If you want to change the look and feel of your Android phone, the easiest way to do that is by downloading and installing a new launcher from the Google Play Store. Here’s our pick of the very best Android launchers you can download to your mobile in 2017.
What is an Android launcher?
Manufacturers (like Huawei, Samsung, Sony and so on) typically like to customise the Android operating system they load onto their devices with a launcher of their own, changing everything from layouts to icons, wallpapers, fonts and even adding in extra functionality.
The good news is that you can quickly and easily swap the Android launcher your phone sports out the box at any time by downloading a fresh one – check out our complete guide on changing your Android phone launcher for more info and step-by-step instructions.
Best Android launchers in 2017: Google Now
If you want a vanilla Android experience, as found on the likes of Google’s Nexus phones, then you should download the Google Now launcher. This pleasingly clean launcher gives you fast access to your Google Now cards with just a swipe right from your home screen.
Best Android launchers in 2017: Nova Launcher Prime
You can download the basic Nova Launcher for free, but this excellent interface also comes in a premium version that, whilst usually priced at £3.99, is frequently subject to discounts on the Play store. For your money, you get tons of awesome bonus features, including complete app drawer management, customisable gesture support and plenty more.
With its impressive range of features and personalisation options, Nova Launcher is our pick for the picky Android owner.
Best Android launchers in 2017: Apex Launcher
Another Android launcher that offers impressive customisation is Apex Launcher. The free version gives you a huge collection of tweakable features, including up to nine desktop screens, full control over your apps tray, icon editing, gesture support and loads more on top. And if you splash out for the fully unlocked version, there’s pretty much no limit to the launcher’s personalisation options.
Best Android launchers in 2017: Buzz Launcher
Buzz Launcher is a great choice if you’re the indecisive type, or you love changing up the look and feel of your smartphone on the regular. With access to a silly number of themes (or ‘homepacks’ as they’re called), all free to download, you can instantly rock a new design with just a quick browse. You can even customise basically any widget with a bundled tool, which is particularly cool.
Best Android launchers in 2017: Arrow Launcher
This Microsoft-made Android launcher is a good start for Android noobs who want a simple, streamlined smartphone experience. It’s designed to be as helpful as possible, rather than customisable. So for instance, Arrow Launcher will automatically manage your phone’s memory and power efficiency, while also putting your most-used apps within easy reach.
Best Android launchers in 2017: Z Launcher
Not unlike Arrow Launcher, this Nokia-made Android overlay focuses on simplicity, with an adaptive home screen showing you the apps you’re most likely to use at a given time, an alphabetised apps menu and a simple widget at the top that keeps your day and your diary front and centre.
Its standout feature is the ability to trace letters anywhere on the screen so you can quickly find the app, contact or website you want.
Best Android launchers in 2017: BlackBerry Launcher
Before BlackBerry’s officially stated that it was stepping out of the hardware game it brought one of its much-loved software experiences to the wider Android community.
The BlackBerry Launcher puts productivity above all else, with a wealth of dedicated actions at your disposal, smart app icons that can transform into widgets with a simple swipe up and the BlackBerry Hub, arguably the best way to manage multiple email, messaging and social media accounts on a smartphone in one place.
Best Android launchers in 2017: Evie Launcher
The newest launcher in our lineup, Evie, is another less-is-more offering that aims to shave off the time you spend searching for the same thing between one app and the next. The universal search bar really does search every app installed on your phone, your contacts and incorporates Google Search results in there too, all to find what you’re looking for.
It also features a clean and tidy (but also mildly customisable) interface and the ability to save your existing home screen setups and layouts for later use or for sharing, if you’re so inclined.
Still not sure which one to choose?
If you’re still scratching your head as to which Android launcher is the best fit for you, why not check out Google’s new #myAndroid Taste Test, which asks you a series of questions to determine a suitable launcher, wallpaper and icon packs to best reflect you.