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Best Android launchers: 10 to customize your smartphone and tablet

Authored by: Kris Carlon — 1 week ago

If you own a smartphone, one of the most impressive ways to customize it is by installing a launcher. Launchers provide tons of options, themes and icons for your handset, as well as offering near complete control over how your phone performs when switching screens, launching apps and more. Here are the best Android launchers for your smartphone or tablet.

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Next Launcher is one of the best launchers on Android.  / © ANDROIDPIT

Solo Launcher - clean, smooth DIY: intuitive and light 

With more than 50 million downloads, Solo launcher is a pretty hot app right now. It's marketed as clean, clear and smooth, and it delivers on all accounts.

It doesn’t use many of its own icons, but it does use feature some sweet animations, and it's lighter on "bundled apps and widgets" than most launchers we encounter.

Solo Launcher houses some neat gestures like a simple upward swipe on the home screen to perform a search (online or for local files), but it doesn't deliver any huge changes in functionality to your normal device. It's a simple, subtle alteration which could even go unnoticed, and this is its greatest strength. 

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Solo Launcher looks great with the Doodle Style Theme. / © ANDROIDPIT

Buzz Launcher: don't like your launcher, borrow someone else's

Buzz Launcher has left a mark on over a million Play Store user's minds, earning it a rating of 4.4 stars, and for good reason. Buzz offers some of the most unique and inventive themes we've seen on Android, with the community coming up with a whole range of "professional-looking" ideas to suit all tastes.

Buzz is unbeatable if you want a radical new look on your Android without investing any effort in creating it yourself, but you will need to download the additional Buzz Widget app to get the most from it.  

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Just one of the wild themes you can get with Buzz Launcher. / © ANDROIDPIT
Buzz Launcher-Smart&Free Theme Install on Google Play

dodol Launcher: an understated improvement

With over 10 million installs and support for thousands of free themes, dodol Launcher keeps it simple and does themes right. It isn’t a complete reworking of the Android system, it’s a lightweight but effective launcher which isn’t going to destroy your battery life with crazy effects and animations. It's another less-is-more kind of launcher, and could be a great place to start if you're new to the world of Android customization.

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This neon-style theme for dodol Launcher is a minimalist delight. / © ANDROIDPIT

Smart Launcher: catered to your needs and habits

Smart Launcher takes things and turns them inside out. Instead of neat rows and boxes, Smart Launcher gives you rings of the most commonly used apps and vertical cascades of categorized apps. It's linked with the app manager too, so if you delete an icon, the app is deleted too. Simple and unique with a 4.6 star rating based on over five million installs.

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Smart Launcher gives you rings of the most commonly used apps. / © ANDROIDPIT
Smart Launcher 2 Install on Google Play

Next Launcher: the wicked 3D-effect launcher 

Next Launcher is quite possibly the coolest 3D launcher available. It's hard to put into words just how radically different this launcher is compared to anything else on this list. All the best features aren't free, as with most launchers, but what the Premium version lacks in free-ness it makes up for in wow-ness. If you want a hi-tech, attention grabbing launcher on your phone, try the free version out and try to resist upgrading. 

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Next Launcher is known for it futuristic look and 3D effects. / © ANDROIDPIT
Next Launcher 3D Shell Lite Install on Google Play

APUS Launcher: for subtle, sophisticated design 

APUS is currently one of the most popular Launchers on Android, and largely thanks to its gorgeous Pinko theme. This Launcher combines themes, custom icons, and some APUS own-brand features to make it one of the most comprehensive launchers to date. As a free app, you should definitely check this one out; APUS' own animations are top-notch. 

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APUS Launcher is feature-packed and tightly designed: it's Pinko theme (seen above) is one of its most popular. / © ANDROIDPIT
APUS Launcher-Small,Fast,Boost Install on Google Play

Hola Launcher: simple, clever, colorful

Hola Launcher has made a name for itself largely thanks to how economical it is - the initial download comes in at just over 1 MB in size, and with that comes a reorganized interface and new app icons. But it's not just its file size that is slim, the processing power used by Hola also takes some beating, requiring less RAM than even some of the quickest Android Launchers. It also supports some gorgeous themes.

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Some of the Hola Launcher themes are minimalist delights. / © ANDROIDPIT
Hola Launcher - Simple & Fast Install on Google Play

Apex Launcher: for customization freaks!

Apex Launcher is one of the most popular custom launchers available right now, with over ten million installs in the Play Store and an average rating of 4.3 stars. Like most launchers on our list it offers near-endless customization options, complete home screen and app drawer control, gesture settings, and tons of icons, themes, launch animations and transition effects. There's also a paid version which adds even more features to an already formidable free launcher.

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This is my current Apex Launcher setup - exactly how I like it. / © ANDROIDPIT
Apex Launcher Install on Google Play

Nova Launcher: the every man's launcher (it's got it all)

Quite possibly the undisputed king of alternative Android launchers, Nova Launcher holds a spot on basically everyone's smartphone. With over five million Play Store installs, the fans can't be wrong, with Nova scoring an impressive 4.7 star user rating. Nova is quite similar to Apex and offers much the same functionality, but Nova is pretty much the go-to launcher for anyone not terribly familiar with launchers. You really can't go wrong with this one.

