9 Things Not to Do When Getting Your First Android Phone

Ben Stegner 03-02-2016

We’ve covered plenty of topics for new Android users, including which apps everyone should install first Top 10 Android Apps Everyone Should Install First Got a new Android phone or tablet? Then you absolutely need these apps! Read More and a complete newbie’s guide to making sense of Android New To Android? Make Your Smartphone Work For You, Not Against Do you have a smartphone that you just can't seem to figure out? Learn the basics and start conquering your Android phone now! Read More .


If you just got your first device, you’ve probably heard plenty of advice on what to do, but it’s not often you hear talk about what not to do. To that end, we’re here to discuss big things to avoid both when buying an Android phone and after you get it unboxed. Understand these points along with the above articles, and you’ll be an Android pro in no time.

Don’t Buy Play Store Cards to Purchase Phones

If you’re unaware, the Google Play Store is the Android equivalent of the App Store on iOS. It’s where you’ll find all sorts of apps, music, movies, and more, but one thing you cannot buy on the Play Store is an actual device.

Those looking to buy the latest Nexus phones Nexus 6P Review Google's newest high-end Nexus phone is here, but is the fingerprint sensor enough to make this pure Android device worth it? Read More from Google need to visit the Google Store, not the Play Store (the names are similar and easy to confuse). Currently, Google doesn’t offer gift cards for the Google Store the way Apple offers cards that can be redeemed towards devices — you can buy both Apple Store gift cards (for devices) or iTunes gift cards (for apps/media).

Google Play cards can only be used for apps, music, magazines, etc. on the Play Store. So you’ll need to use a credit card online to buy your devices straight from Google. Of course, you have other choices for a phone, but…

Don’t Buy Phones That Never See Updates

Unfortunately, the Android ecosystem is poor when it comes to updates. Because there are so many hardware manufactures that change how Android runs 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 on their devices, they introduce roadblocks to timely updates and keep your phone running outdated versions of Android. The Nexus devices mentioned above (see our review of the amazing Nexus 6P Nexus 6P Review Google's newest high-end Nexus phone is here, but is the fingerprint sensor enough to make this pure Android device worth it? Read More ) come straight from Google and get software updates immediately, but if you buy a Samsung or LG device, you might be waiting months for the next big update.


Now, if you value the cool features that Samsung offers Get Samsung's Multi Window Feature On Any Android Device All new Samsung Galaxy devices come with Multi Window, an awesome feature that allows you to run multiple apps at the same time. But how do you get this on a non-Samsung device? Read More on their phones more than Android updates, by all means go with them — top-quality phones like the Samsung Galaxy S6 will surely get some Android updates, though it will take a while. Phones that are over a year or two old, or phones from a no-name manufacturer, are a different story, though. Buying a super cheap phone almost guarantees that you’ll never see a newer version of Android.

Again, this comes down to preference, but it’s something worth knowing before you buy a phone. If you just need a phone for basic Internet access and don’t mind using an older operating system, don’t sweat it. But if you’re excited to check out everything new in Android Android 6.0 Marshmallow: What It Is and When You'll Get It Android Marshmallow is here -- but why should you care? Read More and hope to use your phone and explore updates for a few years, Nexus phones are your best bet.

Don’t Install Apps Without Research

Whenever you want to install an app, don’t blindly install it without looking at it thoroughly. This goes double for apps with tons of alternatives (such as flashlights) — don’t just install the first one you see.

There are a number of reasons to be cautious. For one, there are tons of scam apps in the Play Store to avoid Scam Apps in the Play Store You Need to Avoid For every amazing app you can find on Android, there's a cheap knockoff waiting to waste your time and steal your money. Read More that range from the annoying to the dangerous, and it doesn’t help that you can’t trust app ratings on Google Play Why You Shouldn't Trust App Ratings on Google Play You need a new camera app; you open Google Play and find 50. Naturally, you install the highest-rated one. Guess what? You just got tricked. Read More , either. Users who don’t check to make sure the apps they’re using are safe might rate them 5 stars, making a dangerous app look useful to the untrained eye.


Not to mention, many apps ask for lots of unnecessary permissions. In order to touch anything sensitive on your device (such as the camera or your contacts), an app has to specifically request it. The newest version of Android, Marshmallow, makes app permissions more granular, but since few users are on it, you still have to be careful about the old system. Make sure you view what permissions an app wants and be sure they make sense in the context of the app.

Flashlight apps are especially prone to this — the app Brightest Flashlight Free was using location permissions to upload users’ location data to advertising servers. This could have been avoided if people would have used an app that didn’t ask for these permissions.

