Running Android on Desktop: Which Emulator is the Best?

Running Android on Desktop: Which Emulator is the Best?

Android is one of the most popular mobile computing operating systems and powers a diverse range of phones, including the low-end ones and the high-end flagship. The good thing about Android is that other than running it on mobile devices, it can also run on the desktop with a suitable emulator. In case you have an ancient Windows machine and want to convert it into something useful, running Android on it can give your ancient Windows machine a new lease of life.

There are many free Android emulators for PC (Windows) on the market but only a few of them could match up to our expectations. Listed below is a carefully curated list of the best Android emulators for your PC.

Bluestacks installation.

Bluestacks has been one of the most sought-after Android emulators thanks to its easy installation and the ability to accept third party apk’s by double clicking on them. This app supports one of the most exhaustive lists of applications and is a natural choice if you are on a quest for an Android emulator to run apps and play Android Games.

Bluestacks user interface.

As we said earlier, Bluestacks comes packed in a single file which can be installed directly, and unlike other programs it doesn’t need a third-party virtualization tool.

We found Bluestack to be best optimised for playing games, though the UI is slightly different from any run-of-the-mill Android phone and keeps reminding you that you are using an emulator.

Andy user interface.

Andy OS is another Android emulator, which unlike most of other emulators on the market, offers features like touchscreen support. We need to install virtualbox in the system, and the installer file will automatically install Oracle VM, in case you don’t have it installed in your system.

The installation process can be a bit time-consuming and resource-hogging if you are using an under-specced device. Once the installation is done, it prompts a restart after which you are ready to experience Andy OS.

Andy user settings.

The best takeaway of the emulator has to be the fact that it matches up so closely with an actual Android device, and if you dig inside the settings Andy will show that it is running on Android 4.4 (a.k.a KitKat). Another good bit is that Andy OS offers a feature wherein you can use your phone as a remote control whilst playing games!

Genymotion user interface.

Genymotion is the best bet if you are looking for a complete Android experience. Genymotion emulator, however, needs you to not only sign up at their website but also activate your account by verifying your e-mail address. Just like Andy, Genymotion uses VirtualBox, which will be used by the emulator to create a virtual machine.

Genymotion settings.

The unique feature of Genymotion emulator is that it lets you choose between a slew of Android devices, both smartphones and tablets, and then uses the Virtual Box to emulate the device. We choose HTC One running on Android KitKat 4.4.4, and we were impressed by the level of detailing. The x86-built architecture makes Genymotion faster than Bluestacks. Some of the features like Pixel perfect and Screenshots are only available in the paid version.

Youwave user interface.

YouWave Android emulator is the natural pick for users who don’t use a high-end system. Unlike other emulators, YouWave can be installed and run in a low configuration PC without any problems. Additionally, the emulator also supports Android online multiplayer gaming, and it features an easy-to-use user interface.

Youwave menu.

Users can install apps by using apk files or by directly heading to Playstore and downloading the app. We would like to let you know that YouWave is not completely free, but the company offers a 10-day trial before you make up your mind to shell out some money.

Windows Android user interface.

As the name implies, this emulator is highly optimised for Windows systems. The emulator can be installed easily and the fact that it runs on Windows Kernel ensures that the emulator is speedy and it doesn’t really get hung up in the middle. Windows Android dynamically chooses the appropriate UI based on the size of the windows. The emulator also supports the use of mobile phones as controllers for the games.

Windows Android settings.

Windows Android has one of the best home screens we have come across in emulators, and the UI is highly optimized for PC usage. It’s good to see the app operate at lightning fast speed without any lag whatsoever.

It is hard to hand pick a single winner as each emulator has its own pros and cons. I have been personally using Bluestacks for quite a while and found it to be one of the most simple yet intuitive emulators out of the lot. The fact that Bluestacks is completely free is icing on the cake for users. Bluestacks steals the crown as we found it to be extremely balanced, and it supports one of the widest ranges of Android apps. If you are a serial gamer, without any second thought, I would recommend the Windows Android emulator as it renders the best graphics without any frame drops and also lets you use the Android phone as a controller.

