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Fastest Android Launcher: 14 Top Android Launchers Tested

Google Play store has about hundreds of different launcher apps available for download, but other than the option for customization, one might ask, which among them is the fastest Android launcher? As we know it, launchers for Android has never been about the speed and responsiveness. It’s more about the customization overall and usefulness. So for this article, we will take a closer look at 14 of the most popular Android launcher apps on the Google Play store.

If you ever find yourself looking for a way to speed up your Android smartphone or to customize the home user interface of your device, then this article is perfect for you. We took 14 of the best and most popular launcher apps for Android that are free, lite, and enhances device performance to figure out which among them is the king and the fastest Android launcher in the market.

Android Launcher

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Microsoft Launcher with Live Game Score Widget

Android launcher is basically an app that’s pre-installed and is the default launcher app of all Android smartphones and tablets. Fortunately, Google is not strict and does not prevent people from using a different launcher. Various Android launcher apps are available on the Google Play store. Those apps offer a different way of fully customizing the user interface of your device as well as user experience.


Performance Benchmark Methodology

When it comes to Android launchers, there’s really no specific way to benchmark and put their performance in numbers, unlike how we did with our test for the fastest Android browser. Each launcher is unique and different in their own way, furthermore, the launcher’s performance is also affected by the device used. So it’s like comparing apples to oranges.

What we did though, is have 5 of our staff use each launcher for 24 hours. Since we have 14 launchers to test, we had to perform this performance benchmark for 14 days, 1 day for each launcher. Additionally, we used 5 different devices that were as each phone runs on a different version of Android. By doing so, this will let us have a wider performance scope of each app launcher on various different devices.

Tools Used:

  • Huawei P10 – Android 9.0.1 (4GB/32GB) | HiSilicon Kirin 960 (16 nm)
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 – Android 6.0 (2GB/16GB) | MSM8974AC Snapdragon 801 (28 nm)
  • Elephone P9000 – Android 7.0 (4GB/16GB) | Helio P10 MT6755 (28 nm)
  • Samsung Galaxy S10+ – Android 9.0 ONE (12GB/512GB) | SDM855 Snapdragon 855 (7 nm)
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge – Android 8.0 (4GB/64GB) | MSM8996 Snapdragon 820 (14 nm)

Testing Methodology:

  • 14 Android Launcher apps to be tested.
  • Each device will run one launcher for 24 hours.
  • Each day, 5 devices will use the same Android launcher.
  • After 24 hours, our staff will note down their experience and provide a score.
  • Scores provided are in the range of 1 to 10, where 10 is the highest.
  • All 5 testers use an Android smartphone as their daily driver.
  • Each tester is in-between the ages of 21 to 33.
  • Each tester is requested to have a keen eye for responsiveness, speed, and smoother device performance.

So before, we show you the result, let us first take a closer look at each Android launcher apps.

Top 14 Android Launcher on Google Play Store

Before we start doing any test, let’s first take a closer look at our top 14 Android launcher apps. We’ll show you why these apps are worth being on our list.

1. Microsoft Launcher | Free

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With over 10 million downloads, our first launcher to be featured in our list is the Microsoft Launcher. This launcher was first made available on the Google Play store back in 2015. Microsoft did not do any media or promotional launch for this app which makes this launcher quite mysterious and curious.

Today, this launcher is now one of the most downloaded and popular Android launchers in the market.

Microsoft designed this application launcher for the Android mobile platform as a lightweight, fast, and efficient alternative to the default Android launcher. It features a customizable feed, a single swipe up from the bottom of the screen to reveal the application shortcuts and a search bar that also displays the recently installed apps at the top.

The Microsoft Launcher offers a highly personalizable GUI with a wide range of options and that includes having a wallpaper that can change daily based in Bing. Another great thing about this launcher is that it is integrated with Microsoft’s other Android applications. You also get a feature that lets you continue on your PC whatever it is you are doing with any Microsoft apps. For example, they are able to open a web page in Edge and then open exactly the same page on their PC.

2. Nova Launcher | Free & Paid ($2.48)

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The next Android launcher app in our list is one the most downloaded one and the most popular, the Nova Launcher. This launcher has already achieved over 50 million downloads and counting. It is highly customizable with device performance enhancing in mind when the developers are developing this app.