Don’t Install Facebook Apps

Having social media apps on your phone means you can post fun statuses 4 Brilliant Ways To Make Fake Facebook Status Updates [Weekly Facebook Tips] Read More and more on the go, but it’s not all good news. Facebook’s mobile app eats up your phone’s battery like crazy Facebook Drains Your Battery, Bing Profits from Windows 10... [Tech News Digest] Facebook fixes its iPhone app, Microsoft Bing turns a profit, Spotify lands on the original Chromecast, Harmonix employees review Rock Band 4, and how Star Wars would sound if we all came from New York. Read More , and even if you don’t care about battery life, both the main app and Facebook Messenger require an insane amount of permissions How Bad Are Those Facebook Messenger Permissions Anyway? You've probably been hearing a lot about Facebook's Messenger app. Let's quell the rumors and find out if the permissions are as bad as they claim. Read More . Unless you absolutely rely on some feature in Facebook’s mobile app, you’re much better off installing a third-party replacement The Best Third-Party Facebook Apps for Android Compared Don't like the official Facebook app? That's okay -- there are some solid alternatives. Read More .


There are plenty of full-featured replacement apps for Facebook, but if you’re concerned for privacy, the best way to browse Facebook without all the permissions How To Use Facebook On Android Without All The Invasive Permissions Facebook's Android app requires a ton of permissions, and it shouldn't be trusted with them. The Tinfoil app for Facebook is the privacy-conscious solution. Read More is to install a lite app like the basic Tinfoil, or try Metal if you need notifications.

These apps run Facebook’s mobile website in a sandboxed browser, so while the performance might not be quite as smooth, you don’t have to worry about the app constantly using battery. Try one out as soon as you get your phone — you’re really not missing anything in Facebook’s official app.

Don’t Use Task Killers or Battery-Boosting Apps

It’s almost beating a dead horse at this point, but you do not need to use task killers on Android. In the early days of the platform, these apps were extremely popular for killing “out of control” background tasks that supposedly used your battery, but Android is able to manage background resources just fine without your intervention. Joel has fully explained why task killers are bad for your Android Why RAM Boosters and Task Killers Are Bad for Android Do Android RAM boosters really work? Here's what task killers and RAM boosters actually do to your Android device! Read More if you’d like an explanation.


Along the same lines are battery saving apps like JuiceDefender, which promise to shut off your connections when you’re not using them to save battery. Besides the fact that some of these apps haven’t been updated in years, they still try to micromanage these tasks instead of just letting Android handle it.

If you’re having battery issues, you can find out which apps are killing your battery Find out Which Apps Are Killing Your Android Battery If you're getting poor battery life on your device, you likely have an app abusing your battery in the background. Find out how to identify those apps and solve your battery problems. Read More and utilize tips to squeeze more battery life out of your phone 10 Proven and Tested Tips to Extend Battery Life on Android Suffering from poor battery life on Android? Follow these tips to get more juice out of your Android device's battery. Read More ; just don’t install one of these counterproductive apps.

Don’t Constantly Swipe Away Recent Apps

A huge misconception on both iOS and Android is that you have to open up the recent apps menu every time you use your phone and close all the “running” apps to save battery. Similar to the task killer rule above, swiping away recent apps is actually harder on your battery than just letting them be.

Think of the Recents menu like a shortcut to get back to apps you’ve recently had open, not a list of running tasks you need to close. Whenever you leave an app with the Home button, Android remembers where you were in the app for a short time, until it gets pushed up the list by more recent apps. By swiping away all these apps, you’re removing the ability to jump right back to where you were; you’re also forcing the OS to open and close the app over and over instead of just letting it run.

If you just exited a game that takes a lot of resources New Smartphone? These 8 Games Will Push it to its Limit You’ve just got a new smartphone, brimming with power, full of RAM, and with a top-end GPU to boot. There is only one thing on your mind – games, games and more games. Read More to run and you don’t plan on going back to it soon, go ahead and swipe it away. But don’t open your messaging app 5 Best Free Messaging Apps for Android Need a free way to send messages to friends and family with your phone for free? Check out these apps. Read More , send a text, swipe the app away, then re-open the app to text again 30 seconds later.

Think about if you closed your browser on the desktop every time you wanted to navigate to a new website; you’re basically doing the same thing when you swipe away apps that you’re using all the time. That menu is there to make navigating more fluid — you don’t have to be your device’s maid!

Don’t Save Your Contacts to Only Your Phone

Assuming you have a Google account on your phone, you can choose to save new contacts to that account instead of just the device itself.

You should absolutely do this, because it means your contacts are backed up to your Google account, are available to view and edit online, and will be restored in seconds when you get a new phone. This means no more posting “I lost everyone’s numbers!” statuses on Facebook.

To ensure this, go into your Contacts app What Is the Best Contacts & Dialer App for Android? You don't have to settle for your phone's built-in contacts and dialer apps. Read More and create a new contact. You should see a pop-up asking you which account to sync it to — just make sure it’s your Google account and not Device Only, and you’ll have it backed up. If you save the contact locally, you could lose it or have to manually transfer it to a new phone.

Don’t Leave Your Phone Unsecured

Your phone contains lots of personal information, ranging from emails and contacts to payment information on Android Pay Everything You Need to Know about Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Android Pay Android Pay, Samsung Pay, Apple Pay all have their advantages and disadvantages. Let's take a look at exactly how each of them works and who can use them. Read More and saved passwords. In this age, you should be protecting your device with some type of lock screen security. Leaving it unlocked so anyone can get into your device is not wise.

