Android emulators have really been in demand these past few years because they allow you to run your favorite Android apps or play your favorite Android games on your computer. And with each update, the emulators get more efficient which allows us to enjoy our favorite apps and games on a bigger screen. And to help you choose the best one, I have created a list of the best Android emulators in this article!
Nowadays, the smartphones have gotten really powerful and they are capable of running even the most high-end games with ease. Up until a few years ago, having a 8GB RAM in a computer was considered a big deal, but that has become common in smartphones today. But still, the smartphones can only have so much screen space, and if you are a fan of games like Call of Duty: Mobile or something like that, it can only be enjoyed completely when you play it on a device with a large screen. That’s where the emulators come into play because they allow you to run such games on your PC or laptop without much issues.
So, if you want to run Android apps on your computer, or play Android games on a bigger screen with more flexible controls, then you got to try out these Android emulators. You can also be an iPhone guy who wants to try out the Android ecosystem without having to purchase a smartphone, and the emulators can make that happen! But before we get to the list, let’s understand what exactly is an emulator software.
What are Android Emulators?
Android emulators are the programs that let you run Android application i.e. APK files on your computers. This allows people to run Android games and apps on a much powerful system than just a regular smartphone. The emulator industry saw a rapid boost when gamers started to utilize this capability to play and stream games online.
There are multiple reasons for this sudden boost in the popularity of emulators. Using an emulator makes it more handy and easy to stream Android gameplay over to Twitch or YouTube than from a regular Android phone. The sheer fact that you can run Android apps that are unavailable for the web or Windows is also another attraction.
But how does this work? How can you run an Android app on a completely different operating system like Windows and Mac?
How Android Emulators Work?
Well, this works the same way a virtual box or any virtual division of a system works for running multiple instances of operating systems. It’s not as geek as it sounds, what these emulator software do is they take up a part of your computer’s space and make it work virtually as an Android operating system by installing the Android operating environment.
So when you install and run any APK file it detects that you’re running Android only instead of any other operating system. Although it may sound a bit simple or complex based on your level of understanding, there are actually many emulators out there in the market to choose from.
But why are there so many for just doing the same task? Because each adds a different set of features and capabilities in your Android operating environment, ranging from Android versions to advancements in in-app testing, gaming, or recording. So, let’s find out some of the best ones that you can start using right this instant!
The Best Android Emulators in 2021
GameLoop is not as old as some of the other emulators mentioned on this list, but it is really great when you want to play games like PUBG or Call of Duty: Mobile on your computer.
The emulator was originally called Tencent Gaming Buddy and was made by the company to run their uber-popular PUBG Mobile on PC. However, it kept on developing and right now it supports a ton of titles. We’re looking at several online battle royale games as well as role-playing games, casual games, strategy games, and more.
Since I am a huge fan of Call of Duty: Mobile and play it whenever I have some time to kill, I use GameLoop to play it on my computer. Also, GameLoop became more popular when it was announced that CODM would be supported by the emulator, which gave players like me a reason to download and install it.
Although GameLoop is pretty great at gaming, it doesn’t really support any apps. So, you won’t be able to download any apps on your computer using this particular emulator. However, if you only want to play high-end games like PUBG Mobile or Free Fire, then GameLoop is the best emulator for you!
2. Nox Player
Nox Player is another awesome Android emulator that comes with tons of exciting features to make your gaming experience a lot better. Although the emulator is basically aimed at gamers, it also supports several popular apps and allows you to run them on your computer.
With Nox Player installed on your PC, you will be able to download your favorite games directly from Google Play Store and install them. It supports almost all the games available in your region, from massive games like PUBG Mobile to smaller games like Clash of Clans or Clash Royale.
When it comes to features, the emulator support keyboard mapping, recording, gamepad, and even supports multi-instance, which allows you to run multiple apps or games at the same time.
Moreover, you can customize the controls in the settings for a better gaming experience and specify CPU & RAM usage in the settings option for more efficient gameplay.
