Tired of big and bloated Android launchers that pack in useless features that you’ll never use? Sick of launchers that seem to be nothing more than copy-and-paste jobs and have no additional value? Smart Launcher may not be the first minimalist launcher on the Play Store, but it has successfully made itself into a launcher that prioritizes speed and efficiency without being ugly.
I recently wrote an article detailing five awesome Android launchers for you to use, but the comments really surprised me with all the new launchers that I hadn’t yet discovered. Since then, I’ve gone ahead and reviewed the stylish Buzz Launcher as well as published a write-up on the minimal Yandex.Shell launcher. Reader Dan introduced me to Smart Launcher, which very well might be my favorite launcher yet. Keep reading to find out why.
Like most launchers these days, Smart Launcher starts you off with a quick wizard. There are about half a dozen steps, each one asking you to pick your preferred app in a number of categories, including Music, Browser, and Phone. Once you’re done that, which shouldn’t take more than a few seconds, you’ll be presented with a clean home screen with the six apps that you chose in the wizard shaped as a ring of icons.
And, wow, I must say that this launcher is indeed zippy. As a user of an original Galaxy S (which is now 3 years old), I was blown away by how fast this launcher runs. Normally when I use a relatively fast launcher, I’ll still get hiccups and freeze frames here and there, but with Smart Launcher I haven’t gotten any of that yet. The transitions, the animations, the processing – it’s all fast and lovely.
Another thing to note, which you won’t see reflected in the screenshots, is that Smart Launcher is designed with both Portrait and Landscape modes in mind. I’ve never liked Landscape mode very much on my phone, but this is the one time where I truly felt tempted to start using it.
So we know that Smart Launcher has good performance, but does it come with all of the features that you need? Minimalism is great until so many features are stripped away that it becomes little more than a barebones operation. Fortunately, that’s not the case here.
What can you expect from Smart Launcher?
- Ring-shaped launcher. A circle of app icons. You can’t arrange them into a grid like you would for most other launchers, so you’re forced to keep only your most frequently used apps on the home screen. But that’s okay, because Smart Launcher has a…
- Sleek app drawer. Right from the home screen, all you have to do is tap one button to arrive at one of the best app drawer’s I’ve ever seen. It automatically organizes itself into six categories: Communication, Internet, Games, Media, Utility, and System. If it incorrectly sorts one of your apps, you can always drag it into the right one.
- Hide apps. If you have tons of apps that clutter your app drawer even after they’ve been categorized, you can choose to hide certain apps from view. This is extremely useful for those pesky apps that you can’t or won’t uninstall yet you’ll never use.
- Themes. Smart Launcher comes with one theme by default, which is a pretty nice one on its own, but also with the ability to download from dozens, maybe hundreds, of other choices. The themes change icons, wallpapers, and colors. Each has its own unique feel, but they all adhere to the same layout.
On top of the core functionality outlined above, Smart Launcher has a few perks that you can play with to customize and improve your experience with it.
- Icon packs. Smart Launcher supports using icon packs that are meant for ADW Launcher, Apex Launcher, Nova Launcher, and LauncherPro, which is a great way to customize the look of your app icons while keeping a particular theme. You can also change icons on a per-app basis.
- Gestures. Gestures can be enabled to perform Smart Launcher actions or just to open apps. Smart Launcher actions include but not limited to: open app drawer, show/hide status bar, show notifications panel, and show toggle panel.
- Live wallpapers. Live wallpapers are a special type of wallpaper that is animated. Despite the simple and sleek design of Smart Launcher, you can still make it look and feel great, and live wallpapers are just one in a few ways for doing so.
- Widgets. Widgets have become an integral part of most launchers these days, and Smart Launcher does support them, but unfortunately only in the Pro version. Thankfully, I’m not a huge user of widgets so I can live without them, but for those of you who need it, the Pro version will cost you about $3.99 USD.
Should you use Smart Launcher? Ultimately, it comes down to whether or not you need power features. If you’re looking for lots of flexibility and the ability to do pretty much whatever you want, you might want to look into something like Nova Launcher. However, if you just want something that doesn’t have much of a learning curve, keeps an intuitive design, and looks fantastic, Smart Launcher might be for you.
Have you used Smart Launcher before? What’s been your experience with it? If you haven’t used it, will you be giving it a shot? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!