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Best Android Launcher – Essential Guide & Overview

Use an Android launcher to modify your Android experience without requiring root access. The look and feel of your Android device can be customised through the use of launchers. It is possible to adjust animations and images, add custom widgets, or completely change the design of the app drawer.. Several newer launchers, such as Aviate, go a step further and totally alter the user interface of your Android device.

Quick Links

  1. How Do Android Launchers Work?
  2. Difference Between Android Launchers and Custom ROM
  3. Best Android 4.0+ Launchers
  4. Best Android 2.0+ Launchers
  5. OS Replacement Launchers
  6. Minimalistic & Intelligent Android Launchers
  7. Theme Launchers

Custom ROMs, Android launchers, and widgets allow you to drastically alter the look and feel of your Android device, giving it a distinct advantage over Apple’s iOS. This guide to Android launchers was released a few months ago, and we have received a lot of positive response. This article has been completely rewritten to reflect the most latest releases of Android launchers.
In this post, you’ll learn about Android launchers, how to set them up, and which ones are the most useful. Feel free to use the fast links tool if you don’t want to read the entire article.

How Do Android Launchers Work?

Android launchers are, in a nutshell, apps that you install on your phone. Android uses an app to display the user interface on the home screen of your phone or tablet. Android launchers replace the normal interface app and take care of your home screen and other UI elements when they are installed. In addition, this is why Android launchers are often referred to as “home replacement launchers.” Android normally asks you which launcher to use if you have more than one installed. Selecting “Always” will set your new default launcher.
Is it ever a mystery to you why Android seems differently on Samsung phones than, say, HTC ones? Because some manufacturers pre-install their own launchers and modified versions of Android on their smartphones, there is a simple explanation: The functionality and user interface that you desire can be achieved by installing a custom ROM or by using a different launcher!

Difference Between Android Launchers and Custom ROM

Unlike modified ROMs, home screen launchers can be installed from Google Play or any other Android store without rooting your smartphone. Installing an Android launcher is a wonderful initial step to personalising an Android device because many consumers are concerned about destroying their phone or tablet when rooting it.
Android launchers usually offer the following features:

  • Themes
  • Changing graphics and icons
  • Different app drawer layout
  • Gesture-controlled actions
  • Customized widgets

Custom ROMs typically go one step further, adding deeper system tweaks such as:

  • Improved speed, stability and battery life
  • Possibility to install custom kernels (which support under/overclocking)
  • Running up-to-date versions of Android OS
  • A variety of apps that require root access (like AdAway)

Installing a custom ROM and launcher is an option if you so desire. Make sure to check out our guide on Android rooting, custom ROMs, and apps for additional information.

Best Android 4.0+ Launchers

Many various Android launchers are available on Google Play, ranging from the more simple to the more advanced, such as Themer, which entirely alters the look and feel of your Android device. Android 4.0 and later smartphones can use the following list of the most popular launchers.

Nova Launcher

If your phone or tablet runs Android 4.0 or later, you can use Nova Launcher as your default home launcher. A lot of the features are identical to Android’s built-in launcher, such as themes, scroll effects, and widget overlapping. It is possible to download the ordinary version for free. There are motions, unread counts and drawer groups included in the $4.00 premium edition.
Previously, I used Nova Launcher Prime, but I’ve lately moved to Aviate on my Nexus 4. Nova Launcher Prime is, in my opinion, the greatest custom launcher for Android users that prefer the stock Android interface. The premium version’s stability, gestures, and unread message and call notifications are well worth the modest charge.

Apex Launcher

The second most popular launcher for Android 4.0 and up is Apex Launcher. In terms of performance and features, both Apex and Nova launchers are top-notch options. Apex Launcher has a wide range of customization options, including themes, gestures, and up to nine homescreens. The basic version is free, but the premium version is available for $3.99 on Google Play. As a premium user, you enjoy a number of additional features, like two-finger motions and overlapping widgets.
The choice between Apex and Nova launchers comes down to individual taste. They both, as previously said, provide roughly the same functionality. The basic versions of both home screen replacements are free, so there’s no reason not to try them out.

Action Launcher

Action Launcher employs the Android 4.0+ UI like the other launchers mentioned above, but it is designed to get you to your destination “faster.” You can see all of your apps and widgets alphabetically in a quickdrawer that slides out of the way. In addition to the “Covers” and “Shutters,” there are two other noteworthy features. A folder can be “hidden” behind an app with “Covers,” so that it can be accessed by double-tapping its icon to reveal its contents rather than starting the app. When the “Shutters” feature is activated, the app’s widgets will be shown when the icon is swiftly swiped over.
In general, Action Launcher appears to be fairly attractive. It’s not possible to try it out for free because the only version available on Google Play is a paid pro version for $3.99.

Best Android 2.0+ Launchers

In spite of the fact that you have a “older” Android smartphone, you should still be able to use custom Android launchers. With Android 2.0 and later in mind, we’ve put together a list of the most widely used launchers available.

GO Launcher EX

For some time now, Go Launcher EX has claimed to be the most popular home launcher available. With over 5,000 themes and widgets to choose from in its own Go Store, it’s clear that the Go Store has a lot to offer Android users. In addition to transition animations and gesture controls, the app management functionality (which allows you to hide and categorise apps and clean up system memory) is also a key feature.
Other Android launchers don’t operate on handsets running Android OS 2.0 or higher, however Go Launcher ex is compatible. All of the launcher’s features, as well as many of its themes, are free. However, some of the Go Store’s widgets and themes will set you back a few dollars.
While using my HTC Desire HD, I had GO Launcher Ex installed. The UI looks a little antiquated due of the look of Android Gingerbread, which has been replaced by subsequent Android versions. For Android devices that can’t run Android OS versions 4.x or higher, Go Launcher Ex is a great alternative.

