Samsung Galaxy S21 customization

I’ve never owned a Samsung smartphone. Their phones are really popular, yes. Lots of models. Lots of deals.

I finished reading the book Samsung Rising in March. Really interesting. Quite a saga to get to its success, like with the latest S21.

I’ve been satisfied with a Pixel 2. Late last year a Google Store fulfillment failure for a Pixel 5, however, has left me with no refund still, a useless smartphone case, and doubt that I’ll even want another Pixel. Maybe even go back to an iPhone. Or something less expensive.

So, this year, reviews of Samsung smartphones has caught my attention more. In particular, the latest Galaxy S21 phones.

This article (below) discusses some customization – to do these things:

  • Fix the Side Key
  • Google Discover on the home screen
  • Lift to wake
  • Video call effects
  • Adjust background limits
  • Dual Messenger
  • Customize smart home devices
  • Bixby Routines
  • Install Good Lock
  • S Pen support (S21 Ultra only)

• PC World > “Samsung Galaxy S21: The first 10 things to do with your new phone” by Ryan Whitwam (Apr 23, 2021) – Your new phone does a lot of cool things, but good luck finding it all.

Other articles that I’ve found interesting discuss how to customize Samsung (and other Android) phones to be more like stock Android, that is, without manufacturers’ “value added” app’s or so-called user interface enhancements.


  1. Here, for example, is a review of the Samsung Galaxy A52 – one of many such reviews of this midrange $500 smartphone running Android 11 and using a 4,500mAh battery.

    • The Verge > “Samsung Galaxy A52 5G Review: A Midrange Phone that Will Last” by Allison Johnson (Apr 24, 2021) – It’s not the cheapest budget phone, but it will go the distance.

    (quote) The A52 5G is the highest-specced of the budget A-series Galaxy phones we’ll see in the US this year, offering all of the basics for its $499 price tag along with a few good extras. Its 6.5-inch screen comes with a fast 120Hz refresh rate that’s scarce at this price point. Its main camera includes optical image stabilization, something I missed when I used the more expensive OnePlus 9. The A52 5G is rated IP67 waterproof for some extra peace of mind. And hey, there’s still a headphone jack! In this economy!


    • Great screen with fast refresh rate
    • Good-quality stabilized main camera
    • Healthy device support with four years of security updates guaranteed


    • Plasticky body
    • Too many pre-downloaded apps and software with ads
    • Photos can look unnaturally saturated

    The article includes some photos taken with the A52’s camera, as well as a blurb about all the terms and conditions for using the device.

    (quote) Every smart device now requires you to agree to a series of terms and conditions before you can use it — contracts that no one actually reads. It’s impossible for us to read and analyze every single one of these agreements. But we started counting exactly how many times you have to hit “agree” to use devices when we review them since these are agreements most people don’t read and definitely can’t negotiate.

  2. Yet another example of a Samsung A52 review. The “good enough” question, indeed, for “one of Samsung’s strongest mid-range options to date.”

    • Endgadget > “Samsung Galaxy A52 5G: Can just ‘good’ be good enough?” by C. Velazco (April 30th, 2021)

    … only the plain black model is coming to the US, and its mostly plastic body doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence. Granted, it packs a polished aluminum frame and it’s rated IP67 for water and dust resistance, but that matte black finish picks up fingerprints like no one’s business. And I’ve already put a few distracting nicks into its cover glass. There’s no wireless charging here either, and the pack-in power adapter is limited to charging speeds of 15W. That’s not bad, but you’re in for a wait when you plug this thing into the wall.

    But in other ways, the A52 5G manages to punch above its weight. For one, it has a proper headphone jack, a feature all but extinct in more expensive models. The clearest example here, though, is Samsung’s choice of screen: a 6.5-inch Super AMOLED panel running at 1080×2400. Beyond the immediate benefits a big screen offers, it was generally bright enough to be visible under the harsh Oakland sun. That said, this screen is super-reflective, so some people will have trouble seeing it well regardless of brightness.


    • 120Hz screen refresh rate.
    • Tiny cut-out hole.
    • Performance of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 750G chipset generally adequate.
    • Three years of full Android updates (ships with Android 11).


    • Refresh rate not adaptive – requires manual change to 60Hz for better battery life.

    Things to customize or replace

    • Gesture navigation set to off as default.
    • Ads in stock weather app.
    • (As noted in other reviews: some bloatware.)

    Other options

    • Apple iPhone SE (2020).
    • Google Pixel 4a.
    • Samsung S20 FE (~$100 more than A52).
    • Wait for lower price deal.

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