15 best Android emulators for PC and Mac of 2018
There are a lot of valid reasons why someone would want to run Android emulators on their PC. App developers may be trying to test their application before shipping it out. Gamers may want to use a mouse and keyboard on their games. Maybe you just want it there to have it. In any case, Android emulation on PC is possible and we’re going to take a look at the best Android emulators for PC. Please note, the process is rarely easy and some of these require some technical knowledge. Also, note that many of these emulators are made more or less the same way. It’s a matter of finding the one that works for you! Let’s get started.
Price: Free Trial / $10-$15
AMIDuOS is first on our list and this is a relatively newer Android emulator for PC. This one comes in two flavors: Lollipop and Jelly Bean. Aside from the version type, the only other difference between the two is Jelly Bean costs $10 while Lollipop costs $15. The good news is that those are one-time charges. AMIDuOS runs very well for multiple purposes. Most of its features are for productivity rather than gaming. That makes it a good option for office use, homework, and similar tasks. There aren’t any specific gaming features, but it does run games rather well. Developers could use it for basic testing, but it won’t be great for advanced stuff. It’s good overall and worth a chance.
Android Studio is the Google-approved development IDE for Android. It comes with a bunch 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 out your app or game. Clearly, this is not a good option for those looking to use it at a consumer level. However, those developing apps do already have a powerful (and free) tool at their disposal to help test their apps. It’s a pain in the neck to set up, but it’s easier to use once you do.
Next on our list is an entirely free emulator called Andy. We reviewed this when it first came out and while it did have some issues back then, it still managed to prove itself as a capable replacement for apps like Bluestacks. It runs pretty much the entire gamut of the Android experience including productivity apps, launchers, games, and you can even install root access if needed. That makes it great as a productivity-focused emulator although it can play games as well. In any case, it is free and it does work very well. Some have experienced some installation issues and other problems. We recommend you be cautious with this one, even if it is pretty good once it gets up and running. Andy is also compatible with Mac.
ARChon isn’t a traditional emulator. You install it into Google Chrome. It then gives Chrome the ability to run Android apps. It’s not an easy emulator to get running. You’ll have to install the thing to Chrome. From there, you have to obtain APKs and load them in. As an added rub, you may need to use a tool to change the APK in order to make it compatible. We have the basic instructions linked up at the button above. This one is compatible with Mac, PC, and Linux. It’s also one of the most difficult to set up, but it’s also one of the unique Android emulators.
Bliss is something a little bit different. It works as an Android emulator for PC via a virtual machine. However, it can also just flat run on your computer through a USB stick. This is definitely a power user option and not recommended for the less tech-savvy. As a VM install, the process is fairly simple, if tedious. The USB installation method is even more complicated, but it lets your computer actually run Android natively if your system is compatible. It doesn’t get much better than that. The system runs Android Oreo which is a step up even from Bluestacks’ Nougat. This is a bit of a diamond in the rough, but again, we only recommend this one to the tech-savvy.
Price: Free / $2 per month
Bluestacks is the most mainstream of all Android emulators. There are several reasons for that. For starters, it’s compatible with Windows and Mac. It was one of the first ones to work reasonably well. The emulator targets mobile gamers. Earlier versions of Bluestacks were kind of bloated. The newest Bluestacks, dubbed Bluestacks 3, came out in 2017. It’s not the cleanest experience out there. However, it has the ability to launch multiple instances so you can play multiple games at once (or the same game multiple times). It also includes keymapping and settings for many games installed. That should help make things much easier. It’s still a bit bloated compared to something like Andy or Remix. However, those wanting to game should probably start here. Those going for productivity may want something a little leaner. Recent updates put Bluestacks at Android Nougat. That makes Bluestacks the most up-to-date Android emulator for PC currently available.
Droid4X has had its ups and down.s However, it’s one of the classic Android emulators for PC. It features a simple design that should be easy for most people to use. It markets itself towards gamers and boasts support for simpler, casual games. However, like most Android emulators, you can do productivity stuff if you want to. We’re not entirely sure if Droid4X is still active, but their download page is. Thus, we recommend you tread with caution as this could be a buggy and unstable product. Droid4x is also Mac compatible. Finding the installer for that is a little difficult, though.
