15 hidden Samsung features that will change the way you use your phone

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra three colors - representing an article about hidden Samsung features
(Image credit: Future)

Whether you're running a Samsung Galaxy S22, Z Fold 3, or one of the other best Samsung phones, Galaxy smartphones contain a whole host of tucked-away features that you may not have been aware of.

From being able to take selfies by just saying "Cheese" to swiping your palm across the screen to capture a screenshot, there are lots of cool little features that make using Samsung phones that little bit more fun.

While many of these features aren't really "hidden," you may not have been aware of their existence. And even if you know your way around a Galaxy, there's likely to be at least one of these tricks you didn't know about.

So, here's a guide to the 15 hidden Samsung features that will (hopefully) change the way you use your phone. And when you're done here check out our guide on how to disable location tracking on Android (opens in new tab).

15 hidden Samsung features that will change the way you use your phone

1. Take selfies using voice or hand gestures

(Image credit: Future)

Like them or not, selfies are a part of everyday life now. And whether you take 50 of them a day or, like me, one per year at Christmas, Samsung phones have a cool way to make snapping selfies a lot more versatile.

To activate selfie gestures on your Galaxy, open the Camera app then tap the settings cog in the top-left corner. Scroll to the bottom and tap "Shooting methods." Next, tap the toggles next to "Voice commands" and "Show palm."

Now, you can activate the shutter by saying "smile," "cheese," capture," or "shoot"  — this works with both the front and rear-facing cameras. To take a selfie or record a video using gestures, simply hold up your palm to the front-facing camera, or say "record video."

2. Customize practically anything with the Good Lock app

A shot of a Samsung Note 20 Ultra on a table, running Samsung's Good Lock app

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

If you're the type of person who likes to tinker, the Good Lock app is made for you. This first-party app from Samsung lets you change practically anything on your device, from the icons on your taskbar to the appearance of your always-on display clock. Think of it like your very own custom ROM maker —  except one that won't void your warranty.

You can download Good Lock from the Galaxy Store (opens in new tab), though it's not available in all regions, unfortunately. We like this app so much, that we recommended it as the first app you should install on your Samsung Galaxy phone.

3. Use gestures exactly as you want them

(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung already allows you to swap the traditional three-button navigation option at the bottom of the display in favor of the more modern swipe-gesture system. But if you find those gestures too limiting, the One Hand Operation + (opens in new tab) app from Samsung lets you completely customize how gestures work on your phone.

I personally use this to put my gestures on the each side of the display —  you can swipe inward to go back, down and diagonal to go to the Home screen, and up and diagonal to see recent apps. I find it so much easier to simply swipe from the sides of the gigantic display on my Z Fold 3, instead of having to contort my hand toward the bottom of it.

However, this app is so versatile, that it lets you trigger practically any action with a gesture. For example, a diagonal swipe from the top of the screen could launch the torch, skip to the next music track, or even open a virtual touchpad.

4. Run two copies of WhatsApp, Messenger or Telegram

(Image credit: Samsung)

With many Samsung phones coming with dual-SIM capabilities these days, Samsung's Dual Messenger feature really comes in handy if you don't want to carry two phones with you anymore. This feature basically makes a clone of the most popular messaging apps, putting a separate copy on your phone that allows you to log into it with a different account from your main one.

To use Dual Messenger, open Settings and scroll down to Advanced features. Then scroll to the bottom and tap Dual Messenger. You can select which app you'd like to clone, then the copy will appear in your app drawer. Cool, hey?

5. Create a safe sanctuary using Secure Folder

(Image credit: Future)

Did you know that Samsung phones have their own secret vault, known as the Secure Folder? It's a sort of second space where you can either move files or apps from your "main" phone space, or just use as its own private area.

To set up the Secure Folder, go to Settings and scroll down to Biometrics and security, then scroll down again to find Secure Folder. Simply tap Agree, sign in with your Google or Samsung account and then set up how you want your Secure Folder to be secured. The Secure Folder app will then appear in your app drawer. Once it's set up, you can download apps exclusively to the Secure Folder, since it is treated as a separate space.

It may be a good idea to shift all of your banking apps to the Secure Folder, as this would add an extra layer of security in case your phone were left unattended. You could also use it to store those secret things you'd be embarrassed for others to see — such as a copy of Candy Crush, in my case.

6. Speed things up by removing animations

(Image credit: Samsung)

Though there's another way to speed up your Android phone or tablet by tweaking the options in Android's developer menu, Samsung has something similar built right into the OS. You can turn off the animations on your device, such as when you open or close apps, which make it seem more snappy in daily use.

It's worth checking out this option if you're looking for a speed boost, as it does make a huge difference. However, it may affect how some apps operate, so luckily it's easy to revert back if you notice any issues.

To activate this feature, open Settings and scroll down to Accessibility, then tap Visibility enhancements. Next, tap the toggle by Remove animations to turn the feature on. If you notice this causes issues, you can easily turn it off again in the same way.