Nova Launcher is an utterly powerful Android launcher with extreme customizability as well as versatility as a home screen replacement. It has advanced features that will enhance your home screens while maintaining its user-friendly design.

The support for icon themes on the Google Play store, a night mode that sets automatically at a specific time, page effects, and card or immersive options are just a few of the things that makes the Nova Launcher app popular amongst Android users. If you really want to have a new way to interact with your Android smartphone, then we recommend giving the Nova Launcher a try.

If you find the free version fun and interesting to use, then you might want to unlock the full potential of this launcher by purchasing the Nova Launcher Prime.

3. GO Launcher 3D | Free & Paid ($2.53)

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The Go Launcher 3D is by far the number 1 most downloaded launcher app in our list. With over 100 million downloads, there is no denying that this launcher is the most popular one here in our list.

What sets this launcher apart from the rest, and probably the reason behind its number of downloads is the 3D Parallax effect. According to the developers, the launcher features an independent 3D Engine that provides fast and secure operation. Resulting in smoother device responsiveness and cool 3D effects without hogging the device resources.

The GO Launcher app is available in 3 different versions, this one being the most popular amongst the 3.

If you ever want to try the premium paid version, you can download and install the trial premium version from the Google Play store. Otherwise, you can download this app from the link below.

4. Google Now Launcher | Free

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Another Android launcher that has over 100 million downloads, and counting, is the Google Now Launcher app. Google designed this launcher to bring the modern UI of Android without bloatware to smartphones that run on Android versions 4.1 to 7.1.1. Speaking of Android version, if your phone runs on Android higher than 7.1.1, then this launcher will not be available for you.

If you want a clean, simple, and efficient launcher for your Android phone, then this is the perfect one for you. Although, it’s best to keep in mind that Google has already retired this app and won’t be developing this launcher any longer. So it’s best to expect that Google may, or will not, remove this launcher from the Google Play store anytime soon.

5. APUS Launcher | Free

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The third Android launcher in our list that also has over 100 million downloads from the Google Play store is the APUS Launcher app. Other than the option to customize your Android smartphone’s home screen, the APUS launcher is solely focused on boosting the performance of your device. That’s just one of the reasons why this launcher is so popular.

APUS features 7 significant features that are unique to this app and those are a boost, device search, smart folder, discovery, themes and wallpapers, KNOW, and APUS headlines.

You can learn more about this launcher by watching the video below.

If you find this launcher interesting, you can try the APUS Launcher PRO version for more functionality and features. Otherwise, download this launcher from the link below.

6. Apex Launcher | Free & Paid ($7)

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If you’re looking for a launcher that’s simple, clean, and well organized by default, then the Apex Launcher is the one for you. It somehow resembles the design found on Google Now Launcher in terms of simplicity and cleanliness overall. The only distinguishable trait of this launcher is its home dock screen design.

Similar to other launcher apps, this one also features a performance booster functionality, device system or file search, and gestures. It also comes with in-app purchases for themes that may cost some money.

In terms of features, functionality, and performance, the Apex launcher surely delivers. Although, it’s still far from being perfect.

If you find this launcher interesting, you can purchase the Apex Launcher Pro version for $7. Otherwise, you can download the free version below.

7. Action Launcher: Pixel Edition | Free & Paid ($4)

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The Action Launcher: Pixel Edition is a kind of launcher that doesn’t really focus on themes or wallpapers. Its aim is to bring the Android 9 (Pie) experience to Android devices running version between 5 to 8. So, if you want a launcher that’s clean, brings the Android P experience to your phone, and provides a boost to your device’s general performance and responsiveness, then this launcher is perfect for you.

Although far from perfect, it does somehow give the Pie experience. There are a ton of options available for you as well to further personalize the launcher for you.

If you liked this launcher, you can purchase the premium version, Action Launcher: Plus for $4. Quite expensive if you ask us but if it gets the job done, then why not?

8. ME Launcher | Free

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If there’s an Android launcher that offers a ton of themes and wallpapers as well as an option to hide or secure certain apps that you don’t want anyone to know, then the ME Launcher is the perfect launcher for that. One of the main features of this launcher is the ability to hide and secure certain apps. Once secured, no one will ever find that app unless if they have the password to view your hidden panel.

Other than that, the launcher doesn’t offer any performance boost but it does come with a wide variety of themes available for download.

The ME Launcher is one of those launchers that’s generally free and has no premium version. Although, there are possible in-app purchases for premium themes and wallpapers.

