For full control over nearly every aspect of your smartphone’s look performance, you’ll want to turn to a custom launcher. The ay Store is packed full of options, but for your benefit we’ve paired down the list to some of the best. Your preferred choice is going to come down to what you’re looking for with a home screen replacement. Some are good at giving you that stock Android experience, which you might crave if you’re trying to replicate the experience of a xel or Nexus. Others try do the work for you by offering up experiences based on your usage patterns. ichever route you go, the potential is there to build a home screen that works just right for you.

Action uncher 3

There’s no question about the top choice. Action uncher 3 wins for its immense customization choices in how it brings forth a lot of Nougat xel-style features to your phone. Among the many strengths is how you can create custom gestures for specific actions. Swipe up with a finger to launch the settings. Or swipe down anywhere on the screen to make your notifications appear. nch in to launch multitasking or get an overview of all your homescreens. Your phone is your oyster, can be fine-tuned to work just the way that you want it to. Another plus is with how Action uncher 3 can give you that xel experience. Developer cy has implemented many aspects of Android 7.1 Nougat, such as app shortcuts, support for the round icons, the same folder design that you’d find with the xel uncher. If those aren’t to your liking you can safely ignore them, but they’re nice to have if the siren call of the xel grows too strong to ignore but you’re not able to buy one just yet. To get the full package of features, opt for the in-app upgrade for $5.

Nova uncher

A close second is Nova uncher. It shares much of the same philosophy as Action uncher in that it is highly customizable for practically every key aspect of your phone. The best features are reserved for those who opt for the ime version of the app, which is $5. It’s well worth it if you like Nova uncher decide you want to customize gesture for actions. For example, a swipe up can launch an action, an app, or a specific shortcut (like a specific Gmail label). If you’re feeling nostalgic for the days of llipop or other older Android versions, you’ll find the ability to pick the design scheme for the app animation. The background, icon layout, app drawer are among the many different areas that you can leave your own stamp on. 

Arrow uncher

The Microsoft Garage team has been on a tear with several clever apps for Android. Arrow uncher is another piece of fruit from this effort. It takes a markedly different approach from Nova Action uncher. Instead of endless customization, it attempts to anticipate your needs throw in some smarts by learning your preferences. For example, Arrow uncher divides up your home screen into four different sections: recent, apps, people, documents reminder. ile you can change up the content on each of these screens or scrum some of them altogether, the core premise behind Action uncher is that it learns what to display based on your phone’s usage patterns. And because it’s a Microsoft tie-in, the documents screen will display the most recent files you’ve accessed through OneDrive. And those wallpapers come from, you guessed it, Bing. If you’re into Android because of the deep ties to this may not be your preferred pick, but it’s a clean smart option that does merit consideration.

A few others to tinker with

If these choices aren’t to your liking, or if you just want to cast a wider net, there are some other solid choices available to you. Evie uncher is worth a look if you want something that sticks close to stock Android but gives you many of the customization options like Action or Nova uncher. The launcher is clean gives you an interface that’s easy on the eyes. You also get a smart universal search feature that you access by swiping down on the screen. Start typing you’ll get suggestions for apps, films, Yelp-sponsored location results. My preference is still the Assistant, but in the world of non-xels it does the job. For something more off the wall, check out Hexy uncher. It’s the product of SwiftKey Greenhouse, the lab for experimental projects. This means it’s not officially supported, but is a side product of several company engineers. Nonetheless it’s an interesting take, with the launcher organizing your home screen into hexagonal tiles based on your usage patterns. The apps you use more often get bumped into the center of the screen. Finally, the Now uncher is still an option, but now that the xel is the focus of ’s development it may not see a ton of development work. will keep it going for Nexus devices, but I’ve found that it lacks more advanced features on other phones, particularly since you can’t change the number of apps on each home screen.  The key is to experiment take the time required to find out what works best for your workflow how you use your phone. Try a launcher for a few days, keep at even if you run into a few frustrations. It usually takes a while to finally l on the right choice. But once you do, you’ll have a smartphone experience that’s truly personalized.