Trick and Treat: Phone Tricks To Get The Best Of Your Smartphone

phone tricks

Do you remember the last time you read the user manual that came with your smartphone? Yeah, me neither. You can figure out most of it by using the device for a few days. Either way, there is a lot more your phone can do than the manual will ever say.

Smartphones are becoming smarter than ever. Whether you are an Apple or Android user, we have something for everyone. Check out all these interesting phone tricks you can do without any additional apps:

Table of Contents

Android

(These mobile tricks will work on almost every Android phone.)

1. Smart Lock while using your phone

You can keep your device unlocked while it’s in hand or while you’re using it. You can find this option in Settings, under Lock Screen. Enabling the “on-body detection” option lets your device detect when you are using it. It will understand when it’s in motion and stay unlocked, and then automatically lock when you put it down.

2. Location-based Smart Lock

For this, you have to use the same Smart Lock option as 1. You can select specific locations as ‘trusted places’, for example, your home location. When your Location service is on and you are at home, the device will remain unlocked until your location changes or you manually lock it.

3. One-handed keyboard mode

Did you know you can use your Google keyboard with one hand? If your Gboard is updated, you can now use a toolbar above the keyboard with options. Tap on the three-dot options and you will see the option for one-handed mode. Alternatively, you can also find this option by going to your Google keyboard Settings, under Preferences, select the option Layout.

4. Translate directly from Google keyboard

You can now use Google Translate directly from the Google keyboard. On the updated keyboard, you can see a toolbar at the top. On that, tap the three-dot menu, and you will see several options, along with Translate. It also has a language detection feature like the original Google Translate.

5. Retrieve notification history

If you tend to clear all notifications without checking them or have done it once in a while, here’s an Android hidden feature that can help. Tap and hold on your home screen to get the Home Screen Setting. From there, go to the Widgets options, then drag the Settings shortcut and set it on your Home Screen. You will see a list of options, one of which is the Notifications Log. Tap on that and then tap on the shortcut you just created. You will find old notifications that you have closed.

6. Use Focus mode to help you concentrate

This is a great useful update that came with Android 10. Go to Settings and then tap on Digital Wellbeing. Scroll down and you will see the option for Focus Mode. You can add this as a button in your Quick Panel too. Turn on Focus mode to keep only selected apps active, so you are not distracted. You can customize the modes to your liking. It also tracks how long the mode was on, so you how productive you’ve been. 

7. Change volumes individually

The new Android 10 lets you change volumes separately. Press the Volume Up or Down button on your phone and when the slider appears, tap on the small arrow at the end of it. You will see separate sliders for Ringtone, System Sounds, Alarms, and Media. You can change each separately without affecting the others.

Pixel (stock Android) tricks

8. Get a new wallpaper every day

What happens when the Google company that made the revolutionary Android software also makes phones? They have the best Android tricks. To automatically wake up to a new wallpaper every day, open the Wallpapers app (tap and hold on the Home Screen to access the app) and select Wallpaper style. Enable the ‘Daily wallpaper’ option and your phone will choose a new wallpaper from its collection every day.

9. Use volume keys for camera functions

It’s so much easier to use the camera with one hand when the side keys can be used to operate it. On your Pixel 3 or 3a, open the Camera app and go to settings. Then tap on Gestures and you can modify how you want to use the keys – you can assign them to click a photo or zoom.

10. Switch camera mode using gestures

It’s great to have both rear and front and cameras now, but switching modes can be annoying. On your Pixel phone, you can do it with a simple gesture. To enable this, go to Settings, then select System and the Gestures. Enable Flip Camera. You just have to hold your phone upright and twist to wrist twice to shift from the main camera to selfie mode.

11. Access notifications without touching the screen

On your Pixel 3 and 3a, you can use the fingerprint reader to pull down the notifications panel. To turn this on, go to Settings and then tap on System and then select Gestures. Turn on ‘swipe fingerprint for notifications’ – and that is exactly what you have to do.

man pointing to android phone

Samsung Galaxy Tricks 

12. Get light notifications even without an indicator light

To set this up, go to Settings and select Accessibility. Then scroll down and tap on Advanced settings. You will see the option for Flash Notification. You can set your LED flash or even your screen to light up when you receive a notification.

13. Change what the Power button does

This is an update you will find in phones that support the One UI 2. Press and hold the Power button and you will see the Power Off menu. At the end of it, there is an option to change “side key settings”. You can modify what happens when you double press or long-press the button. For double press, you can set it to ‘launch camera’, ‘open Bixby’, or a specific app you want to open.

14. Easily zoom in messages

You can change the size of objects and fonts on your phone from Display settings. But it’s a long process if you just need to read one message. So you don’t have to do that. On your Messages app, just pinch out to zoom in and pinch in to zoom out. Simple!

