Phandroid » Tips & Tricks Android Phone News, Rumors, Reviews, Apps, Forums & More! Thu, 02 Apr 2015 00:16:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 PSA: Here’s what happens when you delete Google+ photos from Drive after new integration Tue, 31 Mar 2015 00:41:04 +0000 Google Photos to Drive

Earlier today Google announced that they were taking a huge step toward finally emancipating their users from Google+’s shackles. They were doing this by finally integrating Google+ photos into Google Drive. It’s a slow move, one that will take a few weeks before you see all your current photos and albums appear in Drive (but is instant should you upload anything new from here on out).

Android users were excited because this meant that soon, all of their photos backed up from their Android device to Google+ (Google’s officially supported photo backup method) would be easily accessible — and more importantly, manageable — from Google Drive folder on the web. That, or your desktop if you have the application installed on your computer.

While this may sound pretty cut and dry, it’s important that everyone understand how photo deletion will work from here on out. Since the Drive folder is essentially mirroring all the photos and videos stored on your Google+ account, deleting photos/videos from Drive will delete them from Google+. The same goes for when you delete a photo from your Google+ Photos, it’ll no longer be found in your Drive’s Google Photos folder. Make sense?

With all your Google+ photos making their way to Google Drive in the coming weeks (where they should be), we wanted to shed a little light on this in case anyone was thinking it was time to clear out everything stored on Google+ (or vice versa). Cheers.

[Google Drive Help]

]]> 0
How to take a screenshot with the Samsung Galaxy S6 or S6 Edge Tue, 17 Mar 2015 15:31:29 +0000 Taking a screenshot on the Samsung Galaxy S6 or Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge should be familiar to anyone that has used a previous Galaxy device such as an older S series phone or Note device. If that doesn’t jog the memory here’s the lowdown:

So, one more time: to take a screenshot with the Galaxy S6, simply press and hold the power on/off and the home button simultaneously. The process is identical on Galaxy S6 Edge.

The screen will flash to indicate the screenshot is being captured. A shortcut to the newly saved image will appear in the notification tray, or you can access your screenshots at any time through the Galaxy S6’s gallery app.

For more Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge tips and tricks, be sure to visit Android Forums. For even more on both of Samsung’s latest smartphones, check out our article where we detail everything you need to know about the new Galaxy S6.

]]> 0
Samsung Galaxy S6 features new clock and calendar app icons that accurately reflect time/date Tue, 10 Mar 2015 20:27:23 +0000 galaxy-s6-time-date

Mobile World Congress has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean we still don’t have some interesting tidbits from the show to give you. It’s not the most groundbreaking new “feature” mind you, but we think it was one many might have missed during their short time with the Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge.

We all know Samsung made some interesting changes to TouchWiz for the Galaxy S6, optimizing performance and introducing a more user friendly UI that uses less icons and more text. While I’m still bitter the Galaxy S5 didn’t receive the treatment in its update to Android 5.0 Lollipop, another interesting, albeit, smaller changes being introduced in TouchWiz are new system icons for the calendar (S Planner) and clock applications.

Unlike previous versions of TouchWiz, these icons now appropriately reflect the actual time and date, right there on the home screen. Sure we’ve seen something similar in iOS, but it’s the little changes to Android like this that get us excited about new OEM skins like TouchWiz. FYI, the clock app icon only updates upon every screen unlock, so you won’t see it changing before your eyes.

While I’m still bitter the Galaxy S5 didn’t receive the treatment in its update to Android 5.0 Lollipop, it’s a neat little touch and yet another reason I can’t wait to get my hands on these new Sammy devices come April 10th.

]]> 0
From the Galaxy S5 to Galaxy S6: how to get top dollar for your smartphone trade-in Mon, 09 Mar 2015 16:33:08 +0000 Samsung Galaxy S6 vs S5 DSC08959

With carriers ordering more than 20 million units of the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge to sell this April we’re sure there are many looking into their upgrade options. One of the most popular options for upgrading is to subsidize the payment by trading in your old phone to go toward the latest and greatest.

So how do you get the most out of your trade-in? NextWorth’s suggestion is to try and trade your old device in ahead of the arrival of the new one. In the case of the Samsung Galaxy S5, the company suggests the trade-in prices drop by as much as 15% as soon as the newest smartphone in a series is available for purchase.


The obvious answer is to trade your device in before the new one launches, but that’s not the most convenient option for most folks — what the heck are you going to use as a phone until you actually get the new one in your hands?

In the event that you don’t have a backup, NextWorth’s 30-day PriceLock guarantee is actually pretty handy. It allows you to get a quote for your current device right now, and with a comfortable 30-day window to ship your device at the price you originally received you don’t have to worry about cutting it close.

There aren’t many other trade-in services doing this right now. USell has a similar 30-day guarantee, though USell is more like Craigslist than it is a trade-in company — that is, it’s more like a network of sellers and buyers instead of one company setting a standard trade-in price. Gazelle once ran a promotion like this, but it was only for the iPhone 5’s launch (and in case they’re confused, this is our half-hearted plea to consider making it a standard feature of their service).

Some fine alternatives

But the absolute best way to get the most for your trade-in — whether you can trade-in now or have to wait until the device you want is available — is to simply look around and find the best deal.

Most places will give you a quote before asking for your device so it’s worth taking a few extra minutes to see who offers the best prices. Here’s a quick list of good places to trade your devices in if you need to fund a Samsung Galaxy S6 purchase:

  • Your carrierSprint, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and US Cellular all offer convenient trade-in programs. Most carriers even accept devices meant for use on other networks. Note that some carriers will only issue funds as store credit, so don’t go this route unless you plan to spend all of the money with them.
  • – they accept a metric crap-ton of stuff, including — you guessed it — smartphones. They get bonus points for allowing their trusted users to receive trade-in credit before shipping the devices off. Like the carriers, Amazon only dishes out store credit.
  • Gazelle – without a doubt, one of the best third-party trade-in companies. They specialize in mobile phones so they have a pretty good feel for a device’s worth.
  • USell – you’re connected to sellers more than you’re trading devices in through a company, but they’re a very solid middleman for finding people to buy from or sell to. They also have a 30-day guarantee similar to NextWorth.
  • Best Buy – because they’re the biggest electronics retailer in the United States and there’s no reason to question their legitimacy. Might as well see if they can get you the best price on your next trade-in.

