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Android: Skins vs Launchers


If you're like me, the first time you heard about skins and launchers, you were curious to learn the difference between the two. However, I found that many sources didn't explain what they were and the difference between them clearly. So, I decided to do some research and take a swing at it.

What are skins?

In the world of Android, you have multiple manufacturers that like to add their own flavour to the stock operating system, often referred to as "Stock Android".

Skins are UI-focused updates made by the manufacturers to the device's operating system, which is based on Stock Android. I say UI-focused because skins can include changes to things other than the UI.

For example, Samsung's One UI has camera modes like "Single Take" that are not available on Stock Android.

However, the UI changes are often the most noticeable aspect of a skin.

What are launchers?

Launchers are third-party applications that also provide UI enhancements and additional functionalities. Given that they are third-party applications, you can download them from the Google Play Store just like Instagram and TikTok.

What don't skins do?

Skins don't:

  • Restrict access to the core features of the Stock Android OS. This means that you'll still have access to basic features like the Google Play Store, Android core apps, making calls, texting, and browsing the web.
  • Directly update the Android version on the device.

What don't launchers do?

Launchers don't:

  • Update the Android version on the device.
  • Alter the device's firmware.
  • Provide security updates or patches.

What are some popular skins?

  • Samsung's One UI: Available on Samsung Galaxy devices.
  • Pixel UI: Found on Google Pixel phones.
  • MIUI: Used on Xiaomi and Redmi phones.

What are some popular launchers?

Some of the most popular launchers include:

  • Nova Launcher: Consistently rated one of the best and most powerful launchers, offering extensive customization options and features.

  • Niagara Launcher: A minimalist launcher focusing on one-handed usability and information density.

  • Hyperion Launcher: A free and open-source launcher with a clean and customizable interface.


In the world of Android, customization reigns supreme. Skins and Launchers are two of the most popular ways that manufacturers and end users customize their devices and their Android experience. They are similar in some ways, but different in others and I hope it's clearer now. If this was helpful and if you want to support me, feel free to buy me a coffee.

If you want to see more launchers, you can visit here

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