The Best Android Tweaks You Can Make Without Rooting
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If you want to unlock the full potential of Android and play around with full-scale modifications, yes, you’ll need to root. However, rooting is dangerous so it’s best avoided if you don’t want to risk bricking your device.

These days, rooting Android isn’t really necessary. However, some of the more useful apps on the Google Play Store are only available for rooted Android devices, so properly rooting your Android device may be worth it in rare cases.

For the rest of us, there are plenty of awesome improvements to make without committing to that level of risk. In this article, we outline some of the best tweaks and customizations you can make on non-rooted Android devices.

Tweaking the Android Home Screen

Install a Brand New Launcher

A launcher is an app that handles the layout and launching of apps on your home screen. Different launchers provide different layouts, aesthetics, and functionality. Some are optimized for speed, others are packed with features, while others are clean and minimal.

Our advice is to experiment with several different launchers until you find one that you like. Take at least a week per launcher to give it enough time to see how you feel about it. Here are our favorite Android launcher recommendations Which Android Launcher Should You Use? We Compare the Best! Which Android Launcher Should You Use? We Compare the Best! These awesome launchers will have your Android device feeling brand new. Read More , plus a few more simple Android launchers for ease of use.

Install an Icon Pack

One way to solidify the thematic feel of your home screen is to replace all of the app icons with a unified icon pack. It’s a small change that can inject a lot of life into your device. Some icon packs cost money, but we’ve highlighted some of the best free Android icon packs you should check out.

Install a Live Wallpaper

No matter how beautiful they are, static wallpapers lose their appeal over time. On the other hand, live wallpapers feel dynamic and interesting. Try these awesome Android live wallpapers to see if it’s something you enjoy.

Worried about battery life? Except in rare cases, live wallpapers are relatively light on battery drain. Worse comes to worst, you can uninstall it if it proves problematic.

Install Widgets

Widgets are interactive elements that reside on the home screen. Some make it easy to quickly toggle system settings. Others provide information at a glance, such as weather forecasts. Most Android music player apps come with widgets that let you control playback from the home screen.

The possibilities are endless and there are dozens to explore. Get started with these must-have Android widgets The 11 Best Widgets for Your Android Home Screen The 11 Best Widgets for Your Android Home Screen With so many widgets for Android, which are the best? Here are the best Android widgets for weather, notes, and more. Read More .

Tweaking the Android Lock Screen

The next aspect of Android worth customizing is the lock screen—assuming you even use a lock screen to begin with (which you should).

Wouldn’t it be great if you could interact with apps without having to unlock your phone? That’s where lock screen widgets come into play. These widgets are just like home screen widgets except they reside on the lock screen. Simple enough, right?

But wait a minute! Don’t widgets defeat the purpose of a lock screen? Not necessarily. Widgets allow you to pick which parts of Android should be exposed while keeping everything else safe behind a lock screen’s passcode. As long as you’re smart about which widgets you install, your privacy should remain secure.

We’ve rounded up some of the best Android lock screen widgets 5 Excellent Lock Screen Widgets for Android 5 Excellent Lock Screen Widgets for Android One of the perks of having an Android device is that you can natively add widgets to your home screen. Some widgets are highly specific and only useful situationally, but then there are those amazing... Read More . Check on your RSS feeds, respond to your text messages, or pull up your contacts without needing to punch in your passcode.

Tweaking Battery Life on Android

Concerned about battery life? For non-rooted device users, there’s some good news and some bad news. First, the bad news: starting with Android 4.4 KitKat, most battery-saving apps require root privileges. The good news is that you can still tweak battery life without those apps.

Disable Vibrations

While vibrations are less disruptive than ringtones, they actually use up more battery life. Depending on how often your device buzzes, you could end up wasting a lot of juice this way—so disable it. That includes haptic feedback when typing, vibrating notifications, etc.