9. POCO Launcher | Free

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The POCO Launcher is an Android launcher developed by Xiaomi and was first seen with the brand’s Pocophone F1 smartphone. The POCO Launcher offers a clean, efficient, and space saving look as default. Unlike most of the launchers listed in this list, the POCO launcher’s main feature is its simple and minimalist design.

There isn’t really much to say with the POCO launcher other than it, being simple and minimalist. It doesn’t even have any device performance booster feature although, in a sense, having a minimalist and simple design will surely boost the device performance overall.

To learn more about this launcher, here’s a quick overview video.

You can download and install this launcher from the Google Play store or by simply clicking the link below.

10. Niagara Launcher | Free

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Out of all the alternative Android launcher included in this list, the Niagara Launcher is by far the simplest, cleanest, and the most orthodox launcher we have. The launcher is quite simple in terms of design and functionality. Its main features are having all your apps in a neatly arranged list that is sorted alphabetically and by usage, the ability to read incoming messages right on your home screen, and the power to hide bloatware apps.

The Niagara launcher is by far the most responsive, and efficient launcher we have seen so far. However, it’s not a great launcher for those that desire customizability, theme, and those that value aesthetics. On the other hand, if you want something that’s extremely simple without having to see those unwanted pre-installed bloatware apps, then this is a strong option to consider.

11. Evie Launcher | Free

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If the Niagara Android launcher focuses on simplicity, the Evie Launcher focuses on boosting device performance. Similarly, they both maintained a simple home user interface design with not much option to change the theme or wallpaper.

One cool thing about this launcher is that it allows you to migrate settings from Nova Launcher. So, if you’ve previously or have used Nova Launcher and moving to Evie launcher, the app will allow you to migrate your personal settings from the time you were using the Nova launcher.

Other than that, everything else is simple and minimal. We even lost all everything on our the home screen with this launcher. You can, however, change things if you find the default settings a bit too boring.

If you want a simple launcher that values device performance, then the Evie launcher is a perfect launcher for you. Otherwise, you may find its lack of customization in terms of aesthetics and design boring.

12. CM Launcher | Free & Paid ($5.21)

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Another launcher app in our list that has over 100 million downloads from the Google Play store is the CM Launcher. Similar to GO Launcher, the CM launcher has everything in it. From themes, wallpapers, up to performance boosting tools.

There are more features and functionality to use with the CM launcher but we somehow felt that this launcher and the GO launcher are very similar, if not identical, in many ways. Although, one feature that we never thought would exist is a VR theme for a launcher.

There are a ton of functionality to use with this launcher but we’re just not sure if anyone would be using all of them. We also find that this launcher is a bit laggy on our side. Otherwise, you can purchase the premium version for $5.21.

13. Smart Launcher 5 | Free & Paid ($4)

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Smart Launcher 5 is an Android alternative launcher that focuses on the design and functionality of the home screen. Unlike others, this launcher is a lot of option that lets you customize and personalize the home screen of your device.

The moment you launch the app, you’ll be greeted with configuration and a few options that allow the app to determine the best home screen design for you. You can also opt to purchase the PRO version for $4. Otherwise, you can enjoy this free version.

If you want a home screen without those pre-selected default apps or the navigation buttons found at the home screen, then this launcher will surely get the job done. It replaces and removes those pre-selected apps as well as bloatware apps. The apps are also organized in terms of their functionality and use.

This launcher has more to offer so if you want to learn more about this launcher, then better watch the video below.

You can freely download and install this launcher from the Google Play store or by simply clicking the button below.

14. LINE Launcher (dodol Launcher) | Free

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Last but not least, we have the LINE Launcher. This launcher was previously known as dodol Launcher but was later on renamed to LINE. Although, you will still find some settings inside the app still named from the previous name of the app.

The only downside of this launcher is that it doesn’t have any performance boosting functionality other than flashing the RAM of your phone. It does, however, provide a few more functionalities that you will not find on some of the launchers included in this list.

Overall, this launcher excels in having a great balance between design, theme, performance, and functionality.

Top 3: The Fastest Android Launchers

After 2 weeks of using and testing different Android launcher, we finally have our result. Without further ado, here are the top 3 fastest Android launchers that you can download from the Google Play store.

