The Best Launchers for Android!

June 5, 2013
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best android launchers

Sometimes your Android home screen can be boring. You may not like TouchWiz, Sense, Motoblur, or even stock Android. You may not want to root your device to fix that either. Thankfully there’s a different way to give your Android device a bit more oomph. We’ve gone into the Google Play Store in search of some of the best launchers for Android, and we’ve come back with a few impressive ones! As usual, if you’d rather watch the video, just head on down to the bottom of the article.


91 Launcher

91Launcher

First up is 91 Launcher. This is a fun and simple launcher that offers a very smooth experience, even if it seems pretty simple. While you can get into deep customization with this particular launcher, 91 Launcher sticks with the basics: good widgets, wallpapers, and themes.

Don’t let its simplicity fool you though. 91 Launcher has a lot of themeing and customization options, such as transition animations. It’s not going to take you a lot of time to come up with a customization that you’re happy with. So if you’re looking for a great launcher that doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles, 91 Launcher is worth checking out.

Get it on Google Play


Apex Launcher

ApexLauncher

The Apex Launcher may ring a few bells to you, as its been around for quite awhile and has garnered a good amount of popularity. Unlike 91 Launcher, Apex is filled to the brim with features and customization options. We’re not kidding either — you can do a lot of customization, such as the app drawer, home screens, themes, icon packs, and cool transition effects. It really is one of the more customizable launchers out there that doesn’t get too hectic.

After customizing your smartphone, you may want to set up the same customization options on your tablet. Like most of these apps, Apex Launcher does have tablet support, so that’s entirely doable. It’s an overall positive experience, and despite all of the customization options, it’s very slick in the performance department. The only downside is that all of the cool features are in the paid version, but that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.

Get it on Google Play


GO Launcher

GOLauncher

GO Launcher is the most downloaded launcher on our list, which probably has something to do with it being a freemium offering. It’s packed full of features, and you can even further customization options by downloading a seemingly endless supply of add ons.

The performance of GO Launcher is pretty good, but GO Launcher can’t be fully appreciated until it’s entirely set up. This is where things get painfully annoying. Getting the launcher set up to your tastes can take hours, as there are a plethora of themes, customizations, features, and add ons. If you like fiddling around with a truck load of options, GO Launcher may just be up your alley. However, out of the rest of these launchers, some might find GO Launcher to be one of the more chaotic launchers out there.

Get it on Google Play


Nova Launcher Prime

NovaLauncherPrime

One of the most dependable and well-received launchers is NOVA Launcher. Like most of the options on this list, there are a plethora of features, themes, and customizations, though, not nearly as many as GO Launcher. So if you like eye candy, NOVA Launcher has a good amount of it.

Perhaps one of its best features has to deal with widgets. You can put any 1 by 1 widget in the dock and even overlap your widgets to conserve that precious home screen space. Furthermore, you can even create widget collages. Aside from that, NOVA Launcher runs smooth. It’s just an all around good launcher.

Get it on Google Play


Smart Launcher Pro

SmartLauncherPro

Last up on our list is Smart Launcher Pro, and it’s different from the rest of the launchers on our list. Instead of keeping the general Android aesthetics, Smart Launcher Pro offers its own thing. However, this particular launcher seems to do it right, as unlike a lot of launchers that try this, people have responded positively with what Smart Launcher offers.

Here’s how it works. You start with a single home screen with shortcuts arranged in a circle. These shortcuts can be programmed to open whatever app you want, so you can get to your frequently used apps quickly and efficiently. From there you can access a modified app drawer and a 3 home screen lay for all of your widget needs.

All in all, it’s a launcher that does things differently, and it does it well. It’s very much worth giving a shot.

Get it on Google Play


Final thoughts

LauncherARTICLELEADER

If you take a look at our leaderboard (image above) you can see how these apps compete against each other. The ratings are based on Google Play Store ratings and downloads, so there’s no bias on our part.

Launchers are interesting, as each one does something unique. So we have a few honorary mentions. These include ADW Launcher, Launcher 7, Launcher 8, Next Launcher, EZ Launcher, Chameleon Launcher, and Big Launcher.

If there’s a good launcher that we should have mentioned, be sure to tell everyone in the comments below!

Comments

  • Nathan Borup

    What about Buzz launcher?

  • drs6

    Action launcher should be here.

    • JosephHindy

      Both buzz and action launcher barely didn’t make the list. GO Launcher knocked them both off.

