Top 5 Android Emulators for Windows

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Android emulator for Windows is not just a developer’s tool to test apps while they are in development. It is a fun way of playing Android mobile games or running your WhatsApp on a PC. Even though there are better ways of running WhatsApp on a PC (think Franz), playing mobile games on a PC can be fun, too.

Andy

Download Andy

Andy might not offer the latest Android version, but it has a nifty Andy companion app you can install on your smartphone or tablet to use it as a controller for games that require a lot of touch-based interaction.

Andy is easy to set up; it offers comprehensive FAQs. Being a KitKat, it won’t support games that are compatible with newer versions, but other than that it is a robust Android emulator, and a reliable one.

The Good

  • Simple installation
  • Preconfigured ARM support
  • Based on VirtualBox, does not require dedicated graphics card
  • Easy way of moving files between Andy and Windows – just create a shared folder
  • Lets you install APK files
  • Has Google Play so that you can install apps directly from the store
  • Andy companion app converts your smartphone into controller

The Bad

  • Pay close attention to what you’re clicking during installation to avoid having to re-install it over again if you choose the wrong option.

AmiDUOS

Download AmiDUOS

AmiDUOS is a very smooth and full experience when it comes to Android on Windows. It is a full Android experience and runs better than Genymotion or Bluestacks.

The Good

  • In Pro, you can have Jellybean or Lollipop
  • runs on Win 7, 8, 10 PCs or tablets
  • lets you limit number/speed of CPU processors, RAM
  • has Google Play and Google Play services
  • ARM compatible
  • supports 3D acceleration
  • uses Windows OpenGL drivers for graphics-intensive games
  • supports Windows peripherals and sensors such as HD cameras, audio and mic, ambient light,
  • accelerometer, gyrometer, orientation and compass
  • when used in Win tablets, it supports multitouch, pinch-and-zoom, and GPS
  • hardware keyboard support, keyboard shortcuts, Ethernet, simulated WIFI
  • seamless file exchange, copy-paste between AmiDUOS and Windows

The Bad

  • Not a con per se, but it’s paid – $15 one-time payment for Lollipop/Jellybean, $10 for Jellybean

Official Android Emulator from Google

The official Android emulator is wonderful but for one nuance – it comes with quite a learning curve. It emulates all Android form factors from smartphones to tablets, Android TVs, wearables and Android Auto.

The Good

  • Full Android experience
  • a large variety of form factors to emulate
  • ability to run the latest Android versions
  • best for developers
  • has Google APP support

The Bad

  • Huge 1.8 GB download and even bigger 7 GB installation
  • Complicated installation – one mistake and the whole thing is glitchy
  • Steep learning curve

BlueStacks

Download BlueStacks

A veteran of Android emulators, BlueStacks is not entirely an emulator but rather a player designed specifically for gaming.

The Good

  • Multi-instance feature lets you open multiple instances of the same game and play it from different accounts, or do the same with apps
  • Simple installation
  • Simple APK installation
  • Does not require VirtualBox
  • Has Google Play

The Bad

  • Support for games or apps is somewhat limited

NOX

Download NOX

Nox is like BlueStack but more advanced, offering more control.

The Good

  • Easy root/unroot
  • lets you limit number/speed of CPU processors, RAM
  • Keymapping – assign keystrokes that emulate touch gestures
  • GPS controller option lets you test/emulate locations, so you can play Pokemon GO
  • Win and MacOS

The Bad

  • The initial startup is slow
  • You will need a separate tool if you want to run multiple instances of a game/app

Final Words

As you can see, all Android emulators are worth a try, but the official emulator will always stay ahead for obvious reasons. If accuracy and latest OS version is your goal, go for the official Android emulator. Otherwise, go for Nox or Andy (free but older versions), or AmiDUOS (paid, Lollipop).