The best customization apps: freshen up your smartphone

The best customization apps: freshen up your smartphone

One of the best things about Android is how easy it is to customize, modify and otherwise set up your smartphone or tablet exactly they way you want it. With a little know-how and the right apps, you can make your phone truly unique. If you're not sure where to start, our list of the best apps to customize Android will set you on the right path.

Jump to section:

Below, we'll show you various ways to customize your Android phone. Some methods may require root permissions or a complex procedure suited to the more experienced user, but don't fret. Follow our advice and you'll discover a brand new Android device!

Improve the look of your smartphone

Install a launcher

This is the most obvious way to customize your Android, and it's the place you should start. What is a launcher exactly? It's simply the interface you use to launch your apps. A new launcher will allow you to change how apps are arranged in your app drawer, your home screens and widgets, and in some cases - even the transitions and animations displayed when switching between screens or launching applications.

If you like what you see in the image below, I can recommend Smart Launcher 3, as it's one of the best personalization apps for Android.

smart launcher 2017
Smart Launcher is easy to use. / © NextPit

If you are overwhelmed by the number of launchers offered on the Play Store, we can also recommend Nova Launcher, as it's one of the most flexible apps. The free version has a ton of options, including a Night mode, which you can schedule. Nova Launcher Prime, on the other hand, makes almost everything customizable and it's more than worth the $4.99 it costs.

Discover more in our selection of the best launchers for Android.

Switch up your icons

Do you find the app icons on your phone boring and ordinary? Change them! It's not difficult or time-consuming. You just have to install a launcher, as introduced in the section above, beforehand. Then, you just need to find the right pack for you on Google Play and install it. There are heaps of them available, and we picked out our favorites in our best icon packs for Android article. You can choose a classic look or pick something quirky and unique.

Pixelated icons will give your phone that trendy retro look. / © PixBit

After you download your icon pack, instructions on how to activate it usually are provided in the app itself. If not, they are usually easy to activate via the launcher settings. And voila, you'll have a perfectly unique smartphone.


If you have installed a launcher and spruced up your smartphone with new icons, but you still feel like something is missing - it might be a stylish wallpaper. It's such a basic thing, but it can make a huge difference to the appearance of your smartphone. Nowadays, a lot of icon pack apps offer a number of wallpapers, which fit the general aesthetic of the icons. However, if they are not up to your standards or you want to experiment, there are great apps focused on wallpapers specifically.

Tapet is certainly one of the most interesting among them. It doesn't offer you a selection of images to choose from, as does almost every other app. Instead, it generates different patterns or images, which you can then modify. Swipe right to change the color of the generated wallpaper or swipe left to change the pattern. The results can be quite avant-garde and will certainly give your phone a unique look.

tapet wallpapers
Some of the wallpapers I generated with the help of Tapet. / © NextPit

Live (or animated) wallpapers are also a fun way to customize your phone, but we wouldn't personally recommend them. Not only do they drain battery, but most of the apps that offer them on Google Play are riddled with ads and annoying push notifications.

If you still can't choose a fitting wallpaper, you can always search Imgur - one of the biggest image platforms on the web. Users often post huge compilations of their favorites, like this one.

Improve your notifications

Does your phone have an LED notification light? In our article on how to change the color of LED notifications on Android, we show you a unique app you won't be able to live without once you've tried it. 

Lock screen apps and widgets

How many times per day do you unlock your phone? The answer is too many. Instead of having to waste time unlocking your phone to check the weather, WhatsApp, your calendar, etc, why not just put them on your lock screen as widgets? It's easy, practical and will save you time. Here is a list of the best lock screen apps and widgets available.

AndroidPIT best weather apps 1
Weather widgets are the most prevalent. / © NextPit

Xposed Framework

If you want to go one step further than just modifying the appearance of your phone, the Xposed Framework allows you to select (and remove) any features or modules that come pre-installed on your phone that you never use. 

While it might sound like you need root access, you don't - but you should make sure you have a recent backup of your phone stored somewhere else before you start, as the Xposed Framework does warn you that it can 'soft brick' devices by sending them into a boot loop. 

However, if you're interested to tinker around with Android a little more than usual, Xposed Framework will certainly let you do that. There are different versions to install, depending on which build of Android you're running, so make sure you get the right one. Many Oreo phones aren't supported at the moment either. 

Accessories and gadgets to stand out from the crowd

Personalizing your smartphone with accessories is also another way to make your Android phone uniquely yours. Rather than focusing solely on the aesthetic side, we will show you some accessories make your phone more fun and functional. Do not miss these fun Android-compatible gadgets that could be perfect gifts for yourself or your friends!

Androidpit Gadjets 4
Gadgets are a great way to extend the fun and functionality of your device. / © NextPit

Add new features

Android customization also involves adding new and useful features. Some come along with the latest version of Android, while others come from Google or other brand manufacturers for specific devices. Some of these features are now available on any device though, thanks to some tricks.