Purge All Bloatware

Bloatware is apps that might be useful if they didn’t take up an exorbitant amount of resources, whether that means RAM, CPU, disk space, etc. Even if you don’t actively use these apps, they can sit in the background and impact performance or waste bandwidth.

Disable all the bloatware that you can. Ideally, you would DELETE all of that bloatware, but that’s not always possible without rooting your device. Want to learn more? Here’s everything to know about Android bloatware.

Use Airplane Mode

Airplane Mode disables all forms of network communication, including 2G, 3G, 4G, and Wi-Fi. While disabled, those network components cease to drain battery life.

If you really need to squeeze extra juice out of your device, consider toggling Airplane Mode whenever there’s going to be an extended period of time where you won’t be using any network.

There’s a lot more to battery life on Android. Check out our article on tips to extend Android battery life that actually work 10 Proven and Tested Tips to Extend Battery Life on Android 10 Proven and Tested Tips to Extend Battery Life on Android Suffering from poor battery life on Android? Follow these tips to get more juice out of your Android device's battery. Read More .

Tweaking Security on Android

Always Use a Lock Screen

Passwords are always the first line of defense against somebody who gains access to something that doesn’t belong to them. Would you use a debit card that has no PIN? Would you buy a car that has no key lock? If you want to protect your phone, lock it!

Still, there are right and wrong ways to do this. Take heed and learn more about whether it’s better to use a fingerprint or PIN to lock your phone Should You Use a Fingerprint or a PIN to Lock Your Phone? Should You Use a Fingerprint or a PIN to Lock Your Phone? Should you protect your phone with a fingerprint or a PIN? Which one is actually more secure? Read More .

Install an Antivirus App

These days, you don’t really need an antivirus app on Android as long as you’re careful and practice common sense. Don’t install random apps with few reviews. Stick to the Google Play Store. Avoid tapping on suspicious ads when browsing the web.

But everyone makes mistakes, and malware can be a huge nuisance. That’s when an antivirus app proves useful. See our article on the best antivirus apps for Android.

On the other hand, instead of bogging down your phone with antivirus apps, it might just be better to know what to do if your Android is infected Has Your Android Phone Been Infected with Malware? Has Your Android Phone Been Infected with Malware? How does malware get on an Android device? After all, most users only install apps through the Play Store, and Google keeps a tight watch over that to make sure malware doesn't squeeze through, right?... Read More . The choice is yours.

Install an Anti-Theft App

Antivirus only gets you so far. What happens if you leave your phone somewhere? Or worse, if somebody picks your phone right out of your pocket? Without an anti-theft app, you may as well consider your phone to be gone for good.

Anti-theft apps for Android The 7 Best Android Anti-Theft Apps to Protect Your Device The 7 Best Android Anti-Theft Apps to Protect Your Device If your Android phone gets stolen, you'll need a way to get it back. Here are the best Android anti-theft apps. Read More help you track your phone in several ways: GPS positioning, security alarms, lockdown, and data erasing features just to name a few. That last feature can come in handy if you have secrets on your phone that nobody should ever see.

Tweaking Communication on Android

Lastly, let’s tweak your communication settings to be as productive and pleasant as possible. When you’re browsing the web and sending out text messages all throughout the day, even the smallest improvement can wipe away your frustrations.

Install an SMS App

The stock SMS apps that come pre-loaded on Android phones are usually basic and bland. Upgrade to one of these free alternative SMS apps Text Better With These Alternative SMS Apps for Android Text Better With These Alternative SMS Apps for Android Don't like your default SMS app? Try a new one! Read More for a smoother experience, complete with more features and customization options. And if you don’t use SMS, how about these free messaging apps 5 Best Free Messaging Apps for Android 5 Best Free Messaging Apps for Android Need a free way to send messages to friends and family with your phone for free? Check out these apps. Read More instead?

Install a Better Keyboard App

If you spend any time at all typing on your device, it’s worth upgrading to a dedicated keyboard app that replaces the default one. There are a few free ones out there, but this is one area where shelling out a few dollars for a paid app can make a difference.

