Galaxy Navigation HeroSource: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central

I've been using gesture navigation on my smartphones since the iPhone X came out, and I was thrilled when some Android OEMs like Samsung and OnePlus started adding in their own interpretations before it was introduced at an OS level in Android 9 and perfected with Android 10. If you have an older Samsung Galaxy phone and have not enabled gesture navigation, or weren't aware of all the customizations and settings you can tweak, you're in for some fun surprises! We'll show you how to get gesture navigation set up and configured to your liking in the steps below.

How to enable gesture navigation on your Samsung Galaxy phone

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap on Display.
  3. Scroll down and tap on Navigation bar.
  4. Tap on Full screen gestures.

    Galaxy GestureSource: Android Central

Now you'll be able to do a half swipe up from the bottom of the screen to open the multitasker or swipe left or right along the bottom of the screen to switch apps.

If you want to customize your gesture settings further, do the following:

  1. Under Full screen gestures, tap the More Options.
  2. Tap on Swipe from bottom or Swipe from sides and bottom, depending on your preference.
  3. Toggle on Allow back gesture on keyboard if you want to be able to use that space for navigation.
  4. Tap on the slider at the bottom of the screen to customize the Back gesture sensitivity.

    Galaxy GestureSource: Android Central

  5. Back out of this screen to return to the Navigation bar screen.
  6. Toggle on Gesture hints to remind you where to swipe from.
  7. Toggle on Show button to hide keyboard when in portrait mode.
  8. Toggle on Block gestures with S Pen so that using the stylus doesn't accidentally trigger navigation changes.

    Galaxy GestureSource: Android Central

For even more gesture navigation controls:

  1. Return to the Settings app.
  2. Scroll down and tap on Advanced features.
  3. Scroll down and toggle on Reduce animations to lessen the motion effects when navigating between apps.
  4. Tap on Motions and gestures.
  5. Toggle on Finger sensor gestures so that you can open and close apps from the rear fingerprint sensor (if your phone has one of these).
  6. You can also toggle on the Palm swipe to capture and Swipe to call or send messages.

    Galaxy GestureSource: Android Central

There you have it! If you're ready to move on from the three-button layout to the more modern and natural gesture-based navigation, it's pretty easy to do on a Samsung Galaxy phone. The examples above were all taken from my Galaxy Note 9 running Android 10 and One UI 2.0.

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