Aug 24th, 2015

Congratulations, you’re the new owner of a Samsung Galaxy Note 5. The Note series has included some of Samsung’s best devices, and the Note 5 may be the next smash hit. There’s a lot to love about this device, and we want to make sure you’re getting the very best from it. Here are 13 things you should do right now.

1. Create a Samsung account to access all the goods

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One of the very first things you’ll be asked to do when setting up the Note 5 is create a Samsung account. It’s not mandatory to have a Samsung account, but if you don’t you will miss out on some of the stuff in this guide. If you’ve ever had a Samsung device in the past you probably already have an account. You can simply sign in and be on your way.

If you skipped signing into a Samsung account during the initial setup you can do it at any time. You’ll be prompted whenever something needs a Samsung account (such as download a theme).

2. Avoid the disaster of a lost or stolen phone

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One of the worst things that can happen in this day and age is having your phone get lost or stolen. We keep so much personal information on our devices, in the wrong hands it can spell disaster.The good news is that Android has tools built-in to help in case of a phone emergency. Here are a few things you can do:

Enable Android Device Manager

Google includes their own “Device Manager” on every Android device sold. On some models of the Note 5 it’s disabled by default. You really want to make sure to enable this feature.

  1. Go to Settings > Lock screen and security
  2. Scroll down to Other security settings
  3. Tap on Device administrators
  4. Make sure Android Device Manager is ON

Now you can visit this page to locate, ring, lock, or wipe your device remotely.

Secure Your Lock screen

A great way to deter someone else from using your phone without your permission is with some type of lock screen security. The Note 5 has four different forms of security you can use. On a scale from low to high security it goes like this: pattern, PIN, password, and fingerprint. The fingerprint is the best security because it’s very hard for others to crack, but nearly effortless for you to unlock (more on that in the next section.)

  1. Go to Settings > Lock screen and security
  2. Tap on Screen lock type
  3. Choose one of the methods from the list
  4. Each method will guide you through the setup process

Read: How to find a lost or stolen Android phone

3. Set up the fingerprint scanner

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As we mentioned above, the fingerprint password is the best form of security to use. Samsung has made major improvements in both speed and reliability. We love it because it’s the fastest way to unlock the phone, but also the hardest for other people to crack. You get the best of both worlds. Here’s how to add your fingerprints:

  1. Go to Settings > Lock screen and security
  2. Tap on Screen lock type
  3. Choose Fingerprints from the list and then +Add fingerprint
  4. Follow the instructions until 100% of your fingerprint has been scanned
  5. Create a backup password
  6. Tap Ok to Enable Fingerprint Lock
  7. Now to unlock your phone simply hold your finger on the home button

You can add up to five different fingerprints to your device. It’s a good idea to do both thumbs and any other fingers you use to press the home button.

4. Master the S Pen

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In case you haven’t noticed, the Note 5 comes with a stylus tucked away next to the speaker on the bottom. You can push it in and it will poke out for you to grab. Samsung calls this neat little gadget the “S Pen,” and it’s what makes Note phones unique. There are a lot of cool things you can do with the S Pen (some of which we’ll talk about later). Here are a few examples:

  • Take notes
  • Draw on images
  • Cut out shapes and text
  • Handwriting recognition
  • Click the pen when you’re bored

Of course, you won’t be able to do any of this stuff if you lose the S Pen. Thankfully, Samsung has included a feature that will make sure you never leave the S Pen behind. “S Pen alerts” will sound an alert and pop-up when the stylus is no long detected. This is enabled by default, but you’ll want to double-check it.

  1. Go to Settings > S Pen
  2. Make sure S Pen alerts is set to ON

5. Get rid of the useless bloatware

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Some carrier models of the Note 5 come with a lot of apps pre-installed. There could be over 20 apps already on your device that you have no intention of ever using. The good news is we can uninstall, or at least disable, most of the bloatware. Let’s do it.

  1. Open the app drawer to see all of your apps
  2. Long-press on the app you’d like to remove
  3. The app drawer will close and you’ll see an option for Disable or Uninstall
  4. Drag the app to the trash can

If you would like to revive a disabled app you can go to Settings > Applications > Application manager. Swipe over to the Disabled tab and find the app.

6. Customize everything with a new theme

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The new trend in mobile software is themes, and we love it. Being able to customize every inch of your device is one of the things that makes Android so great. The Note 5 comes with the ability to choose themes that can change your wallpaper, icons, sounds, and even system apps and UI. They’ve included a few themes that you can try out, plus a store for downloading more.

