Updated: A year after the Samsung Galaxy S2 was released and we’ve updated this piece with a tips and tricks video. Why? Because, the Samsung Galaxy S2 is still selling like hot cakes and now it’s been blessed with the latest version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich.
Having spent a couple of weeks with the ICS Samsung Galaxy S2, we’ve seen what’s changed already, shown you how to get ICS onto your phone with Kies, and now it’s time to make the most of the gift that keeps on giving.
Check out our top tips video below and we’ll show you how to better handle your tasks, dismiss notifications, capture screenshots, swap out your keyboard and finally tweak your camera so all your shooting shortcuts are just right for you.
Underneath you'll find some general tips and tricks for the Samsung Galaxy S2.
Shed some light with a slide
We’re often adjusting the brightness of the Samsung’s huge SAMOLED plus screen, if not to read it outside, then to reduce battery wear and tear.
Now, instead of using the power management options deep inside the settings menu, there’s a clever shortcut you can get to from any app or menu on the phone; you can quickly adjust brightness by holding your finger on the status bar at the top of the screen; slide to the right to increase, to the left to decrease the screen brightness.
The Galaxy S2: The secret code
Key in *#0*#, and you’ll have access to the inner test functions of your phone. There’s actually not much to see here, but it’s worth trying if you want to check to see if all your pixels are functioning. The sensor button is pretty fascinating too, you’ll see all the data the accelerometer, magnetic and proximity sensor picks up.
Phonebook and contacts tricks
Get into the keypad on the phone app, and type in the first few numbers, and the Galaxy S2 will cross-reference your bulging contacts book, and suggest who you’re trying to ring. You can also ‘type’ the name, in 90s retro style. Tom, for example, would come out by pressing 866.
Ever forgotten that vital last detail in a business call, or forgot to warn someone that you’re running low on milk when they go to the local shop?
When you finish calling someone, look back to the screen, and you’ll notice you have the option to redial, videocall (!) or send a text message to the person you were just speaking to.
Quick-calling from contacts screen
Slide your finger across to the left to immediately call a contact. You can also slide to the right to open a text message window.
We’ll start with a feature that went viral; several new Android phones can now take ‘screengrabs’, snapshots of whatever is currently displayed on your phone. The Galaxy S2, naturally, has the new feature, just press the home button in the middle at the same time as the power button on the right edge. You’ll hear a shutter sound, and a picture will appear in your gallery. Presto!
Holding the button: task manager
Holding the home-button for a few seconds will push you into the task-manager, with shortcuts to the recently used apps. You’ll also find a link to the task manager, where you can kill any apps you don’t need and stretch your battery life a little longer.
Fly into flight mode
Looking to lock-down your phone’s wireless connections? Hold the power button for a moment, and alongside the option to shutdown the phone, 3G data, or silent mode you can switch immediately to airplane mode.
Two-for-three. You can still search
You may notice the Galaxy S2 only has two Android buttons alongside its home button. It’s missing the search button. Fear not; generally speaking you can get the search button functionality by holding the menu button on the left.
Screen-lock for video
Fed up of your phone shutting down during long videos? Press the power button and you can lock the screen on. Press it again, and it’ll be unlocked. We’d love to see this feature on YouTube and the BBC iPlayer.
One of the best features of Android phones is ability to add larger widgets to your homescreen, displaying more information than an icon, like weather forecasts, your calendar and music playlist.
We suspect you may have gone a little widget happy, like we have, but we were relieved to find that several widgets can have their size adjusted; perfect for fitting into those important first few screens.
Hold onto the widget then release without moving it, and you should see a yellow frame work appear, and you can stretch and adjust the widget to fit.
It works on most of Samsung’s own widgets, but you may find the likes of Spotify are less willing to have their size tinkered with.
If you’re still having trouble getting between homescreens, pinch the screen to see an overall view of all your home-screen. Tap on one to be taken immediately to it.
Pinch-to-zoom will also work on your monthly calendar, drawing out into an annual view. If in doubt, give it a pinch, there’s often something hidden there.
One final way to zoom between those seven home screens; use those smalll grey dots at the bottom of the home screen. Whilst you can tap to go immediately to a specific page you can also swipe across the screens in record time.
Galaxy in motion
The Galaxy S2 has several motion settings that may have been ignored when you first got the phone. (They appear when you first open apps and features that can use motion gestures.)
Go into the settings menu to turn some of the one; several are well worth making the effort for. Our favourite is ‘turn over’ which will silence your phone mid-call. Very useful if you’re in the middle of a conversation or somewhere that appreciates silence.
‘Tilt’ works by using two fingers to hold a picture or webpage, and arching the phone towards or away, acting as a zoom function. We found it was ideal for group photos when you’re looking to spot faces.
Choose those four sticky apps
You may not be satisfied with the four app shortcuts that stay at the bottom of the phone screen, but these can be changed.
It’s slightly more complicated than adding and removing icons for your homescreen, but tap on applications in the bottom-right corner, then tap the physical menu button on the left of the phone’s main button. You can now rearrange both the four ‘main’ apps and reorganise all the apps on your phone.
Tap on the applications icon and choose list to get them organised into a very easy-to-navigate alphabetical list.
The high-end camera on the Galaxy S2 also has some hidden features; you can use the volume keys to act as zoom, whilst holding the menu button down will allow you to customise all the camera options you see on-screen.
There you have it; a load of secret tips and tricks hidden inside the Galaxy S2. We haven’t seen this many secret shortcuts and hidden features since the iPhone 4. And we're exhausted.
Alright, one last easter egg; go into settings, then about phone. Tap on Android version bar, several times, very fast.
Yeah, we have no idea why either.
Check out our Android tips and tricks for even more cool tips on your new phone.
Credits: Twitter, XDA developers forum