Android emulators have become increasingly fashionable in recent years. This isn’t surprising since they’re easy to access and they offer the perfect way of benefiting from the range of Android apps directly on your computer. Scroll down for our list of the best Android emulators on PC.
The best Android Emulators for your PC
Remember: firstly, it’s important to know that the fluidity and speed of the task execution with these emulators depends on your computer’s performance, although some of them have additional optimizations for some processors and graphics chips. In addition to this, you’ll notice that the interface doesn’t change much, apart from the number of options displayed, which are more or less numerous depending on what the user opts for. All the emulators listed here can be installed and used for free, but additional features and removing any ads will require payment.
BlueStacks 3 (Android Nougat emulator for PC)
To date, BlueStacks has been the most popular emulator, and a recent update for this emulator updated it to Android Nougat. It's probably the most stable, in terms of app reliability. So, why is it that? Having used it myself for a while on some of my devices, I never had to pay for anything; but the ads can often appear to be rather intrusive. Unless you do Ctrl + Alt + Delete to kill the tasks running in the background of Windows, BlueStacks gives you the option – and it tells you in an explicit message – to display advertising that promotes apps in order to allow you continue using the service for free. Otherwise, you'd have to pay a sum of money to stop the advertising and you can then use the service without any interruptions.
Anyone can use BlueStacks for free and without limits, with or without a Google account, as it will simulate a sort of browser style OS on your PC. Currently, BlueStacks is the most reliable Android emulator offered for Windows, in addition to offering foolproof compatibility with all kinds of PCs. You don’t need to have a brand new PC for the emulator to work properly as it can run on a 2013 desktop without too many issues, although an additional graphics card is recommended. In conclusion, BlueStacks works hand in hand with streamers with its openness towards Twitch.
Bliss (Oreo 8.0 emulator for PC)
If you're tech savvy and looking for something a little different, then Bliss, which based on Android Oreo is a good option (and it's free!), and is even more up-to-date than BlueStacks. Ensure your device is compatible, otherwise it will not run very well. The set-up can be quite complicated, but if you get past that, then it will allow your PC to run Android natively through USB installation, or alternatively, you can do a VM installation which is a little more simple. If you want to find out more, you can check out the Bliss forum on XDA developers, or head to its website.
Nox App Player (Android 4.4.2 KitKat emulator for PC)
Nox is just as fluid as BlueStacks and even faster. It's a solution that was released not too long ago and looks promising. Far from being as remarkable as a normal PC, I was pleasantly surprised by the task execution speed of the emulator, although some elements did give it a run for its money. This was particularly an issue with power-hungry games. I didn't notice many problems with regard to app usage, aside from the non-compatibility of some apps.
Although a longer test period would be needed to verify this, my first test of the Nox App Player made me want to install it. Currently, Nox App Player has a significant advantage over BlueStacks: it’s free. In addition to being free, there’s also no advertising. To perfect the user experience, the emulator replicates a range of functions, just like those on an Android smartphone. If you have a touch screen, you can simulate the touch feature. And that’s not all: you can also do screenshots (of photos or videos), volume control, installation of an APK file, restarting and multiple sessions.
Droid4X (Android 4.4.2 KitKat emulator for PC)
Droid4X, which is also free, may not have the most attractive interface but it works perfectly. Unlike other closed off emulators, this one is more open as it allows the user to have control, including all basic Android settings. In terms of fluidity, it’s good but far from being as successful as the two other emulators mentioned above.
Like the previously mentioned emulators, you can also store videos, as well as pictures of your face (with the help of a webcam). For those who want to give gaming a go, it's worth noting that gaming controllers are also compatible. To verify the controllers, Droid4X asks you to scan a QR code. In the emulator’s settings, you can change the display resolution as well as the emulator’s performance level. As a general rule, it’s recommended that you allocate no more than half of your PC’s capacity to this. For example, you'll need to allocate 2 GB out of the 4 GB of RAM and 2 out of the 4 quad-core processor cores.
Andy OS (Android 4.2.2 emulator for PC)
Although I have had little to do with it over the years (because I didn’t need it), Andy OS was the alternative that I used for a long time to get away from some of the boring aspects of BlueStacks. The Andy OS emulator, which is completely free, has developed significantly over the last year resulting in an improved navigation mechanism that is more responsive with a mouse. Prior to this, Andy OS couldn't process a long tap. In the game Clash of Clans, I’ll let you imagine the ordeal that I experienced in creating squads. As well as being great ergonomically, the interface is also more attractive with its mix of KitKat and Marshmallow. It’s different but great to use.
Unlike the three other emulators installed on KitKat (Android 4.4+), Andy OS isn’t as advanced, as it was shut down during the second version of Jelly Bean (Android 4.2.2). In terms of features, it’s also slightly less comprehensive than the others. On the other hand, it offers excellent stability at all levels. In summary, the emulator is completely free if you download it for personal use. If it’s for business, Andy OS charges $12 per month or $99 per year. By purchasing this version, professionals or users that wish to contribute are provided with emulator compatibility on Mac and Linux, as well as Windows, and also with Premium support and access to all of Andy OS’s previous versions.
Have you used an Android emulator on your PC? If so, which one? What did you think of it? Let us know in the comments.