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Samsung Galaxy S5: Top 15 tips and tricks


1. Enable Finger Scanner

One of the most exciting features of the Galaxy S5 is the fingerprint scanner, which can be used for extra security among other things.

To set up the scanner for added safety, go to Settings > Personalization > Finger Scanner and enable the feature. This allows you to unlock the device by simply swiping the home button, and you can also use the feature for other apps requiring fingerprint authentication. Pay for things through PayPal and set up LastPass with compatible apps and websites, eradicating the need for password entry.

If you want to protect certain content from prying eyes, switch on Private Mode and select Unlock Method > Fingerprint. After doing this, you can long press any file or image and move it to private. When Private Mode is on, you can access these files, while turning it off with make them invisible.

2. Set up safety and emergency features

It’s advisable to set-up a Samsung account as so you can locate, ring, or wipe your phone remotely. You can also prevent the device from being reactivated if it falls into the wrong hands.

Finally, we activated the Safety Assistance feature in the Settings menu. When you turn on "Send Help Messages" the S5 can send your location and an SOS text message to a designated contact if you tap the power button quickly three times. The device will turn on location automatically to do this and will also send pictures from the front and rear cameras to your emergency contact. 

You can also encrypt the device (Settings > Security > Encrypt). However, you will NOT be able to use the fingerprint scanner if you do this. This process takes around one hour and scrambles all the data. Every time you turn on the device you need to enter a passcode before it boots. This helps to provide an extra layer of security on top of the regular PIN or password.

4. Use the Download Booster ? Don't see on my phone.

One of the unique features of the S5 is the Download Booster. This combines the Wi-Fi and 4G connectivity to increase download speeds when you get a file over 30MB in size.

This function is great when you're in a rush to download large files like movies or TV shows. We were able to pull down a 2GB HD copy of Avengers Assemble in just over five minutes from the Play Store and it used up four per cent of battery power. You should be careful if you've got a data cap - remember to set a data limit by going to Settings > Network connections > Data usage.

5. Don’t be afraid of spills

The IP67 Certification on the Galaxy S5 means that it is dust proof and water resistant, meaning no more worries about getting your phone a little wet when the weather lets you down or you accidentally drop it in the sink. The ports at the bottom of the device are covered, though you should always make sure the back cover is securely in place after removing it or opening the latch to access the charging port.

Water resistance isn’t the same as waterproof, of course, so you shouldn’t push your luck too much by going swimming with your phone or purposefully submerging it in water.

6. Try selective focus & 4K video

The Galaxy S5 has an excellent 16-megapixel rear camera and, though the automatic settings work just fine, there are lots of little features that can enhance your pictures and video even more.

Selective Focus is a nifty little extra that allows you to adjust focus levels (from Near to Far or Pan Focus) after the photo is taken. To enable this, select the icon with two people under settings in the camera app and make sure you are no more than 5 feet away from the subject when taking the photo.

You can now also add filters before taking a photo, though many settings become unavailable when doing this. You can still apply filters after the photo is taken, but this gives budding photographers a few more options.

Of course, 4K recording is the biggest feature of interest on the Galaxy S5 camera, which can be accessed via Settings > Video Size > UHD. Because of the screen size, you won’t be able to preview 4K video on your device, but the uptick in quality can be seen from any 4K TV or monitor.

7. Experiment with Battery Saving Mode

Battery Saving Mode is a lifesaver for anyone who often finds themselves away from a power outlet for long periods, with the Samsung Galaxy S5 sporting greatly enhanced features that save your phone’s juice better than ever before. This mode can be accessed from the Quick Settings menu.

These include a grayscale mode that switches off the phone display’s colors and the option to turn off data when the screen is off. With this feature enabled, the phone will last in standby mode for days.

You can also turn off various battery-hogging features, such as Air View, Smart Stay and Motion gestures from the settings menu to get even more life out of your device.

8. Turn on battery-saving features

While it’s all very well turning off some of those draining apps and features, there are also settings that you can customize to extend battery life even more.

Turning on the auto adjust screen tone option will allow you phone’s screen to adjust its display depending on what you’re looking at. Similarly, turning your GPS off will prevent it from draining unnecessary battery life, and keeping Wi-Fi scanning enabled at all times allows you access to location settings when in Power Saving mode. Or you can save even more by switching both Wi-Fi scanning and GPS off altogether.

9. Set up the S Health app

Samsung is pushing the S5 as a comprehensive fitness tracker. The S Health app takes into account your age, height and weight to provide a rough Body Mass Index. It also asks how much physical activity you carry out each week (light, moderate, heavy) and then sets fitness goals.

S Health is capable of monitoring the number of steps you’ve taken and helps track calorie intake and heart rate. To do the latter, hold your finger on the sensor on the back. If you buy one of Samsung's latest Gear smart watches, heart-rate figures will also be sent directly to your phone.

11. Google Now Voice Commands

Google Now, the voice command tool for the Galaxy S5, can be accessed on an unlocked phone by saying “Okay Google” on any screen with the Google Search widget.

12. Miscellaneous customization

The S5 has a wealth of customization options - you can setup the device to change the font, make the text larger and change the interface. You can customize the lock screen with the unlock method (e.g. swipe, PIN, fingerprint and more), Dual clock for travellers, date, clock size and loads more.

You can also launch the camera straight from the lock screen by selecting Settings > Lock Screen > Camera Shortcut, making it easier than ever to capture that spontaneous moment.

We’re fans of the ‘Single Tap’ feature found in the accessibility settings. This allows you to dismiss alarms, events and answer/reject calls with a one touch.

13. Increase Touch sensitivity

Touch screens are great up until you want to use your phone outside with gloves on, but the Galaxy S5 allows you to increase touch sensitivity so that this isn’t a problem. To do this, simply go to Settings > Display and tick the relevant box to enable.

You can leave the feature on without worrying too much, as it doesn’t drain your battery or affect normal use without gloves.

14. Make use of the screen size

At 5.1ins the Galaxy S5 is big. It may be too big to use comfortably in one-hand. But it’s possible to turn on the one-handed mode to address this. Activate this feature in the quick settings menu. Then go to the home screen and quickly swipe from the right hand edge to the middle and back in one motion. The device will shrink the screen and you can now use it with one-hand.

You can, of course, also use the extra space and enable multi-tasking mode. You can then drag and drop what you’re doing, adjusting the size of the panels to suit your activities. This makes it possible to do several things at once, such as messaging someone while looking for information on the web.