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.
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.
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.Buzz Launcher-Smart&Free Theme
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.
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.Smart Launcher 2
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.Next Launcher 3D Shell Lite
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.APUS Launcher-Small,Fast,Boost
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.Hola Launcher - Simple & Fast
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.Apex Launcher
- Apex vs. Nova: two of the best Android Launchers compared
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.Nova Launcher
- SOLO Launcher review: A good alternative to Apex, Nova & Co.
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.GO Launcher EX:Theme&Wallpaper
Are you rocking a custom launcher we missed? What do you think is the best launcher on Android?