Cell phones have revolutionized the way people communicate with each other across the world. Texting, video chats, messaging, email, social media, etc. – phones are the future. Besides the iPhone, most people opt to utilize an Android phone, running on an Android operating system. If you already have or are currently considering getting an Android phone, follow our Android phone guide for beginners.
What Is An Android Phone?
An Android phone is a cell phone, also known as a smartphone, that utilizes an Android operating system. Several cell phone manufacturers utilize Android OS on their devices as iOS is exclusive to Apple devices.
Android took off when Google acquired the original company, Android Inc., in 2005. The beta-version of Android 1 was released in November 2007 and was finally released in 2008 on the first Android phone, the T-Mobile G1. Since its release, there have been several Android OS releases, with the latest one being Android 12. Some features only Android phones have brought about include the QWERTY phone keyboard, Google Play, and Split Screen Mode.
Today, many people opt to use an Android phone over an iPhone. If you are one such person, continue reading our Android beginners guide.
Android Phone Models and Operating System Versions
There are several Android phone companies and models that utilize Android OS. Not to mention the countless Android operating systems versions released over the years. Please note that each individual Android phone company does provide their own Android phone instructions and Android user manuals.
Android Phone Companies & Models:
- Samsung: Notable for their Galaxy phone line.
- Google: Notable for their Google Pixel phones.
- Cherry Mobile
- Tecno Mobile
Android Operating Systems (In Descending Order):
- Android 12
- Android 11
- Android 10
- Android Pie
- Android Oreo
- Android Nougat
- Android Marshmallow
- Android Lollipop
- Android KitKat
- Android Jelly Bean
- Android Ice Cream Sandwich
- Android Honeycomb
- Android Gingerbread
- Android Froyo
- Android Eclair
- Android Donut
- Android Cupcake
- Android 1
Android Phone Navigation & Buttons
Just like in the Android user manual that comes with your phone, we will be including in our Android user guide for beginners the basic common navigation areas, buttons, and more.
Every Android device has a customizable home screen. It is up to the phone user what they want to include on it like apps, widgets, etc. Typically, Android user guides instruct owners to avoid utilizing third-party apps to customize the home screen and phone as it can slow down the device’s speed.
Android phones are set to send notifications to the phone user when they receive a call, text, email, and if activities occur in specific apps. The notifications are typically viewable on an Android phone by swiping down from the top of the screen. When you have reviewed all your notifications, you can choose to clear them. If you wish or do not wish to have notifications appear on your screen when the phone is locked, follow your Android phone’s manual for instructions.
Phone applications are software designed to complete specific tasks. On Android, legitimate apps can be downloaded from Google Play. Phone apps may be downloaded from a website, but this could put your phone at risk. Android phones typically come preinstalled with phone apps that can be deleted. To view all of your phone applications, go to your settings.
App folders enable a person to organize apps as they wish. For example, one may want to organize as such: Social Media Apps, Dating Apps, Messaging Apps, and Games. These folders are customizable.
The “dock” refers to the set of buttons at the bottom of an Android phone screen. Typically there are three including:
- ≡ : Displays all open apps and windows.
- ロ: This button takes you to the home screen.
- く: Back button
As the dock buttons will differ depending on your Android phone model, we recommend referring to your Android user manual.
All Android phones include a search bar that enables people to search for something on their phone or online. For example, if you can’t locate a specific app, you can enter the name in the search bar to locate it. The location of the search bar varies, but it’s typically displayed on the app list pages.
Android Messaging & Communication
No smartphone user guide for beginners is complete without talking about messaging and communication. Through an Android phone, there are several methods to communicate and message others. For most Android phones, the default communications apps are the Phone App (Calling) and Messages (Texting). The communications options available on an Android phone depend on the phone company and cell phone carrier. Similar to the iPhone, Android phones have many other apps for communication including:
- Text Messaging: Google Messages, WhatsApp, Viber, Kik, Telegram, Skype, and LINE.
- Social Media: Instagram Direct, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, and Twitter Direct.
