Setting up an Android Smart Phone

You may have been using those older mobile phones that don’t have the big touch screen. Setting up an Android smart phone could be a great alternative.

Of course the power phones were compact, durable and you were familiar with them. They didn’t seem to be complicated for you to use and you may have been using them for years. They weren’t very smart in that you couldn’t practically get your emails on them and browsing the internet was not even worth trying ‘but hey’ they make phone calls. That’s what a phone is meant to do!

Then one day someone said “I can send you a file in an email for you to look at right now” or “just go onto Facebook to see your grandchild winning that race” and you decided to venture into the smartphone environment. Be assured that once it is set up and you get used to it you won’t go back. Most people get used to smartphones fairly quickly. Get some help from a ‘details person’ when setting it up and using it if you need to.


There are two main phone operating systems at this stage. Android (by Google) based on Linux (approx 63% of phones) and iOS – formerly iPhone OS (by Apple Inc) (approx 33% of phones).

If it’s an iPhone you are interested in then this is not the blog for you. However you might like to read this blog about iPads, since they work in a similar way.

Some basic facts (note that there are some rare exceptions) that you shouldn’t need to worry about:

  • If you buy a genuine iPhone it wont use Android.
  • If you buy an Android phone it won’t be using the Apple phone operating systems.
  • Generally “never the two shall meet”.
  • Both android and Apple phones look very similar.

So, I now have an Android Phone. When would I need to set it up?

You may have bought a new or used Android based phone like a Samsung Galaxy or HTC, Huawai, Oppo, Google phone, LG – the list goes on. If it is second hand you should probably set it up from scratch for you to use. It is better to reset it back to factory settings which wipes previous user information to ensure that it is clean. You don’t want other peoples apps, accounts or information on your phone. That could cause you security issues. To reset the phone, the steps may vary slightly but will be something like: go into “Settings”, select “Backup and Restore”, then “Factory Data Reset” and follow the prompts. Note that this will delete all data on the phone but will install some basic factory apps and get the phone ready for further setup as described below.

Next you can either run the setup wizard or you can do it more manually. Either way there are quite a few things to set up to ensure that it is a fun experience to use it later on.

Once again, you might like to get some help setting it up if you haven’t done that before.

Just as a side note, some sales people selling you a new phone love to show you the setup wizard on your phone or just skip through the steps to show you how the phone menu looks. This means that the wizard may not automatically run again so you may have to restart the wizard from the settings menu (if possible), re-set the phone back to factory settings or do the setup manually. This can be frustrating, so ask the sales person before you leave to set it back to normal for you.

The following is a summary of the steps and is not highly detailed and the steps may vary with different versions of the phone and android.

Using the setup wizard followed by manual settings:

The wizard usually runs automatically when you start a new phone or after the phone has been reset back to factory settings. On some phones you can re-run the setup wizard from the settings menu. Note that there are a seemingly limitless number of settings available in smartphones but I will address the currently most important ones here. Please research other settings you may want or need. After setup, go into the settings button to look at what can be set.