If you are a more advanced user or if aren't afraid of trying new things, the developer options is also something you should look into:

Performance matters

If you've followed some of the tips and tricks above, then your smartphone is probably looking great right now. But how is it running? Let's not forget about performance optimization. With a few tips, you can make it run faster and more smoothly. You can even make your battery last longer.

Androidpit Tips and tricks 3
Make your phone one in a million with these tips. / © NextPit

What are your favorite apps to customize your smartphone? Do you think you'll use any of our suggestions yourself? Let us know in the comments.

Readers' favorite comments

  • Dean L. Nov 9, 2017

    Nova launcher is what I like to use but recently I'm trying out the Microsoft launcher. It's got some features I like, but I'm not sure I'm going to stick with it just yet. But then again I can switch between them whenever I want to. That's the beauty of Android.


Write new comment:
All changes will be saved. No drafts are saved when editing
Write new comment:
All changes will be saved. No drafts are saved when editing

  • prokofiev~opus19 Dec 29, 2019 Link to comment

    Re launchers - almost always Nova is recommended - and I see your several offering others - ba-ut what about Evie - huh?!! ~ Does everything Nova does with more subtle refined colors etcetera and a couple of more alternative choices. And a slide-out app of news culture etcetera journals magazines et al.

  • marco sarli
    • Admin
    Jul 15, 2019 Link to comment

    I have been using Microsoft launcher for years and recommend it to everybody. Very light on resources and battery, a lot of customization option, a very smooth and pleasant experience and never a problem. I have paired it with Ava Lockscreen an equally pleasant experience.

  • F.Alam Jan 1, 2019 Link to comment


  • Sorin Dec 21, 2018 Link to comment

    For those who want to change the appearance and functionality of the phone at will, obviously they are solutions to radically change the look. The only problem is to get used to the new way of using!

  • Andrew Burgin Jul 6, 2018 Link to comment

    Nova Launcher is so easy to customize your phone,Toolbox Pro is the app i have on my phones,it floates on the screen and you can add applications you want quick access to,and it opens vertical on my phones plus you can change the floating icon,i have Speed Dial,Brightness Slider,Play Store,You Tube and Phone,so then i know i will not accidentally touch these when in pocket,SideBar and Sidebar Lite i use ,instead of Samsung Edge and are good and easy to use,loads of icons as well liked Stamped Black Red,Black or White,Digi Clock pro is the Clock i use now as Clock Premium will not work on 8.01,you can set this up so when you touch it quickly it turns on my wi-fi and touch it again to turn it off

  • Reg Joo Jul 6, 2018 Link to comment

    Oh, this post is kinda old. Too bad about substratum, but I know it'll run on "P" in the future, they always find a way. Xposed is a good choice, as it can do more than theme. Nova prime doesn't get in the way of these apps, and can help a lot with them. Especially if you don't want super white "Material Themes" everywhere(My eyes, My eyes! I'm blinded!).

  • GrossDad Jul 6, 2018 Link to comment

    Smart Launcher is now Smart Launcher 5, with more capabilities than before.

  • Ebuddy Newss Feb 12, 2018 Link to comment

    Hi androiders,

    I found another great method to customize your android phone as iPhone or ios without rooting your phone. simple google ebuddynews and click the first link.

    Thank you.

    Deactivated Account

  • AayK Nov 10, 2017 Link to comment

    Is there any app that customizes iPhone too??

  • Dean L. Nov 9, 2017 Link to comment

    Nova launcher is what I like to use but recently I'm trying out the Microsoft launcher. It's got some features I like, but I'm not sure I'm going to stick with it just yet. But then again I can switch between them whenever I want to. That's the beauty of Android.

  •   31
    Deactivated Account Nov 9, 2017 Link to comment

    Nova launcher, Swiftly switch, and KWGT widgets..
    primarily to ditch the persistant search bar and get some design consistency in app drawer.
    nowadays it's as much about easy personalized functionality, so a side bar launcher with navigation,apps and shortcuts swiped from side works well for me,
    i use different devices and OEM's for work and personal, and I like having a consistent UI..
    as much as you can when swapping between Moto and Samsung.

    if you take away customisable widgets and launchers from android I'd be using an iPhone...

  • Albin Foro Nov 8, 2017 Link to comment

    Everybody has their favorite launcher and what they do with it, I'd only point out the big advantage of being able to standardize the interface of different devices: having a phone with different branded upstairs and downstairs tablets I use identical setups to avoid fumbling around with different GUIs. Not a fan of icon packs since many apps I use aren't included, but have noticed a lot of stylish, normally paid icon packs are always free in the "on sale" section of the Play Store.

    As to peripherals, while selfie sticks might (or not) be passe', it's good to have a mounting bracket to fix a phone to a camera tripod. (Protective cases to me are a functional necessity as well as a customizing thing.)

    SorinDeactivated Account

  • Allan Morris Nov 8, 2017 Link to comment

    I really like the Nova launcher. iOS wasn't as customizable as Android. That's the main reason I switched from iOS to Android.