15. Turn speech to text

Usually, Android devices that have the Google keyboard have the Google Voice input feature too. Samsung does not come with the Google keyboard preinstalled. For the Samsung keyboard (set as default), you have to enable it.

On your device, go to Settings and select General Management and then tap on Language and Input. Next, go to the On-screen keyboard and tap on Manage Keyboards. Enable the Samsung voice input and go through the Privacy policy. Once you agree to all and close it, you will be told to reboot your device. Do it and you will find the mic icon on your keyboard toolbar next time you open it.

16. Save multiple images together

If you want to save several images from one webpage on your device, it can be a hassle doing it one at a time. Just tap on one image and hold to see a list of options. From there, select ‘save all images on this page’ and they will all be downloaded together. You can access them from the Downloads folder (um, obviously).

17. Set your own ‘silent’ time

Do you often forget to change your Sound Mode back to normal after a meeting? No problem.

Just as you can mute notifications for a specific duration on Messenger, you can do that with all alerts on your Samsung Galaxy. Swipe down the quick panel from above, then tap and hold the Sound button. Then tap on ‘mute’ and you will see the option for ‘temporary mute’. Once you enable that, you can decide how long you want the silent mode. It will switch back automatically.

18. Use YouTube as a floating app with other apps

How annoying is it when YouTube stops playing when you move to another app? To keep it playing in the background, you can open it in a pop-up screen. Open your active apps and tap on the icon that appears on top of the app preview. You will see the option to “open in pop-up view”. You can move the position of the pop-up as well as change the size by dragging the edges.

19. Lock apps in the background

Sometimes we tend to close all active apps out of habit. If you want to keep from mistakenly closing something important in the middle of a task, you can lock them. Open active apps and tap on the icon that appears at the top of the app preview. Then tap on the “lock app” to lock it. This method works on all Samsung Galaxy phones running Android 9.0 Pie and above.

You can also do this on your Oppo phones running ColorOS 5.0 and above. Open your active apps and swipe the app preview screen downwards, you will see the option to lock the app. You can unlock it in the same way.

Huawei phone tricks

20. Get a floating dock

On your P10, you can get a floating dock on the side of your screen to access navigation button functions as well as the option to lock the screen without pressing the Power button. To set it up, go to Settings and then select Smart Assistant. Then enable Floating Dock and it will appear on your screen. You can position it wherever you want and also keep it minimized when you are not using it.

android apps

21. Get an App drawer

I don’t know about you, but I would rather have a neat home screen and all my apps organized in one place. Plenty of Android phones have had app drawers, but many other UIs do not offer this anymore. But if you happen to own a Huawei P10 or P10 Plus, here’s what you can do:

  • Go to Settings and select Home Screen Style.
  • Select Drawer and it will appear on your Home Screen.

22. Use fingerprint scanner for navigation

This feature is cool but it’s only applicable for models with a physical fingerprint scanner. To set it up, go to Settings and select the Navigation key. Then enable ‘additional touch-based functions’ to activate gestures. You can tap on the scanner to go back or tap and hold to move to Home Screen. You can also swipe on the scanner to swipe through active apps.

23. Take quick snaps

This trick is for Huawei P20 Pro. Found your friend in a funny, embarrassing position? Take a quick photo before he moves! Just point your device downwards and press the Volume Down button twice.

OnePlus phone tricks

24. Customize the navigation buttons

Some phones have the back button on the right and some on the left. It can be a problem when switching to a new device. With the OnePlus 6T, you can modify them. To do this, go to Settings and select Buttons & Gestures, then select Navigation Bar & gestures and then Navigation Bar customization. You swap the buttons here.

Also, on the Navigation Bar customization page, you will see more options. You can even keep just two buttons on the navigation bar or remove it entirely and use gestures.

25. Gesture screenshot

Taking a screenshot is pretty easy, but OnePlus made it even easier. Just swipe inwards with three fingers.

26. Answer calls with a gesture

This works very well for elderly people. You can just pick up the phone and put it to your ear to automatically answer calls. To set it up, go to Settings, select Buttons & Gestures, and then select Quick Gestures. Then tap on System Gestures and activate the gestures you want to use. You can activate or deactivate other gestures from this option too.

27. Drawing shortcuts

As if having side keys, quick panel, and apps on the Home Screen wasn’t enough, OnePlus has added even more ways to access apps or functions. You can draw on the screen and turn on camera, turn on/off flashlight or start recording a video. You can draw the letter V, O, S, M, and W for this and assign a shortcut to each letter.

From the Buttons & Gestures option in Settings, go to Quick Gestures and scroll down to find the option for ‘Screen Off Gestures’. You can set it up from there.

28. Hide the camera notch

OnePlus 6T, like many other Android phones, has a notch display. If you are not a fan, you can hide it from the settings. Go to Settings and then Display. Then tap on Notch Display.

