The 9 Best Secret Features of the Samsung Galaxy Note 9

What makes a Galaxy Note is everything you can do with it

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 in the lavender color.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is a powerhouse phone. With the largest battery (4000mAh), impressive storage (expandable up to 1TB), a 6.4-inch Super AMOLED Infinity display, and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor (in the U.S.), the Note 9 was released with more capability than any other phone on the market at the time. Let’s also not forget everything you can do with the powered, Bluetooth S Pen. But the specs don’t tell the whole story.

What makes a Galaxy Note ​is how you can use it, and the Note 9 is no exception. The Galaxy Note 8 had all kinds of hidden features you can still find in the Note 9, along with a handful of others. Keep reading to learn more.

Customize The Way You Use The Samsung Galaxy Note 9

Three screenshots showing how to customize screen activation, the navigation bar, and keyboard layout for the Note 9.

Part of what makes anyone love their phone is the ability to customize it to fit your lifestyle. With the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, you have the ability to deeply customize some features to suit your specific needs:

  1. Unlock Your Phone With a Wave: Hands full? Maybe you’re just too lazy to pick the phone up to unlock it? No problem. Once enabled, you can unlock your phone with a wave of your hand. To enable this feature, go to Settings > Accessibility > Dexterity and Interaction, then toggle on Easy screen turn on. Tap Easy screen turn on to see a demonstration of how to wave your hand over the phone to unlock it.
  2. Customize the Navigation Bar: Does it seem like you have to press too hard to activate your home button? Or maybe you hate the way the navigation buttons on the bottom of the screen are laid out? No problem. Go to Settings > Display > Navigation Bar to access a menu that allows you to toggle on a Show and hide button, change the color of the navigation bar, adjust the pressure sensitivity when you press the Home button, unlock your phone with the home button, and even change the layout of the navigation bar.
  3. Customize Your Keyboard for One-Handed (or Fat-Fingered) Operation: If you find the layout or design of the Samsung keyboard a little awkward, you’re not alone. Fortunately, you can control how your keyboard looks, and how it works.
    1. To do so, access your keyboard from within an app where you need to type text.
    2. Once the keyboard is displayed, tap the Settings gear icon. The Samsung Keyboard options menu opens.
    3. From there, tap Keyboard layout and feedback to toggle the Keyboard toolbar on or off, change the Keyboard theme, or change your Keyboard size and layout.

Note: The Show and hide button appears as a small black dot on the left corner of the navigation bar. Tap this twice to hide the navigation bar. To get the navigation bar back, swipe up from the bottom of the phone, then tap the Show and hide button twice again to lock the navigation bar back into place.

Tip: If you find the keyboard too difficult to use with one hand, from within the open keyboard, tap the downward pointing arrow in the right corner, then select One-handed keyboard. The keyboard shrinks and slides to one side for easy single-handed operation. You can change which side the keyboard is on by pressing the arrow on either side of the keyboard.

Handle Text Differently With The Galaxy Note 9

Two Galaxy Note 9 screenshots showing how Bixby Vision and Translate work.

Ever wish you could snag a bit of text that's on a label or in a book? Or maybe you want a text-to-speech option for your messages and emails? You can do those things with the Galaxy Note 9, if you know how:

  1. Put Bixby Vision to Work: Even if you’re not a fan of Samsung’s voice assistant, Bixby, you can still use Bixby Vision with your camera as an OCR (Optical Character Recognition) tool. Simply enable Bixby Vision on your camera, select the Text option, then point your camera at any text and snap a picture. Bixby will capture and transcribe the text, and even translate words that are in a different language. You can then copy and paste or share the text with other applications.
  2. Use the S Pen Translate Function to Read Text: By itself, the Note 9 S Pen’s Translate function is a handy feature; enable it to translate blocks of text to make it even better. To change from single word translation to phrases or blocks of text:
    1. Open the message or document you want to have read aloud.

    2. Remove your S Pen from the device.

    3. From the Air Command options select Translate.

    4. When the translation window appears, choose the languages you would like to have the text translated from and to (yes, you can select English for both options), then tap the T icon in the left corner of the translation window.

    5. The icon should change to look like a document. Now you can highlight and translate blocks of text.

    6. To hear the selected text read aloud, tap the speaker icon in the translation box.

Customize The Note 9 Display

Three screenshots showing how Glance and Recent App views work on the Galaxy Note 9.

The functionality from previous versions of the Note are still available, so it should be easy to customize things like the Edge Panel and Always On Display. But you can also make some changes to the Galaxy Note 9 to make the display a little more user-friendly:

  1. Use Glance to Monitor Action in Other Windows: Samsung’s App Pairs are a great way to work with two apps simultaneously, but what if you don’t need to work with two apps and just want to monitor one? Glance is Samsung’s equivalent of picture-in-picture and it lets you drop an app into a smaller window in the bottom corner of your screen. Once activated, you can move the smaller window to any other location on the screen that’s convenient; increase the size of the app to full screen by hovering your pen tip over the app. To activate an app in Glance, open the app, remove your S Pen, then choose Glance from the Air Command menu. The app is instantly reduced to thumbnail size. Once you’ve finished monitoring the app, drag it to the top of the screen to close it.
  2. Change the Way Recent Apps Display: If you use a lot of apps, when you view your Recent Apps, the standard app tiles can be overwhelming. But you can change the way those recent apps display. From within your Recent Apps screen (tap the Recent Apps button in the bottom navigation menu), tap the three dot icon in the upper right corner of the screen. Then select List View to convert the thumbnails to list items.

Tip: In the Recent Apps view, you can tap the Multi Window button (represented as two squares stacked on top of one another) on an app to open it in split-screen mode. Tap another recent app to create a temporary app pair on the fly.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Also Has Safety Features

Two screenshots showing how to activate SOS Messages and Blue Light Filters on the Galaxy Note 9.

Since smartphones have become such a part of life, it’s no surprise Samsung integrated some safety features into the Note 9. Two of the top safety features you should check out are SOS Alerts and Blue Light Filter:

  1. Send SOS Messages Without Turning on the Phone: Go to Settings > Advanced Settings > Send SOS messages to enable this safety feature. When enabled, you can choose to Attach pictures and Attach audio recordings to send pictures taken with the cameras and/or a 5-second audio message to your emergency contacts when you quickly press the Power key three times. If you’re often on your own, this is one safety feature you don’t want to be without.
  2. Protect Your Eyes with a Blue Light Filter: Blue light, such as the kind emitted by mobile devices, can be damaging to your eyes. To protect your eyes from this harmful light, go to Settings > Display to toggle Blue light filter on or off. Once enabled, tap Blue light filter to open options where you can adjust the opacity of the filter and even schedule the blue light filter to activate during certain hours (e.g. during evening hours just before bed).

The Galaxy Note 9 has so many awesome features it’s difficult to list them all. The features discussed in this article are a good start, but take some time to play around in the menus of your device; that’s where all the true goodness is hiding.