DIY: How to replace the UI on your Android smartphone

Jack Wallen answers a reader question about how to replace the UI on an Android phone. He notes the answer depends on which phone you use.

TechRepublic member lmhargreaves wrote in with this question regarding the Android UI:

Q: I need a physical keyboard and that is why I am looking into this do I replace the ui with the vanilla android and how much does it cost...can a rep from Verizon do it for me? Thanks, Linda A: The answer depends upon the phone you are looking to purchase (or own). For example, if the phone is an HTC phone, the vanilla Android is already running (just underneath Sense UI). To run the basic Android UI on an HTC phone, do the following:

  1. From the home screen, tap the Menu button and select Applications.
  2. From Applications, tap Manage Applications | Running.
  3. Locate Sense.
  4. Tap Clear Defaults.

When you tap the Home button, you will be asked what you want to use to view the home screen; select Launcher (not Sense UI), and you will have generic Android.

This isn't so easy with other mobiles; in fact, with some devices your best bet is to install a new ROM over the current UI, which is not something I recommend. You can, however, install other third-party launchers from the Android Market. I would look at ADW Launcher or GO Launcher EX. Neither launchers are basic Android, but are highly configurable and might get you where you need.

Ask Jack: If you have a DIY question, email it to me, and I'll do my best to answer it. (Read guidelines about submitting DIY questions.)


Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website

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