In part two of our Android beginner’s guide New To Android? Part Two: Master Using Your Phone Part two of the Android guide for absolute beginners. Get a grip on the basics of using your smartphone! Read More , I explained the differences between the different lockscreen passcode types. Now, many new Android phones are shipping with fingerprint scanners that are even more convenient. Many also have a Smart Lock feature Smart Lock on Android Makes Locking Your Phone Way Easier It's annoying to always have to unlock your phone, but it's unsafe to never lock it. Thankfully, there's a nice middle ground: Smart Lock. Read More to only lock some of the time.

If you have one, that’s a great option to secure your phone; otherwise, a PIN is more secure than a pattern Which Is More Secure, A Password Or a Pattern Lock? Our smartphones carry a lot of personal information. All of your text messages, emails, notes, apps, app data, music, pictures, and so much more are all on there. While it's a very great convenience to... Read More and less tedious than a password, making it your best choice. Ensure your PIN isn’t something obvious like a birthday or “1234” and you’ll be set.

Don’t Root Until You Know What You’re Doing

If you’re brand new to Android, you don’t need to worry about rooting your device right away. Rooting essentially gives you administrator access to your device and lets you swap to a custom version of Android 12 Reasons to Install a Custom Android ROM Think you don't need a custom Android ROM anymore? Here are several reasons to install a custom Android ROM. Read More , change the system font, and more.

However, most people don’t need to root, as Android has become even better in recent years. Unless you have a specific reason for doing so, you’re better off using your device as is.

If you do decide you want to root, make sure you know what you’re doing before you start. Read our guide on rooting The Complete Guide to Rooting Your Android Phone or Tablet So, you want to root your Android device? Here's everything you need to know. Read More to understand the general idea, be sure you understand key rooting terms What Is Rooting? What Are Custom ROMs? Learn Android Lingo Ever had a question about your Android device, but the answer had a bunch of words in it that you didn't understand? Let us break down the confusing Android lingo for you. Read More , and browse around to find specific guides on your device. Rooting is serious business and you could easily brick your device 6 Key Tips To Avoid Bricking Your Rooted Android Device When you own a rooted Android phone running a custom ROM, you need to take some precautions or risk "bricking" (destroying) your device. Read More , making it unusable, if you screw up. While there are ways to unbrick Are You Sure It's Bricked? How You Can Fix Your Broken Smartphone Back in the day, a bricked device would be very tough to recover, but over the years some resilience has been built into smartphones and tablets. These days a few clever button presses, useful additional... Read More , it’s better to just avoid doing it in the first place.

Even without rooting, you can make cool tweaks to your Android The Best Android Tweaks You Can Make Without Rooting Android tweaks aren't only for tech geeks. Here's how to get the most out of your non-rooted Android phone or tablet! Read More and customize it exactly as you like. Your device will probably suit you just fine as is.

What Advice Would You Give?

Now that you know everything not to do with a new Android phone, here’s one thing to do: have fun with it! Android is a fantastic platform with tons of potential for customizing, and you’re going to love it. The above notes are simply suggestions from a longtime user so that you don’t run into avoidable problems.

Make sure to check out some of the best apps of 2015 The Best New Android Apps Released in 2015 Some really amazing apps hit the scene in 2015 -- let's take a look at the best. Read More to put on your new phone!

What’s another do-not tip you’d give to a new Android user? Share your best tips with us below!

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. guest
    November 7, 2018 at 7:21 am

    1. have a Google account on your phone, save new contacts to that account

    2. Don’t Leave Your Phone Unsecured


  2. Anonymous
    February 9, 2016 at 4:40 pm

    I want smarter contact syncing. Every time I switch phones, Google wants to add all my email contacts into my phone's list of contacts; which I have to remember to say no to.

    I don't want old email address I messaged once or twice a few years ago showing up in my contacts list. I don't remember the exact process, but the whole contact-syncing needs to be much easier. I'm the one people ask tech questions to, and if I'm confused by a system - and just barely manage it successfully, what chance do non-techie people have?

  3. Joe
    February 6, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    Don't download a bunch of anti virus or similar security applications. It's nearly impossible to get any kind of virus or Trojan on an android os. Unless you rooted your device that is.

    They're all over the android market, and chrome is covered in the intimidating "your android has a virus click here to fix now" junk which is just malware plain and simple.

    I've had androids since 2009 and never found a virus once. Those security apps and software just waste and collect data, and drain your battery.

    • Ben Stegner
      February 6, 2016 at 3:59 pm

      I agree. I used to use an antivirus when I was very new to Android but they're 99% useless. If you only download apps from the Play Store, you're fine. Most apps wouldn't find something malicious if it was on the Play Store anyway.

  4. Anonymous
    February 3, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    Not saving your contacts to only your phone is a really good suggestion. I am always shocked when someone gets a new phone and they have to manually transfer their contacts over from their old phone. You should write an article on how to convert contacts that are only saved on your phone.

    • Ben Stegner
      February 3, 2016 at 11:58 pm

      Thanks for your suggestion! I'll pass this article idea onto the team :)