Qualquer desenvolvedor Android já se deparou com o problema de ter que usar a referência da própria Activity ao invés de usar getApplicationContext(). Tanto Activity e getApplicationContext() são  instâncias de Context, porém a diferença é que Activity possui o contexto da própria Activity, e getApplicationContext() é o Context da Aplicação.

Uma aplicação Android possui diversos tipos de Context, tais como:

  • Activity
  • Application
  • Service
  • BroadcastReceiver
  • ContentProvider

Quando utilizar Activity, getApplicationContext() e etc ?

Depois de pesquisar um pouco, encontrei uma tabela indicando quando utilizar cada caso:

Application Activity Service ContentProvider BroadcastReceiver
Show a Dialog NO YES NO NO NO
Start an Activity NO1 YES NO1 NO1 NO1
Layout Inflation NO2 YES NO2 NO2 NO2
Start a Service YES YES YES YES YES
Bind to a Service YES YES YES YES NO
Send a Broadcast YES YES YES YES YES
Register BroadcastReceiver YES YES YES YES NO3
Load Resource Values YES YES YES YES YES


  1. An application CAN start an Activity from here, but it requires that a new task be created.  This may fit specific use cases, but can create non-standard back stack behaviors in your application and is generally not recommended or considered good practice.
  2. This is legal, but inflation will be done with the default theme for the system on which you are running, not what’s defined in your application.
  3. Allowed if the receiver is null, which is used for obtaining the current value of a sticky broadcast, on Android 4.2 and above.

Fonte: https://possiblemobile.com/2013/06/context/