Using your device for the first time

by Thomas Rutter

Just brought home your first Android device and can't even figure out the basics? This guide is for complete newbies who, for one reason or another, find themselves with a new Android phone or tablet.

Assembling the device


Every device will be designed a little bit differently. Some devices have a built-in battery that is not removable, so you won't need to insert any battery. Other devices will have a separate battery that you may need to insert into the device before you can use it. If so, the device will need to be opened to reveal the battery slot - usually by prying open a back cover with a fingernail. Proceed gently, and follow the manufacturer's instructions if they came in the packaging.

Most batteries should already have a small, low charge when they are first purchased but this small charge won't last very long. It is recommended that you charge your device prior to (or during) first use. Some devices may not allow you to turn them on until you have charged the battery more fully.

SIM card

To make phone calls and use cellular data you need a SIM card from a phone provider. Some tablets that are "Wifi only" tablets will not accept a SIM card.

Again, the procedure for installing the SIM card into the device will vary by manufacturer. Follow the manufacturer's instructions if they came in the packaging. If you bought the phone from a physical store, they may have already installed the SIM card for you.

There are multiple sizes of SIM card including "standard SIM" and "Micro-SIM", with the latter becoming more popular on newer devices. You need to use the correct size for your device. Your phone provider will be able to swap your SIM size for you or convert your existing SIM if it is one that can be trimmed to the smaller size.

Charging the battery

The battery is charged with the supplied charger and cord. You may be able to charge the device by plugging the cord into a USB port on a computer, but doing this will either charge the battery more slowly or in some cases (such as with tablet devices) not at all. The mains plug (wall wart) charger supplied with the device will allow the fastest charge.

A common myth is that the battery should always be fully discharged before re-charging. This is actually bad for the battery - it should be charged when-ever it is convenient, and running it down to fully empty should be avoided unless it's done rarely and not left discharged for long.

Turning the device on

Your phone or tablet will have a power button somewhere, most likely on the top or side of the device.

Hold the power button down for a few seconds - up to 5 seconds - and release the button. The device should turn on.

Usually, you leave the device on all the time.

The difference between turning the device off and sleep mode

Sleep mode is when the device's power remains on, but its screen is off and it uses low power. During sleep mode, the device is still able to receive phone calls and messages, and some apps may be able to perform background tasks such as checking email or playing music.

Modern smartphones are designed to be "always on" and just to use sleep mode when not in use. In sleep mode, your device should have a relatively long battery life of over 24 hours and possibly multiple days, though the battery will last a lost less time than this if you bring it out of sleep mode a lot.

Putting your device to sleep

If the device's screen is on, touching the power button on the device briefly should put it to sleep.

Your device will also go into sleep mode if it's not used within a certain time. The time can vary been a few seconds, and multiple minutes, and can be adjusted in the settings.

Waking your device up from sleep

If the device's screen is off, touching the power button on the device briefly should wake it up.

After waking up, you may be required to perform an unlock procedure. The most common type of unlock procedure is simply a swipe-to-unlock action.

To perform a swipe-to-unlock action, locate the button or icon on the screen to unlock the device. Touch your finger onto this icon or button, and without removing your finger from the screen, swipe your finger across the screen to the side. Then release your finger.


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