Get the Stock Android Experience on Any Phone Without Root

Mihir Patkar 21-01-2016

Windows looks like Windows on any PC you use. That’s not the case with Android. Depending on the manufacturer, Android phones usually have a different look thanks to different manufacturers’ skins Android Skins Explained: How Do Hardware Makers Change Stock Android? Hardware makers like to take Android and morph it into something that is entirely their own, but is this a good or a bad thing? Take a look and compare these different Android skins. Read More .


Some Google-approved phones, like the Nexus series or Motorola phones, show what “pure” Android looks like. This is colloquially called stock Android. But if you buy a Samsung phone, you’ll see an interface called TouchWiz. In fact, most Android phone-makers customize their user interfaces in an effort to set their phones apart from the rest.

So what can you do if you want pure Android? Well, you could root your Android phone 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 and install stock Android. But that voids your warranty. Plus, it’s complicated and not something everyone can do. If you want the “stock Android” experience without rooting, there is a way to get close: install Google’s own apps.

That’s right, Google has been making its own apps and releasing them on the Play Store. Download them and replace whatever you’re currently using to get the Google experience. They’re some of the best tweaks for your Android without rooting The Best Android Tweaks You Can Make Without Rooting Android tweaks aren't only for tech geeks. Here's how to get the most out of your non-rooted Android phone or tablet! Read More . And as a bonus, they will make your phone look and feel like it is pure Android.

Launcher: Google Now Launcher

The latest flavor of Android, version 6.0 Marshmallow, hasn’t rolled out to all phones yet. But you can still get Marshmallow features without updating Get Android 6.0 Marshmallow Features Without Updating Android 6.0 Marshmallow is on its way, but while you wait, you can actually get a lot of its best features right now on any device. Read More . One of those is the new Google Now Launcher, which can be installed on any phone. It looks and behaves exactly the same as how Nexus or Motorola phones do.

It scrolls vertically, has a quick search bar, and even suggests other apps you might like. The launcher also comes with a special Google Now screen, which you can access by swiping left from the homescreen. This space is complete with cards that offer more information for your needs.

The Google Now Launcher also feels much more fluid than many of the best free Android launchers What Is the Best Free Android Launcher? Nova launcher, Apex launcher, and dodol launcher are all solid free launchers, but which is the best? We put them to the test. Read More . And no, it doesn’t have any locked-away features that you have to pay to unlock.

Download: Google Now Launcher for Android [Broken URL Removed]

Phone: Dialer and Contacts


After the launcher, the most-noticed and used apps are the phone dialer and the address book What Is the Best Contacts & Dialer App for Android? You don't have to settle for your phone's built-in contacts and dialer apps. Read More . The stock Android Dialer and Contacts apps are quite different from what you’ll see on most devices.

Google recently released these apps on the Play Store, but there’s a catch: you need an Android 6.0 Marshmallow-running device. Given that the rollout is extremely slow, this isn’t very useful for most people. But Marshmallow should be rolling out to plenty of phones in the near future.

If you can’t wait that long, then there is good news for users running Android 4.4 KitKat or newer. An older version of the Dialer app by Google will give you the stock Android look. However, you will need to manually install or sideload it How to Manually Install or Sideload Apps on Android Want to sideload apps on your Android phone? Installing APKs manually on Android opens up a whole new world of apps, and it's easy to do. Read More . It’s quite easy and safe, of course.

Download: Google Dialer for Android 6.0+ (Official)

Download: Google Dialer for Android 4.4+ (Unofficial APK)

A similar, older version of the Contacts app by Google, requires Android 5.1 Lollipop or newer. Again, you’ll need to manually install it.

Download: Google Contacts for Android 6.0+ (Official)

Download: Google Contacts for Android 5.1+ (Unofficial APK)

SMS: Messenger


There are two types of users for text messages. Those who use Google Hangouts extensively, and those who don’t. You see, Google has tried to integrate text messages in Hangouts, so your instant messages and SMSes all come into one window. It’s part of what makes Hangouts the best all-in-one messenger on Android The Best All-in-One Messaging & Calling App for Android: Google Hangouts What if there was one app that could do it all? Meet Google Hangouts for Android. Read More .

But if you aren’t an extensive Hangouts user, then you might want to keep your text messages separate. While I believe Truemessenger is the best SMS app Identify Unknown Numbers and Block Spam Text Messages with Truemessenger for Android Truemessenger is a fantastic new app for sending and receiving text messages, and it can tell you who an unknown number is and block spam. Read More , it’s not like what Google’s stock SMS app looks like. Oh yes, not many know that Google does have a default messaging app too, and you can download it.

Messenger by Google doesn’t have all the features of Hangouts or Truemessenger, but it’s a capable app nonetheless. In fact, I reckon it’s faster to search through texts with it than either of its competitors. Plus it complements the Material design, can block numbers, and lets you share pictures, videos, audio, emoji, and more. What’s not to like?

Download: Google Messenger for Android

Download: Google Hangouts for Android

Keyboard: Google Keyboard

Android phone-makers often customize their interfaces so heavily that even the keyboard isn’t spared. You’ll get proprietary keyboards or third-party apps like SwiftKey. But that’s not what Google ships on Nexus or Motorola phones.

It’s a pity because the default Google keyboard is pretty darn good. It can go head-to-head with the best alternative keyboards for Android What Is the Best Alternative Keyboard for Android? We take a look at some of the best keyboards in the Play Store and put them to the test. Read More . It even mimics features you find in some of them, like swipe-to-type that was first introduced by Swype.

