13 Best Launchers for Android to Shake Up Your Phone
Whenever I take my phone out in front of friends, they always ask about why my home screen looks different. It’s a shame that many Android users never get to experience the best launchers for Android and are stuck with the stock launcher their phone came with. Don’t get me wrong, Samsung, Sony, HTC and the rest make competent launchers but for me simplicity trumps everything. By checking out the best launchers for Android you will not only be able to spice up that old interface but also make your Android experience more personalized. A word of caution though, the best launchers for Android require a little more time than you average app, so if you like a look or functionality of one launcher be sure to spend some time with the settings.
Note: The 15 best launchers for Android were all tested on a Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphone running on a custom ROM based on Android 4.4 Kit Kat. The launchers all performed admirably and no problems were faced during the testing phase.
1. Nova Launcher – Free and $4.00
The best there is
1.a Free Version
Nova Launcher is the best among the best launchers for Android thanks to its great looking interface and plethora of customization potential. From tuning how the app drawer looks to adjusting your home screens, the launcher has some really amazingly looking options. The best part of the app is its ability to resize the app drawer. I don’t want space among the apps and games and want a full “app wall”, what’s the point of swiping through multiple drawer pages just to launch Temple Run right? Nova thankfully allows me to do just that. The free version of the launcher is competent enough for regular users but if you are into tweaking every aspect of your phone, you will need to pay a menial fee.
- Multiple home screens with animations.
- The app drawer is very manageable.
- Widgets work well and are fully supported.
You can have multiple home screen app docks on this launcher. For example I have three docks which can be accessed simply by swiping, making them immensely accessible without cluttering the home screen.
1.b Paid Version
The paid version of the launcher adds substantial content to an already robust offering. You can assign gestures to simple actions like launching an app or activating the app drawer. You also have the ability to hide apps from the drawer. Unread counts and multiple scroll effects are also included. I highly recommend this version if you like what the free one has to offer.
2. Go Launcher – Free with In app Purchases
It’s go time
Go Launcher is one of the smallest among the best launchers for Android. The small size and light weight nature of the launcher allows it to run smoothly and efficiently on almost every Android device. The app puts very little strain on system resources and sometimes is more efficient than the stock launcher. The latest Go Panel allows you to add frequently used features. There are more than 10,000 personalized themes for the launcher so you are never short of customization options. The app also has some pro features which are directly purchasable from the app. The pro features add multi-touch gestures as well as remove ads and sponsored messages.
- Smooth and stylish transition animations.
- Can be customized to a great extent.
- 15 free widgets are also included with the launcher.
The launcher has gesture based app activations. Now you can open the camera with just one swipe of a finger. That looks really awesome to onlookers.
4. Action Launcher – Free and $3.99
There is where the action is
4.a Free Version
Action Launcher is simple and works extremely well for left handed users. If you like to drink coffee with your right and use the phone with left one, you will find that Action Launcher facilitates the phone operation greatly. The launcher comes with all the standard features you may need from a launcher but throws in a pinch of innovation. The app drawer is conveniently placed on the left side of the home screen. With a press or swipe, it comes sliding out ready to launch apps.
- A clean and clear interface.
- Action launcher is really fast and reliable.
- Translucent status and navigation bars add to the charm.
The layouts can easily back up and saved on a SD card. This means once you setup the launcher according to your needs, you are all set. As for a new phone, simply insert the SD card and load your setup.
4.b Paid Version
The paid version of the app adds icon pack and icon scaling support to the launcher. If you are like me, these features are a must to have. The pro version also comes with advanced gesture support. Some other features like grid size etc. also require the pro version.
5. Solo Launcher – Free
Light and beautiful
There is nothing remarkable about the Solo Launcher and that’s its strongest point. With minimal load on system resources and none of the heavy effects, the launcher is not only battery efficient but also looks good. Although some users may desire fancy effects, this launcher mainly caters to those who just need a great looking and functional alternative. There are advanced options but the launcher doesn’t require an extensive settings tweak just to work.
- Smooth and light on resources.
- Is extremely reliable.
- More than 5000 themes at your disposal.
