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It’s Christmas! Did you get a brand new Android phone or tablet? You’ll need to know the basics of getting started with your new device and finding your way around it.

Please note that there are many different skins for Android devices Android Skins Explained: How Do Hardware Makers Change Stock Android? Android Skins Explained: How Do Hardware Makers Change Stock Android? Hardware makers like to take Android and morph it into something that is entirely their own, but is this a good or a bad thing? Take a look and compare these different Android skins. Read More , so it’s impossible to give very specific instructions. However, the devices could be close enough to at least offer the same features in roughly the same locations.

Activate SIM Card

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Congratulations! You’ve unpacked your brand new device, but now what? If your Android device comes with 3G, 4G, or LTE connectivity (in other words, not a WiFi-only model), then you’ll need to take the included SIM card Why Do Cellphones Need a SIM Card? Why Do Cellphones Need a SIM Card? Haven't we come far enough with technology that such a thing as SIM cards shouldn't matter anymore? What is a SIM card and why is it so important? Read More and follow the instructions to activate it. This usually consists of calling the carrier and entering in some information into an automatic system. If you didn’t get a SIM, you should get one soon, but it’s not critical for setting up your device as long as you have WiFi available.

If you happen to have a CDMA device GSM Vs. CDMA: What Is the Difference and Which Is Better? GSM Vs. CDMA: What Is the Difference and Which Is Better? You may have heard the terms GSM and CDMA thrown around before in a conversation about cell phones, but what do they really mean? Read More , you’ll need to follow the respective instructions to activate your device. This is usually Verizon or Sprint, but that’s not always the case as a few of their devices even offer SIM card support now.

Initial Setup

Most devices are usually halfway charged when you first open it, so it doesn’t hurt the battery’s capacity by storing a full charge for a long period of time. Most manufacturers recommend charging your device fully Keep Your Android's Battery Healthy With These Tips Keep Your Android's Battery Healthy With These Tips Software and apps can only go so far -- what about how to charge and discharge your battery? Learn all the tricks here. Read More as soon as you get it out of the box, though you can use it  while it’s charging.

Go ahead and turn on your device, and let it boot up. Since it’s the first time it’s starting, it might take a while as it creates some system files. Eventually, you should reach the setup wizard. Among little things like choosing a language and entering your name, you’ll need to sign into your Google account or create one. This is necessary to gain access to the Play Store, which is where you get all of your apps.

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Depending on the manufacturer, there may be a couple other steps as well. For example, Samsung asks you to create an account with them so that you have access to their own app store which includes updates for various bundled apps on the device. In any case, the entire process should take 5-10 minutes tops, depending on whether you have to create new accounts or just log into existing ones.

Customize Your Home Screen

Now that you’re ready to use your device, it’s time to take advantage of one of Android’s strengths: customization. You can do various things to customize your home screen, such as change the wallpaper, change the icons on the screen, and add widgets.

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To add icons to the screen, open the app drawer, then mentally pick an app that you want to put on your home screen. Now put your finger on the icon for that app and hold it, and then rest of the app drawer will disappear and let you place the icon wherever you want on the home screen.

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To change the wallpaper or add widgets, just put your finger down in an empty area on your home screen and hold it there for a second or two. Then you should see an option to change your wallpaper or manage widgets. Changing your wallpaper and adding widgets should be straightforward from there.

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Of course, you can also replace the launcher Which Android Launcher Should You Use? We Compare The Best! Which Android Launcher Should You Use? We Compare The Best! Given the huge number of launchers available, there's something for everyone. Here are the best app launchers for particular needs, depending on what kind of user you are. Read More (the software that provides you homescreens) entirely to give you an entirely different experience, but that’s something to keep in mind for later consideration. If this seems a bit intimidating, try some of these simplified launchers 3 Best Simple Android Launchers for Your Parents or Grandparents 3 Best Simple Android Launchers for Your Parents or Grandparents One of your parents or grandparents has just gotten a new Android phone -- and it's just so confusing. The best way you can help them is to download an extremely simple launcher. Read More instead.

