Best casual games for Android

The perfect cure for a rainy day or your morning transit commute.

Not everyone wants to commit hours of their day to playing games on their phone. That's why casual games exist! Championed by iconic mobile games such as Angry Birds and Candy Crush Saga, these games have proven wildly successful. They're designed to be played on the go and at your own pace — as laid back or competitive as you want.

Most casual games are free, offering in-app purchases and some ads, while a few may cost you a dollar or two, but they're totally worth it. We've collected some of our favorites from the past, along with some newer games that are great to keep on your phone for a little gaming break during your day.

Super Mario Run

Everyone's favorite turtle-stomping plumber is back on Android in Super Mario Run. While Super Mario Run might be a bit of a disappointment for those of us dreaming of a full-fledged Mario game on a non-Nintendo handheld device, it's a great casual game that's sure to be a hit with Mario fans young and old.

Most of the Mario mechanics you know and love from the classic side-scrolling games of the past is here: you're running your way through eight different worlds made up of three levels and a boss battle as you try and rescue Princess Peach from the scaly claws of King Bowser. But rather than giving you full control over Mario, he's automatically running to the left and you control his jumps. It's a game that's designed to be played with one hand while you're riding the subway, which is the goal of most casual games.

The game is free to download and play the first world, but then you'll need to pay $9.99 to unlock the full game.

Download: Super Mario Run (Free w/IAPs)

The Battle of Polytopia

If you love in-depth strategy games like Civilization 5, but don't typically have 10 hours to burn playing through a full campaign, you should check out The Battle of Polytopia. It's a casual strategy game that borrows heavily from the Civilization franchise but offers a fresh take on the genre for Android.

Upgrade your technology tree, explore new lands, and decimate your enemies in solo and multiplayer modes that are great for quick pick-up-and-play or lengthier gaming sessions. Everything is wrapped in colorful poly graphics and it's surprisingly robust for a free-to-play title.

Download: The Battle of Polytopia (Free w/IAPs)

Reigns

If you haven't played Reigns yet, you need to check it out — it was one of our favorite games of 2016 and won Google's first Indie Game Award. It's built around a very casual gameplay mechanic (traditionally found in dating apps): you play as a King ruling over your kingdom who must make "yes" or "no" decisions to the advisors, citizens, and talking animals that wander into your palace.

The aim is to live as long as you can. When you die, you take up the role of your successor and the new reign begins (get it?). Featuring a great mix of mystery and gallows humor, this game is filled with fun surprises to discover the longer you play. Well worth the price of admission, this is a game you can casually play — but be prepared to get addicted to its simplistic gameplay and engaging storytelling.

Download: Reigns ($2.99)

Fast like a Fox

Search for stolen coins, emeralds, and diamonds as you race through multiple worlds in Fast like a Fox. The retro-style geometric design of your little hero fox and the landscapes he runs through are fun to watch, and the soundtrack is zippy and catchy.

The game claims it's "easy to play, hard to master" and that's just what you want in a casual game; it will keep you coming back until your fox has claimed all of the treasure he can. The game also uses a rather unique control scheme that lets you tap the back of your phone to control the speed of your fox. In-app purchases are available for removing ads or unlocking secret character, but they are unnecessary for enjoying the game.

Download: Fast like a Fox (Free w/IAPs)

Smash Hit

Unwind in your downtime by breaking virtual glass in Smash Hit. No consequences, only loads of points when you shatter the glass obstacles in your path in beautifully designed game levels.

The music and audio effects change as you progress through the game's stages, over 50 of which are available in the free download. An optional in-app purchase gives you premium perks such as the ability to save and access checkpoints, new game modes, and cloud save access across all of your devices. If you have a Samsung Gear VR, you'll definitely want to check out Smash Hit VR, too. Less casual, but a super cool VR experience to say the least!

Download: Smash Hit (Free w/IAPs)

Blek

If you often find yourself mindlessly doodling, Blek is a game designed with you in mind. The multiple award winning game takes doodles to an artistic level as you find patterns and draw your way to more challenging levels.