    Deactivated AccountSorinDean L.Deactivated Account

  • Bibith Mathew May 4, 2017 Link to comment

    i think arrow is better than nova launcher. some simple apps to personalize the android phone. . . :) .. just check it out

  • Karsten Franke Apr 16, 2017 Link to comment

    I love Lightning Launcher. You can customize almost everything (really) and share your themes. Some learning curve involved but it also runs on older phones.

    There are some interesting themes out there.
    Best one is called 'zunish' I think (can be found on playstore). Microsoft ZuneHD experience for Android if you want, also including media player, rss news feeds and weather widget without external apps

  •   24
    Deactivated Account Jan 29, 2017 Link to comment

    KLWP still the best app to use to customise and create your own themes as you like it.

  • Carmelo Rivera Jan 28, 2017 Link to comment


    • ֆɦค໓ฯ Feb 5, 2017 Link to comment

      It will take time for xposed im afraid. Look on XDA news, they posted an update for how long it will take for xposed to come to nougat. If you can't live without xposed then get a marshmallow ROM or you'll have to be patient. Trust me, its not the developers fault, it will take a lot of time that he is dedicating. Please research this before making an ignorant comment against the developer.

  • Andrew Burgin Jan 28, 2017 Link to comment

    Just love change the looks of my Galaxy phones,Tried different launchers but now use Atom Laucher,which is so easy to set up,Always used ClockQ Premium which is easy to set up for Date,Time and shows battery level but then set up by just touch the clock it turns my wi-fi on or off after installing Quick Wi-Fi,Got Toolwiz photos as well which is so good for Changing Wallpapers,CoolBright is the one i use to change how bright i want my screen to look so my battery does drain having the screen to Bright,Screen Filter is app i like to save battery life as it dims the screen and saves power before i press the Screen on/off button,just wish Google would make Application creators include the Exit Function on every Applications,to help consumers stop worrying about there Battery Life

  • Andria D. Jan 28, 2017 Link to comment

    One of the best articles I've read here, EVER. I'm addicted to customizing any computer-type interface I use; I even got into web design because I just can't resist tweaking the CSS. :-D I'm also saddened to read in the other comments that Xposed Framework really does require rooting, because apparently that will not be an option in my Zmax Pro. Oh well... next phone. :-) More interface-customization articles, please!

  • Awah Prince Collins Mar 14, 2016 Link to comment

    Really cool apps but I think you forgot greenify

    • Jerry's W. Jan 27, 2017 Link to comment

      greenify does not alter the looks so there for its useless to mention here. greenify saves battery behind the screens.

  • Mark Conroy Dec 15, 2015 Link to comment

    Unfortunately you do need root privileges for closed to work with all recent versions of Android.

  • Krishna Ahire Sep 17, 2015 Link to comment

    I just started using custom launchers, i installed approx 3-4 different launchers but have found only "Launcher 8" the best.
    you can download thousands of the themes in this just one launcher. very simple to modify and customize as per your interest. I just installed only three themes and I change those themes time to time and my phone look fresh every time.

    Krishna Ahire

  • Nishant gauns Dec 31, 2014 Link to comment

    Xposed framework needs root access... Please fix the mistake!!!

  • Caroline Dec 31, 2014 Link to comment

    I really like UR launcher, it has cool live wallpapers!

  • Gagan Singh Dec 31, 2014 Link to comment

    where can i get the wallpaper shown in nova launcher screenshot? It looks awesome..

    • Jerry's W. Jan 27, 2017 Link to comment

      In Nova Launcher 😆

    • D. L. Nov 12, 2017 Link to comment

      Once you install Nova launcher, then tap homescreen button see wallpapers, then tap the vertical dotted line at top to remove the divider line, then set as wallpaper.

  • Umberto Dec 30, 2014 Link to comment

    Do you know where I can find the wallpaper displayed in the Nova Launcher screenshot of this page? It's awesome.

  • Kishin Dec 30, 2014 Link to comment

    Um, excuse me, I have a little query. When you spoke about the Xposed Installer you said you don't require root, but according to the description for the Xposed Installer on its official page it says it needs root access.

    " Xposed is a framework for modules that can change the behavior of the system and apps without touching any APKs. That's great because it means that modules can work for different versions and even ROMs without any changes (as long as the original code was not changed too much). It's also easy to undo. As all changes are done in the memory, you just need to deactivate the module and reboot to get your original system back. There are many other advantages, but here is just one more: Multiple modules can make changes to the same part of the system or app. With modified APKs, you decide for one. No way to combine them, unless the author builds multiple APKs with different combinations.

    *Note that this only works with root access on Android 4.0.3 or later. *"

    So does it really need root access or not?

    • Saem Sarguroh Dec 30, 2014 Link to comment

      It needs. I use it always. The thing you pointed out is a mistake in the article.

    • Jerry's W. Jan 27, 2017 Link to comment

      Yep. Without root no Xposed.

Write new comment:
All changes will be saved. No drafts are saved when editing