Which Android emulator for PC have you used, and which one is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.

17 comments

  1. Do any of these choices give you the choice of starting up in Windows or starting up in Android? Does it make much difference if it doesn’t?

  2. Bluestacks isn’t completely free. After some time, it asks you to either pay 2$ and upgrade to the pro version or install sponsored apps. Change that soon.

  3. I know it’s restricted to just Samsung, but SideSync makes it impossibly easy to use your phone on your PC. Bluestacks and Andy required too many downloads and a few restrictions that detoured me from them.

  4. I tried Andy on a Windows 7 laptop. it didn’t want to start at all. The android started but could not be used due an huge latency. I can’t say if it is good or bad as I never saw the desktop as I see it on may tablet.

    I also tried Genymotion with several phones on the same laptop. This one works great and helped me understand the differences between manufacturers a lot more. It is easy to install, download phones and tablets, and use them.

    If I have some spare time I will try out some others as well

  5. I would like to install Android 5.1.1 on virtual machine, I advise me where I can find the iso 64-bit or 32-bit for it can be installed on virtual box or vm ware workstation?
    thanks for collaboration.
    regards,
    ugo

  6. bluestacks had a problem. i downloaded laracroft relic run and i couldent see the store. it was empty. there was no buttons to get anything. and andy whenever i exited it removed all my data and made me log in to google account again and download my games again.

  7. Many of the aplications that i’ve been using are not working with Bluestacks.
    Then i’ve testing another 2 emulators : Droid4X and AmiDuos. The 1st it’s now known of most of the people but he has better results that bluestaks had. Some applications (games) worked here. The 2nd one, according to a test made (http://www.laptopmag.com/articles/run-android-apps-on-pc) it seems to be the BEST android emulator for PC. Just look at the review. I am going to test it now.

    Enjoy

  8. I downloaded and installed it. But when I tried to open , below is the problem details. Could you please help what to do about it.

    Problem signature:
    Problem Event Name: APPCRASH
    Application Name: app_process.exe
    Application Version: 0.0.0.0
    Application Timestamp: 50fe2bc8
    Fault Module Name: libpthread.dll
    Fault Module Version: 0.0.0.0
    Fault Module Timestamp: 50fe2b7d
    Exception Code: c0000005
    Exception Offset: 000054fa
    OS Version: 6.3.9600.2.0.0.256.103
    Locale ID: 1033

  9. Hi

    I am looking for an android emulator to run multiple sessions at the same time as I am developing an app and putting it into testing.

    Can anyone make any recommendations on this please

  10. Not a good review….thanks for introducing some other android emulators than andy and bluestack….but the fact about Bluestack the advertisement and the message to syn applications is very annoying however andy doesn’t have that defect and you can also easily add your google accounts to it (in andy) however I couldn’t do that in bluestack…and when you compare these emulators give some benchmark about the performance and the speed

  11. I’ve been using this new Android emulator called Nox App Player and I bet it is better than every one of those mentioned in this article. It is totally free and fast and have features none of the existing emulators have i.e. create multiple Android instances on desktop.

    • Just tried Nox App Player
      It’s WAY better than Bluestacks. It was a fast installation and free + no ads/ sponsorships..
      Some of the features require you to buy the pro version, but they are just fancy features; nothing necessary for regular use of the app.
      Thanks for mentioning it. I did have trouble getting YouTube to work though. It kept crashing on me.

  12. The Andy Android Emulator is mentioned in the article to have Google Android 4.4.2 KitKat. This is not true. It has Google Android 4.2., which (along with Google Android 4.3) is not present on the Android’s Official WEB Site (www.android.com). After Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, is Android 4.4 KitKat. Can anybody tell me what does it mean?

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