Of course, the only way you can get the most value out of your current device is to sell it yourself. The eBays and Craigslists in the world make it quite easy to do that unless making a sale listing, having to handle shipping and dealing with potential headaches like missed payments and returns is too much of a hassle for you. Feel free to choose any route that best suits your needs and let us know which one you’ll be taking once April 10th arrives.

]]> 0
The HTC One M9’s custom nav bar lets you add extra buttons, or hide it altogether [VIDEO] Fri, 06 Mar 2015 19:45:43 +0000 HTC One M9 Custom Nav Bar DSC08929 copy

We’ve got to spend a lot of time with the HTC One M9 these past few days. During this time, we’ve been exploring all the ins and outs of its new software, HTC’s new and improved Sense 7. One of the more noteworthy new features (we already showed you guys every single new theme) we found was the new custom navigation bar.

Now, on most Android devices you have the typical Android software buttons — back, home, and recents — that rest along the bottom of the screen. For Sense 7 update, HTC is finally putting those software buttons to good use by giving users the ability to customize, not only their placement, but squeeze an extra button in the nav bar as well.

The function of this extra button can be changed to a few options: turn off screen, auto rotate, notifications, or (our personal favorite) hide the navigation bar completely. We know what you’re thinking, if the navigation bar is hidden, how will you navigate around the UI? Easy. Simply swipe up from the bottom HTC black bezel bar (see, it does have a function) and it reappears again.

Also worth pointing out is how great the “turn off screen” and “notifications” button could be for those with smaller hands who have difficulty reaching the notification drawer or power button on their device. The best part, once Sense 7 begins rolling out to older devices — like the HTC One M8 where the physical power button was tough to reach even for us — you should have no problem at all using the phone 1-handed.

Apparently this feature can also be found on the LG G3, even if HTC believes hiding the nav bar is a never-before-seen feature exclusive to the One M9. You can take a look at the new custom nav bar in our video down below.

Update: A previous version of this post incorrectly stated this feature was exclusive to the One M9. We’ve since updated the post to include the LG G3 as well.

]]> 0
How to toggle hardware controls with Google Now voice commands [VIDEO] Wed, 25 Feb 2015 20:36:30 +0000 bluetooth

One of the best features of the Google app for Android is the awesome power of voice commands. With a simple “Ok Google” your phone can do a plethora of tasks, just check out this huge list of commands. A newly discovered set of commands allows you to control even more with your voice.

A few months ago Google added the ability to open certain settings with your voice. You could say “Ok Google, turn off WiFi” and a quick shortcut to the WiFi settings would pop up. It wouldn’t automatically turn off WiFi for you. Someone must have recently flipped the switch on this feature, because now it’s working just like you would expect (at least in Android 5.0).

Currently you can use your voice to turn on/off WiFi, Bluetooth, and the flashlight. Here’s how to do it.

Enable “Ok Google” Detection

First, you’ll want to make sure you have “Ok Google” detection set to “Always on,” which is a trick every Android user should know.

  1. Open the Google app
  2. Open the slide-out menu by swiping from the left
  3. Go to Settings > Voice > “Ok Google” Detection
  4. Toggle on the Always on switch
  5. On that same page tap Retrain voice model and follow the instructions

Now you can say “Ok Google” from any screen and when your display is turned off. This is especially useful for these hardware toggle commands. If you have to unlock your phone to turn off WiFi it’s only another couple of taps to do it manually, so a voice command would be pretty useless.

Use the Voice Commands

Performing one of these voice commands is very simple, but it seems to only work in Android 5.0 right now. Simply say “Ok Google, turn off WiFi.” Your WiFi will be turned off and you’ll see a card pop up with a manual toggle and a shortcut to the full WiFi settings page. Here are the commands that currently can toggle hardware controls.

“Ok Google…”

  • Turn off WiFi / turn on WiFi
  • Turn off Bluetooth / turn on Bluetooth
  • Turn on flashlight / turn off flashlight

There are also a couple of commands that don’t work as nicely as these, but can take you to the appropriate settings page.

“Ok Google…”

  • adjust display brightness / turn up brightness / turn down brightness
  • adjust volume / turn up volume / turn down volume

That’s all there is to it! Now you can turn on Bluetooth while you’re driving without taking your eyes off the road, turn on WiFi when your phone is in your pocket, or turn off the lights and find your phone by turning on the flashlight. Do you think you will use these voice commands?

]]> 0
iFixit launches Android-only repair page with hundreds of guides, replacement tools, and parts Sat, 21 Feb 2015 02:20:08 +0000 iFixit graphic custom

DIY repair site iFixit has long been a great source of helpful walkthroughs on dismantling and repairing broken Apple devices. And while we often times see them taking apart the latest Android devices, they never actually had a dedicated site dealing with Android-only — until now.

iFixit’s all new Android repair hub is now live at and should your Android device or any of your components fail you, it’s there you’ll find iFixit’s famous teardowns, replacement guides, and the tools needed to get your phone or tablet back in working order. There are literally hundreds of Android devices (so far 252) ranging from smartphones, to tablets, smartwatches — even the Chromecast — with more being added every day.

The best part is you’ll find all the replacement parts for these devices too, with their catalog expanding further in the very near future. iFixit mentions they’re working with technical writing students at 40 universities around the US to help bring even more guides onto the site, and should you repair a device where a guide is absent, you can help your Android brethren by submitting your own. That, or you can donate your old device to help out here.

[iFixit Project: Android]

]]> 0
DIY: Transform your LG G Watch R into a Watch Urbane using a little sandpaper Tue, 17 Feb 2015 23:16:37 +0000 LG G Watch R Urbane conversion 2

After scoping out the recently announced LG Watch Urbane, some LG G Watch R owners may have been left with feelings of buyers remorse. With a smooth metallic finish, our own Quentyn Kennemer felt the watch was the best looking smartwatch to date. But did you know that underneath the LG G Watch R’s matte black exterior was an Urbane just waiting to be revealed?