      • CoolCustomer

        Whoa how did Action Launcher get bumped by GO? Action Launcher while short on customization is like a Stock extension, it doesn’t bog you down with useless tweaks and actually brings innovations to launchers which we’ve rarely seen. With the exception of only being available on 4.0.1 or later “Shutters” and “Covers” are leaps and bounds over what other launchers are doing atm.

        • JosephHindy

          Because GO has like a million reviews and > 10 million downloads and still has a 4.5 in the Play Store. I think buzz had a 4.3 (too low) and Action had a 4.5, but only like 2500. 1000000 reviews and 4.5 beats 2500 reviews and 4.5.

          • http://flavors.me/sabret00the sabret00the

            Gotta love journalism that just relies on numbers.

          • CoolCustomer

            Ok, knowing you guys did it by numbers makes the list make sense but the title should be “Top Launchers” or “The Best of Android’s Most Popular Launchers”. I’ve really liked AA’s reboot thus far and frankly this is the only article I’ve ever had a negative view of. As a fan request could you guys do an in depth article on the new launchers out there or the most unique ones. I’m not sure about Lightning but I know Action Launcher is done by one guy and could really use a shout out from a megaphone like AA. It may even inspire the leaders of the category to take more risks and add experimental features like “Shutters” which would benefit the platform as a whole.

          • nishantsirohi123

            Go launcher has been there since i guess the HTC g1 was launched

          • Ivana Twinkle

            Sure, if you want to hand your privacy over to a Chinese company.

    • Homebrewman

      Tsf shell

      • chrisvoyce

        I have apex launcher on my s4 with the crumpled icon pack and the glass wallpaper looks fab and works brill

  • Mario

    No Action Launcher? The shutters feature is revolutionary tbh.

  • AndroidBrian

    Nova & Apex are pretty much the exact same launcher. But I agree they are the best two. Someone should break these down and decide which one is better. Your description for Apex and Nova launcher would have worked for either one of these.

    • player911

      Agreed both are similar. They both can do the same thing, but Apex has been getting slower. Nova feels completely fluid. Also Nova has a neat feature that lets Widgets overlap, so you can come up with some really cool page layouts. So Nova hands down… and I was an avid Apex fan.

      • AndroidBrian

        Yeah I use Nova now too. I used Apex for over a year and I tried out Nova again and it was a lot smoother than Apex.
        I don’t know what happened to Apex but your right it was lagging more and more after every update. Nova you can also change icons on the app drawer too, which is a cool feature.

  • James

    Lightning Launcher should deserve a mention as well. They offer layered and unlimited size for widgets

  • JJ

    Action launcher is fairly new I suppose. But I have used every launcher out there and really like all the unique features it has added. It also runs buttery smooth but I am on a HTC one so if you are on a older phone your mileage could vary.

  • lala

    NOVA is the best, hands down. Apex is a bit more convenient but it lags on my S3 while Nova is totally fluid.

    • Doan

      No launcher is the best, hands down. Different launchers perform better on different devices, and each launcher provides its own set of unique features. The “best” launcher will depend on the user’s requirements for a launcher.

    • player911

      I’ve been a long time Apex fan but it just kept getting laggier and laggier on my newer devices. So bad that I went back to stock (same setup) and wow what a refresh. I eventually threw Nova on there and it is back to business. I use Nova on my Galaxy Nexus and Action Launcher on my Nexus 7. Both are good.

    • The Lion

      i found apex very glitchy

  • CiMO

    It takes me a couple of hours to set-up Go launcher each time I flash or get a new device, but at least my Android looks exactly as I want it.

  • http://www.martian-imperium.com/ Lokifish Marz

    Everything.me Launcher is the first “bells and whistles” launcher that I’ve stayed with since Netfront Life Screen. Sad to see it missing from the list.

  • LogicBomb

    after trying most of these launchers, GO makes my S3 run the smoothest

  • SeraZR™

    Lightning Launcher? -.-

  • Jurrud Potatotasty

    What about Dog Launcher pro and Firezon Launcher??? They are way better than #3-5!!!!!!!!

    • SirLoinMan

      Yeah Dog Launcher is the best!!!

  • Tombo Picko

    You could also mention off-market launchers like Xperia-Z Launcher, Touchwiz Launcher and such

    • Jurrud Potatotasty

      NO! DOG LAUNCHER GOOOOOOOD!!!!!!

