Master your Samsung Galaxy S8 or Galaxy S8+ phone with our in-depth tips and tricks guide. We reveal the best hidden features in the S8 handsets, including tips for getting started, enjoying better battery life, customising every part of the Samsung phones, taking expert shots with the camera and plenty more.
If you’ve just bought the Galaxy S8 or S8+ and you want to get started with your gorgeous new smartphone – or you’ve had it a while and you want to dig deeper under the surface – you’ve come to the right guide.
Here we reveal our top tips for getting the most from your S8, including the best features hidden away inside Samsung’s mighty flagship. We cover everything from personalising your phone to mastering the camera for beautiful everyday snaps.
How to use the Galaxy S8 or S8+ with one hand, comfortably
The Galaxy S8 may be pretty much bezel-free, but at 5.8-inches it’s still a beast of a mobile. If you pick the S8+ instead, even more so. But thankfully Samsung has chucked in a nifty feature for using the phone one-handed, without fumbling it.
Head to the S8’s settings menu and then tap Advanced Features, followed by One-handed Mode. This gives you two options for shrinking the Galaxy’s desktops and any apps you’re using towards the bottom of the display. You can either swipe up the screen diagonally from either bottom corner (just as you can on Huawei’s P10 and P10 Plus), or triple-tap the on-screen home button.
Master the Galaxy S8 or S8+’s camera tech
The Galaxy S8 and S8+ share one of the best mobile cameras around in 2017. This feature-packed snapper can shoot gorgeous-looking photos no matter what the lighting conditions, giving you the perfect way to preserve your memories – or simply catch the cat in action as she chases a partciularly stubborn shoelace.
We’ve compiled a guide to our most essential S8 camera tips and tricks, to help you get started with that brilliant shooter and discover helpful features that you may have missed. From grabbing the perfect selfie to controlling the shutter for expert results, you’ll find it explained in there.
If you want some arty, funny or funky effects, check out our full guide to the Galaxy S8 and S8+ camera and video modes. From here you can shoot slightly terrifying cartoon images of yourself, as well as use Bixby AI to tell you more about your surroundings. And that’s just to start.
How to get longer battery life with the Galaxy S8
Even with regular use, you can comfortably get over a day of playtime with the S8 between charges. However, chances are you’ll find yourself running low at some point when you’re miles from the nearest plug socket – or perhaps you want to try and boost that effort to a full two days.
Head to the Device Maintenance section of the Galaxy S8’s settings menu and then tap Battery. In here you’ll find lots of handy features to try and extend your battery life.
For instance, you can quickly check exactly which apps have been sucking the most juice since your last charge. Tap the circles alongside them and then hit the big blue ‘save power’ button and these apps will have their background activity privileges axed. In other words, they can’t drain power when you’re not actively using them.
Samsung’s power saving mode is also available to extend your battery life in times of need. Tap the ‘mid’ button to cut some non-essential features such as automatic syncing, which helps to drain less power. Or if you’re in dire need of a good few hours of life, tap ‘max’ to trim all but the most basic of phone functions.
How to customise the Galaxy S8’s virtual buttons
Those virtual buttons which pop up at the bottom of the S8 and S8+ display can be completely customised to your liking. Just head to the Display section of the phone’s settings menu and then prod Navigation Bar.
From this menu you can swap around the layout of those buttons and also change the background colour to pretty much whatever you like, including the sexy red effort above.
You can also change the sensitivity of Samsung’s built-in home button. If you’re finding that your prods aren’t quite registering each time, simply bump up the sensitivity to make sure you get a response.
How to stream music wirelessly from your Galaxy S8 to a Bluetooth 5.0 speaker
Good news, music lovers: the Galaxy S8 and S8+ support Bluetooth 5, which is great news when you want to wirelessly enjoy your tunes on a speaker or your BT headphones.
Bluetooth 5.0 is more power efficient than previous versions, so your Galaxy S8’s power won’t be sapped so quick. You can also stream music to a speaker or ‘phones at up to four times the range at 128kbps, or twice the range at 500kbps.
What’s more, the Galaxy S8 supports streaming of music to two devices at the same time. Samsung’s ‘dual audio’ feature gives you support for two Bluetooth speakers or two pairs of wireless headphones at the same time, irrespective of brand, make or model. That’s particularly useful if you’re on a train, for instance, with your best bud. Both of you can enjoy some tunes or a movie without that awkward sharing of one set of earphones thing.