LG G Watch R Urbane conversion 1

After seeing images of the Urbane, one resourceful G Watch owner took matters into his own hands. A sheet of fine grit sandpaper and a little elbow grease later, this brilliant do-it-yourselfer managed to successfully convert his G Watch into the Urbane — well, for the most part.

The Urbane does have a less prominent ring without the dial around the watch’s glass, as well as a slightly less chiseled exterior. But hey, this is damn close and we think it looks great.

What do you guys think? Anyone else thinking about doing something similar with their LG G Watch R?


]]> 0
12 Galaxy Note 4 S Pen Tips & Tricks Thu, 05 Feb 2015 17:30:22 +0000 note-4-s-pen

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 picks up where previous Note models left off with its included S Pen. The Note 4 carries all of the functionality we have come to expect from Note devices plus a few new tricks. The following settings and tips will help you get the most out of using the S Pen with your Galaxy Note 4.

For more Galaxy Note 4 tips & tricks, click here!

Using the S Pen

At its most basic, the S Pen can do everything your finger can when it comes to navigating around the Note 4, using apps, and firing off messages and emails. The S Pen, however, is not limited by the shortcomings of our frail human forms. When you slide it out of its dock within the Note 4 you will notice not only its responsive rubber tip but also a clickable button. Bet you’ve never seen that on a finger.

The advanced tip and button are central to many of the S Pens more advanced functions, but you can also thank induction technology. A weak magnetic field generated by the Note 4 provides power to the S Pen, which in turn allows for a more accurate, advanced stylus as opposed to the typical passive capacitive stylus.

S Pen Settings


The first step to getting the most out of your S Pen is doing a quick run through the stylus’ settings. These are found easily enough by navigating to the Note 4’s Settings menu and locating the S Pen submenu. While we will discuss some of the major settings a bit later in this article, here is a quick rundown of how the different options affect the use of the S Pen.

  • Pointer - choose whether or not a visible pointer will show on the screen when using the S Pen
  • Direct pen input - enable to allow S Pen handwriting input in text fields
  • Disable pen detection - turns off S Pen detection when storing and removing the stylus to save battery
  • S Pen sound - enable or disable an audible tone when the S Pen is docked and undocked
  • S Pen vibration feedback - enable or disable haptic (vibration) feedback when using the S Pen
  • Detachment options - choose whether Action Memo, Air Command, or neither will launch when the S Pen is removed (when none is selected this is basically the same as disabling S Pen detection)
  • Attach/detach sound - choose the sound that will play when the S Pen is attached/detached (S Pen sound must be enabled)
  • Attach/detach vibration - toggle haptic feedback when removing or replacing the S Pen in its holster

Again, you will notice the above settings do not cover every option in the S Pen settings submenu. We will now take a look at a few of the more key features of Samsung’s advanced stylus.

Never lose your S Pen

The S Pen can be conveniently stored directly in the Galaxy Note 4’s body, but on its own it is small and easy to misplace. Avoid losing your S Pen by checking the box next to “S Pen alerts” in the S Pen settings submenu (access the same was as described above).

With S Pen alerts enabled, your phone will alert you should you happen to set down your S Pen and begin to walk away without it. This is a must-have feature that will help you avoid the headache of having to replace a lost S Pen down the road.

Air View

Air View is a core function of Samsung’s S Pen. With Air View disabled, you will miss out on much of what makes the Note 4 and its stylus unique. You can enable Air View from the S Pen settings submenu.

Air View takes advantage of the magnetic induction technology that powers the S Pen to allow the Note 4 to track a cursor and receive other inputs without touching the stylus tip to the display. If you have Air View and the S Pen pointer enabled, you can quickly demonstrate these capabilities by hovering your S Pen a few millimeters over your home screen and moving it around. The pointer will move to follow the stylus tip even if you do not touch pen to surface.

One use for Air View is in Samsung’s messaging app, where hovering over an opened message will preview its text. Other functions will be covered later in this article.

Air Command


Air Command provides quick access to common functions you can perform with your S Pen. Again, enable it in the S Pen settings submenu. Access Air Command from any screen by hovering the S Pen over the display and clicking its button.

Four options are presented as part of Air Command:

Action Memo

Opens a memo pad for jotting down notes and info such as phone numbers, email, and web addresses. Tapping the action button (dotted circle with an arrow) allows the written text to trigger actions like placing a phone call or navigating to a website. You can also easily pin a virtual post-it note to your homescreen by tapping the pin icon.

Smart Select 

Quickly select an area of the screen and save as an image to the clipboard for sharing or saving to a digital scrapbook. Use the S Pen to draw a box around the area of the screen you wish to select. You can collect multiple images by tapping the “Collect” button and again using Smart Select to grab another image.

Image Clip

Similar to Smart Select, Image Clip lets you select a more detailed portion of the screen using your S Pen stylus. You can also choose a predefined shape such as a circle or square when making your selection. Clips can be stored in your scrapbook where they can be annotated with pertinent information.

Screen Write

Takes a screenshot of whatever is currently displayed and allows immediate annotation. You are given several options for altering the style and color of your pen input, allowing you to doodle on images taken from the web and more.

Use the S Pen to navigate the web


The S Pen also sees some functionality specific to certain Samsung apps, including the browser. Using the S Pen while navigating the web makes it easy to scroll through a webpage or copy and paste text for sharing.

Scroll on website

To use the S Pen for scrolling a webpage, hover it over the display and move it toward the top or bottom edge to scroll up and down, respectively. A small arrow icon will appear pointing in the direction of the scroll. You may need to hold the S Pen’s tip at the edge of the display for a second or two before it detects the request to scroll.

Select text on webpage

Quickly select text and copy it to your clipboard by pressing and holding the S Pen button and dragging the tip across the text you wish to select. After making a basic selection you can further adjust by dragging the handles surrounding the highlighted text. When your text is selected, a popup menu is displayed that will allow you to copy to the clipboard, easily share via email or messaging, search the web, or even define a term.