The concept is simple and hooks you in right away. Use your doodling skills to draw a continuous line that collects all of the colored balls in a pattern. Succeed and your doodle becomes its own piece of art; make a mistake and you try again. Blek is easy enough to play on your downtime, yet challenging enough to busy your mind. With full support for the S-pen, this is a must-own for Samsung Galaxy Note owners.

Download:Blek ($2.99)

Piano Tiles 2

Building on the popularity of the original Piano Tiles game, Piano Tiles 2 lets you play along with the band to classical music and modern pop songs. Use your fingertips to tap the black keys as they scroll down your screen to the music.

Play in friendly battle of bands-style competitions against your Facebook friends or against other music lovers from around the world. In-app purchases unlock additional songs. A tremendously popular game with a beautiful built-in soundtrack? That's an absolute must have.

Download:Piano Tiles 2 (Free w/IAPs)

Candy Crush Saga

The Candy Crush franchise is the most popular casual puzzler for phones. In the latest twist on the Candy Crush game, you match three of the same candy on the game board to create, spread, or clear away jelly. Your nemesis is the Jelly Queen and you can battle her alone or test your skills against your friends.

The game has added new candies you'll wish you could buy and eat in real life. If you're connected to Facebook you'll have access to a leaderboard that shows you how well you're doing and who your biggest competition is. There are over 100 levels of sweet, silly fun to be had, and the games are as short or as in-depth as you want them to be.

Download:Candy Crush Saga (Free w/IAPs)

Fruit Ninja Free

Enter the world of Fruitasia, where your Sensei is waiting for you with fruit fight missions. All you need to know to get started with Fruit Ninja is to slice the fruit, not the bombs; once you master that, you'll be slicing and dicing like an old pro in no time.

As your game improves, you can upgrade your blade and join new Dojos. Learn how to handle bananas and multi-slice pomegranates, not to mention the rare 10 fruit Great Wave. It all sounds funny and a little on the ridiculous side, but it's also all for fun and distraction; that's the perfect casual game.

Download: Fruit Ninja Free (Free w/IAPs)

Angry Birds 2

The Angry Birds franchise is one of those iconic smartphone games that has reached heights that even the developers couldn't have envisioned when the first game landed on mobile over 7 years ago. What started out as a simple game pitting upset birds battling the green pigs that stole their eggs has spawned several spin-offs and sequels — and even a freaking Angry Birds movie!

If you've never played it before, here's the skinny. Every bird comes with a unique skill, designed to ruin the evil pigs and restore order. You fling the birds at obstacles, power up their skills with features like a Birdquake (hint: it's exactly what it sounds like), or make a one-time purchase of the Mighty Eagle and show those pigs who the real bosses are. It's loads of addictive fun for gamers of any age or skill level. Angry Birds 2 is the sequel, which adds more birds, more powerups, and more fun!

Download: Angry Birds 2 (Free w/IAPs)

Dumb Ways to Die 2

This casual game is based on the cute, animated Australian public service announcement about train safety that went viral a few years back. All you have to do is stay alive, and that would be easy if your character wasn't so dumb. Dumb Ways to Die 2 is actually a series of mini-games, perfect for those little moments when you want to play a game but can't invest loads of time.

In the Dumb universe, you don't throw the javelin, you catch it. Have you always wanted to swim with dolphins? Try your hand at the Dolphin Rodeo and try not to break your neck. Don't forget to join the local curling team and play with dynamite rocks. Invite your friends in the multiplayer mode and see who can jump the ever-rising electric fence.

Download: Dumb Ways to Die 2 (Free w/IAPs)

New Words With Friends

Fancy yourself a wordsmith? If so, get on board with Words With Friends, the Scrabble-based game you play at your own pace, whether it's one word an hour or one word per day. Just check your gameboard whenever you have a few free moments and play tiles to earn points and climb the real-time leaderboard.

The in-app chat feature lets you converse with your friends as you play, so you can send them an innocent taunt or gentle reminder that you're waiting for them to take a turn, or you can congratulate them on a complex play. You'll also be able to access your game from your desktop, laptop, tablet, and phone, so your game can just keep on going.