Check out our guide on playing music using Bluetooth 5.0 if you want full instructions on how to set this up.
How to use two apps at once on the Galaxy S8 with split-screen mode
The S8 and S8+ both boast a sizeable screen, which is a perfect canvas for using two apps at the same time. You can thankfully do so quite easily, using Android’s nifty split-screen mode.
To get two apps running on-screen at the same time, tap the recent apps button on the virtual bar at the bottom of the phone’s display. A list of apps you have open will pop onto the screen. From here, tap the split-screen icon on the first app you wish to use – this looks like two boxes, one on top of the other. The display splits in half. In the top half, your chosen app will appear. In the bottom half, you’ll see a scrollable list of other apps running in the background. Simply tap your second choice and it will fill the bottom half of the panel, so you can use both at once.
Alternatively, in the Advanced features > Multi Window section of the settings menu, you can turn on the ‘Use Recents Button’ option. With this active, simply hold down the recent apps button on your Galaxy S8 device when you already have one app open. This will divide the display in the middle, with the current app shifting to the top half of the screen. You can now choose your second app as before.
Can’t see the app you wish to open in that scrollable list? Not a problem. All you need to do is tap the Galaxy S8’s home button to return to your desktops and from here select the second app you wish to use in split-screen mode. The original app will reappear at the top half of the display and the new app will pop up at the bottom. Alternatively, tap the ‘more apps’ button on the bottom half of the screen to select something else.
You can resize both windows simply by pressing your finger on the central divide and dragging it up or down. And to exit split-screen mode, drag that divide to the very bottom of the S8’s display. Note that not all apps support split-screen, so many games for instance will throw a wobbler.
How to change the Bixby shortcut button to launch Google Assistant instead
The Galaxy S8 and S8+ will be two of the first handsets to show off Samsung’s new Bixby AI, a rival to the likes of Google Assistant and Cortana. Bixby is supposed to be one of the smartest portable assistants ever devised, but unfortunately it won’t be ready for a while yet. Which is even more of a shame, because the S8 handsets have a dedicated Bixby button which will essentially be useless at first.
Or will it? Actually, you can remap that Bixby button to load up Google Assistant instead, as discovered by Reddit user Homeguy123. Here’s what you need to do.
First, download an app from Google Play called All In One Gestures. When this is installed, open it up and head to the Hard Keys tab. Tap the Enable button – you’ll need to turn on the All in one Gestures permissions to proceed.
With that done, head back to the app and tap the menu button in the top right. Next, poke the Custom Keys option and push the physical Bixby button on the S8 or S8+. This will load the Bixby AI, so press back to return to All In One Gestures. The Key Code field will be reading ’1082’. Press Add, and the app will register this key code under Custom Keys.
Now we can change the function of the Bixby button. To do so, head to the Custom Keys section and tap the 1082 key code. An Action screen pops up. Tap search and select Voice Search. This has now remapped Google Assistant to the Bixby button.
Of course, you can choose a completely different feature to map to the Bixby button if you so desire. Have an explore of All In One Gestures and take your pick.
How to use Samsung’s Game Launcher feature
We really quite liked Samsung’s Game Launcher feature from the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, so we’re happy to see this tool return in the S8 and S8+. You can find it in your list of apps.
Game Launcher is a nifty way of grouping all of your games together, but also adds some funky features for whenever you’re enjoying some downtime. For a start, you can stifle notifications when playing games, with a tap of the icon on the main Game Launcher screen. Great news if you don’t want any distractions.
There’s also a performance mode which devotes more processing power to your game, if you want to play something that’s particularly demanding – not that we’ve seen any stutters on the S8 thus far.
Once you’re in a game, you can open the Game Launcher menu by tapping the special icon in the virtual bar. From here you get access to more handy features, such as the ability to record your gaming session to impress all of your great mates.
You can enable or disable the Game Launcher feature at any time in the Galaxy S8’s settings menu. Just head to the Advanced Features option and then tap into Games.
Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ video guide
Check out some of our Galaxy S8 and S8+ tips and tricks in action in our video below.
You can pre-order the Samsung Galaxy S8 from O2 right now from £55 per month, to claim a free speaker worth £120.