10 Best Android Launchers [Free, No Ads & Minimalist]


Your smartphone is likely spying on you while wasting your battery. Feature-heavy home screens provide beautifully-distracting interfaces often at the expense of user privacy and battery life.

These are the best minimalist Android launchers for privacy:

  1. KISS Launcher
  2. Bliss Launcher
  3. Last Launcher
  4. Light Launcher
  5. Slim Launcher
  6. BaldPhone
  7. Olauncher
  8. Posidon Launcher
  9. Lawnchair
  10. Niagara Launcher

Are Launchers Safe for Android?

Yes, third-party launchers for Android are safe. Users should download launchers only from well-known and trusted app stores like the Google Play Store or F-Droid. It is safer to use open-source launchers, which can be audited for security and privacy, earning them a higher level of safety.

We chose the following launcher apps because they’re developed with transparency with their source code open for review. While there are great minimalist launchers available on the Google Play Store, many have closed source code. We cannot ensure they respect your data privacy.

Let’s take a closer look at your next home screen. Later, I’ll detail why you’ll love to use one of these minimalist Android launchers.

1. Slim Launcher

10 best minimalist android launchers for privacy & battery savings

For the most dedicated digital minimalist, Slim Launcher is the cleanest and most beautiful home screen launcher on this list.

A minimalist launcher that only allows you to use fewer apps on your phone.

Beautus S. Gumede

This launcher’s premise centers around reducing the accessibility to the app sprawl found on most user’s smartphones.

Slim Launcher focuses you by giving access to a list of up to seven text-based app links. You may change the app selections, rename the labels, and shift the display order on the home screen. The top four apps are always visible while scrolling up on the list reveals the final three.

The only other items presented on the home screen are a phone icon in the lower-left, a camera icon in the lower-right. The time and date are centered amongst plenty of negative space.

Even wallpaper background images are off-limits. Slim provides only a handful of solid color themes keeping your phone from becoming a distraction.

With only a handful of tweaks, you’ll free yourself from a steep learning curve, an endless labyrinth of menu options, and decision paralysis.

Slim Launcher heavily guides you towards being off our smart device and living in the real world.

F-Droid | Google Play | Source Code

2. Light Android Launcher

10 best minimalist android launchers for privacy & battery savings

Light Android Launcher functions similarly to Slim, but with a bit more freedom. This home screen displays a configurable set of text links to all your favorite apps. Swiping up from the bottom opens the app drawer listing all the apps installed on your device and includes the ability to search for apps by name.

The only aesthetics Light Launcher offers is the ability for your wallpaper or background to show through. There are no distracting widgets, customizing colors, or even an options menu.

Light Launcher is an excellent fit for the minimalist that may have already gone through a digital detox.

F-Droid | Google Play | Source Code

3. Last Launcher

10 best minimalist android launchers for privacy & battery savings

Last Launcher’s claim to fame is that it “aims to provide the fastest and simplest ever user experience.” It also consumes the least amount of memory on this list. Seriously…you can fit this on a 1980s, 3.5″ floppy disk 💾.

All apps are represented on a single panel without an off-screen app drawer. Each app is simply a text link that, when tapped, will start it.

The only customization available in this launcher app is the ability to set the app title text size and color.

As you launch various apps, Last Launcher for Android will increase the size of your more-frequently used applications. The magnified text size makes it easier to tap your heavily-used apps while minimizing less-often launched apps.

Last Launcher suffers a bit from a cluttered aesthetic without a separate app listing. It fits nicely for lower-powered smartphones and users wanting a minimally functional app launcher.

F-Droid | Google Play | Source Code

4. Bliss Launcher

10 best minimalist android launchers for privacy & battery savings

The e.Foundation is a non-profit organization with the mission to…

…make technology that respects user privacy accessible to everyone.

https://e.foundation/about-e/

Which is the best iPhone launcher for Android?

The best iPhone launcher for Android is Bliss Launcher. It replicates many of the Apple iOS navigation designs and look-and-feel aesthetics. Bliss is open-source allowing developers to audit the code adding peace-of-mind security. The e.Foundation’s commitment to user privacy also matches Apple’s commitment.

Bliss provides no app drawer but instead lists all icon apps on left- and right-scrolling panes. The far-left panel displays the user’s most-recently used apps. This is also where widgets are placed in a vertically scrolling area.

Customizations and launcher app settings are limited to provide a quick way to access all of your apps without tripping over complexity.

The advantage over Launcher iOS is that Bliss is open-source earning it more transparency preference points.

/e/’s Bliss Launcher is a perfect candidate for anyone moving away from iOS or users that want a well-researched paradigm for smartphone operation à la Apple.

F-Droid | Google Play | Source Code

5. KISS Launcher

10 best minimalist android launchers for privacy & battery savings

Our #1 pick is KISS Launcher which focuses on simply launching your next app as efficiently as possible. It displays your launch history front-and-center on a single-panel alongside tasks and settings all in a scrolling list

While KISS has an app drawer, the developers want you to leverage search to get you to your next action or app.