Manage your saved photos


The S Pen also brings a few features for easily managing your image gallery on the Note 4. You can easily preview photos, select, and share.

Hover for shortcuts

You can quickly preview images in your gallery by hovering your S Pen over them. Once the preview appears, you will also have access to quick shortcuts for sharing and editing. You can even click screenwriter to open the photo and quickly jot a note or doodle down on top.

Multiple selection in gallery

To select multiple images in the gallery simultaneously, press and hold the S Pen button and then drag the tip across your display to draw a box around the images you wish to select. You can add more images to your selection by repeating the process. You can then quickly share, delete, or perform other functions to a batch of photos.

S Note

The S Pen can really show off its stuff in Samsung’s S Note app. S Note provides a plethora of options when it comes to customizing the look of your S Pen’s input and takes full advantage of the stylus’ pressure sensitivity to allow for artistic flourishes in your doodles. If you create a pen setting you particularly like, you can save it as a preset for easy recall.

Edit text from photo

S Note has the ability to snap a photo of a page of text and then convert it to be editable using the S Pen and other input. Its text detection works well, but it can be a bit of a chore if you need to make major edits. More useful, perhaps, is the ability to use pen settings like the highlighter to mark up important info and take notes.

Writing keyboard

In many text fields throughout the Note 4’s interface you will be able to use the S Pen to handwrite your input. After enabling direct input in the settings menu, look for an icon with a ’T’ and pen when hovering over a text field. Click it to launch the writing keyboard, which will convert handwritten input to digital text for use in email, messaging, and even navigating the web.

Copy text to memo

Vice-versa, look for the same icon after you have typed a bit of text into a form field. Tapping it will convert the typed text to faux handwriting and save it as an editable memo.

]]> 0
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Tips & Tricks Wed, 28 Jan 2015 18:24:34 +0000 galaxy-note-4-screen-phandroid

Whether your new to the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 or a seasoned veteran, there are so many features packed into Samsung’s latest flagship that there are bound to be a few you haven’t heard of. We’ve compiled some of our favorites in the following list, including everything from shortcuts and gestures to voice commands and controlling your TV.

Check out our full Galaxy Note 4 review!

First things every new owner should do


If you are brand new to your Galaxy, we suggest you check out our list of the first 13 things every Note 4 owner should do before moving on to the rest of this list. In the article, we cover everything from setting up your device to customizing it to fir your needs. Then come back here for a few of the finer points in more detail.

Galaxy Note 4 shortcuts & gestures

The Galaxy Note 4 contains a number of shortcuts and settings to make use easy. The following lists compile some of our favorites.


  • Take a screenshot — Simultaneously press and hold the power and home buttons
  • Access recently opened apps — Tap the recents/multitasking soft key located to the left of the home button
  • Launch Multi Window mode — Long-press the back soft key located to the right of the home button
  • Quick launch app menus — Long-press the recent/multitasking soft key while in an app to quickly launch its menu
  • Change sound settings — Press volume up or down then tap gear icon on display
  • Change to airplane mode — Hold power button then choose airplane mode from the list of options


To enable and disable specific gestures, navigate to Settings > Motions and gestures.

  • Take a screenshot — With the side of your palm, swipe from one edge of the screen to the other
  • Direct Call — Lift the phone to your face to call the currently selected contact
  • Mute/Pause — Place your palm over the screen/flip the phone over to mute incoming notifications or pause music
  • Smart Alert — With missed notifications, phone will vibrate when you pick it up

S Pen tips & shortcuts


The Note 4’s included S Pen is what sets it apart from most other Android devices. The stylus can be used to perform a number of shortcuts, gestures, and other functions that add greatly to the Note 4’s usability. For even more tips and tricks for using the Note 4’s S Pen, click here.

Air View

Air View allows you to hover your S Pen over images or text to preview, scroll, and more. To enable Air View, navigate to Settings > Motions and Controls > S Pen > Air View.

S Pen Air Command

Press the button on the S Pen while hovering over the homescreen to launch the Air Command popup, which provides access to several features unique to the Note 4 (Air Command can be enabled similarly to Air View by navigating to Settings > Motions and Controls > S Pen > Air Command):

  • Action Memo — Provides a list of common actions after jotting down a note, including quick access to finding a location, saving a contact, placing a call, and more
  • Image Clip — Draw a circle around the area of an image you wish to select and copy it to the clipboard
  • Smart Select — Select multiple items with the S Pen to share or copy to a scrapbook
  • Screen Write — Takes a screenshot and allows easy annotation

Use the writing keyboard

With the default Samsung keyboard enabled, you can switch to a handwriting recognition mode to respond to texts and emails with the S Pen. Long-press the microphone icon and a small popup will launch. Tap the icon that looks like a T with a pen next to it to open the writing keyboard. Then write as you would normally and the Note 4 will convert it to type text.

Pro Tip: Look for the writing input icon in other text fields such as those in a web browser and tap it to enable S Pen writing input.

Control your TV

The Note 4 has a built-in IR blaster on the top of the device, a feature you don’t see in all too many Android smartphones. What does this mean? You can use the Note 4 as the most powerful remote control you have ever owned.

All you need to do is launch Samsung’s Watch On app and go through some onscreen prompts to setup the Note 4 to control TV and sync to your local channel guide. After that, all you need to do is point your Note 4 at your television and start the channel surfing.

Keep your screen on while reading


Enabling Smart Stay on the Note 4 will utilize the phone’s sensors to determine when you are actively engaged in reading the display, keeping it from going dark in the middle of a riveting book or fascinating article.

To enable Smart Stay, navigate to Settings > Sound and Display > Display and check the box next to “Smart Stay.”

Use the Note 4 with one hand…

If the think Note 4 is a bit much to handle with one hand, you’re not alone. Samsung even thought ahead and included several options for making the super-sized smartphone more functional during one-handed operation.

