s other handsets to try and match. Perhaps you’ve upgraded from the S8 and want to know what’s changed, or you’ve tired of Apple’s walled garden, ditched your iPhone and need a tiny tots primer course on the best Android Oreo has to offer.
From the new camera hardware to AR Emoji and Bixby Vision, the S9 has plenty of new tricks up its shiny sleeves. Read on to find the best of them, and the ones you should take for a spin first, before some smug colleague asks you if you’ve tried them and you’re left with burning cheeks and a blank look on your face.
1. Try face recognition for speedy unlocking
The Galaxy S8 had iris scanning, but it could be a bit hit and miss. The S9 adds improved face recognition to its security arsenal, and a new feature called “Intelligent Scan” combines it with iris scanning to make sure the face trying to unlock your phone is, indeed, yours.
If you didn’t activate it when you initially set up your S9, head to Settings > Lock screen and security > Intelligent Scan, put in your passcode, follow the face recognition and iris scanner registration process and make sure the “Intelligent Scan” unlock switch is set to on.
Got an identical twin or an office doppelgänger and would rather stick to a fingerprint and passcode? Head back to the “Lock Screen and Security” settings menu and registers your fingerprints. You’ll then be able to unlock your handset by placing one of your registered digits on the fingerprint sensor below the rear camera.
2. Animate yourself
The amusing faces of the standard emoji keyboard are all good and well, but they’re a little old fashioned. With the S9’s front-facing camera, face scanner and some software smarts you can create an animated avatar based on your own face. To get started, open the camera, swipe over to AR Emoji, and tap the “Create My Emoji” text bubble.
Take a selfie, choose from male or female and wait a few seconds while the S9 creates your digital likeness. You can adjust the skin tone, hairstyle and wardrobe of the resultant AR Emoji to suit your preferences, and then you’re good to go.
3. Set up the always-on display
A phone’s display is one of its biggest battery hogs, so save yourself the trouble and preserve precious battery life by turning on the S9’s always-on display. In addition to the clock you’ll see on your lock screen you can add notification icons for apps and can choose to schedule times for the always-on display to turn off, so it’s not glowing on your bedside table when you’re trying to get some shuteye. To set it up, head to Settings > Always On Display and activate it with the “on” slider at the top of the page.
4. Get foreign text translated on the fly
Samsung’s digital assistant Bixby has a new skill. Called Bixby Vision, it can do a number of things, but one of the most useful is its ability to translate foreign text on the fly. To get started, open the camera and tap the eye icon on the left-hand side of the screen. The first time you do this you’ll need to sign into (or create) a Samsung account and accept the Ts and Cs.
You’ll be given options for the sorts of things Bixby can analyse, including food, wine labels and text. It’s the last of these you need. Ensure it’s set to translate to English and then point your camera at the text you’d like translated and it’ll do it live on-screen. No more accidentally ordering the pig-done-three-ways special when you’re a vegetarian.
5. Pick your resolution
While the Galaxy S9’s Infinity Display can manage an impressive 2960×1440 resolution, that’s not what its set to by default. Instead, you get Full HD+, probably in the interests of keeping the display’s power demands down. But if you’d like to experience the best resolution the S9 has to offer you can head to Settings > Display > Screen Resolution and choose “WQHD+”. Of course, if you want to exchange extra pixels for stamina you can also choose to downscale things to HD+ instead.
6. Tidy up your drawer
Smartphones tend to accumulate a lot of apps pretty quickly. The S9 gives you a range of options as to how you access them. The default option lets you bring them all up by tapping the drawer icon at the bottom of the screen, but you can also choose to access them by swiping up or down on your home screen. You can even choose to get rid of the draw completely and have all of tour apps laid out on home screens. To pick your preference, open Settings > Display > Home Screen > Apps.
If you’re the sort who thinks of your phone as a pocket gaming device that happens to be able to take and make calls, Samsung’s Game Launcher app is for you. It doesn’t just collect your games in a tidy, dedicated drawer, but selecting one of them through the launcher will also kick your S9 into high-performance mode with all of its processing power to hand to keep frame rates up while you’re fragging newbs.
You can also set it to mute notifications and sounds while you’re gaming, or you can make sure you get that call you’re waiting for even if you’re knee-deep in orcs. To get started, go to Settings > Advanced Features > Games. Turn on “Game Launcher” and you can make a shortcut for it on your home screen.
8. Adapt your S9’s sound to your hearing
The S9 includes Samsung’s awfully clever Adapt Sound feature that lets you tweak the audio settings of the phone and set up a custom EQ profile so it always sounds its best. Open Settings > Sounds and Vibration > Sound quality and effects, and then find Adapt Sound on the page. You’ll be asked how old you are, and you’ll then be taken through a selection of tests to create your unique EQ profile. Think of it as an eye test, but instead of figuring out which way the E is facing, you’re telling your handset what different tones, boops and beeps sound like.
9. Find what you’re looking for in seconds
Having a hard time finding the Gautrain app you installed during your install-everything-I-might-ever-need spree when you first got your S9? Head to your apps drawer and use the search bar at the top to track down that wayward app, or any other one. You’ll still have to remember the name of the app you’re after, but if you can’t do that you probably don’t need it that badly anyway.