1. Evie Launcher – The Fastest Android Launcher (Tester Vote 4/5)

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With almost a unanimous decision, 4 of our testers voted the Evie Launcher to be the fastest, smoothest, and by far better in terms of device performance compared to the default Android launcher.

2. Niagara Launcher – Tester Vote (4/5)

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Another launcher that got an almost unanimous decision for being the second fastest launcher, the Niagara Launcher. Despite it’s simplistic but unconventional home screen layout, it’s undeniable that it does provide better device performance than the rest of the launchers listed here and that includes the default Android launcher.

3. Smart Launcher 5 – Tester Vote (5/5)

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The Smart Launcher 5 is the only launcher app that really got a unanimous decision, 5 out of 5 votes, to be the third fastest Android launcher. Unlike the first 2 above, this launcher is the only launcher in the top 3 that features more functionality. As the author, I voted this to be the second-fastest in my personal experience.

If you’re curious how each tester voted and the overall result of the vote, refer to the chart below.

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In this chart, the current placement of each launcher represents their actual position in the top 14. The value on the right side represents the number of votes or testers who agreed to the launcher’s position in the rankings.

Additionally, here we can find that the top 5 slowest or sluggish Android launcher in our list are CM Launcher, being the worst, followed by APUS, Apex, and Line. Google Now has a different situation since it was a launcher that’s limited to Android’s version 4 to 7 only.

Google Pixel 3a

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Can’t seem to find the perfect Android launcher for you? Looking for a way to simply boost the performance of your Android smartphone without having many changes with the Android default launcher? Then we highly recommend considering buying a brand new phone instead. If you have an old Android phone that seems to be acting up or becoming sluggish, it’s time for a new handset.

If you have a budget to consider and don’t want much change with Android, then we highly recommend checking out the newest Google Pixel 3a by Google. Experience the awesomeness of having pure Android without breaking the bank.

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FAQs

Final Thoughts…

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The default Android launcher is already decent by all means. Most especially with the latest handsets of today. However, it’s undeniable that some simply wants to change the way they interact with their smartphone while others want a simpler way to use their phone.

Regardless of your reason for looking for the fastest Android launcher in the market, we have put 14 of the most popular launchers to ultimately hail the king for the fastest launcher of them all.

We hope that this article has helped you out in your journey of finding the fastest launcher.

Are you using an Android launcher that’s included in our list? Are you looking got the best one out there? Have comments, suggestions, or opinions that you would like to share with us?

Do let us know in the comment section below!

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13 Comments

  1. Does it handle widgets?

    Or is it a widget-free zone to avoid elements that might/will compromise the launcher’s zippy quick performance?

    1. Rick,
      The free version can handle a couple of widgets but they look awkward to me. You can try your luck with your favorite widgets, after all its a small free launcher 🙂

  2. I have recently upgraded my phone from a S3,to the S5, I live my new phone but I still don’t like the default launcher and have not had any luck finding any I like until APUS. This launcher in my mind is just prolifically amazing!! Incredibly fast, easily to use and manager plus it has auto sort when u first boot it up and still auto organizes with every added application. Saves me a ton of time on that end! As well it does come with a handful of icons to choose from and it had a wonderful wallpaper selection which gets updated almost daily.
    It also comes with, a booster app, clean up app, kill background app and a notification app of mug’s and emails.
    All in all like I said a prolific launcher and a must have! Keep up the great work!!

    1. Yes indeed, APUS is a fan favourite in the office too. When you need to get stuff done, you need a fast and reliable launcher 🙂 Glad you liked our work. Continue reading Joy of Android for more awesome stuff!

  3. i am trying to create a shortcut for people i frequently call, i press add shortcut to Home screen but nothing happens.

    1. Hi Pamela,
      That is odd that the shortcut to your frequently called contacts won´t show up on your home screen. I tried it on my phone and it worked just fine, but have you tried using the Speed Dial App in Google Play?

  4. Love the launcher hate auto folder sorter keeps moving my customized folders around n I have to organize one by one all the time how do I disable auto app sorter

  5. Hi Billa,

    Thank you for reviewing our launcher at such detail, yes the ads are little annoying at the moment, however we are doing our best to find other suitable business models to minimize it and keep APUS Launcher for free forever.

    Thanks again, keep up the good work!

    1. You’re welcome and thanks for getting in touch. Feel free to contact us when you have a major update and we can work it into an article or update the current article.

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