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15 instant improvements to your Samsung Galaxy S10 or Note9

Samsung’s Galaxy S10 and Note9 are sort of like the Las Vegas of smartphones. Compared to the simple and understated approach of, say, an iPhone or Google Pixel 3, Samsung bombards you with settings to tweak and features to try. Much like a walk down the strip at night, this approach can feel overwhelming.

You can tone down the gaudiest features and tune others to suit your needs better. Here are 15 instant improvements you can make to a new Samsung phone:

1. Remap the Bixby button

bixbybutton Jared Newman / IDG

The mandatory inclusion of the Bixby voice assistant is arguably the worst feature of modern Samsung phones. Fortunately, you can remap the button with a third-party app called bxActions. Before you install the app, make sure to launch Bixby once, then go through the standard setup process. Next, launch bxActions, walk through the setup process, then select Bixbi [sic] button to choose an alternative action. You can even use this to launch Google Assistant instead of Bixby.

2. Hide the Bixby Home screen

bixbyhome Jared Newman / IDG

By default, swiping right on your home screen will bring up an information feed from Bixby, including weather, news, sports scores, calendar updates, and more. You can disable this by long-pressing anywhere on the home screen, swiping right, and turning off the Bixby Home toggle.

3. Rearrange your quick settings

rearrangesamsung Jared Newman / IDG

Like other Android phones, Samsung lets you easily toggle common settings such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth by swiping down from the top of the screen—one swipe for your favorite six toggles, and a second swipe for a longer list of options. To rearrange the order of these settings—or remove them entirely—swipe down a second time, hit the menu button that looks like three dots, then select Button order. Press and hold any icon to reposition it, and don’t forget you can swipe left to see additional icons.

4. Add a screen brightness shortcut

samsungbrightnesshortcut Jared Newman / IDG

By default, Samsung’s Galaxy Note9 and S10 require two swipes from the top of the screen to access the brightness slider. Make it easier to reach by pressing the down arrow next to the slider, then toggling Show control on top. Now, you only have to swipe down once to see the brightness toggle.

5. Assign volume keys to media playback

samsungvolume Jared Newman / IDG

In Android Pie, Google changed the standard behavior of volume keys to control media volume (such as music and videos) instead of the ringer. Samsung phones’ volume keys still control the ringer by default, but you can change this by pressing either volume button, swiping down on the volume control, and toggling Use volume keys for media.

6. Set up photo backups

samsungphotobackup Jared Newman / IDG

Samsung’s setup process doesn’t include a way to back up your photos, so you’ll have to add a backup system once your phone is up and running. The Google Photos app will automatically back up unlimited photos for free (albeit at reduced resolution unless you use Google Drive storage). You can also use other cloud storage services such as Dropbox and OneDrive.

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