Changing the face of Android: how to make a smartphone look different

If you’ve ever taken a look at a few Android phones, one of the first things that you’ll notice is how they all look a little different when you use them. That comes from the style every manufacturer can exert over the Google operating system, but you don’t have to keep the look of Samsung, Sony, LG, or HTC, and you can change it all very quickly.

There are, of course, multiple ways you can make this go: you could go for the look of Android and clean it up, the look of a phone from another company, or go to something completely different, and while we haven’t sampled all of the launchers, we have taken a look at quite a few.

You will need an Android phone to try these, but they should work across all devices with Android 4.0 and above running on them, with only a few niggles here and there, so when you’re ready, it’s time to explore how you can really make your phone look different.


It may not have been the first smartphone operating system, but it’s still a pretty solid one, and while Google has changed its look over the years, we think we’re at a pretty solid spot in regards to the interface.

But there are still some tweaks developers are finding, and that’s why if you don’t like the look or functionality of your current incarnation of Android but still want to keep it close what Google thinks, the Android-esque launchers are worth checking out.

Google Now Launcher

Price: Free

About the easiest launcher you can try, Google’s Now Launcher is basically the interface Google makes for Android, and can be seen on its Nexus products, as well as the handsets Motorola produces.

Icons are big, flat, and the launcher is one of the fastest you can use, with Google’s Now search bar across and ready on most screens, waiting for you to call out “OK Google” so it can get to work interpreting your voice into a command. We highly recommend checking this launcher out.

Nova Launcher

Price: Free, but with in-app purchases.

One of the better Android launchers out there, we’re fans of all the flexibility on offer in these launcher, such as the way to change spacing, shortcut actions, and knowing that the themes made for Apex also work on Nova.

While we haven’t covered it, Apex — another homescreen replacement app — is just as good, and worth checking out if you like what you see on Nova.

Samsung style

There’s Android, and then there’s Samsung, because while you might like Android’s take on minimalism, there’s also Samsung’s take on Android’s minimalism, which results in an interface Samsung calls TouchWiz.

TouchWiz has been around for a while, and you can see it in pretty much every Samsung phone released in Australia since the Galaxy S2 (it was probably referred to by the same name in the original Galaxy S, but we can’t recall).

That said, you might not have a Samsung, and you might want the look and feel of one without spending as much money. If that is you, here are your options.

Galaxy Launcher

Price: Free

Don’t call it TouchWiz because it certainly isn’t, but it is something close, bringing a near identical dock, homescreen, and menu system to any Android of your choosing.

And hey, unlock the implementation of TouchWiz Aussies have had for a couple of years, you can at least move the dock icons around!

S Launcher

Price: Free

Yet another launcher that emulates the look of Samsung’s TouchWiz, this one feels like it has been modelled off the KitKat launchers we’ve seen around the place, except with different icon packs made to emulate the style of Samsung’s interface.