How to make your non-stock Android phone look like a Google Play Edition device


Ever since the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One Google Play Edition devices launched, they’ve been all the rage. If you like the stock look, there’s a lot that you can do to make your own phone look like it’s a Google Play Edition device, even without rooting. Even better, everything in this guide includes only free apps. Jump through the break to see the best apps to download for a stock like experience.

1. Change your home screen. 


There are a lot of cool options for launchers, but Nova Launcher is probably your best bet for this purpose (Play Store Download Link). Simply using the default settings of Nova immediately makes your phone look a great deal like stock.

2. Customize your “look.”


You’re also going to want to change your icons. Holo Icons is filled with stock icons, and looks great with Nova (Play Store Download Link).

You can even download stock wallpapers for an even more Play Edition experience. The Play Edition devices come with a new SunBeam live wallpaper, which you can download for your device for free (Play Store Download Link). If you’d rather have the other, non-live wallpapers that come with Jelly Bean, you can also get those in the Play Store (Play Store Download Link).

And if you want that minimalistic clock you see above, you can get that too, with Clock JB (Play Store Download Link).

3. Change your lock screen.


The lock screen is the part of your device that you see the most often. Just like launchers, there are many options for alternate lock screens as well. For the purpose of making your device look like a stock device, Holo Locker is your best option (Play Store Download Link). It has many customization options, it’s stable, and it looks cool.

4. Install Google apps.


Stock Android devices come with only Google created apps. That includes the stock keyboard, which Google released on the Play Store a few months ago. Also make sure you have Gmail, Maps, Chrome, Calendar, and any other Google apps you desire. You can find them all in the Play Store through this link.


You’ll probably notice that there are some stock apps that are on stock devices, but that Google hasn’t released to the Play Store. You’re not going to be able to find all of them, but some, like the Camera app, complete with the awesome Photo Sphere feature  (Download Link) and the Dialer (Download Link) have been leaked for you to enjoy.

5. Make all of these apps default, and disable bloatware. 

While setting up these apps, some will prompt you to make it the default app, but others will not. Make sure you make all of them default, so they will open automatically whenever you want to use them. You can do that using a very useful app called Default App Manager (Download Link).


If your device isn’t stock, it comes with a lot of your carrier and manufacturer’s bloatware. Without rooting, it’s hard to get rid of it all, but if you go into Settings / Apps, you can individually tap on the bloat apps and manually disable them. For more information, check out our guide on disabling bloatware. Also, if you’re using Nova Launcher, you can upgrade to the premium version and make them disappear from your app drawer and have them out of sight.

So the next time your whip out your phone, your friends will be envious of your new “Google Play Edition” phone, but you will know better. Sure it it isn’t the real deal and you won’t get updates as fast, but you can still enjoy some of the special manufacturer add-ons not found in the GPE phones. You really get the best of both worlds this way – the pure Google experience, while still enjoying your manufacturer’s bonus features.


About the Author: Aditya Thawardas

Born in India and raised in Tennessee, Aditya is currently a marketing/finance student in the College of Business Administration at the University of Pittsburgh. Aditya started off in the world of smartphones with a first generation iPhone, until he realized what he was doing and quickly switched to Android. He then got an HTC Aria, followed by a Samsung Captivate, and today he is a proud Samsung Galaxy S III owner. Aside from writing for Talk Android, he occasionally writes for the Tennessee Titans blog, as is a huge Titans fan. In addition to the Titans, Aditya also loves all Pitt Panthers teams, the Nashville Predators, Memphis Grizzlies, and Pittsburgh Pirates. He also enjoys playing the guitar.

  • Rami Vuorinen

    Great article, thanks for all the precious tips!!

  • Chris Holt

    I get confused when you refer to OEM customized android phones as Non-Stock. If my phone has not been customized, how can it be non-stock?
    Non-Nexus, Non-Google Experience, Non-Play Edition, but definitely stock. (as it was when it was “in stock”),

    • Jason

      The meaning of the word “stock” would be along the same lines as if you were referring to a soup. The “stock” is the base of the soup before adding other ingredients. Here it refers to the Operating System (android) as Google developed it, before manufactures get it and tweak it and add there own code. I hope that helped.