- Video Chat: Google Duo, Skype, Hangouts, Google Duo, Zoom, and Messenger.
- Email: Gmail, Email app, and Outlook.
Google Play (Google Play Store) is the app market for Android devices. It was initially released as Android Market in 2008 and became Google Play in 2012. Developers and companies can submit their games, apps, movies, and books to be listed in the store.
Even though Google Play has had a history of allowing malicious apps within their app, they do have a vetting process to weed out spam or harmful applications. With Google Play Protect, Google scans millions of apps daily to ensure ones that may harm a device or steal user data are removed. When enabled on a phone, Google Play Protect will also scan the device for harmful third-party apps not listed in Google Play. Phone owners have the choice to enable or disable Google Play Protect.
Nevertheless, there are an endless number of app categories to browse on Google Play. Each app comes with its own Android instructions to set-up and use. Categories on Google Play include:
- Art & Design
- Augmented reality
- Auto & Vehicles
- Books & Reference
- Food & Drink
- Health & Fitness
- House & Home
- Libraries & Demo
- Maps & Navigation
- Music & Audio
- News & Magazines
- Travel & Leisure
- Video Players & Editors
Android Connection Options
If you are looking to connect to a network for internet use, there are several options on Android including: Wi-Fi (Private or Public), Mobile Hotspot, and Mobile Data. The options will vary depending on your phone and cell phone carrier plan. Private Wi-Fi is best to utilize when at home, while a Mobile Hotspot or Mobile Data is best when on the go.
For Mobile Data, the data networks that may appear on an Android phone (depending on your location) include 5G, 4G, LTE, and 3G. Whichever internet option you utilize, make sure to follow provided Android user tutorials to a tee. Otherwise, your phone connection may be unstable or unsecure.
Android Web Browsing Options
The Android phone web browsing app options are endless. Typically, the browsers set to default are Google Chrome and one belonging to the phone company (ex: Samsung Internet). Other popular Android browser app options include Firefox, Opera, and Microsoft Edge. However, Google Chrome is the go-to choice as it is often referred to as “the most secure browser in the world.” It also includes various privacy and security settings like Safe Browsing and password tracking.
Should you wish to change your default browser, simply go to Settings → Apps → Choose default apps → Browser app → Select the app you want as your default browser.
Unlike Apple devices, Android phones do not have a default virtual voice assistant. However, as Android is owned by Google, the best voice assistant option for Android is Google Assistant. Similar to Siri, Google Assistant can help set and manage tasks, get answers, set alarms, and more. When looking to learn how to use a smartphone, it’s always recommended to utilize a virtual voice assistant whether it be Google Assistant or another one.
To access Google Assistant settings on your Android phone, go to the Google App → Tap More → Settings → Google Assistant.
Android Phone User Guides, Tutorials, and Tips
FAQs About Android Phones
What Is The Difference Between A Smartphone and an Android Phone?
A smartphone is a cell phone with an operating system (OS) installed on it. An Android phone is considered a smartphone with Android OS installed on it. Smartphones can contain any OS system like iOS, Android OS, Blackberry OS, Symbian OS, and others.
Which Is Better: iPhone or Android?
There isn’t a right answer to this. There are people who swear iPhone or Android phones. When selecting a cell phone for yourself, consider what your uses of it will be and find one that meets those needs. The only exception to this is if you or your family members have Apple devices (iPods, Mac Computers, iPads, etc.), opting for an iPhone is advised.
Which Android Phone Is Best?
There is no right answer to this, it is just consumer opinion. However, the Samsung Galaxy Phone Line and Google Pixel phones are highly popular and recommended Android phones.
How Do You Tell If Your Phone Is An Android?
There are several ways to find out if your phone is Android. Typically, most cell phones, except iPhones, run on Android. First, you can check by contacting your cell phone carrier. On your device, you can find about your operating system by navigating to Settings → About or About Phone.
Hopefully this Android for beginners guide answered all of your questions including, “How do I use my Android phone?” We will continue to update this Android manual and the specific Android phone tutorials to ensure they are up-to-date.