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Nova Launcher has a vast array of options, it's easy to see why it's so popular. / © ANDROIDPIT
Nova Launcher Install on Google Play

GO Launcher EX: style and simplicity

GO Launcher EX has over one hundred million installs and a 4.5 star rating, making it the unparalleled Android launcher extraordinaire. GO is basically as polished a free launcher as you can find, and features some excellent animations and 3D effects. The downside of GO Launcher being that there is a lot of cross-promotion which can get a little annoying.

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GO Launcher: one of the best on Android. / © ANDROIDPIT
GO Launcher EX:Theme&Wallpaper Install on Google Play

Are you rocking a custom launcher we missed? What do you think is the best launcher on Android?

Kris Carlon comes to the AndroidPIT Editorial Team via a lengthy period spent traveling and relying on technology to keep him in touch with the outside world. He joined the Android community while resurfacing in civilization back in 2010 and has never looked back, using technology to replace his actual presence in other people's lives ever since. He can usually be found juggling three phones at once and poring over G+ posts, Reddit and RSS feeds.

69 comments

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  • Umer Sarwar 20 hours ago Link to comment

    Find reviews of top launchers at blogging-guide.com

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  • Daremo Sensanome 1 week ago Link to comment

    Launchers... KK Launcher... the same Google Now launcher with lots of options.
    Awesome piece of software.

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  • MzTech 1 week ago Link to comment

    C launcher is also a great launcher.

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  • JRB 1 week ago Link to comment

    Anyone besides me try Lucid Launcher yet? Just different enough to earn my keep right now. Plus it doesn't come preset up with junk. You get to start from the ground up somewhat and build it like u like.

    1
  • Blue Carbon Analog Watch Face 1 week ago Link to comment

    One reason that some users prefer Android based smartphones compared to iPhones is their high level of customization. you can style it according to your taste and preference.

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  • Rogue Tomato 1 week ago Link to comment

    Smart Launcher is version 3 now, not 2. And "if you delete an icon, the app is deleted too" is not true. You can remove icons from the home screen, but it doesn't (and shouldn't) uninstall the app. In the drawers, the long press lets you move the icon to another category, hide the app or uninstall it (and even rename, start or stop the app from the long-press menu).

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  • Mohammad Al-amin Mia 1 week ago Link to comment

    In those Launcher, i like Hola Launcher.It helps me to easy and comfort.Everyone can use it.

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  • Aron 1 week ago Link to comment

    How can you possibly leave Actipn Launcher off this list?! It is hands down top 3. Nova is more customizable, but almost to a fault. AL3 has many of tje same custom features and it has covers and shutters. You can have dozens of widgets on your desktop on one flick away. Super helpful and maintains a clean homepage.

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  • Douglas Nolan 1 week ago Link to comment

    Nova running perfect on my S4, CM12.1,5.1.1..!!!

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  • Ismet Şen 1 month ago Link to comment

    Nova is the best launcher.

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  • Aftab Ejaz 1 month ago Link to comment

    Nice post I like all launcher you may also like this
    Boost your Smartphone with these best Android Launchers www.viraltricks.com/2015/04/the-amazing-android-launchers-for.html

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  • Bob Brown 1 month ago Link to comment

    Very interesting article. And I think Launcher 8 is the best for me!!!

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  • Vektoo 1 month ago Link to comment

    The best: Launcher Lab
    -Various editing elements and options
    -Your editing shows in real time
    -User friendly with simple gestures
    -Support Layers
    -Support Wallpaper editor (visual editor)
    -Support Animation
    -Support custom "widget" creator (can not force him to install plugin eg: UCCW or Zooper)

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  • Brian Olmstead 2 months ago Link to comment

    I've tried most of these and i keep Nova around like an old friend. No mention of Lucid Launcher, which between Action 3 i switch back and forth to quite often.

    1
    • Scott Adam Gordon
      • Admin
      • Staff
      2 months ago Link to comment

      I don't know Lucid Launcher! I might have to check that out. Nova is too intense for me but yeah Action 3 is pretty sweet!

      1
  • Techie Gen 2 months ago Link to comment

    ENJOY THE latest Free Launchers to Customize your Android mObile in stylish way
    smartmobtech(dot)com/app/new-free-launcher-apps-available-in-android-play-store/

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  • Jorge Barake 3 months ago Link to comment

    I am using Yahoo Aviate and love the interface. However, it feels as if it is a huge battery hug on my device.

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  • graham jorgensen 4 months ago Link to comment

    Hi yo all , I have 5 launches running on my s4 . Love them all I'm the kind that changes like the weather so one would not do for me .got.... smart - next - aviate -google now and atom launcher all on board and I got no lag problems all ways running with 700 mb of ram free .will try out the others in due course .nice list Mr .

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  • Vertito Sta Maria 4 months ago Link to comment

    i use all the launcher so far but
    splay wins my heart
    splay v2

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