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Samsung Galaxy S9/S9+ customization guide: All the essential settings you should change

Customizing the Galaxy S9 and S9+
It might sound awfully-cliched by now, but Android's customizability is one of its biggest assets. Conversely, it's sort of a downside of its own as well - having options is cool, but the more of these you have at your fingertips, the more complex decision-making becomes. Hence, one of Android's best features is also one of its most overwhelming drag-downs.

Yet, who are we to criticize users' ability to shape the interface of their devices to their heartfelt content. Actually, as you probably know, we too are "guilty" of regularly going overboard with interface customization and pushing the limits of Google's OS as far as possible, an exercise literally undoable with any other mobile operating system.

In case you've voted for Team Samsung recently and got yworthy ourself a neat new Galaxy S9 or S9+ (or why not both?), it's time to wave goodbye to the boring stock theme and customize it yourself. We will now walk you through most of the noteworthy customization options that the Galaxy S9 and S9+ come forth with.

Home screen settings

The stock Samsung launcher has undergone tons of revisions over the years and its current iteration is arguably and naturally the best one. For a stock launcher, it has a real abundance of available options. Here's what you can customize

1) Home screen layout: The homescreen layout can be customized, which means that you can choose between a traditional homescreen layout with all of your apps tucked in an app drawer accessible by swiping up or down on the homescreen, or choose to have all of your apps plastered across a couple of home screens, just like iOS has done for a decade. It's good that Samsung offers its users a choice in this regard. 

To customize this setting, hold a blank space on your home screen, then tap "Home screen settings", and finally, go into "Home screen layout".

2) Apps button: Conversely, should you choose with an app drawer, the Galaxy S9 throws even more welcome options at you. You can choose whether you access the drawer by swiping up or down on the homescreen, but you could also choose to have an old-school app drawer button. So 2012.

To customize this setting, hold a blank space on your home screen, then tap "Home screen settings", then tap the "Apps button" menu item.

3) Home and apps screen grid: 4x5, 4x6, 5x5, and 5x6 - these are your options when it comes to customizing the homescreen app grid. We'd normally advise going for a tinier grid with more icons as we feel these make way better use of the screen real estate available, but to each their own. When it comes to the app drawer grid, you have merely two options ahead of you - 4x6 and 5x6. Again, we'd go with 5x6, but the choice is yours.

To customize this setting, hold a blank space on your home screen, then tap "Home screen settings",

Get a custom launcher!

Right, we mentioned that we mostly like Samsung's stock launcher, but this doesn't mean you should stick with it.

Objectively viewed, it's quite lackluster when you compare it with some of the custom offerings found on the Play Store which simply blow any stock launcher out of the water with the amount of options they have. 

Nova Launcher Prime is our usual top recommendation when it comes to custom launchers, but there are other, equally-deserving ones available, too.

Evie Launcher, Smart Launcher 5, and Action Launcher 3 also deserve a mention. Any of these would allow for a much deeper level of customization that simply cannot be matched by a stock solution.


Themes are a great way to overhaul the looks of your device in an instance, but be careful - most of the themes available in Samsung's Theme Store are paid and not very good at the same time.

There are tons of gems, of course, but the majority are "meh". Aside from changing the wallpaper, themes also usually change the icon pack, sounds scheme, and often the Always-On Display widget.

Aside from applying an overall theme to your device (have in mind most of the good ones are paid), you can also customize the different elements of the theme themselves. 

Have in mind that the only way to get rid of the unapologetically-white background of the Settings app and the quick settings panel is by applying a theme that will hopefully change the colors, provided the theme maker has implemented it. 

The High Contrast theme from Samsung itself is a neat recommendation for those willing to get a mostly-black interface.

Always On Display

Aside from downloading a premade always-on display template from the Themes hub, you can also create your own by playing around within the settings of the device. There are multiple ways to customize your always-ion display widget: aside from the handful of cool watchfaces that Samsung has pre-installed, you can also add an animated GIF that will run for a couple of seconds before pausing due to power-savings. Overall, we'd advise against using these as they add little to no functionality whatsoever.  