Google Keyboard features Android’s Material design, autocorrect, and learns new words with usage. Plus, your usage patterns and words are synced across all your Android devices. All of this is complemented with speech-to-text technology powered by Android’s built-in voice command feature.

If you’re in a non-English-speaking country, then Google also has other keyboards to support more languages, along with transliteration.

Download: Google Keyboard for Android

Camera: Google Camera


There are plenty of good camera apps for Android 6 Best Free Alternative Camera Apps for Android Don't like the camera app that comes on your phone? Give these alternatives a try! Read More , but Google’s default Camera app stands out. Even if you don’t want a stock Android experience, this one is worth checking out.

The Camera app is all about simplifying the process of taking photos, while giving you the best image possible. The minimalistic interface uses your image sensor’s default aspect ratio instead of a forced square or rectangle.

The app is packed with features like photo sphere, panoramas, and lens blur — a process where your object is in focus while the background is blurred. Kannon has a great detailed explanation of these three killer Google Camera features Three Secret Features Of Google’s New Camera App That Will Blow Your Mind Google’s recent update to the KitKat camera app boasts a few secret abilities, including an accidental tilt-shift effect, 3D image capability and something of a wide-angle effect. Read More .

Download: Google Camera for Android

Is Stock Really Best?

Is stock Android really worth all the hype? Plenty of people love alternative interfaces for Android, especially HTC’s Sense UI and Xiaomi’s MIUI. Personally, I prefer the look of stock Android, but we’d love to hear your thoughts. What’s your favorite Android interface? Any other tips for achieving a stock experience?

Explore more about: Android Customization, Android Launcher, Google Hangouts.

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  1. charlie
    November 23, 2017 at 6:02 am

    I also love pure Android UI

  2. Robin Barber
    September 4, 2017 at 9:40 am

    Obviously an article written on behalf of Google promoting all its rubbish apps. I want LESS Google, not more!

    • Joel Osteen
      September 5, 2017 at 3:38 pm

      So close your Google account and get a Windows phone.

    • Jacobus Maximus
      December 8, 2017 at 10:58 am

      Then get an iPhone ret@rd...

    December 28, 2016 at 6:35 am

    google camera not found in play store

    December 28, 2016 at 6:34 am

    sir google camera not found in playstore .

  5. daniel
    April 18, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    is there a possibility of getting the stock version of android for samsung galaxy s6 edge with a rooted device, and if so where to get it?

    • Afaq Ahmed
      August 5, 2016 at 10:36 am


  6. Juzer Ali
    April 12, 2016 at 6:25 pm

    I so want the stock contacts app. I installed the unofficial apk listed in this post. But when I try to edit a contact, it goes to my phone's bundled contacts app. It's just a fancy UI that's all.

  7. subu
    March 19, 2016 at 5:51 am

    Dear Gurus

    I plan to buy a Lenovo K3 running android version 5

    specks for this phone can be found here :

    The one repeated complaint on this phone is the bloatware (from reviews)

    How do I get rid of the phone's bloatware ? would installing the above 4 google apps do ? or is there something more that I wish to do ?

    I'm completely new to android and hence this question


    • Meh
      March 28, 2016 at 3:07 pm

      Root your phone. By doing this, you are able to uninstall out-of-the-box bloatware.
      Just google "root [device name here]".
      Also, you could install a so-called Custom ROM. Plenty of Sustom ROMs are debloated, means that the bloatware is removed.
      A good forum for rooting and flashing Custom ROMs is
      Hope I could help

  8. Android Junkie
    February 2, 2016 at 9:27 pm

    I personally prefer Nova Launcher over Google Now Launcher. It's by far the closest thing to stock as far as home screen goes. While Google Now gives you the pure feel, it still uses the manufacturer UI's icons, and they can't be be edited to stock Android. Nova Launcher can edit icons on the phone desktop. As far as the dialer and contacts go, I have a Note 4 running 5.1. The 4.4 dialer won't work on my phone. And though the 5.1 Contact does work, it's useless if it can work in connection with the dialer. So I use KK Dialer and KK Contacts. The KK Contacts is VERY similar to Google's 5.1 Contacts, and work integrated with the KK Dialer app.

  9. charana
    January 29, 2016 at 11:53 am

    Sense Is My Choice .. but Pure android is also good ..

  10. Trevor Reynolds
    January 24, 2016 at 10:48 pm

    I believe the dialer and contacts are for Nexus devices only.
    They won't install on my Moto X Pure with Marshmallow

  11. Sonic Jensen
    January 22, 2016 at 9:13 am

    Cyanogenmod all the way. On the latest 2 xperia devices ive got. I have used "stock sony" for almost 2 weeks total.

  12. Anonymous
    January 22, 2016 at 12:01 am

    It's one thing to download Google products to achieve "stock" functionality.

    But annoyingly, many phone makers make sure that you can't get rid of their bundled apps. And even worse, many of these bundled apps clutter your "update list" every time! I have no wish to use HTC's bundled apps, but dammit, they ALWAYS show on the list of apps that need updating -- each and every time -- and I have to wade through them to choose apps that I actually want to update -- each and every time!

    • David Ribeiro
      October 20, 2016 at 3:03 am

      You can just disable them. They won't update.