Every Android phone comes with a launcher, but there are also endless third-party best and free launchers for upgrading your Android experience.

Evie Launcher is a relative newcomer to the launcher scene, especially next to storied launchers like Nova Launcher, but Evie is a light little launcher that doesn’t quit and uses gestures in a few really good ways. First and foremost, like so many recent launchers, Evie has a swipe up gesture to open the app drawer. Another popular launcher gesture Evie has is the ability to double-tap the screen to put your phone to sleep, either using the phone-locking Instant Lock or Smart Lock-friendly Timer Lock. There’s even a gesture shortcut to take you to Google Now, if you miss that dedicated page from Google Now Launcher.

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Evie is easy to set up and run with, but you can customize the desktop grid and turn gestures on and off as needed. It’s a quick launcher that’s also getting quick updates, so look forward to more optimizations and tweaks to help speed up your launcher experience.

Microsoft launcher for Android is a browser that’s centered around a clean home screen, an orderly utility page for widgets and cards, and a speedy app drawer where you can easily find your apps. It is easy to set up and a breeze to navigate. It’s not quite as bare-bones as Evie, but it is a light launcher that’s well-worth considering, especially if you have an Outlook account for work or school that it can tie into for email and calendar appointments.


Nova Launcher is over 5 years old, and this storied launcher has been a major player in the Android launcher market longer than most of us have used Android. The reason for this continued dominance is simple: Nova’s mix of customization, convenience, and cunning are unparalleled. Nova lets your phone look more Pixel-y than a Pixel and more TouchWiz than a Galaxy S8 and does it with ease and grace. In fact, Nova’s biggest strengths are things that are hidden in plain sights, like its pocket ace Subgrid Positioning or its excellent backup system.

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Action Launcher is one of the most popular launchers on the market, and the watchword of both the launcher and its users is QUICK. Quicktheme, Quickdrawer, Quickpage, Quickbar, quick, quick, quick. Action Launcher is determined to be a launcher that gets what you need doing quickly so that you can get back to doing what really matters on your phone: wasting hours on gaming and Netflix. To ensure that Action Launcher can be the quickest and best launcher for users who want to set everything up just so, Action Launcher has taken it upon itself to be one of the most customizable launchers on the market, from its robust gesture controls to its ubiquitous Covers and Shutters to hide folders and widgets under a seemingly plain looking app shortcut. Action Launcher is also quick to support features from the newest version of Android, including Adaptive Icons, Notification Previews, and App Shortcuts.

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Yahoo Aviate Launcher uses a combination of the Google Now-like Smart Screen and predictive collections to help you find what you want quicker and keep your launcher experience light and quick. Aviate figures out where you are and what time of day it is and serves up relevant collections, so you can better handle those activities. For example, if you plug in your headphones, it offers you quick access to media controls and your favorite music apps. Aviate excels for having a high amount of polish and minimal maintenance, even though you might lose out on some customizability.


Smart Launcher 3 is a lot more customization-based than Aviate, but it’s still a launcher with algorithms and intelligence at its core, sorting your app drawer into five categories and putting a search bar at the top of your launcher screens. Smart Launcher 3 has some interesting theming support, including its iconic “Flower” QuickStart layout for the apps on your home screen and its new Icon Pack Studio, but its implementation of widgets and item placement on its home screens keeps us from calling it a true theming launcher. Smart Launcher 3’s real magic come from the app drawer and the search bar, where optimization and search can help you find the apps and information you need quickly and easily. It’s also beginning to toy with launcher features from Android Oreo, starting with notification badges.

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Pixel Launcher is clean and fast. It also might remind you a little bit of iOS with the new round icon design and the translucent menu bar at the bottom. It’s only for Google’s phones, though with a little trickery you can sideload the APK yourself and give it a try. (In fact, we’ve got instructions on how to do so for both the Galaxy S8 and LG G6.) Google is introducing a number of interface changes with last fall’s Pixel 2 updates, such as a dock search bar, notification dots, and more, so the Pixel launcher is going to be among the first to see this new wave of features.




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