7. Fit more apps onto your Home screen or app drawer

(Image credit: Future)

If you find that you need a bit more space on your Home screen or app drawer, you can easily increase the amount of apps you can squeeze on there. Just open the Home screen settings menu by pinching in with two fingers on the Home screen then tap Settings. Next, tap Home screen grid or Apps screen grid and resize them as you see fit.

8. Lock your Home screen layout

(Image credit: Future)

If you're forever accidentally shifting  the carefully arranged icons on your Home screen around, there's an easy way to put a stop to this. You can lock the Home screen, meaning you can't remove or move any of the apps until you unlock it again.

To do this, open the Home screen settings menu by pinching in with two fingers on the Home screen and then tapping Settings. Now, tap the toggle by Lock Home screen layout to activate this feature. If you want to unlock it again, simple tag the toggle.

9. Swipe to call or message contacts

One UI contact list with a contact swiped

(Image credit: Samsung)

Though this feature has been a part of One UI for years now, it's surprising how many people I meet don't know about it. What's more, it's one of those things that you don't realize how useful it is until you don't have it — something I discovered during my time using a Pixel 6 Pro.

You can swipe left on a contact in your address book or recent list to message them, or swipe right to call them. This is something so simple yet so intuitive, that every smartphone should have it.

10. Get the camera or display to flash for notifications

(Image credit: Future)

Tucked away in the Settings menu is the ability to get your camera's flash or display to illuminate whenever you receive a notification or your alarm sounds. This feature is perfect if you're unable to hear your phone or don't want it to vibrate, for whatever reason.

To enable it, head to Settings, Accessibility, then Advanced settings. Next, tap Flash notification. You can tap the toggle by each setting to turn it on or off, and even choose which apps it applies and what color you'd like the screen to flash.

11. Double tap the display to turn it on and off

(Image credit: Future)

If you want to open or close your phone quickly without having to press the power key, you can simply double tap on the screen to wake it up or turn it off. This is particularly handy if your hands are wet, or if you're like me and are too lazy to lift your phone up from the nightstand to check your notifications in the morning.

To activate this, head to Settings, Advanced features, then Motions and gestures. Tap the toggles by Double tap to turn on screen and Double tap to turn off screen to switch them on. You can also toggle Lift to wake, which turns your screen on when you raise your phone.

12. Mute incoming calls or alarms by flipping your phone over

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra S Pen on back of phone

(Image credit: Future)

Sick of your alarm having the audacity to try and wake you up as requested? If you don't want to fumble around in the dark to try and silence it, you can just flip your phone over or put your hand over the screen to mute the alarm. This also works with incoming calls, silencing them instead of canceling them.

To turn this feature on, head to Settings, Advanced features, then Motions and gestures. Now, tap the toggle by Mute with gestures to activate it.

13. Enhance video calls with background effects

Samsung One UI video call on WhatsApp

(Image credit: Samsung)

It's not just Zoom that lets you blur your surroundings or choose an exotic backdrop. Samsung's video call effects feature lets you natively do the things that were previously the reserve of dedicated video call apps, applying background effects to calls on Duo, Messenger, Meet, WhatsApp, and more.

To activate this feature, go to Settings, Advanced features, then tap the toggle by Video call effects. Now, if you tap on the words Video call effects, you'll see a bunch of options, including the ability to choose your default background color or choose an image for your backdrop.

Once you make a video call, you'll notice a new icon in the top-right. Tap the icon to view your in-call background options, as well as the ability to enhance the microphone for improved clarity.

14. Use your palm to take a screenshot

(Image credit: Samsung)

This is another one of those features that's been part of Galaxy phones forever now, but which many people don't know about. While it's easy to take a screenshot on a Samsung phone by using the usual volume down+power button combo, there's a much more intuitive way to do it — by swiping the screen with your palm.

To switch this feature on, go to Settings, Advanced features, then Motions and gestures. Now, tap the toggle by Palm swipe to capture.

To test it out, simply place your hand sideways on either side of the display and swipe inwards. If you never knew about this feature, you'll wonder what you ever did without it.

15. Access all your Quick Settings with one swipe

(Image credit: Future)

Samsung phones contain a load of handy toggles in the Quick Settings panel , such as the ability to quickly turn Wi-Fi or Bluetooth on or off, or activate flight mode. And while you can organize this section to put your five favorite ones up top, there are so many in there that it's usually easier to just expand the entire panel. 

Usually, this involves swiping down from the top of the screen twice in succession. However, you can instantly access the full Quick Settings menu by swiping down once with two digits. This is actually a feature that's been part of Android for a long time now, though one that's not widely known.

Hopefully you've now learned at least one new thing about your Samsung Galaxy phone. Want to learn even more? Check out how to turn your Galaxy S22's punch hole into a notification light, how to find your Samsung phone, or  how to check Android battery health.

Dale Fox
Freelance Journalist

Dale Fox is a freelance journalist based in the UK. He's been a tech nerd ever since childhood, when he used the money from his first job as a paperboy to buy a subscription to GamesMaster magazine. Dale was previously a presenter and editor in China, where he also worked as a copywriter for OnePlus at its Shenzhen HQ.