- Android Launchers comparison: What is the best option for you?
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Price: Free / $4.99+
Action Launcher has long been a favorite Android launcher of our readers. It comes with a stock Android feel. However, there are some extra features over top that add some uniqueness. Quicktheme lets you customize the colors of your UI based on your wallpaper. Shutters lets you check out an app’s widget without actually setting one on the home screen. It even has theming and customization elements to make your phone feel more like Android Oreo. There is also icon pack support, frequent updates, and a lot more. There’s a lot to like about this one. Even the app drawer is configurable.
Price: Free / $1.99
AIO Launcher does it differently than many Android launcher apps. It does away with the standard home screen in favor of an information-packed list of stuff. It shows things like your latest SMS and missed calls, your media player, your system info (RAM, battery, storage, etc), and even stuff like news, Bitcoin price, Twitter, and more. The paid version also includes integration for Telegram and your regular widgets from other apps. Not everything has to look like stock Android and AIO Launcher certainly shows that it can be done effectively. It’s free for most features. The full version is a very reasonable $1.99.
Price: Free / $3.99
Apex Launcher has been around for a very long time and remains one of the most iconic Android launcher apps ever. Like Action Launcher, it aims to give a stock Android look and feel with a few extra features thrown in for good measure. Among those include the ability to alter things like transition animations, scrolling habits, and there is even a scrolling dock where you can lay plenty of icons. Apex Launcher also includes a theme engine. The app underwent some big changes in 2018. It looks much more modern now.
APUS Launcher is a fun app if you like a ton of customization. It boasts a collection of over 50,000 wallpapers along with a ton of extra themes. Some other features include a news feed, the ability to hide apps from the app drawer, a built-in app lock function, and a few other goodies. It’s not quite as light or efficient as Pixel Launcher style launchers like Nova Launcher, Hyperion, Lawnchair, etc. However, it’s a lot more colorful and flamboyant. Some people prefer it that way. The launcher is free with ad support. Our only real complaint is that you can’t purchase the app to remove ads.
Price: Free / $2.99
Hyperion Launcher is the new kid on the Android launcher block. It slots in nicely between heavier launchers like Action and Nova and the stock Android experience of Lawnchair. The UI is decidedly stock looking without a ton of bloat or flair. There are plenty of customization features, though. They include third party icon support, an icon shape changer, theming elements, and some other neat stuff. It supports Google Feed, but it requires a separate download just like most other launchers. It’s new, but it’s already slots in favorably among the best launchers on Android.
Lawnchair Launcher 2
Lawnchair Launcher is an excellent Android launcher for fans of minimalism. It’s an open source project that mimics much of the look and feel from the Pixel Launcher. It features many similar features to the Pixel Launcher along with a few others. Those features include icon pack support, Google Now integration (with optional and free plugin), adaptive icons, and various other customizations. The original was highly touted for its stock-like appearance plus its customization features. The developers now list the app as Lawnchair 2 and it’s still in beta, but includes some more modern Android features. The app is also entirely free.
Price: $4.99 + $1.99
Microsoft Launcher isn’t a new launcher. The app used to be Arrow Launcher. Microsoft re-branded the app in mid-2017. The app features integration with many Microsoft services, including their calendar, email, to-do list app, and direct integration with Microsoft PCs. It also has customization features and gesture controls. This one returned to beta after the rebrand. Thus, there are likely some bugs for now. However, it’s something different and especially useful for those who want better integration with their Windows PC. Microsoft is rebuilding this app from the ground up and you can try it out here if you would like. That new version will likely replace this version on this list in the future when it’s officially released.
Niagara Launcher is the newest launcher app on the list and it’s kind of our diamond-in-the-rough pick. It features a very minimal UI with a clean look, excellent ergonomics, and a sleek look. The app also tries to limit your need of the notification shade with integrated message notifications as well as music controls. There are some light theming options available along with basic stuff like icon pack support. The stable version launched in February of 2021 and included a bunch of bug fixes and some minor design changes. It’s definitely and easily good enough to be here, especially if you want something different from the usual Android launcher experience.
Price: Free / $4.99
It doesn’t get too much better than Nova Launcher. Like Apex Launcher, Nova has been around since the good old days. It remains not only relevant, but one of the best Android launcher app options available. It has a laundry list of customization features that include gesture support, the ability to customize the look and feel of the app, icon pack support, themes, and much, much more. The app also gets updated at a breakneck pace which means bugs generally get squished quickly and new features are added consistently. It also comes with the ability to backup and restore your home screen layouts for when you eventually switch to a new phone. It’s the one we’d recommend you try first.
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Olauncher is one of the newer Android launcher apps on this list. It boasts a minimal UI, fewer than average customizations, and distraction-free use. The app intentionally omits common graphical elements like icons in order to minimize the experience. You can set the wallpaper and do a few customizations, but that’s kind of the idea. You install it, use it, and it doesn’t get in the way. The app is newer and the developer is still adding new features. Still, this is one of the better minimal style launchers in recent memory.
Poco Launcher is the stock launcher for the popular (and cheap) Pocophone. It’s actually available for most Android devices and that’s kind of surprising considering Google won’t even release theirs. This is a fairly basic launcher. It has your basic stock Android-ish layout with icons on a home screen and a swipe-to-access app drawer. You can customize stuff like the home screen grid and the app drawer background. It also has a privacy option that hides icons from the app drawer if you want. Otherwise, it runs light and smooth. It’s an easy recommendation for people with lower end devices and those with higher end devices who want something really simple.
Rootless Launcher is a decent, stock Android style launcher from 2018. It’s actually a fairly basic experience. You get a stock Android look and feel with some additional customization elements to complete the look. Some of the features include icon pack support, adaptive icon pack support, an icon shape selector, themes based on your wallpaper, and you can change the location of the search bar. You can also get Google Feed working on this launcher, but like most it requires an extra plug-in download and installation. The website with the instructions for that are in the Google Play description. This is right up there with Hyperion and Lawnchair as a great option for stock Android fans.
Smart Launcher 5
Price: Free / Up to $6.99
Smart Launcher 5 is a vast difference from Smart Launcher 3. Thankfully, it’s in a positive direction. It features a modern UI, ambient theming features, modern features like adaptive icons, and more. It even has a weather and clock widget and gesture controls. It’s not quite as powerful as Nova Launcher or similar launchers. However, it has enough features to be quite enjoyable. It feels like it competes directly with Action Launcher and similar apps when it comes to customization and usability.
Total Launcher isn’t the most popular launcher on the list. However, it’s still quite good. It boasts a very high level of customization along with various themes and some other features. However, it also comes with a steeper learning curve than most. Those who stick around and learn what they’re doing are treated something truly special. On the other hand, those who just want something simple that works right may want to try out something like CPL, Rootless Launcher, Hyperion Launcher, or one of the other options.
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If we missed any of the best Android launcher apps, tell us about them in the comments! Should the Pixel Launcher ever make it to Google Play, you can bet that it’ll end up on this list post haste! You can find our latest app lists by clicking here!