So you want Android to work on your PC? You need an Android Emulator. They’re becoming more popular as Android’s popularity keeps growing. And as many of the QA folks in our quality engineering community are aware, emulators can be a great way to quickly test and QA an app.
What Is An Android Emulator?
From developers testing apps to gamers playing on a large screen, an Android Emulator allows you to use Android OS on a Windows PC, together with your keyboard and mouse – so you can test much faster and more efficiently. Some iOS emulators for PC and Mac are also available but Android ones offer a better performance.
Maybe you are switching from iPhone to Android, or you merely want to test out a Custom ROM, the possibilities with Android Emulator are endless. While BlueStacks has always topped the list of phone emulators for PC, few others are catching up insanely fast. So, if you’re trying to find the best Android emulator check out this list of the top Android Emulators for your Windows 10 PC.
Best Android Emulators for Windows 10 in 2021 Shortlist
BlueStacks is probably the most known Android emulator among Android users. The emulator is preferred for gaming and is ridiculously easy to set up. Other than Play Store, you have the option of downloading BlueStacks optimized apps from its own app store. Although, BlueStacks supports keyboard mapping but does not go well with gestures. A major drawback of BlueStacks emulator is that it gets sluggish in productivity apps. Other than that, the sponsored ads make the emulator lose behind other best free Android emulators for Windows.
Talking specifically about BlueStacks 4, it brings an excellent gaming performance, thanks to low CPU and memory usage. It also claims to be 6x faster than Samsung Galaxy S9+.
BlueStacks Android emulator is currently based on Android 7.1.2 (Nougat).
Price: Free/ Premium $24
Why use BlueStacks?
Easy to set up with no technical knowledge required
Nox Player especially targets Android gamers. Although the emulator works perfectly fine for other Android apps and enjoying the whole Android experience, it is best suited for playing massive games like PUBG or Justice League. The best part of Nox Emulator is that it’s absolutely free with no sponsored ads at all.
The Nox Player allows you to map keys of Keyboard, Mouse, and Gamepad. You can even assign keyboard keys for gestures, for instance, mapping shortcut for swiping right.
Also, you can specify the CPU and RAM usage in the settings option to get the best gaming results. If rooting Android is your focus, Nox Player makes it easy to root the virtual device under one minute.
The only problem with Nox is that it puts a lot of load on the system. Thus, you can’t use tons of other apps. Another thing is it is based on Android 5 Lollipop which might be a concern for you.
MEmu is relatively a new app player in comparison to the others. Launched in 2015, the MeMu Play, again, is focused on gaming. Regarding the speed, this Android emulator gives similar results as Nox and BlueStacks.
One of the most important features of MeMu Android emulator is its support for both AMD and Nvidia chips. It also supports different Android versions like Android Jelly Bean, Kit Kat, and Lollipop. While MeMu advocates for high-performance gaming, the graphics performance is relatively poor. I saw textures and smoothness missing in comparison to other app players.
MEmu is currently based on Android Lollipop and works top of the class with productivity apps. And if you are looking forward to playing games like Ingress or Pokémon Go, this should be your choice.
Genymotion is not your casual Android emulator; it is only targeted at developers. The Android simulator lets you test apps on a variety of virtual devices with different versions of Android. The emulator is compatible with Android SDK and Android Studio. It even works macOS and Linux.
Since Genymotion is inclined towards developers, it is equipped with lots of developer-friendly features. And it might not be the right choice for people looking for Android gaming experience.
Android Studio is a development IDE (Integrated development environment) from Google itself and especially caters to developers. It basically comes with a bunch of tools and plugins to help developers build and test their apps.
Android Studio has a built-in emulator but packs fewer features in comparison to Genymotion. The emulator is unquestionably not for general usage and playing heavy games. Android Studio is tough to set up but simultaneously favorite of many developers.
ARChon is not some big shot Android emulator, nor it has a huge fan following, it’s more of a fix to run Android apps on Chrome OS.
It started out when Google brought support for two or three Android apps on Chrome Web Browser. Following which, a GitHub developer took it a little notch further and released ARChon to run all Android apps on Chrome.
The ARChon Android emulator is not suited for hardcore gaming, but it is excellent for using a productivity app due to its easy access.
Bliss OS is a little different from the above emulators. Where ‘Android Emulators’ emulate Android on your Windows PC, Bliss OS, on the other hand, is Android itself and needs to be installed as a separate OS.
As for its installation, you could use a Virtual Box or you can create a bootable USB drive and install the Bliss OS ROM on the external storage.
Now, installing Bliss OS or any other Android x86 based projects is always better if you are looking for the exact Android experience on your PC. Not to mention the fact is Bliss OS is open source and doesn’t encompass ads or any Android emulator clutter.
These are some of the best Android emulators that you can run on your Windows 10. Before you install any of the above emulators, it is important to note that these emulators are not completely bug-free and may lag from time to time. Also, the performance of these app players would be based on the specification of your PC.
And here are few of the emulators who are no longer supported or have been shut down:
Which Android Emulator do you and your team prefer? Let us know in the comments below, and make sure to subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date on all the latest in the QA world.