Navigate to Settings > System > One-handed operation to access options that will allow you to shrink the overall screen size by swiping from the edge of the Note 4’s display (Reduce screen size), access a keyboard tailored for thumb typing (One-handed input), and side-oriented navigation keys ( Side key panel).

…or with gloves on

Enable Touch Sensitivity (found in the Quick Settings menu in the notifications pane) to increase the sensitivity of your Note 4’s touchscreen. While this is a solution if you feel your device is not responsive enough, it’s true usefulness comes when using gloves with the Note 4.

Be warned that without gloves sensitivity remains heightened, increasing the possibility for accidental inputs and pocket dials.

Turn on blocking mode to cut out distractions (or catch some Zs)

Though not labeled as such, the Galaxy Note 4 offers a Do Not Disturb mode dubbed Blocking mode. To enable Blocking mode, navigate to Settings > Personal > Blocking mode. You can choose to turn on Blocking manually or set a schedule to block calls and other incoming notifications during work or while you are sleeping.


You can setup exceptions to allow certain contacts to still ring your device even with Blocking mode enabled. If you would like to do the opposite and allow all calls while blocking only specific numbers, the Note 4 allows this as well. You can access these settings by navigating to Settings > Applications > Call > Call rejection.

Get the most out of your Note 4 battery life…


The Galaxy Note 4 contains not one, but two special battery saving modes to help squeeze the most life out of a nearly repleted power cell. Power Saving mode and Ultra Power Saving mode both operate in slightly different ways, but the end result could mean as much as two additional day of use on only 10% of a charge.


When in Power Saving mode, screen brightness will be dimmed and other non-esential but often battery intensive functions will be disabled (this includes some wireless connectivity). Ultra Power Saving mode goes to the extreme, replacing the standard TouchWiz launcher with a simplified greyscale interface that offers only the bare necessities for using your phone. Yes, functionality will be limited in either mode, but if you are nowhere near an outlet for charging you will be glad you have the option.

To access either power saving mode, navigate to “Power saving” under the “System” header in the Settings menu.

…And fast charge when you run out of juice


When you do find an outlet for charging, you will be happy to know you won’t be tethered to your power source for too long. Thanks to adaptive fast charging technology built into the Note 4, you can gain about 50% battery capacity in as little as 30 minutes. How do you do it? It’s simple: use the wall charger included in the box with the Note 4.

The wall charger itself contains a special chip that pairs with a similar bit of hardware inside the Note 4 to provide turbo charging capabilities. You’ll know the wall charger is compatible because it is stamped with Samsung’s “Adaptive Fast Charging” logo.

[Note: You might need to turn on adaptive fast charging from the Settings menu (Settings > System > Battery > Fast charging). It should be enabled by default, however.]

Protect your personal info with Private mode

If you often lend your device to friends or family to make calls, play games, or access the internet, it might be smart to set up Private Mode on your Galaxy Note 4. Private Mode allows full access to your phone while password (or fingerprint) protecting the sensitive files you choose to keep off limits.

To set up Private Mode, navigate to Settings > Private Mode and toggle to on. If this is your first time using Private Mode, you will be prompted to choose a password method. If you have the Note 4’s fingerprint scanner enabled, you may choose this as your password.

With Private Mode enabled, you can select the files you wish to hide and, tapping the three dots in the upper right-hand corner, select ‘Move to Private.’

Get help in an emergency

Hopefully you will never need it, but the Note 4 offers an emergency mode that will quickly send a message to chosen contacts to alert them to your status. This mode will even snap photos and share your location to further aid emergency responders in getting you to safety.

Navigate to Settings > Safety assistance > Send help messages, and turn the feature on. You can now choose whether to send pictures and location.Backing up a screen to the “Safety assistance” you can manage your emergency contacts.

When you are in need, quickly press the power key three times to transmit your emergency alert to those listed as emergency contacts.

Expand your storage with a MicroSD card


You can up your storage by installing a MicroSD card. First you will need to access the SD card slot by removing the back cover of the device. The SD slot is located above and to the right of the battery. Insert an SD card (the Note 4 will accept cards with storage ratings of up to 128GB) and you are good to go.

Depending on how much info is already installed on the SD card, the Note 4 might take some time to read the card. You will see a notification while this process is occurring. To access info and data on the SD card, use the preinstalled My Files app and navigate to “SD card.”

Use your SD card to store photos, videos, and other files and easily transfer them between devices. You can even move bulky apps to your MicroSD storage to free up precious internal storage space.

Use the camera flash as a notification LED

The Note 4 contains a number of features intended for users with vision or hearing impairments that can also be useful for the average user. These features are found under the accessibility menu, and include the ability to enable the Note 4’s LED camera flash as a notification indicator. It’s a bit less subtle than the notification LEDs that some Android phones feature as a standard option, but there is virtually no way you will miss a call or other alert again.

To enable, navigate to Settings > Accessibility > Hearing, and check the box next to “Flash notification.”

Get alerts for a ringing doorbell or crying baby

Another accessibility option that some might find a use for is the Note 4’s ability to listen for the sound of a doorbell or crying baby and proceed to send a notification via the handset. Pair it with the notification flash you will never miss a delivery or ignore a hungry baby again.

Navigate to Settings > Accessibility > Hearing > Sound detectors, and check the boxes next to the options you wish to enable.

Disable Flipboard Briefing

The Galaxy Note 4’s Flipboard briefing is by no means a bad news aggregator, but it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. It also affects the way you interact with your home screens. If you want to get rid of the daily briefing and bring the ability to swipe through home screens in a never-ending carousel, you can do that.


Simply long-press on an empty area of your homescreen, tap “Home screen settings,” and uncheck the box next to Flipboard Briefing.

Use S Voice to control your Note 4 with vocal commands

Samsung has included a proprietary voice assistant in the same style as Apple’ Siri and Google Now. Dubbed S Voice, the service is accessed by double-pressing the Note 4’s home button. When first using S Voice, you can even choose to have your Galaxy constantly listen for voice input, responding when you speak the words “Hi, Galaxy.”