As far as the custom watchfaces go, you are once again only allowed to change the color and type, but we feel that's sufficient enough for the everyday user. 
To customize your Galaxy S9/S9+'s Always-On Display, go to Settings > Lock Screen > Clock and FaceWidgets. Make sure that Always-On Display is enabled, of course.

Another neat feature that we like is scheduling how long this one runs, as probably nobody needs AOD running during the night when nobody's watching. Once you enable the features, you can set a schedule. To do that, go to Settings > Lock Screen > Always On Display and feel free to tinker with the included timers. You can also customize the brightness of AOD within the same menu - we'd advise not going overboard with this feature as it will use more battery than the default setting.

Advanced features

Unsurprisingly, most of the advanced features on the Galaxy S9/S9+ are available in the eponymous Advanced Features menu in the main Settings app. Thanks to these, you can further enable or make use of a host of features, including but not limited to the following ones:

1) Smart Stay: Similar to older Galaxy devices, the new one still has the neat Smart Stay feature present and will keep the display on should you be looking on it. To enable this, simply go to Settings > Advanced features > Smart stay.

2) Game Launcher: The Game Launcher feature is indubitably one of the more important Galaxy S9 features that gamers should make use of. Aside from organizing all of your apps in an easily-accessible folder, this feature also allows you to easily change the device's performance profile or muting all sounds prior to launching the game. You also get to check out trending games and see your gaming stats. Easy-peasy. This feature is available in Settings > Advanced features > Game Launcher.

3)Finger sensor gestures: Expanding the notification shade of your Galaxy S9/S9+ by simply swiping down the rear-positioned fingerprint scanner is definitely a useful feature to have. In order to enable the features, go to Settings > Advanced features > Fingerprint sensor gestures.

4) Dual Messenger: A relatively new feature for Galaxy devices, this one allows you to have two parallel instances of one and the same messaging app living alongside on your device, each one with a different account being logged in. This way, you can have two WhatsApps, two Facebooks, two Facebooks Messengers, two Vibers, and overall, two separate instances of just about any popular messaging or social app on your phone. A boon for social media junkies, that one is!

5) Video enhancer: 

The Video enhancer feature will boost up the colors of the display when you're watching videos. Given that the display of the Galaxy S9 and S9+ are both among the best ones out there, having a little more pop in videos is definitely not a necessity but we'd advise you turn it on simply for that extra oomph. 

Edge screen

Samsung has been pushing the edge screen on us for years, but it's still debatable if this one is useful or not. If you ask us, it's among the more forgettable features of the Galaxy S9 and haven't necessarily changed majorly from the days of the Galaxy Note Edge. 

To customize the edge panels and all the various features of the edge screen, you need to go to Settings > Display > Edge screen and tinker away to your heartfelt content. 

By going into the edge panels menu, you can select what panels should appear in the edge screen, rearrange and further customize them. The edge lighting menu item, on the other hand, allows you to create a unique lighting style for your device that would appear should you receive a notification from a predefined app.

Bixby, begone

Should you have a strong disdain for Samsung's Bixby but are open to the idea of using the Google assistant, you can simply remap the dedicated Bixby button to launch Google's smarter AI assistant. The easiest working way to do that is by using Bixby Button Remapper app, which is also known as BxActions and is available on the Play Store. With it, you can remap the Bixby button to open the Google Assistant, and even remap the volume buttons, which we wouldn't recommend. By using a PC, you can further increase the capabilities of the app and make it work faster: you won't even see the Bixby app fire when you press the button, which is exactly what we've been anticipating Samsung would let us do natively.

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Related phones

Samsung Galaxy S9 specs
  • Display 5.8 inches 2960 x 1440 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Single camera) 8 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 4GB RAM
  • Storage 64GB, microSDXC
  • Battery 3000 mAh
  • OS Android 10 Samsung One UI
Samsung Galaxy S9+ specs
  • Display 6.2 inches 2960 x 1440 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Dual camera) 8 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 6GB RAM
  • Storage 64GB, microSDXC
  • Battery 3500 mAh
  • OS Android 10 Samsung One UI

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