There are a lot of good reasons why someone would want to run Android apps on their PC.
App developers may try to test their app before publishing it. Gamers may want to use a mouse and keyboard on their games. Emulating Android on PC is possible and much easier than it used to be. Some of the old emulators either left or became unusable at some point (Andy, AmiduOS, and Leapdroid), but everything else here should work just fine for most people. Here are the best Android Emulators for PC and Mac.
The Three Main Uses of Android Emulators
There are three main uses for emulators. The first is the most common and is for games. Players can use games on their computers to make some games easier to play. They don’t have to rely on the battery life of their devices and the presence of macros and other tricks help in the process. In most cases, these little tricks are not illegal (in most games) so no one really has a problem with this. The best Android devices for gaming include LDPlayer, Bluestacks, MeMu, KoPlayer, and Nox.
The second most common use case is application development. Programmers and game developers love to test apps and games on as many devices as possible before launching. Fortunately, Android Studio comes with an “Android Virtual Device” (AVD) that beats every other emulator in terms of performance and functionality. The only drawback for non-developers is that it comes with Android Studio and Android SDK hardware installed. Of course, this is not a problem for developers who already have all the necessary software on their machines.
The last major type is productivity. This is not nearly as common because Chrome Box is cheaper and better to use Android apps on something other than a phone and most productivity tools are cross platform. Any anti-gaming works as an anti-productivity to some extent. However, those with very specific use cases and little knowledge can give ARChon and Bliss a try. Despite that, in this day and age, we recommend going with a Chromebook (with reasonably decent specs) if you want to run Android apps in your laptop or PC environment. It is better this way.
Finally, a bit of disclaimer. At this time, there are no emulators that run the latest Android versions except for those made for developers. Fortunately, most apps and games still work on older versions of Android so this doesn’t affect much. However, most emulators now run between Android 7.0 Nougat and Android 9.0 Pie.
ld player emulator is a lightweight android emulator focused on gaming performance. Running on Android Nougat 7.1, it features a host of gameplay-oriented features, including good keyboard mapping controls, multi-state, macros, high FPS, and graphical support. It supports a wide range of games including Epic Seven, Clash of Clans, Arknights, and many others. This is one of the few Android Emulators on the list that gets active updates to improve compatibility. In recent versions, ld player has worked to maximize the smoothness of Free Fire & Mobile Legends, Ld Player is also a good inhibitor for using TikTok, Instagram, WattApp, and more.
Price: Free or $2 per month
BluStacks is known by many users to be the most popular Android emulator on the market, and with good reason. Aside from running on both Windows and Mac, this emulator comes packed with tons of features to improve the player experience: from Keymapping Tool to create customized control schemes; Status manager with which you can create multiple emulators from the transmitter and run several games simultaneously, and qualitative features such as Eco Mode, which helps reduce resource consumption while playing the most demanding games. It’s also the most secure device out there, with GDPR compliance certified – your data is always safe with them.
Their latest version, Bluestix 5 is lighter and faster than ever before, delivering high-performance gaming even on weak devices. The latest version addresses some of the more common complaints from the previous version, especially when it works on weak devices. Now try for yourself and find out why BlueStacks has a community of over 500 million players worldwide!
Android Studio emulator
Android Studio is the default development unit (Integrated Development Environment, or IDE) for applications. It comes with a set of tools to help developers make apps and games specifically for Android. As it turns out, there is also a built-in emulator that you can use to test your app or game. The setup is rather complicated that it won’t appeal to everyone but it is by far the fastest and richest option on this list. You can run vanilla Android, download apps from the Google Play Store as you normally do, add custom launchers and keyboards, and emulate any size, device, or shape. You can even try foldable devices!
ARCHON is not a traditional Android Emulator. You can install it as a google chrome extension. Then it gives Chrome the ability to manage Android apps and games (albeit with limited support). It is not easy to operate. You will have to mount the thing to the chrome. From there, you have to get the APK and download it in . As an extra, you may need to use a tool to change the APK in order to make it compatible. There are a lot of steps to complete this work unlike most other Android Emulators for PC. But on the other hand, it works with any operating system capable of running Chrome (MacOS, Linux, Windows, etc.).
Price: Free – Free Donations
Bliss OS is something a little different. It works as an Android emulator for PC via a virtual machine. However, it can also run on your computer directly through USB. The USB boot option is definitely a power user option and not recommended for less intensive use cases. As a VM installation, the process is easy, but annoying if you haven’t made your own virtual machine before. The USB installation method is more complicated, but it allows your computer to actually run Android from the bot. The system runs on Android Oreo and this is among the newer versions of Android running on the computer.
