12 Best Android Emulators

Emulators have become widely popular. Android emulators are being used more than any other emulator one can imagine. The main purpose being games, as the user strives for a better gaming environment on a bigger screen and with easy to use controls. As this post is about emulators, let’s clear the air by describing the emulator.


What is an emulator?

Emulator imitates the functions of one system on to another system. A simple example being the emulator that imitates the function of a mobile device on to a PC. The emulator generates the device environment by making use of both the software and hardware. It then allows the device running the emulator to use tools and peripheral devices which were designed for some other device. An example could be to run an android game on your PC by using an emulator.

How is one emulator better than the other?

Well, the answer to this is, it depends on the user. The major concern is what you are going to use the emulator for. 1) One might use an emulator for the sole purpose of gaming. 2) Some might download it for the purpose of application development. 3) In a rare case one might go for both gaming and development. Hence, every user has different requirements and there are different emulators available to fulfill the needs of every type of user. So, the task is to choose the best emulator for your needs.

An important factor is the cost of the emulator. Whereas, you can get emulators free of cost, you might have to buy some online. Also, some emulators have limited features in the free package and to unlock the complete features you have to pay. This becomes another deciding factor while opting for an emulator.

The final factor, and the most important one is the features and compatibility of the emulator. In this post we will be discussing some popular emulators and their features and how they are better than others.

Android emulators

There was a time when the most popular emulators used to be that of PlayStation and Nintendo. However, this is not the case anymore. The most popular emulators nowadays are that of Android. This is because of the increasing number of android users and the numerous games and applications that are available. Due to the increasing demand of android emulators, many are competing in this race and have come up with formidable products.

As discussed previously, there are two major reasons of using android emulators, one being the development and testing of applications and the other being easy game play for android games. Some users use emulators to test rooting before implementing it on their mobile phones.

When android was launched, one might not have thought that applications would become so advanced and such heavy games would ever be available on mobiles. Games like PUBG and FORTNITE have changed the dynamics of gaming on mobile phones which has lead to the increased usage of emulators. Other than this, applications like Instagram and Snapchat also have a liking for emulators. Instagram does not allow the user to simply login from their PC and upload a picture. By using an emulator, pictures can be directly uploaded from the PC.

Best android emulators: 2019

BlueStacks

BlueStacks 4

BlueStacks is one of the most popular android emulators when it comes to gaming. The emulator has earned its reputation due to regular updates and the fact that it was the earliest of the android emulators which was available on both Windows and Mac.

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BlueStacks 4 is the latest update and it is currently operating on android version: Nougat 7.1.2. BlueStacks emulator supports multiple accounts and it is very easy to set up. The user-friendly interface of BlueStacks has always been considered a plus point. It also has a large inventory of its own applications from which the user can choose (and obviously there is always the play store).

With BlueStacks 4, the developers have claimed that it runs applications 6 times faster than the Samsung Galaxy S9+ and 8 times faster than the previous version of BlueStacks. They have also claimed that the previous faults in BlueStacks 3 have been removed and there are no lags in the new version with great performance boosts to the emulator. It also allows custom keyboard mapping and running multiple games at one time.

With the new smooth version of BlueStacks, Windows users can opt to use the android version of applications that they are currently using on their windows. The emulator provides a much better experience than the windows applications.

The free version of the emulator features ads which become annoying, therefore other free emulators are preferred by some users in this aspect. Another drawback is that BlueStacks does not work well with gesture controls.

Is BlueStacks safe?

A question that is asked by many users. Well, BlueStacks is basically an emulator and emulators do not bring harm to your device. Some emulators might have bugs but BlueStacks is updated regularly and is free from all sorts of bugs. It is perfectly safe to run BlueStacks on your PC. However, what you must be concerned about, are the applications you run on the emulator.

Nox

Nox Player

Nox is another emulator for gaming and provides all the usual features like key mapping but what makes Nox fun to use is that it provides gesture controls. It is well known to play heavy games like PUBG and Justice League.

The best part about Nox is that it is free and there are no annoying ads. It is also continuously being developed and the experience will hopefully improve.

The major drawback might be that the Nox is based on Android 4.4.2 which has become outdated. Nox is a pretty heavy emulator and puts considerable load on the PC, which can also be considered as a drawback for users having a PC with lower specs.

Android Studio

Android Studio

Emulators are not only about games, and the Android Studio is a perfect example to support this claim. The Android studio is a development IDE (Integrated Development Environment) with the sole purpose of developing and testing applications. The IDE is Google’s very own and is a very popular tool used among software developers nowadays.

The Android studio provides a variety of features for testing apps and virtually converts your PC in to an android phone. For example, it provides features like simulating incoming phone calls and text messages. It also has the capability of simulating rotation and hardware sensors.

Due to its wide variety of testing features and incredible development environment, the Android Studio is popular and the best choice if you are a developer. Also, it is free of cost and gets regular updates which is a plus point.

GenyMotion

GenyMotion

Another emulator that is focused upon app development is the GenyMotion. It is not suitable for high performance games. It has the capability of allowing the user to test application on a variety of virtual devices having different versions of Android. Other than Windows, the emulator is also available on macOS and Linux.