29. Change fingerprint animations

Not everyone finds optical (on-screen) fingerprint readers all that thrilling. OnePlus not only managed to make a really fast and responsive reader, but they also add some bling by giving you multiple animations to choose from. On your OnePlus 6T, go to Settings and select Security & Lock screen. Then tap on Fingerprint and then go to Fingerprint animation. You can see the preview right there so it’s easier to make a choice.

30. Prevent accidental touches with Pocket Mode

Remember when phones had physical keys and you could accidentally pocket-dial someone? We’re glad that doesn’t happen anymore. You might still accidentally activate something while your phone is in your pocket. To prevent that, got to Settings and the Utilities, and turn on Pocket Mode.


Motorola tricks

Moto G7 Power gives you more power by making things as easy as possible. From Settings, go to Moto and then select Moto Actions. You will find a bunch of fun gesture options here.

31. Shortcut for torchlight

Turn on Fast Torch. With this, you can turn on your Torch with two quick flicks.

32. Take a screenshot without using any keys

Enable Three-finger Screenshot – it’s pretty obvious how this works. Just tap the screen with three fingers at the same time.

33. Launch camera with a gesture

Turn the Quick Capture feature to launch the camera app with two simple twists of your wrist. You can be on any screen or any app and this will work.

34. Silent calls without keys  

Forgot to silent your phone for a meeting? If you enable Pick Up to Silence, your phone will stop ringing as soon as you pick it up.

Xiaomi tricks

35. Customize your status bar

Xiaomi phones also let you hide the camera notch at the display. In addition to that, you can select what you want to see on the status bar in the Redmi Note 7 Pro. Just go to Settings and select Notification & Status bar. You can edit if you want to see the battery percentage, your network icon, notification icon, or even connection speed. 

36. Modify how you receive calls

The new MIUI gives you several options to decide how you want to deal with incoming calls. Go to Settings and select Call Settings. Then go to Incoming Call Settings and you will see a list of options – flip your phone to silent an incoming call, mute the first call from an unknown number or just mute the first ring, or reduce the ringing tone when you pick up the device.

37. Use the fingerprint scanner to take photos

This feature is specific to models with a physical fingerprint scanner. It helps most if it is at the back. Just set your camera to selfie mode and tap on the scanner to click. You can use any finger, even if it is not configured, and this is set by default – you don’t even have to enable it.

38. Prevent accidental touch while gaming

Since most phones have decided to bring the navigation bar to the screen, the accidental touch has been a constant issue. It’s probably worst when you’re in the middle of a great game and your finger just swipes on the edge and taps the home button. Xiaomi has fixed this problem for you. Drag down the quick panel from your Notification bar above. Tap on the icon labeled Buttons to enable or disable the navigation buttons.

iOS

39. Swipe typing

This might not be a big deal for Android users, but Apple has only just started offering this as a default feature for its keyboard in iOS 13. You can swipe your finger from letter to letter and the app will form the words for you. But you have to do it at one go; if you take your finger/thumb off the screen, it will predict a word only with the letters you swiped and move on to the next word. The words formed all come from the language and dictionary activated in your device. 

40. Keep your audio messages on iMessage

Audio messages on iMessage are not automatically saved, but you can save yours. On your iPhone, go to Settings and then select Messages. Scroll down and tap on Audio Messages. There is an option called Expire – tap on it and select “never”.

41. Get personal with Siri

You can teach Siri to use nicknames. You can save the name of your contacts as they are and add a nickname in Contacts. You can then use this nickname to instruct Siri for example, to send a message or make a call. She will acknowledge the instruction even if it isn’t the proper name of the contact.

42. Keep private pictures private

Some people tend to scroll through the Gallery when you show them just one photo. It’s an intrusion but you cannot explain that to everyone. You can keep your photos hidden in a separate album. Tap and hold the photo you want to hide, then tap on the Share button. Then choose “hide”.

43. Calculator shortcut

This is a great example of just how well smartphones can solve your everyday problems. Get a quick calculation. On your home screen or lock screen, just swipe right and start typing in the operation. Your phone will do the work for you and start showing the results on the same screen.

44. Edit on the Calculator

If you’re working with a long list of numbers, it is scary to make a mistake. You might think you have to start again since the only key you can see is C, which erases everything. However, you can wipe the number you typed last by swiping left or right on the screen. The rest of your calculations will still be there and you can just fix that last mistake.

45. Use more advanced functions on your calculator

Ever tried to use the calculator in landscape mode? Just rotate your device to the side and various advanced functions will appear on its own. You won’t find these iPhone hidden features in a manual.

46. Turn your flash into and indicator light

You can use the LED flash on your device to alert you when there is a notification. To set this up, go to Settings and then select Accessibility. Then tap on Audio/Visual and you will see the option LED Flash for Alerts. Tap on the toggle switch beside it to activate this feature.

