Just let me mute my phone
The Android 5.0 Lollipop update for the global Samsung Galaxy Note 4 (SM-N910F) dropped in parts of Europe today, opening the doors for Note 4 owners in these parts to get a taste of Google's latest Android version. Much like Lollipop on the Galaxy S5, the Note 4's Android 5.0 update brings a splash of Material Design, new features and improved performance to Samsung's pen-toting 5.7-incher.
But it's not all good news ...
As there's been some consternation over stock Lollipop's Interruptions system (which removes the traditional "mute" option in favor of "Priority" and "None" toggles), some manufacturers like HTC have chosen to reintroduce "mute" mode, while the likes of LG have stuck with Google's default implementation. When it comes to the European Galaxy Note 4, however, Samsung brings us a confusing hybrid of both systems.
Like vanilla Android, there's no "mute" option available. However, the pop-up menu for switching between "All," "Priority," and "None" is gone from the volume slider as well, and instead this toggle is buried in the depths of the Settings menu.
That means there's essentially no easy way to completely silence your phone without digging through Settings. At the low end, the volume slider jumps straight from its lowest level to "vibrate." What's more, the shortcut in the quick settings panel only lets you jump between "Sound" and "Vibrate." Want to switch to "Priority" interruptions? You'll need to go to Settings > Device > Sounds and notifications > Interruptions, and toggle between the three presets using the dropdown. (That's six taps, by the way.)
Google's decision to remove "mute" from Lollipop was controversial, but the Galaxy Note 4's implementation of this feature seems bizarrely removed from the way normal people use their smartphones. In a world where Samsung's biggest rival makes muting as simple as flipping a switch, it seems odd that such a basic function needs to cause these kinds of headaches.
What's more confusing is that the way this basic, integral part of Android works seems to vary depending on whether you're using a Galaxy Note 4 or a Galaxy S5, and which regional variant you own. AC's Russell Holly, using a Verizon GS5 in the U.S., reports that that phone has interruption settings built into its volume slider. (And we've heard varying reports from GS5 owners in other regions.)
If you want to mute on a Lollipop (Verizon) Galaxy S5, you can either hold down the volume button until the mute setting pops up, or you can tap the gear and select it out of a list. The expanded volume controls offered by tapping the gear gives users access to Priority notification controls, as well as the ability to set a timer on Mute.
That being the case, it's possible U.S. Note 4 devices will handle things similarly, sidestepping these issues. That'll bring little comfort to European Note 4 owners upgrading to Lollipop over the coming weeks, though.
Whether on KitKat or Lollipop, the Note 4 is a great phone — but Samsung gets it badly wrong with this bizarre, inconvenient implementation of such a core feature on the Euro model. Hopefully a software fix will be forthcoming soon. Until then, we're working around this issue using the Interruptions toggle on Android Wear, handily accessed by swiping down from the top of the watch face.