That heart rate sensor on the back of your Galaxy S8 can actually be useful for something

As far as gimmicks go, Samsung's insistence on shoving a heartbeat sensor on the back of its flagships, including the latest Galaxy S8, is a pretty unobtrusive one – in fact, chances are most users aren't even aware of the feature's existence. But, as it turns out, being an unnecessary gimmick doesn't mean it can't have actually useful built-in functionality as well.

If you're anything like me, selfies can be uncomfortable to take sometimes, and particularly so with a larger device. Certain poses and angles can make the on-screen button hard to reach, while using the volume buttons often leads to blurry photos (thanks, shaky hands!) This is where the heartbeat sensor comes in play: as it turns out, you can actually use it in lieu of a dedicated shutter button, should you choose to.

The way it works is simple: if the front camera has detected a face, tapping on the heart rate sensor will take a photo. Granted, there is a very obvious problem with using the sensor in this fashion: finger smudges on the rear camera. However, this is the very same issue as with the fingerprint sensor's placement, so if you've already formed a habit of regularly cleaning the lens, you should be good to go.

As it turns out, this is not a new feature at all – it actually debuted with the release of the Galaxy Note 4. However, it's now more useful than ever, seeing as the Galaxy S8+ is the company's biggest flagship so far, and thus may present grip problems for some people. So this can be a nice alternative for those who need it, but if the feature is not to your liking you can easily turn it off from the settings:

Related phones

Galaxy S8
  • Display 5.8" 1440 x 2960 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, Octa-core, 2350 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3000 mAh(30h talk time)
Galaxy S8+
  • Display 6.2" 1440 x 2960 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, Octa-core, 2450 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3500 mAh(24h 3G talk time)



1. nikhil23

Posts: 467; Member since: Dec 07, 2016

On S8, you can have a pseudo button in camera view that can be dragged anywhere and then click a pic with it. Heart rate Sensor works very well but this button is more convineant

3. Kaloyan.C

Posts: 22; Member since: Feb 25, 2017

It really depends on how you're holding the phone – for example, if I'm taking a selfie from above, I have to use my thumb to keep the device from falling, which makes tapping on any on-screen button impossible.

15. nikhil23

Posts: 467; Member since: Dec 07, 2016

I'd personally use my wrist on the lower corner for support and then tap it. I use to do tap to take a pic but I'd prefer tap to focus and then take a pic. I don't like volume button to pic at all.

2. nikhil23

Posts: 467; Member since: Dec 07, 2016

Ohh BTW...PA if providing a heart rate sensor for a user is a gimmick, then why do wearables have this heart rate sensor ?

4. Xperia14

Posts: 1208; Member since: Sep 01, 2015

Well what does that heart rate tell you? Heart rate sensors are gimmicks.

38. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013 mom is 83...she has congested heart failure and she has a defibrillator on her heart. When she does things that require moving a lot, she has to keep a look how how fats or slow her heart rate is. My mom has a very faint pulse, so she cant hold her wrist and use a stopwatch and see how fast her heart rate is or slow. Which is why originally I got her the S6, and I showed how to get a more accurate HR reading. But the phone was to fancy so she has a Gear S2 now and its ore simple for her to keep tabs on her own. Because of it, since she can no longer work at 83, it also helps her seeing as her income is limited, and she doesnt have to have an expensive machine in the house, as the GS2 can give her a accurate enough reading at no cost to her. So it may be "gimmicky" to you, but there are people who fin these things or have legit reasons to have them and they do work. If your fat ass doesn't work out, or don't have health issues; then just because its useless to you, dossn't make it useless or gimmicky. I can say, after buying a Xperia Z as a gift this year and using it for the first time is the most useless phone on the planet. This coming from an iPhone owner. Explain why Sony is almost at the bottom.

41. Xperia14

Posts: 1208; Member since: Sep 01, 2015

Best wishes for your mom. Yes, I can see it having some use with heart failure, but even then it has limited to no use. It's all about the symptoms. Then again, heart rate only =/= health. Doesn't matter if you're healthy, if you're inactive or doing a lot of sport.

5. zenun12

Posts: 205; Member since: Oct 31, 2016

Wearables have heart rate sensors because of fitness tracking features and the fact that it's attached to your body most of the time. On a phone, you could only use it occasionally since it could be tiresome to always put a finger on the sensor all the time. On the S7 as far as I know, they also use the HR sensor as a color-correction sensor during photography.

16. nikhil23

Posts: 467; Member since: Dec 07, 2016

My point is people are interested in using wearables because heart rate sensor is one of the reasons. I peesonally love my gear s3 as it tracks heart rate during workout. I agree with you guys that tracking heart rate during workout is more beneficial than after and before, but consider the peoplewho doesn't have a wearable? I'm just saying that having one is better thannot having at all

49. vincelongman

Posts: 5717; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

You can get a wearable to monitor your heart rate for like $20 I'm not saying including it on a phone is bad Just on a phone its not a selling point for most people

9. vincelongman

Posts: 5717; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Heart rate sensor are more useful on wearables as its always on you So you can track your heart rate during a workout, movie/TV show, ... Heart rate sensor on a phone is less useful as you need to touch it so you can only take your heart rate before/after a workout, and is less convenient for tracking during a movie/TV show I'd still consider heart rate sensors on wearables to be a niche feature But then again wearables are niche accessories

39. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Considering that fitness is now a multi-billion dollar industry, I would say iys nto as nick=he as you think it is. And I see lots of peopel wearing some kind of monitoring device when workign out. Especially fit-bits and I see them cheking their heart rates too. Yes I agree, the wearable kind is better per se. In either case you have to stop to use it.