47. Shortcut to start recording videos

Often, in the time it takes to switch, from ‘camera’ to ‘video’ mode and vice versa on your phone, you can lose the moment you needed to capture. If you have used Instagram and Snapchat, you know how easy it is to just tap and hold the button to start making a video. You can do it with the default camera on your iPhone. Just tap, hold, and start shooting.

48. Take a snap while on video

While recording a video, have you ever found a really good frame or moment that would look better as a still photo? No need to go back to Photo mode. Notice the white button at the bottom of the screen? Tap that and you can take a still photo while your video still keeps rolling.

49. Take more accurate pictures

You may know this feature, but don’t use it. On your camera, you can enable a “grid” that helps you frame your shots. The lines can help you take a straight photo. You can enable this by going to Settings and then selecting Camera, you will find the option in the list.

50. Get measurements using your camera

The Measure app should be preinstalled on your device if it is running iOS 12 or above. It is not completely accurate but it can give you a good idea of size. This is how to use it:

  1. Open the app and hold the phone straight in front of you.
  2. You will see a small white dot on the screen. Align this dot with any starting point of the object you want to measure.
  3. Press the white + button on the screen. Now drag the dot to select the object or the area to measure.
  4. Press the + button again. The app will show you the object’s measurement.

51. Shortcut for Timer

There is a shortcut if you need to quickly start a Timer. On your Home Screen, swipe down to get to the Control Center. Tap and hold the Timer and drag it upwards to increase the time. Let go and then tap “start”. Simple as that!

Of course, you can always ask Siri to start one for you, which is even easier.

IOS apps

52. Ignore unknown callers

Getting too many random calls? Go to Settings and tap on the Phone option. Enable Silence Unknown Callers by tapping on the toggle switch beside it.

53. But get reminded to call back (known numbers) later

When you get a call but can’t receive it, you will see two other options on the screen – Message and Remind Me. Tap on ‘Remind Me’ and select when you want to be reminded to call back.

54. Choose what to keep on your Control Centre

Although your Control Centre comes pre-organized, you can modify it to suit your needs. To do this, go to Settings, then under Control Centre, tap on ‘Customise’. You can pick which buttons you want to add or remove. However, this feature was only added in iOS 11, so you cannot do this with older versions.

55. Open functions from Control Center

See the button to turn on and off the Wi-Fi connection on your control center? If you tap and hold on it, it will take you to available Wi-Fi networks and from there you can select which one to connect to, add or remove connections, etc. There is no need to go to the Wi-Fi option through Settings for that.

56. Use different fonts

Did you know that you can change the font on iOS 13? Open the Mail app and tap on the page to pop up the keyboard. See the toolbar above the keys? You will see an Aa sign on the left. Tap on that and you will find the option to change your font.

57. Browse the internet privately

While you can always delete your browser history, it’s easy to forget your personal device. You might still need to keep your history private from the prying eyes of a parent, partner, or even kids. If your phone has upgraded to iOS 13, you can do this now – open Safari, tap on the new window icon and then tap on ‘Private’.

This only prevents your browsing history from being saved. The information you enter on any websites will still be there. And if your mom is standing behind you, she will see everything.

58. Change vibration pattern

Vibration alerts are great, especially in meetings or during a class. But did you know you can now recognize your contacts with vibration? Yes, you can set specific vibration patterns for specific contacts. It is really easy:

  1. Open Contacts, and select the contact you want to add vibration.
  2. On the top right, tap on ‘edit’.
  3. Find the information for a ringtone (for assigning a specific ringtone to someone), and right under it, you will see ‘Vibration’.
  4. It is probably set to ‘default’. Tap on it and select from a list of built-in vibration patterns. You can also ‘Create your own’ pattern by tapping on the screen. You will find the option for this on the same page.
  5. Once you’re done, tap Save.

59. Undo or Redo gesture

Even if you have been using the same device for years, you might not know this great iPhone secret trick – most people don’t. While you’re typing, you can shake your phone to get an Undo Typing option pop up on your screen. It might look awkward in public, but this is a very easy way to erase large texts and you can get used to it.

60. Move to top with a tap

That is it. If you are reading a long document (like this article) and have scrolled down quite a long way, no need to scroll back up. Just tap at the top of the screen and you will see a pop-up to move to the top or stay at your position – choose whichever you want to do.

Finally

If your friends thought iPhones are great in every way, you can now show them all these cool things to do with Android phone. Smartphones are already quite smart, so it’s hard to say what else your device can do. Don’t be afraid to explore everything in the Settings menu and try out some random gestures once in a while. You might find out something even cooler!

Smartphones can be a treat if you know enough tricks. Hope you enjoy these. Don’t forget to share it with your friends on Facebook!

Author

David Castano

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