3. BlueStacks App Player
BlueStacks is the most mainstream, the most popular, and the most efficient Android emulators available right now. This emulator comes with all the features you’d ever need to run any app or game you want without any issues.
It doesn’t matter what app or game you want to play because BlueStacks App Player is capable of running everything available on the Google Play Store. You can either download the app directly from the store or use an APK file to install them on your computer manually.
Moreover, it comes packed with power, graphics, and processing components that allow you to run even the high-end games without any issues.
But there’s a thing that you need to know, BlueStacks doesn’t run as smoothly on a low-configuration device. You need a high-configuration computer to run the emulator without experiencing any lags.
That’s the only complaint I have with BlueStacks, but even then I think it is one of the best Android emulators right now. It has all the power you need, all the features for a good gameplay experience and you can customize the settings and controls any way you like.
What makes MEmu one of the best emulators for Android is the fact that it allows you to download, install and play high-end games on your computer without any issues. And the gameplay also doesn’t suffer or lag if you’ve got a computer with the minimum system requirements.
With MEmu, you get features like keyboard mapping which makes it easy for you to set up controls that you are comfortable with. And one of the best things about this emulator is that it supports both AMD and Nvidia chips.
Apart from these features, it has all the other features that you’d expect from a good emulator like multiple instances that allows you to run multiple apps or games at the same time.
And it is updated regularly to bring in more features and get rid of any issues, no matter how small, so that you can enjoy the best mobile gaming experience on your computer.
5. LD PLayer
LD Player is another big name in the Android emulator industry. It is one of the most highly rated among the best emulators for Windows 10. It is specially optimized for gaming so that your games run super smooth and you don’t get any problem when you are playing favorite games on PC.
LD Player continuously pushes updates for better compatibility and bug fixes. Furthermore, you can run any Android app using this emulator. Yes! Apart from gaming, you may also run social media apps like Instagram and chat apps like WhatsApp.
The emulator is becoming quite popular among the users because of its reliable performance on both AMD and Intel Chips. LD Player has a dedicated store from where you can grab the games you want to play, and they run seamlessly.
The biggest advantage of running Android apps on LD Player is that it’s fast, with reliable performance and it’s also lightweight. Being lightweight, it misses some features as compared to BlueStacks but then these are not the features that will bug you with your experience as such.
Moving on in the list of best Android emulators, we have ARChron next! What’s different about ARchon is that it’s not any traditional stand-alone Android emulator; instead it is an open-source Chrome runtime environment that you can install as a Chrome extension to run Android apps or games.
And yes, it’s not an easy option!
There is a lot more going into taking an APK file and then running it on this module. You’ll also need to use other tools to port APK files on this Chrome emulator before it can run the app.
But one of the prominent reasons for which this emulator is listed here is that it’s not a standalone program which means you don’t need to have some particular operating system for which it is made, but rather you can run this directly on Chrome browser, no matter what operating system you’re running. That’s the reason why ARChon is here in the list of the best Android emulators because it’s platform-independent.
It is an open-source add-on for Chrome which means you can download and use it for free. Here is the official GitHub link for ARChon for more detailed instructions on downloading and running this on any instance of Chrome.
7. Android Studio (Virtual Device)
Yes, I know what you’re thinking. What Android Studio is doing here in the list? Well, Android Studio has an emulation companion as well: you can call it a part of Android Studio or you can call it the virtual device.
Android Studio IDE has this virtual device emulation that runs Android apps. The common use case for this app is testing out the codes and apps written by the developer. This allows them to directly test if the app is functioning properly or if the new features are working or not.
Android Studio had to be on the list because this is built with the most comprehensive set of features coming right from Google. Since it’s developed for testing and developing an Android application, the setup is quite complicated. It may not please you for running your day-to-day Android applciations on your PC.
You can choose other emulators out of the list for that purpose, but if you’re into game development, building android apps, or learning app development, this is the Android emulator you need to have. It literally has a plethora of options for testing, debugging, or creating the app simulation.
You can emulate any form factor device using this virtual device, add launchers, keyboards, and download apps directly from the Play Store. You can also switch between different versions of Android for testing the compatibility.