  • It is best to start the wizard at home so that you can be nearby to your Wi-Fi network (if you use one) otherwise you will use the data that comes with your phone plan so you need to have lots of phone network data available to use during the setup. If you run out of data available high network data charges could be incurred. Check with your SIM provider about this.
  • Ensure that your contacts are copied from your old phone to your SIM card then plug your SIM card into the new phone. You may need a new SIM card that is a different size to the one you have. The new sized card can be obtained form your phone service SIM provider in store. They know what you will need and can usually copy your contacts to the new SIM card as this is important. Ensure that they transfer your existing phone number to the new card as well. Remember that transferring your numbers can take from minutes to hours to be completed in their systems.
  • Install an SD Card (for more memory) if you like. You don’t have to do this, but if your phone supports this you can store more photos and videos and you may be able to store more apps on the phone if needed.
  • Plug in the phone charger. You don’t want the battery to go flat half way through!
  • Start the phone.
  • Either the startup wizard will run or you may wish to re-set the phone back to factory settings so the wizard will run. Remember re-setting always wipes the phone (but not the SIM card)
  • Set the language.
  • If you are using a Wi-Fi data connection choose the Wi-Fi network you use and add any settings requested when prompted. You should generally only have to select the Wi-Fi network and put in the password. If you are not using a Wi-Fi network skip this step (not recommended, see the notes on data use above)
  • Create or log into your Google account. This is best as it connects your phone to a Google account which allows for backups to be done and apps to be maintained. You may wish to store your contacts on the Google account as well so that they are available to you wherever you are logged onto that email address on a computer or phone. Transferring and backing up your contacts is a separate task not covered in detail here.
  • Set the date and time. Preferably you are able to have the date/time updated automatically from the network. Ensure that you set the region correctly and the daylight saving settings that you need.
  • There may be more settings requested during the running of the wizard but most after this are manual. When the wizard is complete the phone should let you know and show you a main menu. It may look something like this image at the top of this blog. Slide your finger left or right to view other menu pages. After the wizard has finished find and use the settings app (button/icon on the screen) to set remaining items.
  • From here on in you should see the phone signal indicator at the top, a battery indicator and a Wi-Fi indicator. If your phone is using network data it can be displayed as a H+ or 4G. For each of the symbols refer to your phone manual to see what they mean.
  • At this point I recommend that you set a SIM password and a phone password by going into the settings then selecting security and using the phone guide to set the password. You may have previously set a SIM card lock password or the default password may already be set. Contact your SIM provider if you need to know the default PINN If the default is set the phone won’t request the PINN when you use that SIM card. After the password has been set (changed) the phone will request the SIM PINN when the phone starts. This prevents someone from using your SIM. The phone lock prevents someone from unlocking the screen on your phone after the phone has started and the screen locked. Set the way you want the screen to be locked e.g. after a time and immediately upon momentarily pressing the start/stop button. Remember how to unlock your lock screen as you may risk locking yourself out of your phone. Now check that you are able to lock and unlock the screen. You can unlock your screen by pressing the power button and entering the correct unlock.
  • Search on the web to see which are the anti virus apps for Android that receive good reviews. Open the Google app store Download and install an antivirus app. You can install a free version if you like. Run scans regularly.
  • You can use your free Google drive space that comes with your Google account. Install Google drive on the phone, if it is not already installed you can install it using Google play.
  • To automatically backup your photos to Google drive: Install the Google photos app if it is not already installed. Open the app, tap the menu (the button with three horizontal lines), select “Settings”, “Backup & sync”, switch it on. If in doubt about how to set up Google photos search for “Google photos help” on the web and read the guide.
  • Set up email accounts to be able to read and send emails. If you are using a Google email account I suggest that you use the “Gmail” by Google email app as it is easy to set up because Google knows what it’s email account requires to work. You can manage other email accounts using the Gmail or other app. It sometimes requires some quite manual setting up and you may need some assistance to do it. Another option is to look for a separate app to manage the other email accounts you have.
  • Update Android apps automatically. Open the Google Play Store app, select the menu (three horizontal lines), select “Settings”, “Auto up date apps”. Choose a setting that suits you best. If you don’t have much phone network data available and you have lots of Wi-Fi data available ensure that it updates via Wi-Fi only. Note that if you chose to “Do not auto-update apps” you need to manually update the apps regularly (when you have access to appropriately priced data).
  • Consider using Google Docs, storing documents you would like to access from Google drive. You could store files in Google docs such as word processing files and spreadsheets that you can accessed from anywhere on the web using your Google account.
  •  You may consider installing additional apps such as:
    A PDF reader.
    A ZIP file reader.
    A file manager.
    Facebook and messenger. (Based on current web reviews I would not use Facebook Messenger to manage your text and SMS messages if prompted by messenger).

Manual Settings

You can edit the settings that are normally set in the setup wizard by going into the settings menu and find the setting you want to change.

I hope you enjoy using a smart phone.

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