Need help deciding? Check out our article on how to change the keyboard on Android How to Change Your Android Keyboard How to Change Your Android Keyboard Switching to a new keyboard on Android is easy -- here's how to do it. Read More , which includes a few useful keyboard app recommendations.

Enjoy Your New and Improved Android Device

With all of these changes, your device should feel like a brand new product in your hands. If anyone tells you that you need to root Android to start personalizing it, show them your revamped phone and flash a smile.

Let us know how these tweaks work for you! If you’re unsatisfied and want to take Android customization to the next level, check out our guide to safely rooting Android devices The Complete Guide to Rooting Your Android Phone or Tablet The Complete Guide to Rooting Your Android Phone or Tablet So, you want to root your Android device? Here's everything you need to know. Read More .

Explore more about: Android Customization, Android Launcher, Smartphone Security.

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  1. Pat
    February 6, 2019 at 1:53 pm

    While the built-in texting app may be bland, it doesn't have annoying ads. I'll stick with bland for now.

  2. kdsdata
    January 26, 2018 at 12:18 am

    "6 tips" is hardly a lot of tweaks that you can make to an OS.

    For example I would like to adjust the volume alarm setpoint for when headphones are pluged in. Not the volume itself, but the alarm setpoint so that my device does not nag me EVERY time I plug in my headphones. After the hundreds time I DO KNOW that a high volume can damage my ears. But the legal beagles have the need to protect their a.. and nag me every time. Anyway, right now (Android 7) it seems that a device needs to be rooted to be able to have access to do this, and even then the device needs to run an app to change the setting. That means a setting that can only be changed after the device has been booted, which means the user has to wait for the full boot up, before an app can set the alarm setpoint. Why not let the user change the setting as an OS default, so that it boot with the new setpoint as a default.

  3. ebolutionate
    May 8, 2015 at 1:03 am

    " Rooting has its dangers so it’s best avoided if you don’t want to risk destroying your device" - I have to disagree with this, there is a risk only for those who don't read enough forums and threads and do their homework first. But I would never say that it's BEST avoided, rooting brings so many possibilities to your android device not available on stock and it can make your device much better especially for aging devices. If you really want to tweak your device start by rooting it, but use your brain in the process.

  4. Doc
    January 17, 2015 at 12:55 am

    No mention of the Xposed Installer framework? I'm aghast...

    http://repo.xposed.info/

    • Krzysiek
      January 19, 2015 at 11:44 am

      Maybe it's because this article is for users who haven't rooted their phones? ;-)

    • Joel Lee
      January 23, 2015 at 3:04 pm

      Xposed is really neat (we have an article about it) but yeah, it does require root access so it wouldn't belong here. :)

  5. rflulling
    January 16, 2015 at 4:12 am

    My Verizon LG Transpyre aka VS810PP v1 running 4.4.2 has two quirks I would like to fix.

    One is the home, go back, and options keys take up screen space and cannot be turned off and when the software tries to make it more intrusive, it just becomes an eye sore.

    The second is the dialer. I'd like a dialer that can intelligently handle call waiting without merging or dropping both calls. Maybe this is a Verizon thing, but the dialer really bugs me if another call is coming in. I mean really, my Not Smart Land Line phone switches calls just fine, why cant the smart phone?

    The catch is figuring out where to start. I would really prefer to not download 30 different apps and having to reset the phone to factory a dozen times.

    Have any advice you would care to add to the post?

  6. Gene Baker
    January 15, 2015 at 3:51 pm

    Recommend you do these slowly one at time - just in case....

    • Joel Lee
      January 16, 2015 at 10:00 pm

      I agree. One change at a time is always a good way to go. If something goes wrong, it's much easier to pinpoint what might've caused the problem. That being said, the tweaks in the post aren't dangerous so feel free to go wild or be cautious. :)