Although the one drawback here is that, it’s not an independent option to download and run, you need to have Android Studio installed on your PC for using this virtual device, and Android Studio itself is quite heavy. So if you don’t have a good spec PC, then it’s a no-no!
8. KO Player
Moving on to the list, KO Player is an Android emulator available for Windows and Mac. It’s generally targeted for Android gaming but can easily run most of the applications as well in both landscape or portrait mode.
It has an interactive installation and user interface, but it’s a little on the heavy side and has many handy features too. One of the main features here is video recording which means you don’t need any external screen recording software for streaming or recording the gameplay. You can directly record videos right from the emulator.
Inbuilt Google Play Store allows you to download apps directly onto your emulator. Otherwise, you can also manually install or just drag and drop an APK file from your computer for installation. It offers an overall compatible and optimized gaming experience and runs other apps smoothly as well.
Note: At the time of writing this, the main website of KO Player was down. We’ll update it with more information soon!
Last on the list of best Android emulators is Genymotion. It’s not the regular emulator that everyone can use but rather it’s targeted at programmers and Android developers in general.
Developers can test their apps on a variety of devices without having to own them. It directly emulates the device look and how the app would run on that particular device.
You can also choose different Android options to meet your real-life testing criteria and needs. Like, you can run Android 4.2 on Nexus One or Android 6 on Nexus 6. You can also switch between the created virtual devices at will.
It’s free for personal use and you can get away with it if you only want to test apps without wanting to install the Android Studio. It gives you two options, one to download with the virtual box and the other is downloading without the virtual box. Users can choose any option that may suit their needs.
As a normal consumer, Genymotion might not be built for you. Instead, you can choose from other Android emulators listed above by comparing them and their features and finding out which one will work best for you. Not all emulators are built the same. Some are general emulators, others are lightweight, some are too heavy while others are well optimized for gaming. So seek your needs and choose which one would be the best for you.
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Android Emulators
After going through the listicle of best emulators for Android, you might have already chosen your favorite emulator to use. But here are some of the interesting and frequently asked questions about them that you should know the answer to!
1. Can you use Android emulators for Mac?
Yes! Many of the best emulators listed above work well with Mac OS. But one of the best you can download for your Mac is BlueStacks app player.
2. Do Android emulators run the latest version of Android?
No! I would be surprised if you can show me an emulator that runs the latest version of Android rather than one of the older ones. They run on almost obsolete variants of Android. But it shouldn’t be a problem because most of the apps support older versions just fine.
3. Are Android Emulators Legal?
Android is open source, and it’s completely free for anyone to download Android and customize or upgrade it as they want. These Android emulators use those Android packages to create an Android runtime environment on your Windows or Mac PC for running APK files.
4. How to bypass Android emulation detection?
Some games like PUBG detect that you’re playing on an emulator instead of a real Android device. Not detecting it might give you an unfair advantage in the match over the real Android players who are sticking with touchscreen controls. To avoid this, games detect the emulators and will try to match you with a likewise environment. This results in a fair competitive experience.
Emulators don’t have an option, in general, to let you bypass the Android emulation detection. You might be able to bypass this detection by modifying systems calls or the emulator identification. To do that, you might have to work around a bit. In an essence, there’s no straight way to bypass Android emulation detection.
5. Why are Android emulators so slow?
Well, that’s not always the case. If you’re running a low hardware configuration or your emulator is heavy, it might take up many system resources. As a result, you can experience lag and slow down in the emulators.
The slowdown happens because the emulators have to mimic the ARM architect of the processor along with simulating the Android core. The latter is for letting apps detect the Android operating environment that’s why sometimes Android on PC may slow down than actual hardware that the emulator is trying to emulate.
So, that was the complete article listing down all the best Android emulators for Windows and Mac that you can download right this instant and start playing your favorite games or run your favorite apps on your computer. I hope that you liked the article and were able to choose the best emulator software, and if that’s the case, make sure to share the article with your friends as well!
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