Best Android Remote Desktop Apps Compared: Which Is Right For You?

Are you a tech support person on the go? Maybe you just want to be able to set up a download on your home computer while you’re away. There are any number of reasons why you might want to use your Android device for Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) access to a Windows computer. If you’ve got an Android phone or tablet, and can set up Remote Desktop Protocol access on your Windows computer, you will find at least one good RDP client for you here. If you’re looking for something for your iPad, James Bruce writes it up well in The Best Free Remote Desktop Apps for Your iPad.

Before we go any further, we should clarify that these clients do require a Windows computer to be set up with Remote Desktop Connection enabled. There are other ways to remotely connect to, and control, your desktop. Often they use an intermediary service like LogMeIn or one of these12 Excellent, Free Screen Sharing & Remote Access Tools You Haven’t Heard Of Yet . There are also open source alternatives, most of them based on the Real VNC source. We’re not looking into these options today, as the intent is to keep the amount of work you have to do to a minimum and use what Windows has already given you for free. Keep in mind, not all versions of Windows support RDC (Remote Desktop Connection), but most of them do. If you’d like to learn more about RDC, I suggest you start with the Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection: FAQ. (Please note that some items in the following screenshots are blurred out for privacy and security reasons.)

Microsoft Remote Desktop – Free

The Features

Microsoft’s Remote Desktop app is as bare bones an RDP app as you can get. You can see in the screenshots that there aren’t any excessive options here. Create a connection profile, search for a connection profile, and connect to a computer. That’s about it. For a little more on this app in its Android and iOS incarnations, flip to Mark O’Neill’s quick read, “Microsoft Launches Remote Desktop For iOS & Android“.

microsoft rdp   Best Android Remote Desktop Apps Compared: Which Is Right For You?

There isn’t the option to change experience settings such as Show Remote Desktop or Themes. Being able to use or not use those options gives you control over the quality of the desktop experience and the bandwidth used for the connection. Microsoft says that they have, “High quality video and sound streaming with improved compression and bandwidth usage.” It isn’t clear exactly what that means, however having the ability to control what is brought back to your Android would be preferable.

Connecting to the Remote Computer

If you don’t put in a password when you create the connection profile, you get the standard desktop window asking for your password. Since the window is tiny and the screen controls awkward, this is a real drawback. The little compass rose control is the only way to enlarge or shrink your screen. No Android finger gestures. Any movement of the screen from left to right, or top to bottom, must originate in the compass rose. Terribly awkward. the keyboard is difficult to use as well. This is not the app that it could be. Download and use at your own risk.

microsof rdp remote   Best Android Remote Desktop Apps Compared: Which Is Right For You?

2X Client RDP – Free

The Features

2X’s start-up screen is very simple, and intuitive. Your choices are to initiate a connection that you’ve already created, add a new connection, or go into the application settings. If you are creating a new connection, 2X gives you a few options – one is a Standard RDP connection, and two that use 2X’s servers and are fee-based services. These services might be something that you would consider if you require functions and security that an ordinary RDP connection doesn’t have.

2x   Best Android Remote Desktop Apps Compared: Which Is Right For You?

NOTE: Do NOT save your password into your RDP profile. It would be very painful if you lost your Android, someone else found it and now had access to your computer or server.

Connecting to the Remote Computer

Once the connection is set up and saved, all you have to do is click on the connection, enter your password, and you’ll be connected to your Windows computer. This is where the RDP apps start to really differ. How do they let you interact with the remote computer? The mouse feature in 2X is very simple to use, the keyboard mimics a Windows keyboard very well, and the client supports standard Android finger gestures for manipulating the screen. You can stretch, pinch, and tap on icons to start programs. It is very intuitive and uncluttered. It also has all the experience settings that most people would want, such as Color Depth, Sound Options and whether this is a console session or not.

2x remote 3   Best Android Remote Desktop Apps Compared: Which Is Right For You?

Ericom AccessToGo RDP – Free

The Features

AccessToGo has the most features of the RDP apps tested. Not only can you create standard RDP connections, you can also create connections to VMWare View, which is great if your a system administrator running virtualized servers. Ericom also offers the Blaze RDP Server that you can install on your desktop, for faster RDP connections. You have to request a quote for the Blaze RDP server, so it is probably more for use in the business environment. If you are using VMWare at work, you can also create VMWare View connections on the free app as well. Very handy for the server administrator types.

ericom rdp   Best Android Remote Desktop Apps Compared: Which Is Right For You?

Connecting to the Remote Computer

Because AccessToGo automatically adjusts the size of the desktop to your Android devices screen, you’re able to use the standard Window’s log on dialogue much more easily than with Microsoft’s RDP app. The client also supports standard Android finger gestures for re-sizing the screen, selecting files, and tapping to click. If that’s not enough for you, you can switch to using your finger to control the cursor, using an onscreen mouse with several different controls, and a top bar with special key controls. Whatever way you like to work with your remote desktop, this app has it.

ericom rdp remote 2   Best Android Remote Desktop Apps Compared: Which Is Right For You?

