How to customize the always on display on Samsung phones

Apple may have made the always on display popular with its introduction on the iPhone 14, but many Android phones have had it for years. Customize always on display on a Samsung phone.

One of the good things about Android phones is that there is a huge variety of them and they run different versions of Android. However, this makes it difficult when providing instructions on how to do things.

I will be using a Samsung Galaxy M31 running Android 12 and One UI 4.1. That is a fairly common combination, so hopefully you will be OK. Other Samsung phones are similar and the guide here should provide enough help to work out how to do this on other phones, like the Pixel, OnePlus and other Android phones.

Advantages of always on display

  • The screen is always on and therefore potentially showing useful information.
  • See the time and date, a calendar, photo, notifications, without turning on the phone.
  • Always on information means you don’t need to wake the phone, saving battery.

Disadvantages of always on display

  • An always on display uses more battery.
  • Privacy and security concerns limit what can be seen and done on an always on display.
  • An always on display is dim and may be harder to see.

See all articles about Android phones and apps.

1: Android settings app

Android Settings app on a Samsung phone
Open Settings > Lock screen

Open the Settings app on your phone by pulling down from the top of the screen and tapping the gear icon. You can also go to the all-apps library and press the Settings app icon. Look for the Lock screen section in the Settings app and press it.

2: Enable Always On Display

Samsung display options in the settings app

Look down the list of Lock screen settings and if your phone supports it, there is an Always On Display option. Turn on the switch on the right and then press Always On Display to go to the settings for this feature.

If the Always On Display control is disabled, turn off battery saving mode on the phone. This feature is disabled to save battery power.

3: Options for Always On Display

Always On Display options in the Settings app on a Samsung phone.
Always On Display options

There are several options for the always on display:

  • Tap to show: The always on screen is off. Tap once to turn it on. Tap twice for the lock screen.
  • Show always: The screen is permanently on, even when you are not using the phone, like when you are asleep.
  • Show as scheduled: Set a schedule for when the screen is on, such as during the day. It can automatically turn off when you are asleep for example.
  • Show for new notifications: Turn on the always on display only when there is something new to show.

My own preference is Tap to show. I don’t need the screen on when the phone is in my pocket or when I am asleep. If I want to see it, a single tap shows it. This uses minimal battery.

4: Always on display schedule

Always On Display options in the Settings app on a Samsung phone.
Show the display only when scheduled

Select Show as scheduled for the always on display and Set schedule appears below it. The default scheduled times the display is on is shown. To change the schedule to suite you better, press the times.

5: Schedule start and end times

Always On Display options in the Settings app on a Samsung phone.
Set the start and end times for always-on

A gadget appears that enables you to schedule the always on display. Press Start and set the hour and the minute it is to turn on. Press End and set the time it is to turn off. Press Done after setting the times.

6: Choose a clock widget

Clock styles for Always On Display in the Settings app on a Samsung phone.
Select a clock or calendar widget

After returning to the Always On Display settings screen (step 3), press Clock style. Press one of the digital or analog clock buttons to choose a clock, or press the three dots button for more widgets.

7: Calendars and appointments

Options for the Always On Display on a Samsung phone
Time, date and appointments

These are the extra options accessed by pressing the three dots button. I like the calendar, but the time, date and upcoming appointments widget is also useful. This enables you to see appointments or tasks on the always on display without unlocking your phone.

8: Show photos on the lock screen

Show a photo on the always on display on a Samsung phone

In Step 6 we chose a clock widget, but press the Image clock button and a whole new set of widgets appear. The time and date is shown at the top and right below it is an image of some kind: Stickers, AR Emoji, Bitmoji, Gallery and Themes.

Press gallery and you can select a photo to display on the always on screen. It is not wallpaper and it does not fill the screen. It is similar to the preview and you get the time, date and a small photo. It can be fun to show your favorite snapshot here.

Press the Themes button and the Samsung Store app opens and displays AOD (Always On Display) images. Some are free, some must be purchased, most are fun.

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