S Voice can perform system functions such as music playback or be used to compose a text message or perform a search. For a list of voice commands, ask S Voice for “help.”

Access the Note 4’s emoji keyboard

Emojis: you either love them or hate them. Regardless, you can access the emoji keyboard on the Note 4 by long-pressing the microphone icon found on the standard Samsung keyboard and tap the smiley face icon. The emoji keyboard will now open.

You can scroll through available emojis and switch categories by tapping the icons at the bottom of the keyboard. To return to typing input, tap the ‘ABC’ icon.

Get Google everywhere with Google Now


While S Voice is Samsung’s preferred personal assistant for the Note 4, Google Now is in many respects superior. It not only will respond to voice commands, but it intelligently incorporates information learned about you into its predictive results.

To access Google Now, long-press the home button. The first time using Google Now will require a short setup process. Once done, you can simply ask Google a question and receive an answer almost instantly. For a full rundown of Google Now voice commands, tips, and tricks, click here.

Visit Android Forums for more!

If you are itching to learn even more about your Galaxy Note 4, head on over to our dedicated forum at A cohort of Note users resides there ready to answer any questions and offer advice on everything from accessories to apps. You might even have a tip or trick of your own to add to the discussion!

Some helpful threads to start:

]]> 0
How to sign out of Gmail and all Google accounts with one click Thu, 01 Jan 2015 13:00:03 +0000 inbox by gmail

It’s 2015, and you’ve probably lost your phone. Easy to do that with lots of alcohol or a hectic swarm of people trying to party. But if you haven’t actually lost your phone (those who need to find a lost or stolen Android phone can park it right here) and simply misplaced it at a location where it can be recovered, you probably want to make sure prying eyes won’t be your social downfall.

Thankfully we’ve got the perfect antidote with 3 simple steps to sign out of all your Google accounts from a remote location. You’ll need to be able to access the desktop version of Google so find a PC and follow these instructions:

  1. Head to and sign in.
  2. Scroll all the way to the bottom and look for the “Recent Activity” Label on the bottom right. Beneath that should be a “Details” link. Click it.
  3. A popup window opens showing you where and when your account is being used. At the top of the page is a button that says “Sign out all other sessions.” Click it.

And you’re done. What we just did was force all browsers, devices and apps that use your Google account to sign out. This makes it so that someone who might have your phone will have to put your password in the next time they try and gain access, effectively ensuring nosy eyes won’t be glancing over your personal data.

We strongly note that this should only be used in a case where you know, without a shadow of doubt, exactly where your device is and who has it so you can recover it at your earliest convenience. The reasoning is because Google’s device location tools won’t work if you aren’t signed in on that device, and since you just signed out of everything, well, that wouldn’t be possible.

So to recap: make sure you know where exactly your device is before proceeding, use the instructions above to secure your account, and speed over to the place you left your phone and recover it at your earliest convenience. Everyone else? Head here and here if you’re still not sure of your device’s whereabouts and level of security. Here’s to a more responsible 2015!

]]> 0
First things to do with your new Android phone or tablet Thu, 25 Dec 2014 15:00:44 +0000 phone bow

So you just unwrapped a brand new Android phone or tablet. You’ve set it all up, downloaded Facebook, and now you’re thinking “what else can I do with this thing?” Android is wonderfully personal, fun, different, and powerful. Here are the first things you should do with your new toy.

We don’t know what device you just unwrapped, but there is a good chance we’ve covered it already. Below we have a list of first things you should do with specific phones. If you have those devices it’s a great place to start.

Download Apps

One of the most obvious things to do with a phone is download some of those apps you’ve been hearing everyone talk about. You know about Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, and all those common apps. We’ve got a list of some apps you may not know about. Check it out.

Inbox by Gmail icon Inbox

Inbox is a new email app from the folks at Gmail. It automatically organizes everything and only notifies you of the important emails. It’s great if you’re just a casual email user.

flipbpard Flipboard

If you’re looking to do some casual reading, Flipboard is the app for you. It curates stories from across the web to match your interests. The animations are beautiful, and it’s easy to use.

pocketcasts Pocket Casts

Podcasts made a big comeback in 2014. The best podcasts app you can find on any platform is Pocketcasts. It can sync progress across devices, play to a Chromecast, auto download new episodes, and so much more. *cough* Mobile Roar Podcast.

swiftkey Swiftkey

One of the great features of Android is the ability to download keyboards. SwiftKey is an awesome alternative to whatever keyboard your device came with. The more you use it the more it learns about the way you type, which makes typing even easier.

vsco cam VSCO Cam

There are thousands of apps that can edit photos, but our favorite is VSCO Cam. It does much more than simply slap a filter on top of your photo. This is a powerful photo editor, but the interface makes it easy for anyone to use.

reddit sync reddit sync

If you’re a Redditor you will be looking for a great Reddit app. You can’t go wrong with reddit sync. The Material Design is beautiful, and it comes with many different views for reading subreddits.

messenger Messenger by Google

The SMS apps that come with most Android phones leave a lot to be desired. Like keyboards, you can swap out SMS apps. If you’re looking for something quick and simple you can’t go wrong with Google’s elegant Messenger app.

timehop Timehop

If you’ve been using social media sites for years you have a time capsule full of stuff just waiting to be seen. Timehop displays your old tweets, status updates, Instagram photos, and more every day. It’s like a time machine for your life.

accuweather AccuWeather

Checking the weather is an important part of most people’s days. Most Android devices can check the weather by simply doing a Google search. If you’re interested in more in-depth forecasts and information you should check out AccuWeather.

wunderlist Wunderlist

A to-do list can play an important part in making your life more productive. Wunderlist is one of the best list apps out there. It can sync across tons of different devices, and it’s great for collaborating with others.

waze Waze

Google Maps is great on Android devices, but if you travel a lot you may want to take it up a notch. Waze is crowd-sourced traffic information at your fingertips. Get alerts when cops are ahead or if traffic is slowing down.

wallet Google Wallet

Some Android phone have the ability to do mobile payments. Apple Pay has made this feature much more mainstream, which benefits us too. Google Wallet is one of the best mobile payments apps for Android. Give it a shot and pay for things with your phone!

pushbullet Pushbullet

Arguably the best app from 2014 is Pushbullet. With this app you can easily push things to other devices, but so, so much more. It can show your phone notifications on your PC, allow you to reply to SMS from your PC, and even sync your clipboard across devices.

ifttt IFTTT

IFTTT (if this then that) will automate your life. With this app you can create “recipes” that will do things for you. Get an alert when it’s going to rain. When you’re tagged in a Facebook photo save it to Dropbox. Automatically mute your device at work. And much more.

phandroid Phandroid

Now that you have an Android device you’ll want to be in the know about all things Android. With the Phandroid news app you can read everything we post. We’ll tell you about new phones, new apps, great games, and much more.

