One of the biggest advantages of Android over iOS and many other operating systems is its customizability, and nothing drives that point home more than the abundance of third-party launchers does. If you just bought a new Android phone and don't like the look of its default launcher or simply want to breathe some new life into your old one, below you'll find the top ten best Android launchers that can currently be downloaded from the Google Play Store, listed in no particular order.
If you ever consider trying out a third-party launcher on your Android device and don't want to spend too much time experimenting, Nova Launcher is the first app you ought to install, being widely considered as the best solution in its category. The free version of the service already comes with a wide variety of capabilities, though a one-time fee of $4.99 (or less seeing how often the app is on sale) will open up a world of possibilities, allowing you to customize your Android experience any way you see fit and always have access to experimental Android features even before a new version of the OS officially hits your device.
Formerly known as Arrow Launcher, this regularly updated mobile app is a prime example of Microsoft's new software strategy of delivering extremely versatile and intuitive software meant to cater to a wide variety of users. Microsoft Launcher is also one of the only two offerings on this list that doesn't have a premium version, features zero ads, and ships with no in-app purchases, with the tech giant opting for a Google-like business model that sees consumers be offered access to a high-quality product in exchange for their data. If that sounds like a fair deal to you and you're looking for a high-quality launcher to use on your Android device, Microsoft's solution is as good as they come.
CM Launcher 3D
Much like its name implies, CM Launcher 3D is all about three-dimensional wallpapers and visuals in general, offering over 10,000 themes, effects, icon packs, and animations that will help you personalize your Android device like never before. Coupled with some extra features such as hideable apps and folders, CM Launcher 3D is an excellent choice for anyone willing to sacrifice a bit of battery life for a lively smartphone experience, though it's still much more efficient than running a stock live wallpaper from someone like Samsung or Sony.
Few solutions allow for such heavy skins, icon packs, transition animations, and wallpapers while maintaining smooth performance like Buzz Launcher does. Its user-created library of content that can be used for customizing your Android phone is growing on a rapid basis and is especially useful to people who frequently like to change the look of their phone without fiddling too much with their device settings. It also utilizes the same business model adopted by Microsoft Launcher, so if feature-packed and free is what you're going for, Buzz Launcher is certainly worth giving a shot.
C Launcher was designed to provide a balanced combination of customization and performance improvements, boasting a wide variety of functionalities meant to maximize your battery life and the overall smartphone experience your pocket companion can deliver. While it contains some ads, it's also meant to protect you from third-party apps violating your privacy and comes with a built-in storage cleaning tool that will help you make your device faster.
Solo Launcher is the ideal software skin for people who prefer minimalism but would also like to avoid wasting a lot of time setting up such a look, with most of its default settings already delivering an extremely clean look and an intuitive user interface. Support for themes and gesture controls is also part of the package, as is a photo editor, cache cleaning service, and a robust search engine allowing you to find anything from apps to system settings from a single bar. Solo Launcher is a free Android app supported by advertising.
TSF Launcher 3D Shell
If you long for the days of Android's Holo theme or simply want a solution that will grant you access to a broad range of three-dimensional wallpapers, icons, and animations, TSF Launcher 3D Shell is one of the apps you should try. The solution also allows for a much modern-looking design than what can be seen above, though it's still likely to primarily cater to nostalgic Android users. Best of all, it's free to use and comes with no ads.
No, this isn't a play-on-words and has nothing to do with the Holo aesthetic but a highly customizable launcher that can be themed, reskinned, and tweaked in virtually any respect while also shipping with numerous extra features meant to take your Android experience to the next level. Among other things, Hola Launcher comes with a game performance optimizer, cache cleaning tool, app manager, another service for hiding and/or locking apps, and a battery optimization system. The app is free to download and is supported through limited advertising.
Evie Launcher is yet another easily customizable offering on this list but after seeing the default settings studio Evie Labs opted for, we'd rather not fiddle with it too much because everything just clicks here; the launcher is clean yet still manages not to let a lot of screen real estate go to waste, its universal search is basically instant and only paralleled by Nova Launcher, and its performance is absolutely stellar, particularly in the battery department. If you're looking for something sleek and different, this solution is certainly worth giving a shot.
Smart Launcher 5
Artificial intelligence is now gradually making its way into every element of contemporary smartphone software, and while Smart Launcher 5 isn't powered by neural networks, it offers a surprisingly automated experience and one that's perfect for users who just want something that works out of the box, though countless customization options are part of the package as well. If you usually use your smartphone in one hand and spend a lot of time playing games and enjoying multimedia, Smart Launcher 5's intuitive design and ultra-immersive viewing mode will likely be right up your alley.