Free widgets come with this launcher including a smart weather clock.
6. Buzz Launcher – Free
To infinity and beyond
Buzz Launcher is amazing for those who love customization. I was using Nova for quite some time now and after testing Buzz Launcher, I moved to it. There is something attractive amount this launcher which charmed me from the start. The sleek outlook and the combination of deep customization made it an instant hit with me. If it were a personal list, I would place Buzz Launcher on the number one spot of 15 best launchers for Android. From sleep transitions to quality navigation, this app has it all.
- Well-polished interface looks amazing.
- Gestures make you look cool.
- App drawer can be customized.
You can set wallpapers for individual home screens separately. This means for three screens, you get to choose three wallpapers. This might be a very small feature but it is not present in almost all the launchers I tested.
7. APUS Launcher – Free
Small yet powerful
A launcher which not only looks nice but performs well too, APUS Launcher has it all. The only downside is that it doesn’t actually have something extremely flashy going on for it. The launcher itself performs exceptionally and with a little time invested in the settings it reflects your own taste. The icons are especially a highlight. The trouble free setup which only comes in a 1 MB package sets this launcher apart.
- App radar actually has some interesting apps to show.
- The small size is great for limited storage phones.
- Turns on the home screen really fast.
The Smart folder feature automatically categorizes the apps according to those use and category. This makes managing apps an ease.
8. Launcher 8 – Free
Opens new windows
If you like the interface of Windows Phones but love the apps available on Android, Launcher 8 is the perfect app for you. Launcher 8 is basically mimicking the Windows Phone home screen on your Android device and to be honest it looks great. It was probably a departure from the traditional Android look which made me like the new feel but something really clicked with this launcher. There are tons of themes to play around with too, so there is no shortage of customization. The only problem is that the Gallery and camera tiles were unable to launch the corresponding apps.
- A refreshing new take on Android interface.
- Tiles animate with grace.
- Tiles can be customized with ease.
Setting up the launcher is perhaps the most exciting thing. From resizing the tiles to changing their color, the customization is almost endlessly refreshing.
9. Smart Launcher – Free and $3.99
It is kind of smart
9.a Free Version
Are you sick of stupid launchers? Are you worried about your retarded stock one? Try out this Smart Launcher on your phone and suddenly you won’t have to worry at all! Smart Launcher is really smart and knows you want things organized neatly and available in seconds. This is why the app has a unique way of show apps and information on your home screen.
- Easy to setup.
- Really stands out from the crowd.
- Icon arrangement is something new and useful.
The app uses a circular arrangement of icons which not only looks great but also allows quick access to the said operations and apps.
9.b Paid Version
The paid version adds customizable categories, pop up widget, a widget screen and more gestures. The pro version is the first one to get new updates and features too.
10. Next Launcher 3D – Free with in app purchases
Goggles not included
Next Launcher 3D is for those who just need a badass launcher for their epic phone or tablet. This is the only launcher in the best launchers for Android list which goes all in with the 3D effects. This launcher has the most robust home screen customization options I have ever seen. You can attach a ton of decorating stuff to the home screens including a nice looking 3D space ship. Yep you heard me right! This combined with awesome weather widgets makes the perfect package.
- It’s an effect galore.
- The transitions look amazing.
- More ships can be added.
There are 3D widgets included with the launcher. All in all this is the heaviest launcher I have tested. I may be well past that “awesome bro” stage but I’m sure many will ogle at this launcher.
11. Apex Launcher – Free and $3.99
Simple, clean and fast
11.a Free Version
Simple, that is the word which describes Apex launcher. It is as close to stock as possible but somehow manages to be faster than the launchers OEM (original electronic manufacturer) puts on your Android device. This launcher has everything you will need and you can have fancy transition effects too.
- Add up to 9 home screens.
- Scrollable docks with 7 icons.
- Customizable icons and labels.
You can select different folder preview styles and backgrounds. This makes putting apps in folders very pretty.
11.b Paid Version
Apex Launcher Pro adds more drawer customizations, unread counters, dock swipe actions and more gesture controls. The pro version also comes with additional transition effects.