Price: Free with paid options
This Android emulator is mostly for developers. It lets you test your apps on a variety of devices without owning them. You can configure the emulator for a variety of devices with various versions of Android to help suit your needs. For instance, you can run a Nexus One with Android 4.2 or a Nexus 6 with Android 6.0. You can easily switch between “devices” at will. It’s not great for consumer uses, but Genymotion does offer their services for free for personal use.
KoPlayer is a newer Android emulator for PC. It has also managed to fly under most radars until recently. Its main focus is on gaming. You’ll be able to use keymapping to emulate a controller with your keyboard. Players will also be able to record gameplay and upload it wherever they want. The install process is easy enough and it seems to work alright. Like most emulators, it does have issues that you’ll run into randomly. It bills itself as a middle-of-the-road emulator. You’ll be able to use it for a variety of things. The only bad side is that it is still buggy. Nevertheless, it’s a good, free option.
MEmu is another of the up and coming Android emulators that seem to do quite well. One of its biggest features is support for both AMD and Intel chipsets. That’s rarer than you’d think. Additionally, it supports Android Jelly Bean, Kit Kat, and Lollipop. You can even run multiple instances at once. That makes it one of the few emulators that go as high as Lollipop. Like many, you can use this for pretty much whatever you want. It’ll support most games and most apps. However, we recommend it mostly for productivity. It’s free to download and use if you want to.
Nox is another Android emulator for PC for gamers. That includes utilities and additions that are specifically catered to helping gamers. You’ll be able to do things like a game with an actual controller. This includes things like the capacity to assign “swipe right” to, say, an arrow key and simulate actual gesture movements directly on your keyboard or joystick if you have one. It’s a lot of fun and seems to work rather well most of the time. It’s also entirely free. Don’t pay attention to the lag in the video below. The emulator doesn’t lag like that.
Remix OS Player by Jide is one of the newer Android emulators for PC. It’s also the only one that runs Android Marshmallow instead of Android Lollipop or Kit Kat. The installation process is pretty simple and using it also fairly easy. It caters mostly to gamers. There’s a sidebar with customizable options for you. It’s relatively new, so they’re still working out some bugs. Even so, it still works better than most and it’s free in perpetuity. The only main caveat is that it doesn’t support AMD CPUs.
Price: Free / Varies
Xamarin is an IDE. It’s similar to Android Studio. The difference is that it can plug into things like Microsoft Visual Studio. Also like the Android Studio, this comes with a built-in emulator for developers. It’s for developers only unless you feel like setting up an entire development environment to use it. Xamarin’s emulator is not as powerful as something like Genymotion, but it’ll get the job done if you intend on using this. It’s free for personal use. Companies and larger teams may have to negotiate a payment plan.
Price: Free / $29.99
YouWave is one of the older Android emulators for PC. It’s been around for a long time. Its last update was in 2016, though. That makes it fairly current. The free version uses Ice Cream Sandwich. Forking out the $29.99 will get you the Lollipop version. It seems to work pretty well. The installation process was easy enough. It doesn’t have any game-specific features but it will still play games. That makes it good for light gaming and productivity. This one has had quite a bit more development than most and we recommend it to those trying this whole process out for the first time. This one also has Mac support.
As it turns out, you can build your own emulator. Here’s how it works. You need to download VirtualBox (linked above). You then have to download 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 the most difficult Android emulator method. We don’t recommend you try without a tutorial and a little prior knowledge. It won’t work well, it’ll be buggy, and unless you’re a coder, it’ll be difficult to fix. Still, it’ll be yours.
If we missed any of the best Android emulators for PC, tell us about them in the comments! If you’re wondering what happened to previous entrants, we’ll tell you. Leapdroid is now owned by Google. You can also click here to check out our latest Android app and game lists!