Download: New Words With Friends (Free w/IAPs)

Keep it casual

We want to know what are some of your favorite go-to casual games? Tell us all about them in the comments!

Update June 2017: Revamped our list and added some of our favorite newer casual games — Super Mario Run, The Battle of Polytopia, and Reigns!

Save yellow blob emoji with machine guns, mine carts and monsters

When Google decided to kill off its half-loved, half-despised yellow blob emoji, there were simultaneous cries of defeat intermingled with cheers of victory. If you fall into the camp of the victors, you’re probably not going to want to read this, but if you loved the little yellow blobs and wish there was something you could have done to save them, then this is for you. While there’s no turning back now, a fresh update to a fun game out on Android and iOS essentially lets you live vicariously through the eyes of the now-lost blobs – fighting for survival in a world out to get them.

See also:

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1 day ago

Hollow Earth 3: Dark Hollow Earth is the third game in the Hollow Earth series, but it follows on from the second game’s shift to a rollicking mine cart adventure ride. Little blob emoji are on an endless thrill ride through dark monster-filled caverns. But they’re not going out so easy. Armed at first with a pistol, you can later upgrade your arsenal to include M-16s, shotguns, flamethrowers and more: these little blobs may be shaky, but deep inside they’re more Rambo than roadkill. Check out the gameplay trailer below.

The game was actually launched a while back but has just received a big upgrade, adding fully reworked levels, new graphics and effects, the ability to use any weapon in any world and swap weapons while you ride. It’s a ton of fun and the game already has over a million installs, with an impressive 4.5 star rating. It’s a free install but it is ad-supported and contains in-app purchases, primarily for fuel (energy) and ammunition. So be judicious with what you’re shooting at. Every emoji counts.

Need more games?: Best free Android games

OnePlus 5 vs HTC U11: quick look

The recently announced OnePlus 5 is facing some serious competition on the market. There are a bunch of great flagships available at the moment including the HTC U11. In this post, we’ll compare the two devices to get a better idea of just how different — or similar — they are.

We’ll talk about the design, specifications, software, as well as price in order to figure out which one offers more value for money. The info down below will also help you decide whether you should get the OnePlus 5 or the HTC U11. Let’s get started!

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Design

The OnePlus 5 and HTC U11 look very different from one another. As usual, OnePlus has opted for a simple and minimalistic design. Just like its predecessor, the OnePlus 5 sports a metal body in two color options (Midnight Black and Slate Gray) but has more rounded corners and edges. This should make the smartphone more comfortable to hold and use, at least according to OnePlus.

The back of the device is very clean and features the logo in the middle and the dual-camera setup along with a flash module in the top left corner. On the front, you’ll find the home button with a built-in fingerprint scanner below the screen, while the volume rocker and the textured alert slider are located on the left side. This means that the power button, as well as the SIM card slot, can be found on the right side.

The OnePlus 5 is a good looking device, although it is worth pointing out that its design isn’t quite new. Its back looks very similar to that of the iPhone 7 Plus, while the entire device is almost identical to the recently announced Oppo R11. You can see all three smartphones side by side in the image below.

The OnePlus 5 is only 7.25 mm thick, which actually makes it the slimmest device OnePlus has ever made. And just in case you’ve been wondering, its predecessor, the OnePlus 3T, comes in at 7.4 mm. The difference isn’t really that big, but it’s still worth pointing out.

The HTC U11, on the other hand, is made from a combination of glass and metal. It looks totally different than its predecessor — the HTC 10 — and is quite easy on the eyes. It has a “liquid glass” surface on the back that’s very eye-catching but is also a fingerprint magnet. So if you want to keep the device looking like it did when you took it out of the box for the first time, you’ll have to wipe it down quite often. Or you could you use the included clear plastic case instead.

Just like the OnePlus 5, HTC has also opted for a front-mounted fingerprint scanner that doubles as a home button. Other design elements worth mentioning are the power button located on the right side under the volume rocker and the SIM card slot that’s found on the top. When it comes to colors, the HTC U11 can be yours in Amazing Silver, Sapphire Blue, Brilliant Black, Ice White, and Solar Red, although not all of them are available in every market.