  • Jurrud Potatotasty

    DOG LAUNCHER IS BEST ONE SO GOOOOODDD!

    • Christof

      JURRUD, Please get off the internet, your poop suction is required.

    • Christof

      JURROD COME TO THE TOILET NOW!!!

  • nishantsirohi123

    The Launcher 7 and 8 are also amazing
    also launcher pro and holo launcher are equally good

    another is “simple home” made by LG it has no app drawer with apps pasted on the home screen

  • dandroid13
  • Kai Racho

    Where can we find Dog launcher and Firezon launcher? Any links?

  • AJ

    If you really miss the new Windows Mango (WIN 8) platform…Then you surely should get Launcher 8. Awsm Lumia experience.

  • Dragoon0030

    I am using homepack buzz launcher and one unique feature is that for each home screen u have, u can choose a different wallpaper. It is also very customisable with a site of what other people have made for ur downloading pleasure. If anyone is like me and looking to have more than one wallpaper, check it out

  • mrband

    SPB 3D Shell, SSLauncher, QQLauncher, 360Launcher, Hi Launcher, Regina 3D Launcher, TSF Shell, …

    Meh…

  • http://twitter.com/lukamlinar Luka Mlinar

    GO Launcher leaves so much trash on your phone when you remove it. Never again!

    • CoolCustomer

      +1, I’ve used GO once and will never touch anything from them again, I hate the “Everything and the kitchen sink” approach they use.

  • Keith Richmond

    Next Launcher 3D is missing

  • ollieg

    I’ve only used one launcher, so I won’t categorically proclaim it ‘best’, but I enjoy Unity Launcher. I only need to launch a few apps regularly. I like Unity Launcher’s accessibility from within any app and its subtle UI

  • Soonershooter

    Nova Prime on S4….

    • The Lion

      exactly my setup ,also have it on 2 other devices inc (believe it or not) a HP Touchpad which is still going strong a HTC Legend & i also have a Google edition HTC One which has the best launcher of them all :)

  • Joe

    Next 3d is much better than go apex nova and adw… I’ve tried all and settled on next 3d. Plus it’s made by the go launcher devs…

    • Mahesh

      i installed Next 3d today on my phone and may games started rebooting by itself.. i removed next and all good.

  • KAWOK

    Buzz Launcher should be here

  • nishantsirohi123

    Launcher8
    it is windows 8 style with live tiles and widget tiles support
    extremely customizable and no ads

  • kat

    What would be that font on the Smart Launcher Pro display that says 3:54? It’s great.

  • Ahmer Madani

    how is solo launcher

    • Jayfeather787

      It’s okay. I experienced a bit of lag, but with a more powerful device, it should be fine.

  • Naren R Parashar

    NEXT Launcher is the best.
    All other launchers suck..

  • Jeff

    Question. Is it OK to delete the stock launcher on nexus 7 2 and replace it with nova?

    • Jayfeather787

      Maybe, but if you update Nova Launcher, the screen might go black, and maybe you will experience a couple force closes.

  • Mike

    Vire Launcher!

  • Q.

    I use Nova launcher on my GS2. I rarely suffer from lag and really like how you can expand the app grid!

  • oba55

    Where is Vire Launcher?

  • Groud Frank

    Aviate Launcher

  • Fotbollsgräs

    I’ve jumped boat from Nova to Aviate (and Themer).

  • Mahmood Faysal

    i’m wondering how you forgot to add buzz launcher it’s the best for me .
    i like Nova , Apex and Go Launcher nice choice
    if you want more good launchers i found a good article about Best Android Launchers 2014
    http://www.bestandroidtabletapps.com/2014/02/Best-Android-Launcher.html‎

  • http://www.bestandroidtabletapps.com/ Marym Mahmoud
  • http://www.seeresult.in/ dileep

    Nova seems absolutely liquid. Also Nova has a nice function that allows Icons overlap, so you can come up with some really awesome web page templates. http://www.oleocomm.com/

  • http://www.seeresult.in/ dileep

    The Launcher 7 and 8 are also amazing. http://ssc-result.org/

  • lonestar

    Next launcher 3d is the best for me

  • The Lion

    i prefer nova , the only glitch is when you first boot the device it freezes for a while i think something to do with loading in widgets , once it settles down it is great , does it on all my devices without fail.

  • Xceedia

    dodol launcher fo me :D

  • fandroid

    91 launcher is now mobolive u shuld hav know this