Lightning Launcher

An Android 4.0+ UI that is configurable, fast, and light is provided by Lightning Launcher. Lightning launcher is the only launcher that lets you scroll both horizontally and vertically, unlike most others. In addition, widgets may be organised into folders, and every object on your home screen can be resized, rotated, or moved as you see fit. Lighting Launcher is a great option if you’re seeking for a quick and lightweight launcher. There are numerous tutorials available to help you get up and running as quickly as possible, even though setting up all of the features is a bit of a challenge at first. Google Play offers a free download of the app.


ADW.Launcher gives smartphones running Android OS 1.6 or higher the slick look and feel of Android OS 4.0+. The ADW.Launcher also includes gestures, older tuning, and control of the ADW.Launcher. Basic version of ADW.launcher is accessible for free, much like other launchers Additional features like 3D app drawer designs, new home screen transitions, and a backup option can be found in the Ex edition of ADW.Launcher Ex for $3.00.

OS Replacement Launchers

Some custom launchers and themes for Android might help you get the look of an iPhone or Windows Mobile phone on your Android phone. Here are a few of the more important ones, in no particular order:

Launcher 7

Android users may enjoy the Windows Phone 7 interface thanks to Launcher 7. Developers have stated that flaws and faults may be present in this early version of the launcher. Reviews are overwhelmingly good, to say the least (4.4 out of 5.0 based on roughly 40k votes). The WP7-like launcher is free, however it comes with advertising. For only $1.49, you can get ad-free access.

Launcher 8

This launcher, like Launcher 7, aims to emulate the Windows Phone 8 interface on your Android handset. WP8-style tiles and the ability to install widgets are included in Launcher 8. Devices running Android 4.x are recognised and supported, however performance appears to be subpar. Please make sure you have at least Android 4.0 or higher. Advertisements can be deleted by contributing $1.49, just like in Launcher 7.

Espier Launcher

Espier Launcher delivers an iOS-like user experience to Android phones and tablets. Android-specific functionality are combined with iOS-like styling in the launcher’s design. Espier is a must-try if you want your Android phone to look like an iPhone (or seriously rethink your loyalty to Android). You can get the launcher for free, and the makers also provide other iOS-like apps like reminders and notifications.

Minimalistic & Intelligent Android Launcher

In some cases, it’s preferable to keep things basic and straightforward. You may replace your Android home screen with Aviate, Smart Launcher, or Everything Home, all of which provide a simple and gorgeous UI to your device.


An intelligent and adaptive user interface, a clean design, and simpler navigation are just some of the features of Aviate. As a result, Aviate understands exactly what to show and what not to show at every given time and location. Even while it displays largely work-related apps during the day, it switches to location-based suggestions and easy check-in via Google+ or Foursquare at night. “An intelligent home screen designed around you,” as the tagline puts it. Categories and alphabetical ordering are used to classify apps.

For the time being, Aviate is an invite-only service, but you can request one here. The app is completely free, and it’s a novel and exciting concept. Just a few days into using it, and I’m already a fan!

Smart Launcher

Using Smart Launcher, you can reduce the size of your Android home screen while still providing a simple user interface. It’s possible to sort the apps in the app drawer based on their categories. You don’t need much time or effort to put up a custom launcher. Instead than the stock Android UI, Smart Launcher is a terrific choice for those who prefer a cleaner look. The free version has widget support and multiple screen support, while the $2.99 premium version adds these features and more.

Everything Home

Each and every feature of Everything Home is designed to enhance your Android experience. As soon as you type in a keyword or enter a search phrase, your phone or tablet “changes.” In addition to a new background, you’ll be able to access a variety of apps and websites from your home screen. Everything you need is at your fingertips if you tell your phone what you’re interested in.

Interested? On Google Play, the launcher is free of charge. It was a turn-off for me, because I don’t want my phone constantly asking me what I’m interested in simply so I may use specific apps. In addition, I found the web app icons to be unappealing, and prefer native programmes.

Theme Launchers

Theme launchers are a great option if you’re a fan of personalising your Android device. Widgets, icons, and other images clutter up the home screen. The aforementioned launchers can all be customised manually, however theme launchers streamline the process considerably.

Buzz Launcher

More than 80,000 unique home screens are available to customise your Android experience with Buzz Launcher. A few seconds after selecting a theme, the launcher will automatically apply it to all of your apps. It is possible to customise the background and icon sets on your Android device. Gestures are supported by Buzz Launcher, which is a free download from Google Play.


In the world of theme launchers, Themer is the “new kid on the block.” Its 43 themes aren’t quite as many as Buzz Launcher’s, but it doesn’t have to hide its high quality. Theme options range from simple to elaborate and artistic. Please note that Themer is currently in closed Beta, although the software itself allows you to obtain a code. If you want to learn more about these launchers, read my Themer review.

Final Words

To get the most of your Android device, choose one of the many launchers available for the platform. There are launchers that merely add a few functions, while others totally re-design the UI. Since most launchers are free, I recommend trying out a couple to see which one works best for you before making a final decision. In the end, it comes down to personal preference, and I’m afraid that’s something I’m unable to influence (though I wish I could!).

Depending on your particular preference, I would recommend Nova Launcher Prime, Themer, or Aviate for devices running Android 4.0 or higher. Make use of Nova Launcher Prime, Themer, and Aviate if you like a more customised and minimalistic Android experience, respectively.

This is a tough one for me because I haven’t used an Android 2.x smartphone in quite some time. For the sake of functionality and speed, I’d probably go with Go Launcher Pro or Action instead.
Is there one that I’ve missed? What’s your take on Android launchers in general? Let me know if you have any questions or comments in the comments section below, and I’ll do my best to answer them!

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