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 inches
    2960 x 1440 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Single camera)
    8 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, 4GB RAM
  • Storage 64GB, microSDXC
  • Battery 3000 mAh
  • OS Android 9.0 Pie
    Samsung One UI
Galaxy S8+
  • Display 6.2 inches
    2960 x 1440 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Single camera)
    8 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, 4GB RAM
  • Storage 64GB, microSDXC
  • Battery 3500 mAh
  • OS Android 9.0 Pie
    Samsung One UI

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49 Comments

48. dexter.calcabin

Posts: 1; Member since: Apr 27, 2017

The easiest way to take selfies without using the heart rate sensor or other button in there is to use the voice command. Samsung phone has it for years, why not use it?

47. joevsyou

Posts: 1093; Member since: Feb 28, 2015

voice commands are awesome for those moments.

44. skymitch89

Posts: 1453; Member since: Nov 05, 2010

It's not only the S8 that can do this. Any Samsung device with the Android 7.0 update can. I've played with that feature on my S7 & Note 5.

43. mcdanielvzw

Posts: 60; Member since: Nov 10, 2016

This works on the Note 5 too! Just tried it.

23. Dboyfresh831

Posts: 11; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

It's alot easier just to turn on voice control in the camera settings. No need to push any buttons or tap any sensors just say the trigger words.

29. Klinton

Posts: 1409; Member since: Oct 24, 2016

Yup But not in every environment. Still better to have it.

19. bucknassty

Posts: 1419; Member since: Mar 24, 2017

Just an option... dont use it... but but but... if some OTHER company started to put these on their phones... it would be a genius idea... It works... quit picking on s**t

18. darkkjedii

Posts: 31805; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

If you get up off your ass, and workout, it'll be highly useful. Health is wealth.

13. cleatglitch

Posts: 170; Member since: May 25, 2013

1.anything that doesn't have function of making a phone call is a gimmick on a phone...2.ur finger can be the best method of cleaning your camera lens on a phone...3.on s8+ the fingerprint sensor is not too far away

12. tokuzumi

Posts: 2026; Member since: Aug 27, 2009

Should just allow the bixby button to snap a photo

11. gws898

Posts: 24; Member since: May 31, 2013

why don't use the bixby key as a shutter button?

32. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Because Samsung blocked the feature to reassign the key lol.

46. monoke

Posts: 1212; Member since: Mar 14, 2015

Then people wouldn't be smudging up the camera, which would then render the 'wipe camera of smudges' message meaningless. Cuz Samsung is not about incorporating software that doesn't work as intended u know.

10. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3109; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

#smudge_gate

14. cmdacos

Posts: 4420; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

Only for you people with filthy greasy hands

21. AmashAziz

Posts: 2934; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

You are saying as if you never ate a Big Mac....

45. monoke

Posts: 1212; Member since: Mar 14, 2015

Come on man. It's 2017. U can't be discriminating like that. People with filthy greasy hands have rights too u know!

7. monoke

Posts: 1212; 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.

25. willard12 unregistered

So, you believe that the HR sensor is near the front-facing camera. Trust me, the one who is not a genius is the one who can't correctly spell "genius" after multiple attempts.

34. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Humm so you dont have a camera right beside thats HR sensor? you talk about Genius?

6. Cat97

Posts: 2064; 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: 507; 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: 2064; 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.

2. nikhil23

Posts: 507; 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.

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