      • Chris Holt

        I consider it a poor use of the term.
        AOSP might be closer to the truth and your application of culinary terminology.
        I will continue to consider my non-rooted, locked bootloader phones as “stock”, no matter the OEM.

        • Matt

          “Stock” is how it comes out from the manufacturer. If your non-rooted, locked bootloader phone isn’t a Nexus device,then it isn’t “stock” android since Samsung, HTC, etc are not manufacturers of the Android OS. Your phone is “stock” to the manufacturer, but your Android OS isn’t if it’s not “stock” Vanilla Android. Vanilla Android is OEM from Google. Samsung, HTC, etc modified Android to their liking so thus it isn’t “Stock” Android but has their particular User Interfaces, i.e. TouchWiz, Sense, etc.

          • Buddha8888

            Just attempting to read this paragraph was a good example of the confusion in the community the OP was referring to about the use of the term “stock”.


    It’s sad when Android users spend more time in settings menus and using toggles than actually using their phones…

    • Jason

      Each to their own. I have worked in tech for many years, and a lot of people that I know love to change things up and make it theirs. I personally buy a Nexus, and stick primarily to changing the wallpaper and icons, but thats why I bought a Nexus (Vanilla Android). But that is the beauty of Android, it can be used is so many different ways.

    • Kary

      It’s not my cup of tea either, but it’s called user choice. Something an Apple fan wouldn’t understand.

      Because they don’t research purchase decisions, Apple fans gladly rejoice at whatever choices Apple makes for them, including choice of screen size, removable battery, NFC, IR, MicroSD, and with just the prior version of the iPhone, even 4G. But for the Apple name on such a product, no one would accept such limited choices.

    • Dave B

      What is actually sad are two things in this opinion piece: Faking something to impress your friends, plus the very low quality of both you and your friends. You being the target market for this kind of article. Of course, brainless, herd animal, marketing controlled fashion slaves of every kind are always just sad examples of a species.

      • bman1818

        What’s sad is that you have probably been a hater your hole life and obviously like to put people’s creativity down just to make them feel inferior so you can jump on the IHATEHIPSTERSSS bandwagon and more then likely you also probably go around and copy/past your ignorant comment on multiple blogs just to make yourself look cool to your IHATEHIPSTERSSS fan club!

        • Dave B

          And you back up this ignorant whine by using biased hatred? Just using the word “hipsters” puts you in a shallow herd. Thanks for confirming that your kind doesn’t know that copying a market slave fashion is the opposite of creativity.

        • Daniel

          I like this persons use of punctuation. Seriously, the period key is not that far away.
          I also like your use of “hole”.
          “[…]been a hater your hole life[…]”

    • Derek Erhahon

      Probably because of the flexibility, and the ability to change things. As opposed to apple’s “You’ll take it and you’ll like it” OS style

  • Kary

    What’s interesting about this topic is you seldom if ever see any discussion of how to make a Non-Motorola Android phone appear to have Motoblur, or a non-Samsung phone appear to have Touchwiz (or whatever they call their skin). You would think that would tell the manufacturers something.

    I continue to believe that offering the “switch” option, to allow booting either to skinned or pure Android would be be an option which would drive an incredible amount of sales. The could probably even charge more for that option.

    • Pat

      How will do you think my Galaxy Note 3 would work with stock Android? Think Samsung thought of that yet?

    • Asd

      Honestly I tried Cyanogen on my SGS3.. and went back to stock in less than 48 hours, mainly because most stock apps suck big time. (kitkat sms app for example or the stock dialer, or the stock camera).

  • Doukn Miname

    How about having no android os on phones and go back to using phones if they have apps good but there is no need in being force fed privacy intruding apps such as anything made by google amazon or facebook.