The Takeaway

For a full set of features, ease of use, and server administrator level control, Ericom AccessToGo RDP is the app to get. If you just need something to logon to the home or small business computer remotely, then 2X RDP is your choice. If you don’t like yourself and prefer to do everything the hard way, then you’ll be contentedly miserable with Microsoft’s RDP app.

Do you use any of these RDP apps? If you do, what do you like or dislike about them? Is there another RDP Android app that you prefer? We’d love to hear about it in the comments and why you like it! Do you think these reviews are off-base? Let us know about that too! We’re all in this thing called life together. Let’s help each other out.

Image credit: Placeit

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19 Comments -

Like Fun B

They’re all about the same to me. I use aFreeRDP because at some point in the past 2xClient did something that annoyed me and was therefore replaced. I don’t really care what I have as long as I can wrangle servers from it; nothing is as good as a real mouse and keyboard but in the situation where it’s necessary I’m thankful that I can do it at all.

I normally pop on to trusted desktop in my office and use Terminals.exe (Windows Multi-session remote desktop) there to do all the heavy lifting anyway; I don’t want to try to type a dozen 20+ character passwords on my phone’s keyboard or trust a mobile app with that information.

Guy M

I tested aFreeRDP and liked it too. There was a reason I didn’t put it in the list though – don’t remember why.

Definitely, if you’re managing several servers, being able to use a desktop to remote in, is ideal. Totally agree about not saving passwords on the smartphone either. That’s a disaster waiting to happen.

This article and the apps, are certainly better suited for the admin who only has a couple servers, or the user who wants to be able to log on to their home computer from anywhere.

Emlyn Jones

TeamViewer, multi platform support and easy to setup for people who need support but aren’t tech minded and its free for personal use.

Guy M

TeamViewer, LogMeIn, and others like that are ideal for what you’re talking about. I just wanted to focus strictly on RDP with this article, though.

Martin

Teamviewer no longer works for Android Jellybean and KitKat

Tony Karakashian

The problem with relying on RDP is not all versions of Windows support it. You can force Home Premium to give you the capability, but that’s one service pack away from not working. Given that, I have used the 2X client and was quite fond it, especially how it resized the desktop to my phone’s screen. But, there were limitations even to this.

When you’re remoted into a desktop, you can’t share the screen with the user there unless they send a remote access request. This isn’t too much of a problem on personal machines, but it’s still a pain for my family to constantly have to re log into the computer after I’ve remoted into it. That’s why I use a non-RDP method instead, and the one I’ve found I like the most is GPP Remote for Android.

GPP does remote desktop, but it also does file transfers and allows me to access my webcams remotely. Performance is great, even on Sprint’s abysmally horrific network.

Guy M

A well thought out and written comment. Thank you!

GPP Remote for Android does cost $3.14.
The desktop application is free.

At first glance it looks very powerful and well worth the $3.14. Is the price pi because it’s as simple as pie? I don’t know. But it made me giggle a little.

jo

I need a way to remotely control my smartphone from my computer.
The exact opposite.
Any ideas?

Jack

Airdroid

Guy M

Joel Lee has an article here called, “Can I Control a Phone with My Computer? [Android]“.

That’s a good place to start!

Jarrett V

I’ve tried some of these, but keep going back to Pocket Cloud Pro. It works quite well and is a true RDP client (not LogMeIn style app). You can set up connections manually, or you can optionally install a helper app on the computers you want to control and add them to your account so that you can easily have them all set up any time you install the Pocket Cloud client on a different phone or tablet.

Guy M

If I remember correctly, Pocket Cloud Pro is a paid app. I tried to stick to free apps. But it is a good one!

Jarrett V

There’s a free version of Pocket Cloud too. It seems to be quite functional and their play store listing shows which features you get extra in Pro. I don’t remember which one I needed back when I bought it because it was quite a long time ago, but the free one might meet the needs of some folks.

Ben L

Yes, Teamviewer

Guy M

Teamviewer is a great product, like LogMeIn.

This article is focused, though, on applications that take advantage of Window’s Remote Desktop Protocol.

Michael

The worst part about Microsoft RDP is that they bought a really popular and full featured app called iTap and then totally stripped out all of it’s good features and released the abomination you reviewed. Apparently it was built on their tech but the app shows no signs of it. With any luck they will add some of the good stuff back in a future release.

I still have iTap for iPad and although it wasn’t free, it’s just about perfect. When I got a Nexus4 last week I went looking for the Android version and found out about the above.

cyril0

I use rdp from my android all the time but I have a docking station, monitor, keyboard and a mouse on my desk being driven by my note 3

I get a 1080P resolution on my monitor and I use a full sized keyboard and mouse. The main problem I have is the overlaid mouse, and the annoying Connection bar that doesn’t go away. Since I am using a mouse and keyboard I don’t need the onscreen tools and I would love for them to disappear. Does anyone have any suggestions on a good RDP client that supports remoteFX and displays an uncluttered screen?

Eugene

This is an exciting application http://www.ammyy.com
It doesn’t require installation and registration. Easy and fast app.

cnbug

used with n2n.
Get secure anytime, anywhere access to your computers from your Android device.
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.zhoubug.n2n_gui