For a more expansive list of apps for new users keep reading here. We’ve also got a bunch of more specific app lists for many different things. Here are you few you might be interested in:

Download Games

Sometimes you just want to have fun. Good news: the Google Play Store is chock full of games from every genre. You won’t be missing out on any popular games with an Android device. Here are a few of our favorites that you should check out first.

twodots TwoDots

TwoDots is the addictive sequel to last year’s “Dots.” All you have to do is connect dots, but don’t fool yourself into thinking it will be easy.

threes Threes!

1+2=3. 3+3=6. 6+6=12. 12+12=24. Got it? You’ve mastered the basic concept of Threes! Slide numbers together to stay alive as long as possible.

super hexagon Super Hexagon

This timeless classic is still super fun, super hard, and super addictive. If you’ve never played Super Hexagon you really need to download it.

angry birds go Angry Birds GO!

One of Rovio’s more recent Angry Bird games is “GO!” Think of it like Mario Kart meets the Angry Bird universe. It’s surprisingly fun.

monument Monument Valley

You’ll be hard pressed to find a more beautiful game for Android. The puzzles are tough, but you’ll be blown away by the visuals.

minecraft Minecraft PE

Everyone loves Minecraft. With the Pocket Edition you can play on your phone or tablet from anywhere. Never miss a block.

star wars Star Wars: Commander

We couldn’t make a list without a Star Wars game. This is a combat strategy game that takes place in the original trilogy.

heads up Heads Up

HeadsUp is the perfect game for Holiday parties. You simply hold the phone above your head and friends act out the word.

wordbase Wordbase

Think of Wordbase like aggressive scrabble. The goal is to connect words to make it to the other side of the board before your opponent.

trivia Trivia Crack

Everybody loves trivia, and trivia Crack is trivia in its most addictive state. You can play against friends or random people from around the globe.

Here some more specific app lists for your gaming needs:

Continue to: Guides for every phone and Android Forums

]]> 0
PSA: Some people have $20 Google Play Store credit waiting for them inside the Chromecast app Mon, 22 Dec 2014 22:38:46 +0000 Chromecast offers

If you own a Google Chromecast, now might be a good time to check out some of the in-app offers available to you. What’s that? You didn’t know the Chromecast app was hiding offers specifically catered to owners, some reaching $25 in free Google Play Store credit? Well, you do now.

Whether or not you find actual Google Play Store credit (or just other mostly “meh” offers) depends largely when you purchased your Chromecast. Of course, checking is easy and just might be worth spending a few seconds to check.

Chromecast check for offers

Simply open up (or download) the Chromecast from the Google Play Store here, then on the Devices page, select your Chromecast. Wait for the app to connect and once it shows a bunch of miscellaneous info related to your Chromecast, click the 3-dot menu in the upper right hand corner and select “Check for offers.” From there you’ll be taken to your browser where you’ll see a list of currently available offers.

If you’re really lucky, you’ll have Google Play Store credit waiting for you. Good luck!

[via Reddit]

]]> 0
Want the Samsung Gear VR but don’t have a Galaxy Note 4? [Updated with comment from Samsung] Mon, 22 Dec 2014 17:23:08 +0000 gear-vr-lenses

While the Oculus Mobile SDK might eventually spread to other smartphones and accompanying virtual reality hardware, for now it remains relegated to Samsung’s Gear VR. In turn, the Gear VR is designed (both in terms of physical construction and software) to work with only one smartphone from Samsung’s stable of many: the Galaxy Note 4. Obviously, that leaves a large majority of the Android-toting population squarely stuck in their non-virtual realities. What if there was a way to get the Samsung Gear VR to work with other devices?

Inspired by a post by Pure Engineering on Android Forums, we decided to investigate. It turns out using an unsupported phone is not completely out of the realm of possibilities, but it comes with a few major caveats. The Oculus Mobile SDK is currently only optimized for the Galaxy Note 4, its processing suite, and embedded sensors. Using another device will not provide the true Gear VR experience, providing limited control and not taking advantage of the headsets more unique features and software-specific enhancements.

Fitting the phone


First and foremost, the Gear VR is built to connect via Micro USB to the Note 4 and hold it snugly in place with a clamping mechanism. In order to fit another device into the Gear VR, the phone must be generally the same size as Samsung’s phablet, which features a 5.7-inch display.

Any phone should also have a Micro USB connector centered on the bottom of the device. The USB port will strictly be a matter of fit, as the connection will serve no function due to the lack of software link between a device other than the Note 4 and the Gear VR. One benefit of connecting to the USB port is it will help hold a smaller smartphone in place. It is possible to finagle a device without the proper USB port placement into position (especially if it is smaller), but there may be the potential for damage to both your device and the Gear VR headset.


Some devices that we tested and more-or-less fit include:

In general, if the phone is smaller than the Note 4 it should fit, so you might add devices like the HTC One M8, LG G3, and Moto X to the above list. Most of these devices being too small for the clasping mechanism to function properly, you might utilize a case or get some felt or other soft material for added padding. The Nexus 6 is a bit too large to fit properly, but the OnePlus One slots in without any additional padding.


Once you fit your device, the Gear VR will be used more or less in the same fashion as Google Cardboard or a similar low-cost virtual reality substitute, utilizing the Gear VR’s stereoscopic lenses only.

