Many older devices are a bit limited when it comes to RAM. RAM (Random Access Memory) is where your applications store parts of their program and data during operation. One of the biggest RAM-hogs on stock phones are the customised Home Screens, such as HTC Sense.

If you were to swap out to a homescreen that takes up a fraction of the memory the bloaters do, it would load faster, operate smoothly, and leave far more memory available for other multi-task applications to make good use of.

Without further ado lines, I bring you Lightning Launcher, a homescreen launcher which has one objective – be tiny. The developer even makes the configuration window install as a separate package, so that it isn’t loaded into memory during normal operation.

What it looks like…

The launcher is highly customisable and these screenshots do not give an extremely good representation of that. You can change the whole homescreen from a list into a set of icons and widgets with a few menu selections. Still, these are my two favourite configurations.

"Zune" style on the left, and adjusting padding of an icon on the default homescreen on the right.

Multiple, minimalist themes

There a couple of theme setups included, such as ‘Icons only’, ‘list with icons’, and my favourite – Zune Mode (in the screenshot, left side).

Interestingly, these home-screens can scroll vertically, almost as if you are making a list of your favourite applications. When you eventually run out of space, you can start placing icons below your existing ones, making a scrollable homescreen ‘page’.

Here’s a video of the Lightning Launcher in action:

Widget Support

If you install ‘LLW Any App Widget’ from Google Play (the Launcher can prompt you), then all of the widgets from your applications can be rendered in this minimalistic environment. Though you shouldn’t really be loading up Widgets if your device is low on memory, this is a nice inclusion for people who have larger memory devices that want to enjoy Lightning Launcher.

By default the application only comes with one homescreen pane. However if you prefer having several to arrange your icons and widgets, installing the ‘LLW Simple Pager’ widget lets you have up to five homescreen panes

A Rating

If your phone is older and often running low on internal memory, Lightning Launcher may be a godsend. As for people who have plenty of memory to spare, you needn’t use this application as it could never compare to the one you are currently running.

I suppose Lightning Launcher (you can get from here on the Play Store) gets 6/10 when all the viewpoints of smartphone owners are combined. Though it lacks in a lot of features that we take for granted in other launchers, that minimalism is what makes it super-lightweight and fast.

  • Blabla

    “There are no other homescreen panes either. You get just the one.”

    That´s not correct. Installing the “LLW Simple Pager” widget allows you to get configure 5 homescreens in Lightning Launcher.

    • Sam Cater

      Thank you, updated to reflect this.

  • aaron

    I think the reviewer really didn’t take time to get to really understand this launcher. Yes, it is by far the most minimalist, RAM conserving launcher available. At the same time, it is very nearly the MOST flexible and customizable.

    Instead of built in features and formats, it lets you micromanage every aspect of both your home screen and app drawer. There are an abundance of layouts not remotely possible on any other launcher.

    As for the statement, “As for people who have plenty of memory to spare, you needn’t use this
    application as it could never compare to the one you are currently
    running,” this is patently false. There are many huge aspects where this launcher equals and vastly surpasses others. It lacks only two things I can think of: 1) Page transitions / modes. 2) Ease of customization. If you really want a custom shell environment, this is not an install, pick a theme and drop your homescreen icons in place shell. It is micromanagement heaven for those inclined. You can paginate between pure minimalism homescreens and every widget and customization you can imagine in the same UI. I come from being a long time user of ADW EX and Launcher Pro. Both are well worth the money and very easy to setup and use. They can’t compare to Lightning Launcher for custom UI setup and layout. Let me know when you find another launcher where you can rotate widgets and icons and change shortcut display properties on a per-item basis. The granularity comes all the way to choosing font size for icon labels and label position.

    I think the reviewer just got overwhelmed and didn’t understand this is a launcher where you will need to spend hours getting everything perfect once the OCD kicks in.

  • ash

    There is also a feature to lock widgets and icons on the screen so that they don’t move. I personally have camera, time and calculator locked to the top..then I have message, phone,internet, contacts and all app draw on the bottom. I then have the centre section a smooth horizontal scroll which is set to a smaller grid by zooming out. It is amazing! There at many features on it I have not used yet too.