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Phones

How to get emojis on your Android phone

Apple's iOS software has emojis built-in...but wait, so does Android!

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Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

While Android was initially a little slower to make emojis as commonplace as Apple, that doesn't mean you can't be part of the cool crowd if you're not an iPhone user.

An important note that could save your social life: Emojis can look really, really different on different phones. Strange, even. This Mental Floss article shows you how emojis appear across different devices. Keep that in mind when you text with your iPhone friends.

Step 1: Check to see if your Android device can see emojis

Some Android devices can't even see emoji characters -- if your iPhone-toting buddies keep sending you text messages that appear as squares, this is you.

If you're not sure if your device supports emoji, you can easily find out by opening up your Web browser and searching for "emoji" in Google. If your device supports emojis, you'll see a bunch of smiley faces in the search results. If it doesn't, you'll see a bunch of squares.

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This phone supports emojis.

Screenshot by Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

If your device doesn't support emojis, you can still get them by using a third-party social messaging app such as WhatsApp or Line. However, you will only be able to see emojis inside these apps; any SMS messages you receive will continue not to display them.

Step 2: Turn on the emoji keyboard

Even if your Android device supports emojis, your default keyboard may not include them. If you have Android 4.4 or higher, the standard Google keyboard has an emoji option (just type a word, such as "smile" to see the corresponding emoji). You can change your default keyboard by going to Settings > Language and input > Default and choosing the keyboard you want to use.

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Change your default keyboard from the settings menu. Screenshot by Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

You can switch between keyboards by swiping down to open the Notifications area and tapping Choose input method.

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Change your current keyboard from the Notifications area. Screenshot by Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

You can only switch between keyboards while you're typing in a text box area, but you'll know this because a small keyboard icon will appear in your Notifications bar.

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When you see this icon, you can change your keyboard. Screenshot by Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

If you're using a Samsung device, the default Samsung keyboard has built-in emojis that you can access by tapping and holding the microphone button and then pressing the smiley face icon.

Step 3: Download a third-party keyboard

If your device didn't come with a keyboard that has built-in emojis, you can download a third-party keyboard that does. The most obvious choice is Google Keyboard (available to all Android devices running 4.0 and higher), but other keyboards such as Swype, SwiftKey and Minuum also have built-in emojis.

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Emojis!

Screenshot by Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

Finally, a small warning: If you're on a limited texting plan, you may want to check to make sure your device sends emojis as symbols (that is, unicode characters), and not as MMS or picture messages.