How to Make Any Android Device Look Like Stock Android without Root (Video)

Most Android manufacturers put some type of custom UI on top of their Android devices to help differentiate theirs from the pack (and it’s a huge pack). Some of these can add nice features, but all of these usually come at a price. The price I find the most annoying (besides some ugly design choices that make the phone look like an educational children’s toy, looking at you Samsung) is the drop in performance. With all this custom stuff running on top of Android, it starts to slow things down to a crawl or even crash the phone once in a while.

So what do you do if maybe you aren’t a fan of Sense UI or Touchwiz or any of the other custom UI’s? Well, you could root your device, flash a custom recovery, and then flash a custom ROM based on stock Android to solve that, but what if you don’t feel like rooting for whatever reason (little chicken perhaps)? Have no fear, this is Android after all; the most customizable mobile operating system around. You simply can replace the different aspects that the custom UI replaced from stock Android with a third party app to get that stock look and feel.

Here is a list of how to replace each of the different aspects of your device to better resemble stock Android. Feel free to pick and choose from these to get the look and feel you want. If there are any I missed, feel free to leave them in the comments for others to try out!

I. Replace the Launcher

The Launcher is basically your home screen and app drawer, and in Android they are essentially an app that is called every time you hit the home button. Because of this, getting a new home screen and app drawer are as easy as downloading a new launcher that looks like the stock Android launcher, installing it, and setting it to be called every time you hit home instead of the original launcher.

1. Open Google Play and search for Apex Launcher.

2. Click Install.

3. Once installed, tap the home button on your device.

4. When prompted to choose which launcher you want to use select Apex and set this as default.

5. Apex automatically mimics the stock launcher, but feel free to go into the settings of it and change any number of their amazing customization options.

II. Replace the Lockscreen

Next up is the lock screen. There are a bunch of these in the Play Store but the one that mimics the stock one the best (and is free) is Holo Locker.

1. Open Google Play and search for Holo Locker.

2. Click Install.

3. Lock your device’s screen or wait for it to automatically lock after it times out and your new stock lock screen from Android 4.1 should be visible.

III. Replace the Keyboard

Now, we can replace the keyboard that whatever manufacturer you have added to the device. Much the same way as the other replacements, this requires downloading an app. This one is actually made by Google themselves and is aptly named “Google Keyboard”.

1. Open Google Play and search for Google Keyboard.

2. Click Install.

3. Pull down the notification bar and click on Google Keyboard.

4. Follow the on screen prompts to enable the keyboard and select it as an input method.

5. Open the Messaging app and begin to type, the new keyboard should be visible. Tip: Trying holding down your finger and swiping across letters to make a word.

IV. Replace the Text Messaging Application

The closest one to stock I could find does have a few bugs but worth a try. If you don’t need totally stock, then there are others to try that have a ton of themes available that you can change them around to make them look close to stock at least.

1. Download the Stock-like Android Messaging Application apk file and save it on your desktop.

2. Plug your device in via USB cable.

3. Copy and paste the apk file to your device’s internal storage.

4. On your device, go to Settings > Security (it might be in a slightly different location depending on the changes your manufacturer made to the settings menus, but it’ll be similarly named).

5. Turn on Unknown Sources to allow you to install apk files that you didn’t get from the Play Store (all apps are apks but Google asks you to turn this on if you want to install ones from outside the store as a safety precaution).

6. Go to the Play Store, search for, and install EStrong File Explorer.

7. Open it and then navigate to where you saved the messaging apk file and click it.

8. Click Install.

Now that it is installed, we need to remove the notifications from our old messaging app just to stop us from getting two notifications every time someone texts us.

9. Open your old Messaging app.

10. Go to settings inside that app.

11. Go to Notifications and turn them off (the place to turn this off may vary by device but essentially it’ll have these options).

12. Now, replace anywhere on your home screen you had the old messaging app with the new one’s icon so you can tap that to launch it instead.

V. Replace the Calculator

The stock calculator isn’t really available but a developer has made a great copy and actually added some nice features, plus it’s free.

1. Open Google Play and search for CyanogenMod Calculator.

2. Click Install.

3. Open that app whenever you have some maths to handle.

VI. Replace the Calendar

Another replacement from Google themselves. Not only does this resemble the stock calendar (because it is the stock app) but it’s also just an amazing calendar app.

1. Open Google Play and search for Google Calendar.

2. Click Install.

3. Open that app whenever you need to use a calendar.

VII. Replace the Browser

Chrome is just awesome for a lot of reasons, but in this we’re going to use it as a stock browser since most new Google editions Android devices use this as opposed to the old Android browser.

1. Open Google Play and search for Chrome.

2. Click Install.

3. Open that app whenever you need to browse the interwebs.

VIII. Replace the Camera

There are a ton of cameras to choose from but, again, if we’re looking for closest to stock, the Camera JB+ is hard to beat. Fair warning though, this app isn’t free ($1.99).

1. Open Google Play and search for JB Camera+.

2. Click Install.

3. Replace all of the old camera app icons with the new one on your home screen so you can launch the new one whenever you need to take a picture.

4. Make sure to select the new camera and set it as default if ever asked by an application to choose between the new camera and old one.

IX. Replace the Clock

Here’s another one that isn’t free but, again, if going for the stock look, is hard to find a better replacement. Also, it does come with the stock Android clock widget to help your home screen look more stock as well.

1. Open Google Play and search for Clock JB+.

2. Click Install.

3. Open that app whenever you need to set an alarm, or, um, check the time?

X. Replace the Wallpaper

Lastly, the wallpaper. There are a ton out there but we’ve found a good app from the Google Play Store that has a great collection of all the ones from the Nexus 4.

1. Open Google Play and search for Nexus 4 Wallpapers.

2. Click Install.

3. Open the app.

4. Swipe through the wallpapers in the app and long press and select the one you want to set.

If there are any other replacements I missed, feel free to add them in the comments below so others can try them out!

Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ with your thoughts, comments, or suggestions for the site!

12 responses to “How to Make Any Android Device Look Like Stock Android without Root (Video)”

  1. Benja says:

    Or… Get a motorola device…

  2. One thing remains…. The status bar!

  3. Randy says:

    I prefer holo launcher.

  4. radioman says:

    Hey Mr. David wassssup… this is so cool, Listen, i jumped away from Sprint and it left me with two like new phones…. i would love to root these Lg Optima Ls670 and Zio by sanyo can u assist me with this rooting?

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