I’ve had my Galaxy 9+ for about three months now, and I must say, I am pleasantly surprised! I do miss my “pure” Android experience from the Nexus 6P BUT Samsung has done a really good job with their latest phone. I don’t even feel like I’m drowning in bloatware or unnecessary crap taking up precious system resources.
There were a slew of apps I had to uninstall, and the regular tweaks, hacks, and other customizations critical for any power user, but overall, it’s been a solid experience. There are, however, five things that drive me absolutely crazy. The good news is that they can all be fixed :-) You’re welcome!
These are listed in order of aggravating, hell-raising frustration. Enjoy!
- Alarm volume – I swear, you would think it would make sense to have the volume of your alarm set at a global level, like you do with your media, ringtone, and notifications. But no, that makes too much sense. Instead, the volume of your alarm is set at each individual alarm. Let’s say you have three alarms set for 5:00, 5:05, and 5:07 AM. Each alarm will have its own audio level that can be controlled – obnoxious when you aren’t thinking “man, I should really set each alarm at a different volume.” I know this because on several mornings I was shocked out of my slumber when my alarm erupted at a decibel level comparable to the last Joe Satriani rock concert I went to. The fix – when configuring an alarm, go to alarm volume and set accordingly. I set it around 35%, because I need little more than a hummingbird whisper to wake up. Volume > 40% sends a shrieking blast through the air loud enough to wake my neighbors and destroy my blood pressure for the day! Interestingly, I have seen approximately zero YouTubers or bloggers address or mention this item. Maybe it’s just me (I doubt it), but in my opinion, this is the gem from the list. I honestly thought I was going to die the first time my alarm went off. Nuclear explosion meets early AM exhaustion – not a good combo. It’s kind of a set-it-and-forget-it fix, HOWEVER, if you add a new alarm (say, a 4th), the volume will NOT match the other alarms you have. Be warned!
- Photos aren’t synced to Google automatically – Samsung is trying to crowd in on Google’s space, and understandably so. Only problem is that I got an Android because Google is the powerhouse behind it, and I want to use the features that they’re known for. Google’s photo syncing is truly a lifesaver, but it isn’t enabled by default on a Galaxy, primarily because Samsung thinks you should use their service. Download the Google Photos app from Google Play, go to Settings and make sure to enable Backup & Sync. If you choose High quality, (rather than full quality) Google will give you unlimited storage for the uploads. You can also choose to backup folders off of your phone such as Instagram, texting applications, etc. This will make sure any media, not just pictures saved in your gallery, will be backed up to the omnipresent cloud.
- Bixby – Another area where Samsung is trying to crowd Google is with their voice assistant. I think it’s obnoxious that the Galaxy 9 phones have a dedicated, physical button for summoning this voice-activated genie, especially since I can’t repurpose that button! What a waste! If you haven’t already, just don’t setup this service. That way, you don’t have to deal with it and just need to hide the window and button functionality. There are ways to disable Bixby, if you’ve already been tricked into using it, and a quick Google of how to disable Bixby permanently will set you on your way.
- Switch the navigation buttons – For those of you coming from a more pure Android experience (Nexus, Pixel, etc.), you’ll likely feel that the haptic buttons at the bottom of the phone are backwards. Thankfully, these can be flipped! Go to Settings > Display > Navigation bar and then Button Layout. There’s only two options, so you can’t mess anything up.
- Touch sensitivity – New phone, new case, new screen protector – buttttttt the screen may not be as responsive as you would like once you slap that protective plastic on. Go to Settings > Advanced Features and enable the button for Touch Sensitivity. I found my touch detection to be cludgy, at best, prior to enabling this feature. It wasn’t life changing, but certainly a quality of life adjustment once I had enabled the feature. I would guess it picked up 80% more screen touches once enabled… There are still times when my touches aren’t registered, simply because of the odd, curving edges of the screen, but still, a notable improvement.
My two favorite yet lesser-known features of the Galaxy 9+ are Edge Lighting, and the wonderful and oft-used Device Maintenance mode. Check ’em out! Also, the camera is freaking impressive. On a recent trip to Spain, I found myself reaching for my Galaxy far more than my DSLR… more to come on that in upcoming travel post.
For an added bonus, (only if you’re feeling extra adventurous), I recommend checking out Developer Mode. There’s some really cool features and functionality, but be warned, this is definitely the Wild West. Try not to break anything!
There are a few other items that are annoying, such as Samsung having their own equivalent to a Google app, such as Contacts, which only makes things more confusing. Why do I have two different apps for Contacts?! Ugh! Go with Google as often as possible, and you should come out on top!
Photo credit: Samsung.com and Sprint.com