  1. Long-press on any blank space on the home screen
  2. Tap Themes
  3. Choose one of the pre-loaded themes, or tap THEME STORE
  4. Find a theme you like, tap DOWNLOAD
  5. After it installs you can tap APPLY

7. Take a note with the screen off

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Okay, let’s talk about the S Pen. After all, that’s why you bought the Note 5, right? One of the new features of the S Pen is the ability to quickly take a note when the display is turned off. It’s a really nifty trick for jotting something down while it’s on your mind.

  1. Go to Settings > S Pen
  2. Make sure Screen off memo is ON
  3. That’s it!

Now, when you pull out the S Pen while the screen is off you’ll see a black notepad appear. You can scribble something down and tap SAVE.

8. Get quick access to S Pen apps

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Another great feature of the S Pen is Air Command. With this feature you can get quick access to S Pen apps and some of your favorite other apps. It’s a floating launcher that shows up on top of whatever you’re doing when you pull out the S Pen. You can adjust the way it works and acts in the settings.

  1. Go to Settings > S Pen
  2. Tap on Air Command
  3. Tap on Shortcuts to choose three apps
  4. You can choose what happens when the S Pen is removed, and how the menu floats

9. Use the phablet with one hand

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The Note 5 is a large phone. There’s no getting around that. We’ve basically been forced to get used to large phones, but that doesn’t mean they are any easier to use. Samsung is apparently aware of how unwieldy it can be to use a Note with one hand. Thankfully, they included “One-handed operation.”

  1. Go to Settings > Display > One-handed operation
  2. Here you’ll find two different options for making one-handed use a bit easier:
    1. Reduce screen size – by triple-pressing the home button the entire UI will shrink down to one corner
    2. One-handed input – this will permanently shrink things like the phone keypad, calculator buttons, and more

10. Get the Quick Settings under control

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Samsung was one of the first manufacturers to include “quick settings” in the notification area. On the Note 5 they’ve included a ton of toggles. The list can be a bit messy by default, and there is nothing “quick” about that. Luckily, you can go in and edit the order and toggles.

  1. Pull down on the notification shade
  2. Tap EDIT in the top right
  3. You can drag and drop toggles to your desire
  4. Note: You must have at least 5 toggles

11. Get a speed boost from the secret menu

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If you feel that the animations and screen transitions are too slow for your liking you can speed things up. Google includes a secret menu for power users to fine tune their experience. One of the things you can do in the secret menu is speed up the phone. We’ll teach you the secret password.

  1. Go to Settings > About device
  2. Find Build number and tap it more than 7 times in quick succession
  3. A notification will tell you when Developer options have been unlocked
  4. Now, go back to Settings and find Developer options
  5. Scroll down to Window animation scale, Transition animation scale, and Animator duration scale
  6. Adjust them all to the speed of your liking

The default speed is 1X, so anything lower than that will feel slower. You could even disable animations altogether.

12. Optimize your battery life

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One of the most important things with any smartphone is battery life. There is nothing worse than when your phone dies at an inopportune moment. Samsung actually reduced the size of the battery from the Note 4, which makes it even more important on the Note 5.

Enable Power Saving Mode

The most extreme way to save battery is with the built-in Ultra Power Saving Mode. When this mode is enabled it switches the phone to a black and white interface and disables most background activities. You’ll still be able to take calls, send messages, and use a few important apps.

There is also the less extreme Power Saver Mode. When this mode is enabled the screen brightness will turn down and the processor will scale back. You can set Battery Saver to automatically turn on at any level between 50-15%.

To enable either one of these modes, go to Settings > Battery. Both options are at the top of the display.

Use a pure black wallpaper

The non-traditional way to save battery is to use a pure black wallpaper. Samsung devices use AMOLED displays to achieve the vibrant colors and deep blacks that people love. They achieve the black color by simply not illuminating those certain pixels. You can theoretically get better battery life by using a pure black wallpaper and dark themes in apps.

13. Don’t fret over the lack of SD card

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Much to the dismay of Samsung fans, the Note 5 does not have a SD card slot. The future of mobile devices doesn’t include physical storage, and Samsung is hopping on that train. The good news is there are a plethora of options for cloud storage. You can save your media to the cloud and access it anywhere.

Our favorite cloud storage apps are Google Drive, OneDrive, and Dropbox. All three of these services offer a good amount of storage for free. If you want more storage it will cost you a few bucks.

14. Explore the Galaxy Note 5 forums

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The best place for Note 5 owners to mingle is Android Forums. It’s the best place to get help, tips, tricks, support, suggestions, and information about your shiny new phone. You’ll also find plenty of other Note 5 users sharing their own personal experiences, favorite accessories, and much more. Here are some popular threads to get you started:

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