Installing the right software

Since your unsupported phone will not take advantage of the Gear VR’s special Oculus software, you will need to install the proper applications to create 3D and VR content.

Google Cardboard eye holes


Google Cardboard is perhaps the most full featured of these options, providing stereoscopic viewing experiences to create three-dimensional environments that can be explored with the movement of your head. Google Cardboard includes a number of neat demos as well as the ability to view YouTube in a virtual theater and also import your own content.

Another option would be to use a stereoscopic video viewer like VR Player. VR Player does not include all the bells and whistles that we find in Google Cardboard, but it does offer 2D and 3D video playback tailored to viewing with a set of VR goggles like the Gear VR.

What works, what doesn’t

In the case of using a device other than the Galaxy Note 4, the Gear VR is being utilized for its mounting hardware and lenses alone. As long as your device has a screen similar in size to the Note 4’s 5.7-inch display, you will get pretty accurate 2D and 3D viewing of video, games, and photos. Since the lenses are designed to work most accurately with the Note 4’s display, smaller (and larger, if they will fit) devices may provide a less than perfect experience. The Gear VR’s manual focus wheel can also be used to physically move the display nearer or farther from the eyes to adjust clarity.

The head tracking and VR experience will largely be dependent on the software used. The Oculus technology and software utilized by the Note 4 and Gear VR will not be available, so touchscreen controls (or a Bluetooth controller) are required to navigate menus and perform other actions. The Gear VR’s touchpad, volume controls, and other buttons will not function. You will not have access to the Oculus Store and VR content available exclusively to the Galaxy Note 4 when paired with the Gear VR.

A neat trick, but should you buy the Gear VR for your unsupported smartphone?

It has been demonstrated that the Gear VR can indeed “work” with an Android smartphone other than the Galaxy Note 4, but after evaluating the result we can’t whole heartedly say it’s a very worthwhile experience. Unless you plan on upgrading to the Note 4 in the near future, at $200 the Gear VR is simply too expensive when compared to cheaper Google Cardboard holders that will produce an identical experience.

The real value is in the Oculus software included with the Note 4. It is one of the more refreshing, exciting, and immersive experiences to grace the Android ecosystem in quite some time. Again, that won’t be available on unsupported smartphones, but if you own a Note 4, by all means think about picking up the Gear VR (we’ll have a full review soon).

If you want to see what other early adopters are up to as they explore the ins and outs of the Gear VR Innovator Edition, be sure to head over to our Gear VR forum for all the latest, tips, tricks, hints, and revelations.

UPDATE: Here is Samsung’s official comment on using the Gear VR with other smartphones, from Nick DiCarlo, VP GM of Immersive Products and Virtual Reality:

“The Gear VR Innovator’s Edition was designed to provide very smooth motion tracking and a high quality ‘presence’ experience for VR enthusiasts. This can typically be measured by ‘motion to photo’ time and the threshold Gear VR has met is 20milliseconds. This quality threshold has the potential to make VR more comfortable for a wider population of users and help grow the use of VR. Creative approaches to creating a VR headset, such as fixing a phone into the Gear VR to benefit from the comfortable straps and lenses can improve the experience, but that approach doesn’t take advantage of the tracking hardware and other hardware and software optimizations that have been done on the Galaxy Note with the software that was developed with Oculus. As VR enthusiasts, we all know that, but we wanted to clear things up for the rapidly growing group of friends who are more new to VR. We are honored to be part of the VR community and look forward to advancing the potential of VR together.”

]]> 0
How to watch 360 videos with the Gear VR Fri, 19 Dec 2014 17:15:56 +0000 360-video

Just as the Samsung Gear VR can be used to watch your own imported 2D and 3D movies, it can also be used to view content shot and compiled for 360-degree presentation. These are the videos that allow the Gear VR (and other virtual reality devices) to really shine, giving the viewer the ability to “look” around at a 360-degree environment thanks to head tracking capabilities built into in the the Oculus-powered platform.

The Gear VR’s capabilities are demonstrated with a set of included videos and others available from the Oculus Store ( a Cirque du Soleil experience, a virtual tour of Iceland, to name a few), but users can import their own 3D, 360 content and get the full experience thanks to the Oculus 360 Videos app. You’ll only need to know a simple file naming trick to get everything working properly.

As with playing 3D videos in the Oculus Cinema app, the software of the Gear VR experience will inherently convert video files for proper playback format based on where in the directory a file is placed and certain conventions of the file naming scheme. Unlike traditional 2D and 3D videos, which are placed under the “My Videos” folder found within the “Movies” directory, videos with 360-degree field-of-view should be placed directly into the “360Videos” folder.


For standard 2D videos with a 360-degree FOV this should work without any further modification. Simply don your Gear VR, navigate to the Oculus 360 Videos app, and choose your file. You should be able to peer around the environment of the 360 video by simply moving your head.

If your video features both 3D and 360-degree FOV, you will need to follow one more step.

For videos formatted in an over/under configuration:

  • Rename the file so that it ends with “_TB” just prior to the extension name [Example: mymovie_TB.mp4]

For videos formatted in a side-by-side (SBS) configuration:

  • Rename the file so that it ends with “_LR” just prior to the extension name [Example: mymovie_LR.mp4]

Once you have properly named the files and placed them in the “360Videos” folder, open the files as normal through the Oculus 360 Videos app. If you followed the above steps, you should now have full 3D, 360-degree playback.

While the Gear VR has no native way that we have yet discovered to play 180-degree field-of-view content, you can similarly try your luck by loading such files into the “360Videos” folder. Playback will generally work, but the 180-degree FOV will be stretched to the full 360 degrees, creating distorted video with inaccurate head tracking.

For some examples of 3D, 360 FOV video, 360Heros has a selection of demo content available and plenty of standard 360 video content. Kolor also features some standard 360 videos, and Oculus Share is also a source worth checking out. Not every video will translate perfectly to the Gear VR (some have been designed to function specifically with other VR or Oculus headsets), but all provide a glimpse of the Gear VR’s true potential.

]]> 0