Samsung phones are packed with features on the software and hardware front, and figuring it all out can be daunting. As well as the extras that Samsung includes officially, the specialized hardware and software in its phones allow third-party developers to come up with inventive new apps and add-ons for Galaxy products. There are plenty of apps that take advantage of these extra abilities, so let’s focus on five of the best.
One UI is easily customized out of the box, with Samsung including a theme store that has hundreds of styles from which to choose. Hex takes that process even further by allowing you to create a theme from scratch. You can keep things as simple as changing the accent colors, or you can download plugins that mimic other Android skins. You can mix and match those elements, too, allowing you to create something truly unique. Anything you design will be treated the same as any theme you download from the Galaxy Store, so applying that theme or switching to another is simple.
Although we’re primarily focusing on the Galaxy S20 with this list, Hex is compatible with any phone running One UI 2.0.
Samsung’s attack on bezels quickly led the company to embrace punch-hole cameras on its latest smartphones. Some quirky wallpapers make use of it, but one developer took things further with Energy Ring. As the name suggests, this application displays a ring around the camera cutout that represents your battery level.
With Good Lock letting you hide the system battery icon entirely, it’s possible to rely on this solely for your battery indicator needs. There is a ton of options, from charging animations to indicator color. For an in-depth look at everything Energy Ring can do, you can read my review here.
Both the S20+ and S20 Ultra feature ToF (time of flight) cameras that map distance and help the main camera focus on the right subject, as well as improve edge detection for portrait mode. Usually, this camera is entirely off-limits to the user, relegated to a support position in the background. Night Vision changes that by tapping into the ToF sensor and allowing us to see what it sees. It’s kind of creepy at first, especially if you do this in absolute darkness. A ToF doesn’t rely on light to function, meaning that it works at all times.
The viewfinder within Night Vision allows you to take photos and even video, so there’s a lot of fun to be had with it.
S20 refresh rate control
Left: Refresh rate controls, Right: Inware confirming the change in refresh rate.
All three S20 models have sublime displays. They’re bright, sharp, and as smooth as silk. Sadly, they aren’t quite as customizable as we would have liked. For starters, you can only choose between the maximum 120Hz or the lowest 60Hz refresh rates without an option in the middle. The biggest complaint was by far the limitation of the resolution, with 120Hz being restricted to 1080p despite the display being capable of 1440p.
This refresh rate control app fixes that first issue at least, adding a 96Hz option that sits nicely between the usual 60Hz and 120Hz. I’ve been using it for a while now, and to be honest, I can barely tell the difference between 96Hz and 120Hz. It’s still far smoother than it has any right to be, and the gains in battery life are immense.
At 120Hz, my S20 Ultra will usually reach 20% after about 6.5 hours screen time. Bumping it down to 96Hz, which barely looks any different to my eye, sees my device making it to 20% with over 8 hours of active use. That’s a considerable difference, and it’s left me using this 96Hz mode exclusively.
This app isn’t available on the Play Store, but you can grab it here at APK Mirror.
As good as the always-on display is, some users prefer the old notification LED from way-back-when. Having a blinking light to tell you that you have unread messages can be useful, especially when the color changes depending on what notifications you have. Unlike a little icon on an always-on display, this can be easier to read from a distance. aodNotify aims to bring back that experience.
Out of the box, the app shows your notifications as a ring around your camera, much like Energy Ring. You aren’t limited to that position, though, and you can move it to other locations instead, as well as mess with the color options.
Those are just some of the apps and utilities that can push your Samsung S20 phone further. There are plenty of others to try, though, so make sure to experiment and, above all, have fun.