GameLoop, formerly known as Tencent Gaming Buddy, is an Android game player for PC. As a matter of fact, it is good enough that Tencent called it the official responsible for its Call of Duty: Mobile and PUBG Mobile games. Of course, it does include games other than Tencent games, although its collection is not as large as it could be. It downloaded and installed fine and the games we tested were fine. This emulator is not for trial apps or developers. This is actually a fairly decent gaming emulator as it has good keyboard control and performance.
Price: Free with paid options
This emulator is mostly for developers. It allows you to test your applications on a variety of devices without owning them. You can set up the emulator for a variety of devices with different versions of Android to help meet your needs. For example, you can run Nexus 1 with Android 4.2 or Nexus 6 with Android 6.0. You can easily switch between virtual machines as desired. It’s not great for customer uses, but Genmotion offers its services free of charge for personal use. Its most useful feature is that it is available on both desktop and cloud. Those without powerful computers can have Genymotion servers do all the work for them.
Price: Free / $2.99 per month / $29.98 per year
Memu is another example of an emulator that works well with gamers. One of its biggest advantages is the support for both AMD and Intel chipsets. It works with most AMD processors, but it’s nice to see developers paying attention to the AMD platform. In addition, it supports Android Jelly Bean, Kit Kat, and Lollipop. You can even run multiple instances simultaneously for multiple games or test features. The premium version extends at $2.99 a month, disables ads, and adds more customization options.
NetEase has created a MuMu emulator. It is another game emulator with most of the same features as its competitors. MuMu runs on Android 6.0, slightly older than some competitors. However, it has a decent time and features sufficient to warrant its consideration. We had no outstanding issues using it, but it worked fine and we were able to load all the games we wanted to test. MeMU, Bluestacks, and GameLoop and all three of these get regular updates.
Knox is another Android Emulator for PC. This includes the usual things like adding keys with the keyboard, support for physical control, and even the ability to control the keyboard. For example, you can set the function to swipe right for an arrow key and use that in a game without physical hardware controller support. It’s a lot of fun and seems to work well most of the time. It is also completely free and in active development.
Phoenix OS is one of the latest Android Emulators for PC. Like most of these days. You can also system with a desktop-like experience that actually works well for productivity as well. It does have Google Play Services, although updating those services can be a little tricky at times. This means that you get every app and game in the Google Play Store. Phoenix OS also runs Android 7.1, which is relatively new to an Android emulator. You can download Phoenix OS from its official website and its forums are at XDA-Developers.
PrimeOS is a kind of Android Emulator. It is not actually an emulator. You install this as a system on your computer and it enables you to run the original Android. It’s an Android experience focused on gameplay, although you can totally use this for productivity if you really want to. PrimeOS includes a game center, mouse and keyboard support, and access to most Android apps and games. To be frank, it works almost like ChromeOS minus all the parts of Chrome. You can multitask, watch video content, or play games as you choose.
Remix OS Player
Remix OS by Jide is one of the newer Android devices used in the computer industry (relatively speaking). It runs Android Marshmallow and this is still relatively new compared to many of the others on the list. The installation process is very simple and its use is also fairly easy. It’s mostly made for gaming. There are a few specific game features along with a customizable toolbar. Show off like playing multiple games at once. With that said, it’s a fairly clean slate so it’s still quite usable as a productivity tool.
Price: Free / Paid Plans
Xamarin is an IDE similar to Android Studio. The difference here is that it’s able to connect things like Microsoft Visual Studios for a larger development environment (for better or worse). Also, like Android Studio, this comes with an in-app or game test amplifier. In case it wasn’t easily apparent, we just recommend this one to developers. The setup is simply too tedious for normal consumer use. Xamarin isn’t as powerful as something like Genymotion, but it will get the job done if you intend to use this and is also configurable to your needs. It’s free for personal use. Larger companies and teams may have to negotiate a payment plan.
Make your own emulator
As it turns out, you can build your own emulator. This is how it works in a nutshell. You need to download virtualbox. You have to upload an image from Android-x86.org. From there, it’s just a matter of finding one of the many guides online and following the steps. This is easily one of the most difficult methods, but still not quite as boring or difficult as creating a complete IDE like Android Studio or Xamarin. We don’t advise you to try without education and a little prior knowledge. It will not work well, and unless you are a programmer, it will be difficult to fix.
If we missed any of the best Android Emulators for PC, tell us about them in the comments.