Android fans know well the deep customization ability of the operating system. From widgets to wallpapers, homescreens to themes, the options for personalization are exhaustive. But if you really want to go big, a launcher is what you’ll need.
Launchers are user-customized skins that give your phone a unique look and feel. They’re great for freshening up an older device or for just adding fun effects and functionality to your phone.
With plenty of free and paid options you can choose from, we reached out to our highly-trained research team that we keep sequestered deep in a bunker, and asked them for their top five launcher picks.
Go Launcher Ex Editor's Pick
GO Launcher EX transforms your phone visually and adds functionality - stuff you don’t know you wanted until you see it. GO Launcher offers a variety of transition effects, security lock, lots of widgets, and gesture controls, all controlled by a 3D core. There is also a deep library of add-ons available in the Play store for this launcher, including over 10,000 themes.
This is the most downloaded launcher in the Google Play store and for good reason.
This is the most customizable launcher available for your Android phone or tablet. You can choose from a number of different colors themes, icon themes, app drawers and more. If you don’t like any of the Nova icon themes, you can also apply ADW or Go Launcher icon themes to this launcher.
In addition, the launcher provides infinite scrolling ability, fun scroll effects and scrollable docks. The paid prime version offers the use of gestures, hide apps, unlimited custom tabs and more.
Test drive Nova with the free version first and if you like it, you can purchase the prime version.
Smart Launcher takes a minimalist approach, offering simplicity and low resource requirements and provides an elegant user experience. It has the added convenience of automatically sorting and cataloging your apps. With Smart Launcher you can long press to hide an app, organize drawers by categories, and it has a quick search feature. It's ready to use out of the box.
With over 100 personalization options, Ace Launcher lets you to easily connect with Facebook friends, features unlimited folders and widgets for weather, switcher and task killer. Ace Launcher has over 20 transition effects and is compatible with many other popular launcher themes and wallpapers.
NEXT Launcher 3D Shell Lite
NEXT Launcher 3D Shell Lite is premium launcher with a premium price tag of $16. However, the lite version allows you a free trial period to experience a remarkable array of highly visual customization elements that make use of many dynamic 3D effects, from transitions and mini-animation sequences to the general behavior of icons and widgets.
With NEXT Launcher 3D Lite, you can modify every UI element, including folders, icons and dock. You can even touch an icon and send it barreling across all of your panels or bank it off the sides of your phone’s screen! lf you like what you see, you can buy the full version as an in-app purchase.
Many launchers offer both free and paid versions, and you may want to audition several in order to find one that fits just right. Also, when searching in the Google Play store, you may want to check out user reviews and note which developers respond in a timely fashion to user concerns.
Finally, some launchers have a deeper library of add-on content than others, so if you like to change things up a lot you may want to check out which launchers frequently add new themes, wallpapers, etc.
As always, we love hearing from our readers, so let us know what you think in the comments below.
New to this whole launcher thing? Be sure to check out our guide:
How To Install an Android Launcher.