The Galaxy S8+ has been a favourite amongst many. The glass sandwich with curved edges, coupled with a high-resolution Super-AMOLED screen and a great 12 MP shooter, makes it the best in class. But we are still plagued with Samsung and carrier bloatware that drags this wonderful device down. How amazing would it be to get rid of all those ill effects and render the raw power of this beast. Read on to find what all I did to make my S8+ smooth as a breeze and never complain of switching from my iPhone 7 lus.
Googlify your phone
Google Apps are meant to run smoothly on your phone. In my past experiences, I have rarely found any app on the Play Store faring better than what Google apps have to offer. Samsung has its own duplicate apps like the Gallery, Bixby which does nothing different but eats up space and resources. You can download the essential Google apps from the Play Store before disabling the bloatware. The ones I use are Google Calendar, Gmail, Google Photos, Maps, Google Trips, Google Phone (Click to download the APK since the Play Store doesn’t have this app yet), Google Contacts, Android Messages, Google Voice, Hangouts, Chrome Beta, Youtube and Google Home.
There are some exceptions to this list where you would need the Samsung stock apps like the Gear S plugin, if you own a Gear S watch, the Gear VR apps, if you use the VR headset, Samsung Pay for Mobile payment and lastly, the “Galaxy apps” which would be needed for updating the Samsung apps. Another note that I find interesting is that Chrome beta performs miles better than the default chrome app on Play Store. You can consider switching to the beta version of the main browser. Now that you have all the stock Google apps, make sure you make them the default apps by switching the settings.
You have a plethora of choices to make when selecting the launcher for your phone. Though the Google Launcher is the most simple and minimalistic, it doesn’t give you quite the flexibility of customization. I have personally always come back to the Nova launcher prime. The intuitive controls, features, reliability and customization options really makes it the best launcher there is.
My personal setup is keeping the dark theme active at all times and remove the app drawer buttons. I replace the app drawer icons with the swipe up gesture. On the swipe down gesture, you can keep the App search Action in settings. This helps you find the apps you want from the infinite grid, very efficiently. To make the look minimalistic and better, you can scale your icons to 80% and remove icon labels. I’ve kept the folder style as None, which shows a grid of tiny icons in a folder. This minimalistic setup looks really good. The icon pack I use is called Minimale, that gives a very high quality minimal look to the icons. You can also check out other icon packs from the developer, mowmo. They have some crazy icon packs. Also download the Chronus widget pack that gives you a detailed minimal view of all relevant data that looks neat. And if you are a customization nerd, try out Zooper widget pro and create your own beautiful widgets. For a wallpaper, you can choose from a variety of apps like Ultimate 4K wallpaper, Wall on , Walli, Backdrops, Minimalist Wallpapers and more. But the one I keep returning to is Darkops. This app has some very high quality 4K dark AMOLED wallpapers which is the best in class. Using dark wallpapers does look great on AMOLED displays and also saves battery.
De-Bloat your phone
Now that we know what we want to use, let’s get rid of the ones we don’t want. There are a lot of apps which can be safely termed as bloatware on the Galaxy S8 and S8+. These are the stock Samsung and carrier apps. To name a few, we have the Samsung milk music, Galaxy apps like the Samsung switch, TouchWiz home, game launcher, Bixby services, Lookout and much more. We also have carrier bloatware (in my case Tmobile) like Tmobile TV, Name ID, Tmobile App and more. There is an app called Package disabler which disables system packages for the applications which cannot be uninstalled. This will block all the packages that you need with the help of a dedicated plugin for the Galaxy S8 from the playstore. You can import pre-configured XML files from previous phones or export your existing configuration to XML. I have exported mine for your convenience. You can find it here. This file has all the packages that I have disabled. I chose to get rid of the essentials like Gallery, Phone Dialer and Samsung Internet since you have the Google versions of all these apps available. Ensure that you download the Google apps first, before you disable these packages.
Restrict that background usage.
Now, there are some apps which you want to keep but don’t need them poking around with your phone when you’re not using them. Nougat still doesnt let you select apps which can be restricted from running in background. The Galaxy S8 has a nice feature called Always sleeping Apps. Goto Settings -> Device Maintenance -> Battery -> Always sleeping Apps.
All your apps like wallpaper apps, icon pack apps, office apps, word editor apps, games, productivity tools which do not have a messaging or calling feature can be put in the list here. So they will not be allowed to run in background and you won’t get unnecessary notifications from games or deals etc.. Now you will, for the most time have a lot of unused RAM when the phone is left idle and provide faster screen rendering with smoother animations. This will also help you immensely with the battery life
Now, we all love that black super AMOLED screen and the content displays a lot better with a pitch black background. Unfortunately, we can only paint wallpapers and some UI elements using Samsung themes but the apps like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Outlook use a white background. There are dark options for some alternatives but you don’t get to use the full feature of a black background. Also rendering a black background lights up less pixels and so it goes easier on the GPU.. You don’t want to loose warranty by rooting your phone too. What do you do?
The substratum theming engine is a cleverly designed app, which downloads overlays on your existing applications. The overlays are downloaded separately. These overlays paint individual apps to your liking. Like you can see above, the apps like Google calendar, maps, Instagram, Allo and much more can be themed with a pitch black color or anymore according to your liking. I have used the overlay theme, Swift Black that painted my apps pitch black. In my experience, I have found that the apps load much faster and are smoother if they render a black background. But it’s not the most user-friendly way. Every Time your app gets updated from play store, you have to manually theme those apps again from substratum. Also there are some dangerous overlays which are switched off by default as they might change some core settings. So you can use this app at your own discersion. The end result is beautiful, but there are some hit or miss scenarios. Oh and yes, this app doesn’t need ROOT.
I can keep going on with the infinite customizations with Android by your side. Although this article sums up pretty much, the way to get the most out of your S8 or S8 plus. Do let me know how does your phone work with these changes and Ill keep you posted with more.