Google IO 2016 Coverage

Setting up the always-on display on the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge

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One of the major new features of the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge is the always-on display. There were some initial worries about it, considering that many are already struggling trying to conserve battery life. However, due to Super AMOLED technology, the always-on display takes up a meager 5% of battery life in a 10 hour period.

Suffice to say, the always-on display is a neat technology, and it comes with plenty of customization options. In this guide, we’re going to show you how to customize your always-on display and how to turn it off if you’re not a fan of it.

Be sure to follow along!

What is the always-on display?

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The Always On display is a new feature on the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge that show you your devices most basic information: the time, date, battery life percentage, missed calls, and new text messages. It shows you this information all the time, as it’s always displayed, thus the name always-on display.

There are options to give the always-on display some style. For instance, you can choose different digital clock styles and even swap it out with an analog clock style. There’s even a clock style to give you the time in two different cities at the same time.

Samsung included some other additional customization options with the always-on display, such as background images to give it more color. For instance, as pictured above, I have a blue grid-like accent to my always-on display; however, there are other options as well, such as red and purple in different styles.

It’s important to note that the always-on display isn’t just a clock/notification awareness tool. On the contrary, there’s other types of information you can display, such as your calendar or a simple image. And, of course, those that would rather conserve that extra 5% of battery life every 10 hours have the option of completely disabling the always-on display.

We’re going to show you how to setup all of these different configurations below, and even how to shut if off if you find yourself needing to do that.

How to use the always-on display

Using and customizing the always-on display is easy. You can configure the always-on display by heading into Settings > Display > Always On Display.

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From here, you can select “Clock Style” to choose the type of clock you want to display. In my case, I chose one of the analog clock options.

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If you want to change the background image, you can simply go back and select “Background image.” From here, you can choose the style of image you want (and that could be none at all), and in whatever image you choose, it will display behind the content of the always-on display so you get a neat color accent.

Galaxy-S7-Edge-always-on-display-settingsAlternatively, you can go back into Settings > Display > Always On Display and choose “Content to show.”

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From there, you can choose whether you want to see the device’s native calendar or a preset image. Unfortunately, you cannot customize the always-on display with your own image, just the preset ones.

The Battery Life Predicament

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It’s true, the always-on display does take up some battery life: 5% every 10 hours, to be exact. However, it’s not clear if that 5% is for every setting on the always-on display or just the most basic settings.

Either way, if you find that the always-on display is taking up more juice than you might want, you can turn it off by going into Settings > Display > Always On Display. From there, you can just hit the little slider at that top right corner. The slider will say “off” if the always-on display is off and “on” if it’s, well, on.

So, how is Samsung able to have the display on all the time without it murdering battery life? It has to do with the type of panel Samsung uses: AMOLED. Standing for active-matrix organic light-emitting diode, the AMOLED panel allows for progress toward low-power options. How? AMOLED technology lights up individual pixels when necessary. So, in layman’s terms, if 80% of the display is dark and the other 20% needs to be lit, it’s only going to draw power for lighting up 20% of the display instead of the whole panel as you might find on an LCD.

It really is a neat technology and is a lot more technical than that, but that’s essentially just the cliff notes of how Samsung is able to have it only draw 5% of battery life every 10 hours.

Closing

As you can see, the always-on display really is a neat (and optional) feature to have. I’ve found it to be quite useful, removing the need for me to always grab my smartphone for the time or to see if I have a text message or missed important call.

Not only that, but it’s quite easy to personalize it with different colors and styles of clocks. It’s also neat having that ability to turn it off as well, so the always-on display doesn’t have to be a deal breaker for some.

Be sure to keep your browsers pointed to Talk Android, as we’ve got plenty more S7 Edge guides on the way, as well as a detailed review on the latest from Samsung.


About the Author: Brad Ward

Brad is a tech enthusiast, writing and tinkering with all things technology since 2011. He currently bounces between the LG G3 and his beloved Moto X! His interests include reading, entrepreneurship, the gym, and of course, queso.


  • justafew

    I used it for a bit, then turned it off. The point is to save battery life by not having to wake your screen as often to check for notifications. Unfortunately as it is today, it only displays notifications for stock Phone, Email or SMS. If you use any other app for email (i.e. Gmail) or for SMS (Textra), then it provides no benefit. If this ever gains support to show notifications for other apps, then it will be a great gimmick. But right now, it’s just a useless gimmick (to me).