Enjoy Android gaming, communication and more on your desktop or laptop with an Android emulator.
The popularity of the Android platform for mobile devices continues to grow, and this has led to the rise in the number of Android emulators available for PC. If you’re not up to speed about exactly what these are used for, it’s a software program that you can run on your PC, and once installed it will allow you to run the Android OS, and therefore Android apps, on your Windows PC and sometimes Macs.
So what is the point of using an Android emulator? There are several reasons why people might want to run Android apps on a PC. For example, developers might use an emulator on their PCs to test apps they are currently working on, while others might want to play Android games that aren’t available for PC. Alternatively, some may simply enjoy the experience of playing a favorite game on a larger screen, want to use a mouse and keyboard approach to gaming, or want to run communication apps such as Snapchat, Viber, Whatsapp and more on a desktop. Others might choose an emulator to check out different Android operating systems to see which they prefer before deciding what one to use on their mobile device, and using an Android emulator also means that even users without an Android smartphone can download apps from the Google Play Store to their PCs.
These are just a few reasons why people might want to use an Android emulator for PC, although it’s worth pointing out that installing more software on your PC could make it run slower than usual depending on system requirements and hardware, especially on an older PC. A variety of Android emulators for PCs running Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and 10 are available, although sometimes the process can be a little complicated and some work better than others. These are all free to download, but some require additional payments for extra features or to remove ads. We’ve done the legwork for you and rounded up some of the best Android emulators for PC that are worth checking out.
10 Best Android Emulator For PC/Laptop
1. BLUESTACKS (FREE)
This is one of the best-known Android emulators for PC but is still based on Android 4.4.4 Kitkat meaning it’s not an obvious choice for developers. BlueStacks was among the first in this field and is still a solid and stable choice with one-click installation, although it can be resource intensive. The Google Play Store comes pre-installed, and BlueStacks has some handy features, for instance, it supports multitasking as well as seamless integration with peripherals. Additionally, users can stream to Facebook Live via BlueStacks TV, and can also live stream to Twitch. The amount of ads can be annoying though, but upgrading to a paid premium version will avoid this and also offers additional support.
2. NOX (FREE)
This one is particularly aimed at playing mobile games on PCs and works very smoothly. Like BlueStacks, Nox is based on Android KitKat, although it’s one of the newer Android emulators available. It’s speedy but less so with power-hungry games, and Nox enables users to change the allocation of processor cores, the amount of RAM, and more. It also allows users to assign different functions to keys or simulate gesture movements with the keyboard or joystick. Apps can be installed through APKs or from the Google Play Store, and further features include one-click root hide and unhide, and inbuilt GPS controller setting. Unlike many Android emulators, it’s totally free with no ads, so it’s got to be in our best Android emulator for PC choice.
3. ANDY (FREE)
Andy dubs itself “your desktop mobile” and offers a full Android experience such as launchers, games, and communications apps, and users can also install root access. It has an appealing interface, and recent changes have led to improved navigation and mouse responsiveness. It doesn’t quite have all of the bells and whistles of some other Android emulators for PC, but it’s a pretty solid offering, although some users report glitches in getting Andy to work properly.
4. GENYMOTION (FREE FOR NON-COMMERCIAL USE)
This one is targeted at developers rather than casual users, which is something worth bearing in mind although consumers get to use it for free. It’s an excellent Android tool to install and enables access from Android 4.4 Kitkat right through to Android 7.0 Nougat, as well as allowing users to select a particular Android phone to simulate out of 40 devices, with more than 3,000 configurations available. It supports Open GL as well as hardware acceleration and is built on the X86 Architecture offering faster speed. GenyMotion is compatible with Android SDK tools, Android Studio, and Eclipse, and websites can be tested in a variety of Android browsers including Firefox for Android and Webkit for Android. Functionality includes being able to use the webcam as a video source for an Android camera, testing apps with various battery levels, and geolocation-based app testing. A full premium version adds extras such as unlimited screencasts and much more.
5. REMIX OS PLAYER (FREE)
Remix OS Player calls itself the most advanced Android game emulator for PC, offering a gaming toolkit that should provide everything you’re looking for with simple installation. It does bring an immersive Android gaming experience to your PC, and a nice addition to this one is the ability to play multiple games simultaneously on one screen. Neatly, users can also have an open chat app adjacent, to talk to opponents at the same time. This is one of the more up-to-date emulators available, as it’s based on Android Marshmallow, and it’s really smooth to use.
6. LEAPDROID (FREE)
LeapDroid may not seem an obvious choice considering it has now been discontinued and will no longer be updated or supported. However, it’s still available to download from some sources and has enough about it to make it onto our list, such as less impact on system resources. It has a nicely clean interface and is particularly good for those whose focus is gaming, and has fast booting times, and shortcuts to popular game titles. It supports the Google Play Store or users can directly install APKs from the PC, and features include a screenshot tool, options for OpenGL or DirectX, keyboard mapping, and the ability to set gesture controls.
7. MEMU (FREE)
The lightweight MEmu emulator is compatible with most popular games but might best suit those focusing on productivity. It supports multiple Android Kernels, Jelly Bean, KitKat, and Lollipop, with Marshmallow and Nougat to come, and has full compatibility with hardware configurations including Nvidia, Intel, and AMD. It can co-exist with other Android emulators, supporting multiple instances, and is pre-installed with the Google Play Store. It supports full-screen mode, keyboard mapping, a screenshot tool, ‘kill process’ tool, and enables users to record touch-screen actions and replay at any time with an ‘operational record’ tool.
8. KO PLAYER (FREE)
This is built on X86 Architecture and works well most of the time, although it can be buggy to the odd occasion. It’s a newer addition on the Android emulator scene with Google Play Store by default, support for the majority of the keyboard, mouse, and trackpad peripherals (either wired or wireless), and support for both AMD and Intel platforms. Users can record straight from the Android emulation screen and save as video, run multiple accounts, and install apps by dragging and dropping, and thanks to HD resolution the display is still crisp on larger screens.
9. AMIDUOS (FREE TRIAL)
AMIDuOS can easily switch between Android and Windows and offers a full Android experience on your desktop or laptop. It can run nearly all Android apps, but unlike most others, it comes pre-loaded with the Amazon Appstore rather than the Google Play Store. It supports 3D acceleration for a superior performance, and even the most graphic-intensive games are a breeze thanks to Windows OpenGL drivers for improved frame rates. AMIDuOS also supports high-definition, cameras, microphone, and audio, along with sensor support for accelerometer, ambient light, and gyrometer plus more. It can also run in root mode and can be used as a free trial for 30 days and then you’ll need to pay for the Lite version or the Full version.
10. YOUWAVE (FREE)
YouWave is a Windows-based Android emulator and is free for the Android Ice Cream Sandwich version that contains ads, although you’ll have to pay to download the Lollipop version that removes ads if that’s your preference. It has been developed over time and is simple enough to install and works well, but it isn’t an all-singing, all-dancing Android emulator for PC like some. However, you can’t knock it for basic gaming purposes and it doesn’t require high-end system configuration so will suit some better than others.
As all of the above are free to download, it’s advisable to check out several so that you can find the one that fits your needs best. As well as enjoying gaming or testing apps on your PC, downloading and installing an Android emulator will enable you to make free voice calls from apps not available for your PC, or use your computer keyboard to send text messages via Android apps, so there are plenty of reasons for using one.
As the popularity of using an Android emulator grows, you can bet your life there will be more available on a continual basis, so you might come across one that you think is worth sharing with other readers. If that’s the case, do drop us a comment, or alternatively, let us know which of our best Android emulator for PC downloads is your top pick.