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Getting started: How to set up your new Android phone

Here's how to quickly and easily set up your new Android phone for the first time: everything you need to know, from connecting to WiFi to creating a Google account and copying your contacts across.

You just got a shiny new Android phone and now you want to get set up with a Google account, copy across your contacts and get essential apps. Here's our handy guide to setting up your Android phone, even if you're coming from an Apple iPhone.

Oh, and if you want more background and general information on Android, check out our 'What is Android?' guide.

1. Switching on your device

Whether you’re unboxing your phone for the first time or you’ve just got your hands on a freshly reset hand-me-down from a friend or family member, it’s likely that your phone will already have a bit of charge. We recommend inserting your SIM card and charging your phone to full before you use it for the first time, but it’s not essential before proceeding.

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2. Adding a WiFi network

You can’t completely set up an Android handset without an active internet connection (although you are given the option to skip this process, should you wish to do it later), which is why the first step on most devices - after selecting a language - is connecting your handset to your home’s WiFi network.

Your phone will automatically display every available network that it can find in the local area. Simply look for your home network, tap on it, input your WiFi password (usually found on your router) using the on-screen keyboard and press ‘Connect’. You can also tick the ‘show password’ text box if you keep getting 'incorrect password' messages, so you can see exactly what you're typing in.

3. Got Google?

Perhaps the most important component of setting up any Android device is your Google account. Google accounts allow you to download apps from the Play Store (Google's equivalent of Apple's App Store), sync and backup your important data, and also can be used as your personal email account, amongst other things.

Whether you’re taking photos on your phone, making calendar entries, creating a bookmark in your web browser or adding a contact to your address book, all of these elements can be synchronised to your Google account for safe keeping. Syncing allows you to access this content from any computer with an internet connection, not to mention quickly migrate your important bits to your next Android phone when you come to upgrade.

At this stage in the setup process, you'll be asked to create a new Google account or sign in to an existing Google account. Just follow the on-screen instructions to complete this step.

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4. Google services

Once you’ve created or entered your Google account details and hit ‘OK’, your phone will offer you a set of tick boxes. For example, ‘Backup & restore’ will ensure your phone’s features and apps are backed up on Google’s servers, giving you the ability to restore your handset should something go wrong.

The first tick box in the ‘Location’ section allows Google and its apps use the GPS feature on your phone to locate you. This is especially useful should you intend to use the Maps app. The second tick box in this section uses WiFi information to improve location accuracy.

Tick these boxes and you're all done with the initial Android setup.

5. Customise

Provided that all has gone to plan, you should now see what’s called a homescreen – the main part of your phone’s interface. Swipe and tap around and you should see little messages pop up which help you to better understand the Android interface.

From your homescreen and other desktops, you can usually tap and hold on a blank part of the interface to change wallpaper (the background images on your device). The option should pop up on-screen and you can choose a photo from your camera gallery, or an image that you've downloaded from the web.

You can also press and hold on your app icons to move them around the screen, or remove them from your desktops or phone (i.e. uninstall them) altogether.

6. Are you coming to Android from an Apple iPhone?

If so, check out our full guide on switching to Android from iPhone. This tells you how to copy your contacts and other important bits to your new Android phone.

7. Copy your contacts

If you've come from another Android phone, your contacts will be automatically downloaded onto your new phone from your Google account - assuming you used your Google account to back them up.

Otherwise, your best option is to copy your contacts onto your SIM card from your old phone. You should be able to do this from your old phone's Contacts/Phonebook application. With that done, stick the SIM card back into your new Android phone and power it up, then head to the Contacts or Phone app. This next stage varies depending on which phone you have, but there should be a settings option that allows you to import/export contacts. Select 'Import from SIM' and allow your contacts to copy over.

8. Google Now

A nifty service called 'Google Now' can be accessed by swiping up from the home button on most Android phones, and this serves as a one-stop hub for upcoming calendar entries, favourite web pages, weather and sporting information and so on. Basically, it's a collection of info which Google thinks you might care about, based on your interests and browsing habits

To set it up, access Google Now as we just mentioned and follow the steps until you’re given the option to hit ‘I’m In’.

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9. Get set up with essential apps

Check out our list of essential Android apps, which will help you get online, connect with your friends, enjoy your media and more on your new Android phone.

To download apps, you simply need to set up a Google account (see step three - this can also be done at any time by going to your phone's settings and selecting 'Accounts'). Then tap the Google Play app and you'll be taken to Google's online store.

Disclaimer

The setup process can differ a lot from one device to the next. The steps we’ve just described might show up on your phone in a slightly different order and depending on your device, you might find extra screens asking for your approval of license agreements, adding additional account information for things like Facebook and receiving automated tours of additional features.

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