Each different Android manufacturer has their own different UI and experience of the Android operating system. Therefore I have created this guide recommending some of the best launchers, lock screens, wallpapers, icon packs, and skin companies to try and give you the ULTIMATE Android experience. This guide is for Android phones and tablets only, sorry Apple users!
There are a few launchers for you to use to give your phone a great Android feel. These launchers are the Google Now Launcher from Google, the Hola Launcher from Holaverse, the Nova Launcher from TeslaCoil Software, and Action Launcher 3 from Chris Lacy.
Google Now Launcher
The Google Now Launcher is the stock launcher on Nexus devices. It features a look with the folder icons stacked in a line. This launcher also allows you to swipe to the left for the Google App, without even opening the app! Along with the launcher comes the Android Marshmallow app drawer with all of the apps in an alphabetical order. You can download this launcher on Android phones with Jelly Bean (4.1) or later.
Hola Launcher is a very popular launcher for Android users. This launcher offers lots of customization and is very user-friendly. This launcher won The Best of Google Play 2015 and is usually in the top charts for apps. The launcher is free, but comes with the option of in-app purchases. What’s more the launcher even comes with it’s own icon pack too, so you don’t need to download one!
Nova Launcher is a very customization-friendly and performance driven launcher that is very popular with Android users. The app is not too dissimilar to the stock Nexus launcher, but comes with a lot of neat tricks up it’s sleeve. This launcher is also free, but gives you the option to upgrade to Nova Launcher Prime which does cost.
Action Launcher 3
Action Launcher 3 is the launcher I use now, and my absolute favorite launcher I have ever used on my G3. The launcher does keep some key design elements from the stock Nexus launcher, but offers a lot of customization. This launcher gives you access to changes on your device, that iOS users could only ever get by jail-breaking and using Cydia. The launcher is free, but to get the best out of it I personally recommend you buy the in-app purchase. If you want a launcher that is fast, reliable, powerful, and is packed with material design, then this is for you!
There are only a few lockscreens that offer the Marshmallow look that we all love, and are good to use, so for that I recommend M Locker and Next Lock Screen.
M Locker is a very high quality lockscreen which is sleek, looks like the Nexus’ stock Android Marshmallow lockscreen. You can also have the weather on the screen, a few different themes, notifications, and music control. You can put security on the lockscreen, and obviously put whatever wallpaper you want on it. The lockscreen comes with the feature to toggle on and off it’s own status bar and the stock one, even with the Android Marshmallow pull-down window fit with toggles, exclusively on the lockscreen despite your Android version. Despite this, the M Locker does not offer very good security, so may not be the best option for a lockscreen.
Next Lock Screen
I did a full write up a while ago about Microsoft’s lockscreen for Android devices. To a lot of you this may come as a surprise as I am definitely not really a fan of Microsoft. But, with their free lockscreen they have impressed me. With this launcher you are given a sleek look, that is similar yet completely different from the Marshmallow lockscreen, and a ton of customization options and cool features that you don’t really see anywhere else.
The wallpaper on your device is one of the most personal aspects of the phone. It can be changed easily and can really shape what your homescreen looks like, however finding the right one can be a little difficult. Here’s a couple I’d recommend checking out.
Facets – with Muzei
In this wallpaper app, you get to see thousands of material design and just frankly awesome wallpaper designs. Although this one will cost you 99p or 99¢, it is worth every penny. The sleek looks of the designs, the plethora of designs to choose from, the awesomeness that the artwork shines out. There are just so many reasons why I can recommend this wallpaper app to you! Although not all wallpapers are seen in the app at current, the update is coming imminently and they are available on the website. If you want your phone to stand out in a good way- getting looks of jealousy from everyone who doesn’t have a Facets wallpaper, and want to feel like a proud parent every time you glance at your phone, then download this app now and make your phone look amazing.
Backdrops is a free wallpaper app that also offers in-app purchases that will get you some premium wallpaper packs. This app was actually recommended to me by Ben and I have only just downloaded it now but I am loving it! While I think that not all of the designs are not up to the high quality of Facets’ wallpapers, there are some really cool designs, and a lot more to choose from. A lot of the wallpapers fit really well with a Material Design look, and whatever other look you want for your Android device.
Icon packs are a great way to customize your phone and make it look unique. There are lots of really good icon packs out there, including those that come with some launchers. Despite this there are three amazing icon packs that I just have to recommend.
Siru, not only an icon pack with a name that rolls of the tongue, but an icon pack that is bursting with material design. Material design on Android looks great already, but if you throw in these sleek, well-rounded, sharp, awesome looking icons then you are in for a treat.
The Glim icon pack looks amazing. The app offers parodies of existing app icons, and a multitude of icons that you can use for any of the apps you have. The icons are keeping close with a material design look that can’t be ignored, and the sleek edginess of these icons will have your device looking amazing.
Sutoroku. A complex name, yet icons so, so simple. The app packs a few widgets for your home screen, and a few wallpapers. But, the main feature is the icons. The icons are in a drawn and colored in look that really stands out. Gone is the common material design look, and is replaced by superbly drawn icons that tell a story in themselves. With app icon alternatives, and millions of icons that can be used for any apps, this icon pack is one to definitely download.
Skins are a very popular and must-need item to fully customize a phone. While these are for iOS and Android phones, there are more Android phones so they dominate the skin market. This being said, if you truly want to be the master of your smart device, get a skin.
dbrand are the most heard of skin company, and offer slightly more expensive, but still affordable skins for a ton of devices. While I personally think with dbrand you are mainly paying for the name, as the skins don’t feel as high quality, they still look amazing, so are definitely worth it for your phone if you’re all about the looks and style.
This UK based skin company really shines out. They deliver custom skins and normal skins in a large variety of colors, for a large variety of devices. They look great, they feel great, and they are great- perfect for all phones whatever your style. Most importantly, UKarbon offers very affordable skins so everybody’s needs are catered for.
SlickWraps are considerably more expensive then dBrand or UKarnbon, but this is because SlickWraps offer a large number of different series’ and styles for their skins. You can get normal skins, Justin Maller designed skins, wood skins, and more with SlickWraps and I personally think the skins are worth every penny for the feel, design, and sheer awesomeness.
Last but not least, Toast. Similar to the other skin companies listed about you can completely change the look of your device with a skin from Toast, but you can do so with all-natural materials such as wood and leather. Their skins look great and can last for years, however they will cost you a pretty penny.
So there. A long guide, yet hopefully an informative and enjoyable read. I hope I have offered an opinion on how to really customize your Android device. Now, click on these download links and answer me this: Have you got the ultimate Android experience out of your Android device?