All the data collected is easily reset and cleared. This launcher app does not use any internet connectivity keeping your information private and on your device.

The KISS launcher is the best middle ground between a full-featured home screen and being overly simplistic. It provides just enough customization while keeping true to its core principle of launching apps quickly.

The balance of features and simplicity makes KISS our number one pick for a digital minimalist home screen.

F-Droid | Google Play | Source Code

6. BaldPhone

10 best minimalist android launchers for privacy & battery savings

The senior citizen consumer market is beginning to enjoy the benefits of smartphone ownership.

10 Best Minimalist Android Launchers for Privacy & Battery SavingsMy parents are active senior citizens and reasonably tech-savvy. They’re not afraid of picking up new technology, specifically when they can devote time to learning it and getting to their desired result.

As more companies move towards delivering services on mobile devices, my parents decided to switch to a smartphone. They’ve considered something like the Jitterbug line of phones. However, these types of purpose-built phones rarely offer flexibility and access to mainstream app stores like Google Play Store.

Apple’s iPhone is well-deserving for design and function, but their audience is a broader set of users. The devices they offer are often out of the price range for many seniors in their retirement years.

An Android device makes the most sense. We can customize the operation easily by using BaldPhone, a home screen launcher for senior citizens.

F-Droid | Google Play | Source Code

More Great Options

If you didn’t quite like our picks, check out these launchers.

7. Olauncher

is a minimal launcher app for Android. AF stands for Ad-Free. It can also update your wallpaper daily…if you want. Honestly, I’d use this launcher if my life didn’t revolve around having a widget with a feed from my private calendar on my home screen.
F-Droid | Google Play | Source Code

8. posidon launcher

is a minimal, one-page home screen with a vertical scrolling feed.
F-Droid | Google Play | Source Code

9. Lawnchair

is a wonderfully horrible pun on the word “launcher” giving users an open-source version of Google’s Pixel launcher with additional customization options.
F-Droid | Google Play | Source Code

10. Niagara Launcher

“gives your phone a whole new look and offers a minimalistic experience to help you to form a healthy relationship with your phone.”
F-Droid | Google Play | Source Code (only open issue tracking 😞)

Why Use a Minimalist Android Launcher

Use a minimalist Android launcher when you value low distractions, higher privacy, increased performance, extended battery life, and ease-of-use. A simplified launcher or home screen also perfectly fits users with special needs, such as senior citizens.

For the digital minimalist, an alternate Android launcher or home screen provides the most streamlined and comfortable Android smartphone experience.

Lower Distractions

Casinos use high attention-grabbing sensory designs to bring and hook gamblers. Smartphone manufacturers and app developers use similar psychology to attract buyers/users and work tirelessly to keep their customers’ attention.

Switching to a home screen with a simple design and single-focused purpose disrupts some of this addictive design giving you back two of your most valuable and limited resources: your attention and your time.

Privacy

Google has a long history of bringing to market fantastic technological innovation.

But remember, most companies exist to be profitable. The bulk of Google’s revenue stems from selling targeted advertisements. To do this, they must know as much as possible about users. The more we as users interact with Google services, the more detailed a profile we give to the company.

Switching to a home screen that does not exploit your data and habits increases your privacy.

Speed

The more features that are crammed into any software, the slower and more difficult it is to maintain. Your launcher or home screen is the most vital point of interaction. It’s how you drive your device.

Switching to a home screen with a smaller number of features ensures your smartphone interaction is fast at shuttling you to your next app quickly.

Save Your Battery

Any software that is not well-written will require more processing and consume more battery life to accomplish tasks.

Switching to a home screen with fewer options and display requirements reduces the processing power required by your hardware. You’ll consume less power requiring less charging throughout the day.

Easy to Learn and Use

A smartphone is a personal place. It’s our window into a digital room where we work, play, and socialize with people around the world. Understandably, you’d want to set up your smartphone to reflect your personality, likings, and workflows.

Becoming acquainted with all the settings in a feature-heavy launcher can take a while. You may continuously be tweaking various aspects of your home screen without ever letting it serve you.

Switching to a home screen with a defined and purposeful configuration will allow you to adjust to a designer’s best practice. It will enable you to move on to using apps and your phone to accomplish tasks and be productive.

Special Needs

The ability to swap home screens in the Android operating system allows us to tailor the smartphone experience to the needs of the individual. We can better serve users like senior citizens or those with special needs.

Switching to a home screen that is purpose-built for individuals allows us to ensure the smartphone is a near-perfect match that fits our needs instead of a good enough tool that fills just enough of our requirements.

Final Thoughts

If you want help with your digital detox, keeping your battery charged longer throughout the day, or embarking on the minimalist lifestyle, consider taking a look at these alternative launchers.

Did I miss one of your favorite home screen launchers? Put a comment in the Telegram channel.

Mike Chu

Mike is a web developer and content writer living as a digital nomad. With more than 20 years of devops experience, he brings his "programmer with people skills" approach to help explain technology to the average user. Check out his full author bio by clicking here.

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