How to Set Up Your New Android Device

New Android phone or tablet? Get connected fast

Whether you're new to Android or you've been using Android a while, when you start fresh with a new device, it helps to have a checklist of sorts to get you started. 

For your particular Android phone or tablet, the exact menu options might be different, but they should be similar to the steps shown here. 

Instructions in this article apply to Android 10, Android 9 Pie, and Android 8 Oreo.

Unpack Your Mobile Device and Sign In With Your Google Account

Android Setup - connect to Google
warrenski/Flickr

In the box, you might find a quick set-up or a getting-started guide. The guide tells you if you need to put in a SIM card included in the box into the phone.

If your phone has a removable battery, install it. You might need to charge the battery before continuing.

When you first turn on the phone or tablet, Android guides you through the initial steps of getting started. Sign in with your Google account or to create a new one to keep your device in sync with Google's services for email, calendar, maps, and more.

During setup, link other services such as Facebook or add those accounts later if you want to get into your phone as quickly as possible.

Answer basic settings questions, such as what language you use and if you want to turn on location services. Many apps use location services for actions such as driving directions and local restaurant reviews.

Set Up the Security Options and Wireless Connectivity

Screenshot of Android Security Settings

Setting up security options might be the most critical step of all.

Head to your device's settings by tapping the Menu button. Select Settings, and then scroll down to and tap Security.

In that screen, you can set a PIN code, pattern, or other means of locking the phone or tablet, such as face recognition or password.

Depending on your device and Android version, you might have other security options, such as encrypting the entire device, which is essential if you use your phone or tablet for work, and locking the SIM card.

If you have the option to enter owner information, definitely set that up in case you lose your phone, and a Good Samaritan finds it.

Set up remote wipe as soon as possible, which allows you to erase all the data on the phone or tablet from afar if it is lost or stolen.

Set Up Wireless Connectivity

At this point, connect to your Wi-Fi network.

Leaving Wi-Fi on all the time will sap your mobile device's battery life, but when you're at home or a known wireless network, it is best to use Wi-Fi.

Head to Settings again from the Menu button, and then go to Wireless & Networks and tap Wi-Fi. Enable Wi-Fi and tap the name of your wireless network. Enter the network password, if any, and you're ready to roll.

Install Essential Android Apps

Screenshot of Google Play

There are thousands of Android apps to download. Here are a few suggestions to get you started with your new Android smartphone or tablet.

Recommended apps include Evernote for note-taking, Documents to Go for editing Microsoft Office files, Skype for free video calling and instant messaging, and Wifi Analyzer to help you improve your wireless network. 

Three others to consider are Avast's Mobile Security and Antivirus, GasBuddy (because we all could stand to save on gas), and Camera ZOOM FX Premium, an impressive camera app for Android.

If you use your phone or tablet to catch up on news and websites, Google News & Weather, Flipboard, and Pocket are popular.

You'll find all of these apps and a whole lot more in the Google Play store, formerly known as Google Market.

You can remotely install apps to your phone or tablet from your laptop or desktop computer from the Google Play website.

Tips and Tricks to Customize Your Android Home Screen

High angle view of young woman taking selfie with boyfriend using smart phone at home

Luis Alvarez / Getty Images

Android offers loads of customization features. Here are the basics of customizing your home screen and device:

  • Your Android device comes with several home screen panels. Swipe right or left to access them.
  • To remove an app from one of the screens but not delete it entirely, tap on the app and hold it with your finger for a few seconds until you see a trash can icon at the bottom of the screen. Drag the app to the trash can to remove it.
  • To add an app to one of the screens, tap the Applications icon, and then long-press the app you want to add. Drag it to the panel you wish to place it on.
  • You can add folders to a screen too. Long-press an empty area of the screen and select Folders. Depending on your system, you may be able to set up not just a basic folder to contain your apps, but also specific folders such as "All Contacts" or "Recent Documents." Move apps into a folder by dragging them to it with your finger.
  • To add a widget or shortcut or to change the wallpaper, long-press on an empty area of the screen. Widgets can contain dynamic information, such as weather, news, a clock, and more. Shortcuts are quick links to an app, a contact, a bookmark, settings, and so on.

There's a whole lot more you can do with Android, but this essential setup guide should get you started. Enjoy your new phone or tablet.