Obviously because of the size of the screen and keyboard, the physical experience of using these features initially seems quite different from using a full-size monitor with mouse and keyboard. Once you get used to browsing with a touchscreen, however, and with Android’s support for flash and HTMLS, you’ll find very few obstacles between you and your life online. Sending emails feels more like sending a text message, to the point where you may have double-check whether you’re doing one or the other.

The same version of Android running on three handsets. Although they look very different, the basic functions are more or less the same. If you find information talking about a feature that’s different from what your own phone offers, check the user manual to find out if there’s a way to achieve the same thing on your model. If your phone didn’t come with a hard copy of its user manual you’ll find a software version (usually a PDF) on the manufacturer’s website, or if you hook your phone up to computer via USB you may find one already tucked away in its storage memory.

Why does the display on my phone look different from other phones?

In Android’s early days, Google left the user interface at a fairly rudimentary level and actively encouraged handset makers to add their own customizations. This has resulted in a degree of fragmentation in terms of the way Android looks and behaves on different phones. HTC, for example, has its own Sense interface, while Sony Ericsson has Rachael, and Samsung and TouchWiz. With future release, however, Google aims to improve the native user interface enough that handset manufacturers and carriers will no longer feel the need to create their own.

So if all these handsets are different, what software can I expect to find on my new phone?

This too will vary depending on your phone’s manufacturer and which native Android applications it has combined with ones developed exclusively for its own brand. The names and interfaces of these applications may differ slightly but they perform much the same functions from one phone to the next. You can expect to see messaging applications including SMS and email, a web browser, camera and camcorder utilities, a music player, calendar, Google Maps, contact lists, a news reader and some basic document readers for Microsoft Office and PDF formats. You’ll probably also find built-in applications for the more ubiquitous social networking services such as Facebook and Twitter. Your home screen may have an “app tray” near the bottom of the screen that you can tap to see what you’ve got to start with, including the Market app, which you’ll find yourself using a lot.

Tip: The Menu button may be a physical button at the bottom of your phone, or it may be a “soft” button near bottom of your phone’s touchscreen.