Because the OnePlus 5 and HTC U11 are so different, it’s impossible to say which one looks better. Design is a very subjective topic to talk about, so you’re going to have to decide for yourself which one of them comes out on top.

Specs

When it comes to specs, the OnePlus 5 and HTC U11 share quite a few similarities. Starting with the OnePlus 5, the device has a 5.5-inch AMOLED display with Full HD resolution and the latest Gorilla Glass 5. It’s powered by the Snapdragon 835 chipset and available in two variant: one with 6 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage and the other with 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of space.

Just like the LG G6 and Huawei P10, for example, the OnePlus 5 is equipped with two cameras on the back. According to the company, it’s actually the highest resolution dual-camera system on any smartphone on the market. It features a 16 MP sensor with an f/1.7 aperture, and a 20 MP telephoto lens with an f/2.6 aperture. There’s also a selfie snapper on board that has a 16 MP sensor and f/2.0 aperture. Just be aware of how the OnePlus 5’s 2x lossless zoom works.

The OnePlus features a fingerprint scanner that unlocks it in 0.2 seconds and a headphone jack, but unlike many competitors, it’s not water resistant. It’s a dual-SIM device that, unfortunately, lacks a microSD slot.

In the design section above, I mentioned that the OnePlus 5 is the thinnest smartphone the company has ever made. Unfortunately, this does have a drawback, as the flagship sports a smaller battery than its predecessor at 3,300 mAh, compared to the 3T’s 3,400 mAh. OnePlus claims that the OnePlus 5 will actually last 20 percent longer, thanks to hardware and software optimizations. It also supports the company’s fast Dash Charge technology that promises a day’s power in half an hour and should fully charge the battery in around 90 minutes.

The HTC U11 also sports a 5.5-inch screen with Gorilla Glass 5 but has a higher, QHD resolution. This is great for VR, but the screen is more power-hungry when compared to the Full HD panel of its rival. At 3,000 mAh, the smartphone’s battery is smaller than the one found in the OnePlus 5, but it might still be big enough to get you through the day.

HTC’s flagship is also powered by the latest Snapdragon 835 chipset but has “only” 4 GB of RAM. The company has released a version with 6 GB of RAM as well, but you can get it in just a few countries around the world (with the US not being one of them).

Although the HTC U11 doesn’t have a dual-camera setup, it does have the best camera on the market… Well, at least according to DxOMark. The reviewing outfit gave the smartphone the highest DxO rating ever (90 points), outranking the Pixel and Galaxy S8 by one and two points respectively. The camera has a 12 MP “UltraPixel 3” sensor, with an f/1.7 aperture and optical image stabilization. It performs extremely well in low-light conditions, where a lot of flagships struggle.

The smartphone is equipped with a 16 MP selfie cam and has 64 GB of storage, while the variant with 6 GB of RAM has 128 GB of space. Unlike the OnePlus 5, the HTC U11 has a microSD card slot (up to 256 GB) and is resistant to water and dust. Thanks to the IP67 rating, you can submerge it in up to one meter of water for a period of 30 minutes. Just like the iPhone 7 and a couple of other smartphones, it doesn’t have the headphone jack, which means you’ll have to plug in your headphones with the help of the adapter that comes in the box.

To sum up, both smartphones have a 5.5-inch display with the HTC U11 offering a higher resolution – QHD. The device is also IP67 rated, has a microSD card slot, and probably one of the best cameras you can get on a smartphone at this point. On the other hand, the OnePlus 5 has more RAM, a bigger battery, a headphone jack, and a dual-camera setup that can capture those fancy bokeh (or portrait) shots.