17. WPX00

Posts: 511; Member since: Aug 15, 2015

Because in wearables, you never have to do a specific gesture to get your heart rate. In this case you need to stretch your finger to the HRS. On one of the Chinese phones, ZUK Edge I think, had a fingerprint sensor combo with the HRS. That would be more useful.

26. AlikMalix unregistered

It's a gimmic because it can be easily replicated with an app and the camera.

27. Klinton

Posts: 1409; Member since: Oct 24, 2016

BS Then every feature on the phones are gimmic.LOL Siri, Nightshift , Camera app. Calculator app, Gallery app...... The real reason why the media called it ''gimmic'' , is because it was Samsung that implemented it. BTW this front camera feature was there FROM DAY FIRST, but it was not mentioned, so the sensor to look more ''gimmic''

30. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3109; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

Oh please enlighten us more with your conspiracy theories Agent Mulder.

28. willard12 unregistered

It is not easily replicated with an app. Apps are 5-7 seconds slower than the Samsung HR sensor (and I know how much you hate lag) and not nearly as accurate. The HR sensor on the Samsung phones uses the same method for detecting and measuring HR as the technology used in clinics. So, once again, the AlikMalix "make it up" machine is going into overdrive. Also, I believe this whole article highlights a second use for the sensor. Or maybe, you know of an app that acts as a second hardware button for a camera shutter too. So, as usual, you have no point.

33. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

5-7 seconds slower is a bit exagerated. more like 1-2 second but yet its a slight lag. When you need to take a picture of a fast moving object any lag is bad.

35. Tony_5600

Posts: 82; Member since: Apr 09, 2017

BS... I had a Note 5 and it worked wonders, it was as accurate as the ones used in today's smart watches. TBH I rather have the heart rate sensor in my iPhone than a useless gimmick like 3D Touch.

36. Tony_5600

Posts: 82; Member since: Apr 09, 2017

Reply to AlikMalix Wtf is wrong with this comment section?

31. JBDragon

Posts: 9; Member since: Apr 27, 2017

Because you're WEARING IT!! Where it's actually useful!!! On the back of the phone does what? How many people even know what it is? How many out of those actually use it? A heart rate sensor on the back of the phone is almost useless unless you're one to think about it, and actually use it. A sensor on a watch or fitness band is already there on your wrist without even thinking about it. When I put on my Apple Watch every day, I don't even think about it. It automatically takes my heart rate every 15 minutes all on it's own, it's added into the Health App all o it's own. I can, when I'm thinking about it, go look in the health app and see how my heart beat. See how it is from a month ago to a year ago. Few phones have a heart rate sensor on it. Why is that? Because it's a gimmick. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

6. Cat97

Posts: 1920; Member since: Mar 02, 2017

Actually, using my S7 Edge heart rate sensor I discovered that my heart rate was too low due to a certain supplement I was taking, which I have then eliminated from my diet. It is much more reliabe and sensitive than a smartwatch heart rate sensor.

8. Xperia14

Posts: 1208; Member since: Sep 01, 2015

What supplement was it? And how did you know that your heart rate was too low?

20. nikhil23

Posts: 467; Member since: Dec 07, 2016

Because after recording the heart rate, if it is below the normal range, S health tells you. You can also measure stress and spo2 at the same time

22. Xperia14

Posts: 1208; Member since: Sep 01, 2015

A healthy, normal heart rate varies a lot between persons. Even though I do a lot of sports, my heart rate goes up all the way to 180 bpm, while other athletes are perfectly fine with a heart rate of 100 bpm during the same exercise. A heart rate sensor is useles as a 'normal' heart rate varies a lot between persons. It would be anoher story if it can detect an irregular heart rate or make an ECG.

40. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

The point of a HR sensor, is to get your personal data. No one gives a f**k about the difference in heart rates with different people. You missed the point,,,stupid!

42. Xperia14

Posts: 1208; Member since: Sep 01, 2015

But why do you want your own personal data of your heart rates? What does it show? How is it going to affect you? I still don't get it.

24. Cat97

Posts: 1920; Member since: Mar 02, 2017

Well, you took his bait :) You shouldn't have answered, he asked those questions specifically to post those cliches about varying heart rate after someone replied.

37. Xperia14

Posts: 1208; Member since: Sep 01, 2015

Damn, you got me. But yeah, I just wanted to point out that the heart rate sensor can't tell if your heart rate is too low. and therefore is totally useless. You can only know it yourself if your heart rate is too low when you have symptoms like dizziness, a syncope etc.

7. monoke

Posts: 1172; Member since: Mar 14, 2015

Great. Another possibility to smudge up the camera before taking that selfie as if the fps isn't bad enough already. Genious samsung. JUst genious.

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