13. CM Launcher – Free
Management made easy
CM Launcher comes with multiple icon packs and beautiful wallpapers. The app also allows you to download many themes for almost infinite customization. Dozens of special animations makes using this launcher a joy. You can even drag an app over another to create a folder and simply drag others on the folder to put them in it.
- You can change icon pictures individually.
- To finger gestures are included.
- Hide inactive apps easily.
Add apps in batches to the home screen or folder. This way you can organize your app drawer or populate the home screen in seconds.
14. Dodol Launcher – Free
Do it all bro!
Dodol Launcher is kind of average but it is extremely reliable. The interface is clean and works perfectly and the app drawer looks great. The icons are well polished and show off quality. The overall experience is highly streamlined with no rough edges. The app has some of the best themes available and changes the whole feel in one go. The app automatically adds frequently used widgets to the home screen which can be removed.
- The launcher is very reliable with no crashes whatsoever.
- The themes are a joy to look at.
- Easy installation as well as customization.
The themes are a standout feature of this launcher. They radically change the way the launcher looks and feels. I highly recommend that Lamborghini theme as well as the girly Etude House one.
15. Atom Launcher – Free with in app purchases
Up and Atom
Atom Launcher just like its name believes in minimalism. From great gesture support to smart folders, this launcher makes life easier for an Android user. If you need an understanding and stylish launcher, this is the one of the best launchers for Android. Icon customization is very robust in this app.
- Great customization potential.
- Smooth and minimalistic.
- Icon customization includes size, name hiding and color changing.
The app allows you to make your own theme by using pre-existing images in your gallery. This feature is great for those who love to make everything their own.
With 15 best launchers for Android at your disposal, you will have many potential options. Just because a launcher is ranking high in my books doesn’t mean it will be great for you. That is why I have included multiple launchers with various strong points. As for me I’m going to play around with Buzz Launcher for a while now. Let us know in the comments section if you have any questions. What’s next? Further customize your phone with some cool Android wallpaper apps.
You’ve mistaken Cheetah for Cm. What you’ve reviewed is Cheetah. It’s not a cm product. Cm launcher is very different.
Nice catch. This is indeed Cheetah launcher. I have rectified this mistake. Actually Bil has confused with CM browser when he wrote best browser app lists. Anyways thank you so much for notifying to us.
Is it goog or bad to have more than one Launcher app on your phone?
Well its not bad actually. Its always better to have 2 launchers on your phone. So when one starts acting up you have another great one to use (especially when traveling). That being said, you will always have the default launcher on your phone no matter how many additional ones you install.
Is the hola launcher a safe launcher to have on my note 3?
I have never used it, but I see that it has some good ratings. What is your concern about the launcher?
First allow me to say: “What a wonderful article”.
I’m first time Android user as I’ve been using Nokia Symbian phones my entire life. There’re literally HUNDREDS of Android launchers available and I was looking for a detailed comparison of launchers for a long time, and you’ve nailed it!
Too bad, the list doesn’t include Google Now Launcher! To me, vanilla android is the better android!
Thanks a lot, lad.
Thank you for your kind words and I am glad that you liked the article. Apologies for not having your favorite, but thanks to your comment other reader will definitely know about it.
Buzz launcher is indeed the best of the best launchers
Glad to hear that you found one that works for you. Why do you consider it the best? Thanks for commenting.
Is there any launcher with shake unlock
Have you tried the following launcher? =-)
That’s where you’re wrong! Go Launcher eats up a lot of space. I just ended up uninstalling it and switched to Dodol Launcher(now LINE Launcher) instead. Worth it.
aside from taking up less space, why is it worth it?
To bad that cm launcher is not correctly reviewed.
– it has a paid version.
– stunning 3d effects
– lots of add-on apps, lockscreen, battery charger, notifier, anti-virus, etc. Etc.
– very many themes, wallpapers.
Minus: although you pay for the pro version, the ads from the add-ons keep on coming, for which I have not found a paid version.
Thanks for the information, Peter. This article was published several years ago, so it may need updating to reflect the current versions of these apps.