 OnePlus 5HTC U11
Display5.5-inch AMOLED
1920 x 1080 resolution
401 ppi
5.5-inch Super LCD 5
2560 x 1440 resolution
534 ppi
Processor2.45 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 8352.45 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
GPUAdreno 540Adreno 540
RAM6/8 GB4/6 GB (depending on market)
Storage64/128 GB64/128 GB (depending on market)
MicroSDNoYes, up to 256 GB
CameraMain: 16 MP Sony IMX 398 sensor, 1.12 μm, ƒ/1.7 aperture, EIS, dual LED flash
Telephoto: 20 MP Sony IMX 350 sensor, 1.0 μm, ƒ/2.6 aperture

16 MP front-facing camera
Main: 12 MP (HTC UltraPixel 3 with 1.4μm pixel) with ƒ/1.7 aperture
OIS, dual LED flash, Pro mode with manual control, slow motion video ([email protected] fps), 4K video recording with 3D Audio, Acoustic Focus

16 MP front-facing camera
Battery3,300 mAh3,000 mAh
SoftwareAndroid 7.1.1 Nougat
OxygenOS
Android 7.1.1 Nougat
HTC Sense
Water resistanceNoIP67 certified
Water resistant up to 1 meter for 30 minutes
Dimensions154.2 x 74.1 x 7.25 mm
153 grams
153.9 x 75.9 x 7.9 mm
169 grams

Software

Although both the OnePlus 5 and HTC U11 run Android 7.1.1 Nougat, they each have a custom user interface on top and offer a few unique features. OnePlus’ OxygenOS is a very clean skin and doesn’t change the look and feel of Android much. It does, however, offer tons of customization options to play around with. For example, with a simple tap in the settings menu, you can switch from using the capacitive buttons below the display to the on-screen software buttons.

To launch the camera, simply draw an O on the screen, while drawing a V will turn on the flashlight. OnePlus has added three additional gestures to its flagship (S, W, and M), which you can program to launch an app of your choice or perform a specific function.

Then there’s the Reading Mode, which filters out blue light and adjusts the sharpness and brightness of the screen to provide a better reading experience, Expanded Screenshots, and Auto Night Mode, to name a few. And let’s not forget about the Shelf feature that gives you access to recent contacts, apps, and more just by swiping right on the home screen.

The HTC U11 features the Sense user interface that is also quite clean and brings a few unique features to the table. BlinkFeed is one of them — it keeps you up to speed with the latest news based on your preference right on your home screen. In addition to news, it also displays posts from various social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter. It’s turned on by default, but you can get rid of it if you don’t want to use it.

One of the biggest features of the HTC U11 is definitely the Edge Sense technology. Thanks to sensors found in the sides of the device, you can just squeeze it to perform various tasks. These more or less include anything you want like launching a specific app, opening up the camera, turning on the flashlight, and more.

The flagship also has HTC’s Sense Companion on board, which made its debut on the U Ultra back in January. It provides you with suggestions based on your location and the time of day including restaurants you can go to for lunch, traffic info, and more. Basically, it does everything we have seen before from similar services from Google. Its biggest drawback is probably that it doesn’t support voice interaction, although this might change in the future. Just like the OnePlus 5, the HTC U11 comes with Google Assistant. Additionally, Amazon’s Alexa is expected to make its way to the smartphone as well via a software update in July.

To sum up, the OnePlus 5 offers more customization options, while the U11 features the Edge Sense technology along with the Sense Companion and Alexa digital assistant that’s coming available. 

Price

A comparison between the two devices wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t touch on the subject of pricing. The OnePlus 5 with 6 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage retails for $479/€499, while the model with 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage will set you back $539/€559. This makes it the most expensive smartphone OnePlus has made so far. Nevertheless, it’s still quite affordable based on its specs, especially if you compare it with the likes of the Google Pixel XL, iPhone 7 Plus, and the Samsung Galaxy S8.

The HTC U11 costs more than the OnePlus 5, although it is cheaper than the three devices mentioned above. The unlocked version of the smartphone can be yours for $649 in the US. In Europe, prices vary from country to country but are — as usual — more expensive than those in the US. In Germany, for example, the HTC U11 retails for €749.

When it comes to pricing, the OnePlus 5 is obviously a better option. Although the HTC U11 also isn’t a bad deal, especially when considering all the things you get for your money.

Final thoughts

So, which device is better, the OnePlus 5 or the HTC U11?

