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Samsung Galaxy S9: The best tips and tricks

The Samsung Galaxy S9 has slick design and the latest hardware, but it’s not just a pretty face. This phone includes ample software features and options—so many, in fact, you might need help wading through it all to find the truly useful stuff. You need not wander the menus alone anymore. Here are the best tips to make your new Galaxy S9 as useful as possible.

Home screen landscape

samsung galaxy s9 landscape Ryan Whitwam/IDG

Samsung’s home screen got a big overhaul last year, and this time it’s refining what’s already there. Finally, the stock “Samsung Experience” launcher works in landscape mode, and it’s one of the best implementations of a landscape launcher you’ll find. This feature is disabled by default on most versions of the Galaxy S9, but you can enable it with a quick trip to the launcher settings. Long-press on an empty space and tap the settings button at the bottom. You need to turn off the Portrait mode only toggle to get landscape mode.

Turn the phone, and your home screen will reorient immediately. Widgets are scaled to work in the wider layout fairly well, and icon labels move to the right of each icon. It looks much cleaner than other landscape launchers.

Navigation customizations

samsung galaxy s9 nav buttons Ryan Whitwam/IDG

You interact with the navigation bar constantly throughout the day. So, you might as well make it work the way you want. You can do that in Settings Display Navigation Bar. Because Samsung uses on-screen buttons now, you can change the order from the default Samsung order (overview-home-back) to the standard Android order (back-home-overview). That is at the bottom under Button layout.

You should also experiment with the hard-press home button, which is active at all times, even if the button is hidden by full-screen content or your phone is asleep. It’s very useful, but some people find the default pressure level too low or high. You can change it to suit your preferences.

Configure biometrics the right way

samsung galaxy s9 biometrics fingerprint Ryan Whitwam/IDG

Samsung offers more biometric unlock options than any other phone, with facial recognition, fingerprints, and iris scans. You can set them all up to unlock your device, but there are a few things to know. If you add your face and irises, you can turn on Intelligent Scan under Settings Lock screen and security Screen lock type. This feature lets you unlock the phone more quickly with face unlock (which isn’t as secure), but the phone will prefer irises if it’s at the right angle to see your eyes. To access a secure feature like Samsung Pay, you can verify with your irises if you unlocked with facial recognition.

The new fingerprint sensor is in a better spot this year, but Samsung’s enrollment dialog is confusing. The Galaxy S9 fingerprint enrollment screen tells you to swipe the sensor for faster setup. While it is faster, it’s also not as accurate. You’ll get more accurate fingerprint recognition if you just tap the sensor repeatedly to register.

Disable Bixby

samsung galaxy s9 bixby Ryan Whitwam/IDG

Samsung is really trying to make Bixby a thing, but it’s still not very good on the Galaxy S9. The physical Bixby button on the phone remains entirely too easy to press. If you want to quash Bixby, you need to first swipe over to the left home screen panel or press the Bixby button to launch it. Tap the settings icon at the top and turn off the Bixby button via the toggle that appears.

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