Are you waiting for Android 5 to be rolled out for your Android phone? You could be waiting a long time, perhaps forever because there is no guarantee it will arrive. There is an alternative if you want a brand new look and new features for your phone.

You don’t need to update Android to give it a brand new look and if you have a tired old phone and want to breathe new life into it by giving it a makeover, take a look at Hola Launcher. A launcher is like a new interface or skin for your phone and it replaces the wallpaper, icons and menus in exciting new ways. Your phone will look and feel like a different model after installing a launcher.

There are many to choose from and it can be difficult deciding which one is best. Some of them can be quite large and require a fair bit of processing power. I chose Hola Launcher because it claims to be the smallest and fastest launcher. A beautiful new launcher can be irritating if it makes your phone or tablet run slowly, so this sounded perfect for my old phone.

It really is quite small and it is a 1.9 MB download, and after installation it uses just under 5 MB. I have been running it on a Samsung Galaxy S4 and it hasn’t affected the performance significantly. The phone is still quick and navigating around is smooth and easy.

Launchers use themes and these are collections of icons, wallpapers and fonts to transform your phone. One is provided by default, but there are many more that can be downloaded. You can also browse and download wallpapers and fonts separately, or complete Themes using the Personality app that is provided. Don’t get too carried away and download all of the themes though because they are over half a megabyte each and they add to the space requirements.

Hola Launcher . Hola Launcher for Android

The default theme provided with Hola Launcher is my favourite. Some of the others use very strange icons for various things like the camera, photo gallery, calendar, phone, contacts and so on. You will get used to them, but at first you will need to read the caption underneath to tell what an icon is.

I just added a nice wallpaper to the standard Hola Launcher icons to create a new look for the phone. One of the nice things that Hola Launcher does is to automatically create folders and categorise all your apps. There are folders for System, Tools, Reading, Media, Games, Others, Toolbox, and Lifestyle.

It got a few apps wrong, but these were easily dragged out of folders and placed in the correct one or directly on the screen. They aren’t exactly folders and when one is opened, all the others appear in a title bar at the top. You can swipe from one folder to another, so if you open one folder and the app you are looking for is not there, you can swipe left and right to view the other folders. It’s a great feature.

The All Apps icon displays an alphabetical listing of all the apps installed on the device, but in a different way to standard Android. Apps are grouped according to the letter of the alphabet with a separator line between each one. You can drag down an alphabet on the right to quickly scroll through the apps or tap a letter to jump straight to it. It beats swiping through screens that you normally have to do in Android.

Hola Launcher for Android . Hola Launcher

You can place widgets on the home screens as you normally would, but there is a clock/date widget with or without a mini weather forecast built into Hola Launcher. Slide a finger down the screen and a search facility appears, slide up and a menu is displayed.

There are a few extras, such as Hola Boost, and this is a one-tap speed-up facility. It clears unnecessary background processes and frees up memory. It must be pretty aggressive because does a better job than the Samsung facility in my phone.

My Samsung Galaxy S4 is two years old and is running Android 4.4.2, but who cares about Android 5.1 when you can transform the look and feel with Hola Launcher. It’s fun, it works well, and it is fast. I don’t keep many apps for long, but this one could be around for some time.

TitleHola LauncherPrice: Free
Developer: Hola Team
Size: 1.9 MB
Version: 1.6.6
Android: 2.3.3 and up