The OnePlus 5 offers more RAM, has a bigger battery with the fast Dash Charge technology, is made of metal, and features a dual-camera setup. It’s also a lot cheaper, which is one of the factors that has the most influence on consumers’ purchasing decisions.

On the other hand, the HTC U11 features the camera with the highest DxOMark rating ever, the innovative Edge Sense technology, is IP67 rated, has a beautiful glass back, and supports expandable storage.

The decision of which is better is one that you’ll have to make on your own, based on the info presented in this post. Would you rather get the OnePlus 5 or HTC U11? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

Action Launcher drops the “3” from its name as part of its big update

Users of the popular Action Launcher 3 app can now download a major update. Not only does it have a bunch of new features, it also includes a new logo for the app and a new name. As shown above, the app is dropping the “3” part of its name and it will simply be called Action Launcher from now on.

See also:

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May 19, 2017

The new version also has plenty of other additions, including one that developer Chris Lacy discovered while looking at the recent beta of Android O. You may remember that the beta version has a redesigned icon for its clock, but Lacy says he found it also supports an animated second hand in its code. That animation has now been added to the clock icon in the new Action Launcher update, and users can also check out that animation as a separate widget.

There are a ton of other new additions, improvements and bug fixes in the newly renamed Action Launcher update. Here’s the full change log:

• NEW: Action Launcher 3 has been renamed to Action Launcher, and has a shiny new icon to prove it!
• NEW: Use an animating, Android O-style clock icon for the Google Clock app (requires Lollipop or later). This animating clock is also available as a standalone widget.
• NEW: By default, all new installs of Action Launcher will use Pixel Launcher style All Apps, folders and everything in between.
• NEW: Many Pixel Launcher features that previously required Plus are now free for all users. Furthermore, the app is now far less aggressive in prompting users to upgrade to Plus.
• NEW: Full integration of Pixel Launcher’s UI styling for displaying App Shortcuts (previously known as Quickcuts). App Shortcuts display when long pressing an icon from either the desktop or All Apps list.
• NEW: App Shortcuts can be used in combination with Shutters and Covers.
• NEW: App Shortcuts can be dragged and placed as shortcuts on a home screen.
• NEW: Revamped appearance of the icon indicators for Covers, Shutters and App Shortcuts..
• NEW: Smartsize icon resizing is no longer a beta feature, and is enabled by default for all Plus users.
• NEW: Add animated caret indicator when opening/close Pixel style All Apps.
• NEW: Custom system fonts are correctly applied to labels on the desktop.
• NEW: The horizontal screen margin can be adjusted (via Desktop settings, phones only).
• IMPROVEMENT: Lots of polish to ensure the app’s look and feel mimics that of Pixel Launcher. Notable areas of focus include the padding of All Apps drawer and folder appearance.
• IMPROVEMENT: Optimizations to memory, battery usage and scrolling performance.
• IMPROVEMENT: Order the date and month displays on the date widget is correctly localized.
• IMPROVEMENT: The screen edge shadow no longer displays at the bottom of the screen when using a tinted dock.
• IMPROVEMENT: On first boot, the home screen animates smoothly on screen rather than having shortcuts snap on.
• IMPROVEMENT: Update translations.
• BUG FIX: Remove stutter first time All Apps drawer is opened.
• BUG FIX: Open folders display a shadow.
• BUG FIX: Fix aliasing on the icons of the first 3-4 shortcuts in a folder.
• BUG FIX: Improved support for tall devices like the S8 and G6.
• BUG FIX: Notification panel shortcut works on Galaxy S8.
• BUG FIX: Fix issue where removing the last shortcut from a Home screen page would sometimes also fail to also remove the now empty Home screen.
• BUG FIX: Fix issue where items could appear on the Quickbar multiple times.
• BUG FIX: Improve detection of App Shortcuts on pre-Android 7.1 devices.
• FIX: Misc. stability fixes.

Finally, if you have paid for both the older Action Launcher 2 and upgraded to the paid version of the older Action Launcher 3, Lacy says he will refund your Action Launcher 2 money if you contact him via email and provide him with the Gmail account that was used to buy both versions.