Tips and Tricks for Your Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

Here are a few tips and tricks you need to know to get the most out of your Galaxy Note 20 or Note 20 Ultra.
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Fast setup on a new device

Let’s begin with the Samsung SmartThings app. Using this app will help you migrate all of your old data to your new Galaxy Note 20 so you can spend more time playing with your phone and learning all the cool things it can do. The easiest way to do this is to get yourself a micro SD card, put it in your old device (if it supports it), back up all of your data to the card, then place that card into your new Galaxy Note 20 and restore the data from there.

Premium camera and video settings

The Galaxy Note 20 has some excellent cameras and camera software. I’m going to show you how to get the most out of them. First, when you use a feature like night mode in your camera app, all you have to do is go to the MORE menu and tap on the pencil icon in the lower right corner. Once you do that, you can add whatever features you want to the quick pick camera mode.

Single Take is another camera feature that has changed. It allows you to control how long the Single Take function lasts for. You can set the time for anywhere from five to 15 seconds. For those of you creating profile pictures for job sites and professional sites like LinkedIn, there’s a color-picking portrait mode, which changes the background of your front-facing portrait photo. This feature isn’t user-adjustable. (It works, but I wish it was better executed.)

Want the best audio possible? Maybe you’re at a bar or other loud environment and want to send someone a quick video message. Go to the PRO VIDEO mode, then hit the audio icon in the lower left-hand corner of the display. Now you can choose where the phone picks up audio from the Front or Rear mics of your Galaxy Note 20. You can also choose OdB, which means the listener will pick up audio all around you.

The only caveat to PRO VIDEO mode is that the front-facing camera is not available, so you’ll have to do a little wrist yoga to send a message to a friend. Just make sure the audio is set to Rear when you do that.

And speaking of PRO VIDEO mode, how many times have you seen people “snap zoom” into a video? What if I told you that you could do a smooth zoom? In PRO VIDEO mode, you can do that by going to the zoom function and using the new zoom slider. It will allow you to perform a really slow and dramatic zoom. Or you can still perform the snap zoom.

While you’re playing with the zoom in PRO VIDEO mode, familiarize yourself with the ISO, shutter speed, manual focus, and white balance settings and how they can change your picture quality. It really can make a difference when you’re in less than ideal conditions and you want a little extra oomph to adjust the image and to take the best possible video or picture on your Galaxy Note 20.

Accessibility features

I have a tip that I think you’ll get some benefit from: live transcriptions. This is actually a Google feature that works pretty well on video content on your Galaxy Note 20. Here’s how it works: slide the notification shade down, look on the quick settings panel for a tile labeled Live Caption, and tap on it. A small black box will pop up with the text from the audio live as it happens. If you want to turn it off, just tap on the icon again in the quick settings panel.

Let’s talk language. The language barrier is less a thing with the S Pen and Translate. You can hover your S Pen over text that is in a different language than the one you speak and it will be translated in real-time to your native language. With translation activated, you can translate words or sentences. You do need to have some idea of the language you’re translating from, as you’ll have to set that language in order for Google to translate it.

When I first showed my dad the Galaxy Note 20, he loved the screen size and the large text. If you’re someone who needs more help seeing what’s on screen, the S Pen can magnify content. With the S Pen out, choose the magnify shortcut. Then you’ll get a box on the screen that will magnify whatever is inside it. Choose the magnification level. When you’re finished, just click on the magnification settings box’s X to close it.

The mighty S Pen

S Pen unlock allows you to press the button on the S Pen to unlock the phone when the S Pen is not inside its silo. This is a fast way to bypass biometric or pin unlocks. Once you place the S Pen back in its silo, your other unlock methods will resume their default functionality.

The S Pen also makes for a great remote. I went a little more into the air actions in my full review of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, but the button on the S Pen also works wonders as a remote shutter button for your phone’s camera. You can click the button to take single shots, hold the button down for burst mode, or double-click to switch between the front and rear cameras. You can also hold the button and swipe either left or right in the air to change camera modes.

Let’s say your nosy aunt wants to use your phone to call someone, but you don’t want her going through anything on your phone (like your photo gallery). Did you know that you can pin an app to the screen so it’s the only app that can be used without having to biometrically unlock your phone? Go into the settings and turn on “Pin windows.” Also, turn on “Ask for pattern before unpinning”. When you unpin, the phone will default to your unlock preference.

Nearby share

Something new to the Note 20 Ultra and Android devices like Google’s Pixel is Nearby Share. That’s basically Airdrop for Android. Tap the tile and go into its settings menu and set the appropriate privacy settings. When you select Nearby Share, anyone who also has the feature will pop up in your list of people to share it with.

Next, let’s talk about the fingerprint unlock. Open settings, go to lock screen, Shortcuts, and select “Floating button”. While you are there, you can also change the app shown on your lock screen to whatever you want. With the floating button turned on, you’re going to long-press the fingerprint button. Once your phone unlocks, you’ll be presented with the apps you’ve set in your shortcuts. Simply drag your finger to launch it.

For my Pen ultimate tip: speed up that Android. This won’t affect your battery life and makes the phone feel even faster than it is. (And for all the money I paid for the Galaxy Note Ultra, I needed to feel F1 fast.) Open up “About phone”, then tap on “Software information”, then tap on “Build number” a few times. This will unlock “developer mode”. Once that’s unlocked, go back out to menu settings, and you’ll see a menu titled “Developer options”. Go into Developer options, click on the drawing category, and change the window transition and animator scales to .5x. Now your windows and animations will be super snappy.

Don’t mess with anything else in the developer menu, though (consider yourself warned).

Use password manager

For my last tip, this is actually the first thing you should do when setting up your new Galaxy Note 20 or 20 Ultra. Many of us in the tech space have been telling you for years to use a password manager. You need only remember one master password, and you can then access all of your other passwords without having to remember all of them.

Why am I including passwords on a Galaxy Note 20 tips and tricks list? Because if you’ll take the time to use this feature when you upgrade to your new phone, you’ll simply use the password manager to autofill all of your usernames and passwords, signing you automatically back into all of your apps. It is such a time-saver.