The developers of Genymotion claim that the emulator is equipped with more than 3000 virtual Android configurations. This means that various Android versions, screen sizes and hardware capacities relating to different devices to be simulated are available. The emulator also provides a variety of scenarios due to a large number of hardware sensors like GPS, network and multitouch. It covers android versions 4.1 to 8.0 which is beneficial for developers. The emulator has a kiosk mode which allows the developer to share their app on their website and the visitor can then easily test the app without even downloading it. This is incredibly beneficial for Beta Mode testing. Also provides

Although it is a great tool for developers, the GenyMotion is not available for free, it is either available on trial basis or paid version.

ARChon

ARChon emulator

It would be a shame not to mention ARChon in the list of best android emulators, which is unlike the traditional android emulators. ARChon is downloaded as a Google Chrome extension and can be run upon any type of operating system which is running Google Chrome.

Due to its ease of access, the ARChon gained its fair share of popularity in the group of android emulators. It is not suitable for gaming but it can be used to run almost any type of android application. ARChon is mainly used for productivity apps.

It is free of cost but, the problem with ARChon is that it sometimes it can become a hassle to run an application on ARChon. An APK file must be obtained and loaded into the emulator and sometimes tools must be used to make that APK file compatible with the emulator.

Bliss OS

Bliss OS

Unlike other emulators which are installed on an operating system, the Bliss OS is an android PC emulator which is an OS itself. It is recommended for people who have vast knowledge and experience with emulators. Also, the Bliss OS is very difficult to install onto a PC. While installing the Bliss OS, make sure that you have made a backup of your current OS. It can be installed by using a Virtual Box or create a bootable USB drive to install the OS on an external storage.

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If you get through the installation process of the Bliss OS, then you are in for a treat. The Bliss OS provides seaming less experience with Android version: Oreo. However, the Beta version is working on Android 9 Pie. The emulator can be installed on just about any Windows/Linux Tablet released in the last 4 years.

It supports a huge number of devices and is an open source OS. It is free of cost and does not have any ads.

Remix OS

Another OS that needs to be installed separately. The Remix OS can be installed in a similar way as the Bliss OS, which means you boot it from a USB device and use it on any device. This emulator is also designed for productivity apps and does not support heavy gaming.

The installation process of the Remix OS is simple, and it is running on Android Marshmallow. The Emulator is not being updated which is considered a major drawback. Apart from good productivity app experience, the emulator also has some gaming features like running multiple games simultaneously.

Ko Player

KoPlayer

Ko player provides a lag free gaming environment due to its lightweight software. It packs all the features that normal heavy gaming emulators have like keyboard mapping and game play recording. The installation process is easy and it runs on a virtual machine, or in easy words you can simply install it on your windows. As the player is free, sometimes ads popup which are irritating. Another drawback is that the player is difficult to uninstall as it has a lot of bugs.

MEmu

MEmu

This emulator has been tuned for game play and is similar in performance to Bluestacks and Nox. MEmu is one of the newer android emulators and stands out because of its support for both AMD and Intel chipsets. It also has the added advantage of supporting multiple android versions: Jelly Bean, Kit Kat and Lollipop.

MEmu is considered as an emulator which provides the best of both worlds, that is, productivity tools as well as gaming. This is because, along with its focus on gaming, MEmu allows its users to use productivity applications with ease. Another important aspect of MEmu is that it is being regularly updated which is a good sign and means that any bugs arising in the emulator will be serviced. Also, it is a free emulator which is always a good thing.

Xamarin
Xamarin Emulator

Xamarin is a rather good emulator for developers. It is similar to the Android Studio and can be plugged into other software like Microsoft Visual Studio and then provide a larger development environment. Its compatibility with Microsoft is due to the fact that Microsoft acquired the emulator in 2016.

Xamarin is an open-source software. It is free for personal use and organizations need to workout a paid plan. It has full hardware support and is used by developers for testing and developing applications. Although, Xamarin might not be as strong as GenyMotion, yet it will get the work done once you get used to its interface and functions.

Andy

Andy

Andy it is a great android emulator which provides touch screen support. It can run on both Windows and Mac. It is used to test applications and games that are not too heavy. The emulator provides a seaming less interface that matches very closely to the mobile phone. This helps the developer to test applications to the fullest and the users to use their applications with ease.

You can download applications directly from its own library or from the playstore. The latest update from Andy was released in April 2018 and features the Android Version: Nougat. It offers features like multitouch, microphone integration and keyboard mapping. One of the unique features of Andy is that it allows your phone to be used as a remote while playing games. VirtualBox must first be installed into the system on which you intend to run Andy.

Best PUBG Mobile Emulator

It would be a shame to end this article without mentioning the most trending game on Android right now. Since PUBG for PC is paid and people want to play PUBG with their friends who play on the phone, it is currently the most trending game on emulators. So, which is the best emulator for playing PUBG?

Tencent Gaming Buddy is the official emulator to play PUBG. it is a free emulator developed by the makers of PUBG. I, myself have tried the emulator and it has a smooth gaming experience without any bugs.

Tencent Gaming Buddy

The emulator allows users to play the game even on a low-end PC by reducing the graphics quality to ‘low’. However, if you want the best experience, download the Tencent Gaming Buddy emulator on a high-end PC and play with the graphics quality ‘high’. For people who already play games like COD and CS:GO on PCs. PUBG becomes quite easy for them when they switch from their mobile onto the PC.

The emulator allows keyboard mapping and hardware acceleration. Users can use both the mouse and keyboard to control the game. Controls can be easily optimized to best fit your needs.

If you are already using Bluestacks (click link to read review), then you do not need to download Tencent Gaming Buddy unless you are using the free version of Bluestacks and are annoyed by ads.

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