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Apex vs. Nova: two Android Launchers compared

Loie Favre (translation)
10

Android comes with a huge array of interfaces allowing you to adopt a look for your smartphone that meets your own personal taste. The easiest way to achieve this is by installing a launcher and in this comparison, I took a look at the Apex and Nova launchers, two popular ones among Android users.

androidpit apex nova homescreen
© AndroidPIT

I tested out the free versions for either launcher, though I had been using Nova for quite some time now. What I noticed when installing Apex (install Apex) is that it has a lot of similarities with Nova (install Nova): both have the almost the same look when looking at the home screen. They are built quite modestly, though I wouldn't say that their strengths lie in how radically different their designs are, but rather how sleek they appear, reinforced with multifaceted and rich customization options.

Home screen: no new themes

When setting up the look of the home screen on either launcher, there really isn't that much difference. Like you can see above, the icons, quick start dock and folders presentation is identical. The small differences are due to the fine-tuning that I had applied myself, which can be adopted with either launcher. (What home screen type are you?)

Neither offers its own themes, though Apex does offer one extra wallpaper and Nova will allow you to alter the colors.

androidpit apex nova wallpaper
Apex (left) and Nova don't have much in terms of themes/wallpapers. © AndroidPIT

Settings: limitless possibilities

Glance at the settings menus and you'll see that both launchers have adopted a whole stack of customization options. It's all possible: from the number of app symbols that can be added to the home screen and dock, to the presentation of the notifications bar, to scrolling behavior in the app drawer.

androidpit nova settings desktop
The Nova Launcher shown here offers a huge array of home screen settings, just like Apex. © AndroidPIT

It really is worth it to try these out and get a feel for all the individual effects and what they do. Many functions are supported by both, though the individual settings aren't always found in the same spot. The Apex launcher does have one advantage over Nova in that it supports tablet mode which is optimized for the usage of bigger screens.

androidpit apex nova apps
The app drawers for either are almost the same, other than Apex (left) also lists downloaded apps. © AndroidPIT

Widgets: straightforward choices

Even when choosing widgets, which you can do straight from the home screen, Nova and Apex are quite similar, though they don't offer their own widgets. This is where both show their prime weakness in that there is a limited number of widgets (those from the system). Other launchers are much better in this aspect, like Yandex.Shell 3D (install Yandex.Shell 3D) for example.

androidpit apex nova widgets
Widget choices: it's slim pickings with either launcher. © AndroidPIT

Gestures: Apex offers more

Apex has a major advantage because it allows you to set up gestures. While Apex lets you customize pinch-to-zoom or swipe up and down with various actions, Nova only offers this with its premium versio (install Nova Launcher Prime).

androidpit apex gestures
Even with the free version, Apex lets you customize gestures. © AndroidPIT
androidpit nova gestures
Here, Nova won't let you alter the gestures, unless you purchase the prime version. © AndroidPIT

Bottom Line

Both launchers are very similar and the only differences are found in smaller details. During my test, it was hard for me to see what made Apex that much better than the Nova launcher. Most importantly, Apex has its own tablet mode as well as many gesture settings in the free version. The advantage that comes with both launchers is the huge amount of settings which give you lots of freedom to customize the home screen. The biggest disadvantage is that both have very limited widget and theme choice. To counter this, you'll need to be active yourself and find your own pictures to spruce up the look of the background. All in all, either launcher follows the motto ''it is what you make of it''.

What are your favorite launchers and functions? I look forward to your comments below! Check out our top 5 launchers.

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Comments

Write new comment:
  • Jon Garrett 6 months ago Link

    Nova Launcher is my favorite but there's this new kid in town that does launchers in an entirely different and unique way. It by invite only but check it out. its called Aviate.

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tul.aviate

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  • Thamsanqa Mvayo 6 months ago Link

    I have both launchers in paid versions. I'm currently using Nova on both my Galaxy S4 and S3. But I've used Apex much longer from the days of the Galaxy S2. The themes are a lot as far as I'm concerned seven they are not as many as for example for Go Launcher. Apex has a lot more settings for fine tuning than Nova but Nova has things like making the notification bar transparent and the Galaxy S4 allows that on its stock ROM.

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  • Thamsanqa Mvayo 6 months ago Link

    I meant even not seven.

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  • Bojan M. 6 months ago Link

    I'm a die hard Apex user. Period. Probably the best spent money on a phone app (alongside SwiftKey).

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  • Philipp Junghannß (My1) 6 months ago Link

    I'd rather have a comparison of the Pro versions of both since free apps you can test as much as you want...

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  • Cynamonne 6 months ago Link

    I use Nova pro launcher, I really like the features especially the Nova dock launcher, makes my home screen look beautiful and complete.

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  • Andy Millett 6 months ago Link

    Nova runs better on both my nexus 7 and gs3

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  • CJ Brown 6 months ago Link

    Guess I need to update as I'm still using ADW Launcher with a TRON Legacy skin (is there a TRON legacy skin for either Apex or Nova?) ....

    Well, I better update my android smart phone this holiday season (Nexus5 perhaps with 4.4 kitkat?)

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  • Mark Palmos 6 months ago Link

    One important thing you did not consider is how easy it is to RESTORE your phone every time you flash a new custom rom. For that, Nova is a clear winner. You tap on the blank widget placeholders and nova knows which widgets must go there, you just say ok... Saves a HUGE amount of time for anyone who does a lot of flashing and customising again and again...

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  • Steph S. 5 months ago Link

    I have installed Nova Launcher Pro, Everything Home Beta (a different approach launcher), Vire Launcher Pro (all eye candy), Buzz Launcher (a very customizable and different launcher) and of course DNA'S stock launcher. I am a moody chic. Buzz is getting up there and becoming quite popular. Go check it out. You can find all these launchers at Google Play Store.

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