Battery Management and Toggles

Lastly, before you go installing all your apps, there’s one more thing you need to keep in mind: battery management. This means that you should try to turn off certain hardware features when you don’t need them. This can usually be done in the quick toggles that you find when pulling down from the notification bar, or within the Settings app.

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For example, it’s good to have WiFi on when you have a WiFi network to connect to — it’s more energy efficient than using mobile data. However, it’s better to turn off WiFi when you’re unable to connect to a WiFi network, as otherwise you’ll be using energy for mobile data and searching for WiFi networks.

If you know there isn’t one you can connect to, it’s better to turn it off so it stops searching for networks.

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It’s also a good idea to go into the WiFi advanced settings menu (by going into the WiFi settings, tapping on the three dots in the top right corner, and choosing Advanced) and disable the ability for your device to search for networks even when WiFi is turned off.

It’s supposed to help make your location more precise, but the whole point of disabling WiFi is to turn it off, right?

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The same can be done for Bluetooth, as keeping Bluetooth enabled will suck up more juice as it keeps looking for known devices to connect to. If you’re not around any of them or don’t have them turned on and don’t plan to, then disabling Bluetooth saves power.

Thankfully, Bluetooth doesn’t have a hidden setting you need to find like WiFi does.

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Finally, location services on your device also take up a lot of power, especially when you use GPS functionality. If you don’t require such a precise location, you can change the location mode to battery-saving so it’ll only use mobile towers to approximate your location. Alternatively, you can disable location services entirely as well if you just don’t need them at all.

There are also various other resources we have to help you extend your device’s battery life, including both conventional 5 Ways to Improve Battery Life on Android KitKat 5 Ways to Improve Battery Life on Android KitKat Got a new KitKat phone with not-so-great battery life? Check out these tips for squeezing every last bit out of juice out of it. Read More and unconventional 9 Proven, Tested Tips To Extend Your Android's Battery Life 9 Proven, Tested Tips To Extend Your Android's Battery Life No matter how long your phone's battery life lasts, there are ways that you can definitely make it last longer. Let's take a look at some different ways. Read More approaches.

Enjoy Your New Android Device!

An Android device is a great thing to use, and it can be a powerful and long-lasting tool if you know how to use it So You Got a New Android Phone: Here's All You Need To Know So You Got a New Android Phone: Here's All You Need To Know Ooh, shiny! Nothing like a brand-new, modern smartphone to start out the new year. Read More . The advice above should get you going to the point where all you need are more apps. Once you have all the apps you want, you’ll be a pro in no time!

What other tips would you suggest for people when they first receive their device?

Let us know in the comments!

Image Credit: Christmas presents Via Shutterstock, dr.coop

  1. GraveDigger27
    December 25, 2014 at 1:26 am

    Here's a suggestion I have based upon personal experience - make sure to take the device OUT of the box right away and make sure it's functional - there's nothing worse than giving someone an electronic device that doesn't work. I purchased a name-brand 7" Android tablet at a great price during Black Friday. Unfortunately I discovered that the tablet doesn't hold a charge and I had to return it to the online retailer for a replacement. What's worse, the retailer's return policy specified that returns had to be made within 14 days of purchase - obviously more than that had gone by between Black Thursday and Christmas Day. So according to their policy I would have to contact the manufacturer instead. Fortunately, the retailer's customer service personnel approved my return and I'm going to get a replacement tablet sent to me (but it'll arrive sometime in January - after Christmas...)

    So if this was a gift that I wanted to send to someone or have at Christmas I would be out of luck. Giving someone an IOU or a device that they wouldn't be able to use on Christmas Day would really dampen the holiday spirit.

  2. Doc
    December 24, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    Don't forget to install a reputable antivirus to protect you from malicious (or fake) apps.

    • Joseph
      December 27, 2014 at 1:27 pm

      Such as?
      What would you recommend please?
      Thanks.

    • Barbara
      December 27, 2014 at 2:34 pm

      I use AVG free antivirus on my laptop and andriod phone. Seems fine.

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