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The 10 Best Alternative App Stores for Android

Inspire Visual By Inspire Visual
Updated May 2022
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Hands down the largest and most popular app store for Android is Google Play with a massive collection of over 2.5 million apps. With a good app strategy and solid user engagement plan you are well equipped for having success in the Play store.

If you are searching for a great Google Play APK store alternative to download APK apps, you’ll have some excellent choices on our list.

Or, if you are launching an app, there is great potential in the alternative app stores. With less competition and smaller or no fees you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of these stores.

Check out these alternative app stores with great content.

The best Google Play alternatives for Android

The reason for Google Play’s large success is partly because it is the official Android app store and come pre-installed on most Android phones. It’s also the easiest way to install an APK app on your phone (APK is the file type of Android apps).

The downside to Google Play is that it’s always the same APKs on the top 10, and it can be difficult to find great alternative Android apps.

What many people don’t know is there are alternative app stores available and installing an app APK through them is not difficult. We’ll have instructions for how to do that at the end of this article.

For Android developers, the downside to Google Play is the competition is really strong and it can be hard for a newcomer to get exposure.

Each app APK store has a significant number of monthly active users and if you have an app idea, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t launch it on those platforms to get a larger audience. Or if you’re just looking for great Android apps that may not be available on the official store.

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When we develop an Android app for our clients, we often advise them on which app stores they will benefit from being featured on in addition to the Google Play store.

We have in-depth experience with the various app stores, and we are confident when we recommend which app stores are perfect based on any app’s core functionality.

For example, we recommend the the F-Droid store as an ideal choice for any techy app targeted the more advanced IT crowd, where as itch.io is a good testing ground for any indie game developed app.

Of course every app user and app owner have specific goals they want to accomplish, so take a look at the list below to see which app stores are out there that you can benefit from today.

Amazon App Store Logo
Amazon's app store has a large library

The world’s largest retailer opened its Amazon App Store in 2011. The app store is pre-installed on Amazon’s own Fire devices and a worthy contender to Google’s Play store.

With the release of Windows 11, Microsoft announced their Microsoft store would allow access to the Amazon App Store, making it possible to run Android apps on a Windows based PC.

There are currently more than 460,000 available apps in the Amazon App Store, including popular apps Minecraft, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Roblox. Spotify and much more.

The virtual currency Amazon Coins can be used to buy apps, games, and in-app purchases. Amazon Coins can either be purchased like a gift card or rewarded through various channels.

One of the differentiators of the Amazon App Store is that besides the common APK apps, you can also submit HTML5 web apps to their app store.

Every new app is reviewed by Amazon staff before being published. That helps ensure they are safe to use and will work without hiccups.

Depending on the app type, we recommend to many of our APK or HTML5 web app clients to post their apps on the Amazon App Store to reach a wider audience. Some apps are not suited for the store, but we assist in making the right decision based on the type of app.

For app publishers we also help meet the publishing requirements, including uploading images, descriptions, tags and more.

You can install the Amazon App Store here to access it from your Android phone.

Available for Android
Galaxy Store Logo
The largest manufacturer of smart phones offer their own app store.

Samsung, the largest manufacturer of Android phones, launched their own store in 2009. Access to it comes bundled when you buy a Samsung Galaxy smart phone or Gear watch and the store is available in 125 countries. The catch is that the APK apps are only available to Samsung owners.

The store positions itself as a high-end APK app store not allowing low-quality apps to be listed. An issue Google Play is plagued by with a whopping 50% of its apps unrated and few downloads to follow.

There are quite a few requirements that must be met for an app to be published on the Galaxy store.

Samsung rates parameters like performance, usability, hardware compatibility, app content and legal matters very important.

Our app development team knows the requirements like the back of their hand and can usually get apps through the distribution process in the first try.

A big advantage of publishing on the Galaxy Store is you will have less competition and immediate access to all Samsung Galaxy and Gear owners.

Only available for Samsung devices.
F-Droid Logo
Community driven app store with free apps.

This is a community-maintained store and unlike the corporate-run stores, every app on the F-Droid store is free and open-source.

The Store was founded in 2010 with an app selection geared toward utility apps and power users. It’s an alternative to the “geekier” app users, who needs more features than main-stream apps provide.

Their apps are divided into 17 categories, spanning more common themes such as Games, Graphics and Navigation, but you don’t have to look long to find interesting apps in Connectivity, Development, Internet, Science & Education, and Theming.

The app selection is rather small at approximately 4,200. But as an alternative APK store, it could be a good testing ground before releasing in the larger app stores. Or to find apps not found anywhere else in other APK app stores.

Available for Android
Qoo App Logo
Qooapp is mostly for the Asian market.

The QooApp is an Asian app store specializing in anime, games and comics from Asian developers in China, Japan and Korea.

Many of the apps are non-English, so you may have to sort through the library to find English translated comics or games. To help you find games a little easier, you can go into the Games section and choose the Western and Others sub category.

When you do find an APK app you are usually met with a manga or anime styled interface to enjoy, very much in tune with the store theme.

It’s not difficult to download an app, you don’t even have to create an account. Just hit the “download” button and the app will be installed on your phone or tablet.

The get the latest version of an app, you just have to enter the QooApp store and it will auto-update from there.

It’s probably the best app store for finding anime styled games and comics.

Available for Android
Aptoide Logo
Aptoide has individual app stores searchable from one place.

This is an alternative app store based in Portugal and initially released in 2009. Aptoide works different than traditional 3rd party app stores by not having a centralized store. Instead each APK app store is managed by individual users.

But don’t worry about not being able to find apps. As with centralized app stores you are able to search the entire library from Aptoide’s search bar either on their website or within the Aptoide app.

Popular apps include PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, TikTok, Netflix, Twitter and many more.

The store is popular and visited daily by more than 800,000 users able to choose from more than one million apps.

The content regulations are much less strict in this app store than others. This also reflects on the available APK app types. There is some adult content and piracy apps and you can download without having a registered account.

Available for Android
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Uptodown App Logo
Uptodown is a great alternative app store for Android APK files.

The Uptodown app store is another great alternative for finding quality APK files for Android.

Uptodown was founded in 2003 with headquarters in Spain. Originally a portal for downloading desktop programs, but with the success of mobile phones, Uptodown quickly saw a new market and started their own APK store.

The goal of Uptodown’s app store is to be as non-restrictive as possible, while still protecting the safety of its users. We can relate to the importance of safety and security as that is one of our highest priorities as an app developer, whether it’s a financial app protecting investments, healthcare app with sensitive information or e-commerce app with payment transactions.

Since not all app publishers are to be trusted, or their apps can be reworked by hackers to steal information from its users, Uptodown use Virustotal to scan apps for trojans, viruses and other malware before they get published on the app store.

Uptodown is an open app store without demographic restrictions and you don’t need to sign up to use their app store.

Their revenue is advertisement-based, so they do not offer paid apps in the same way as the traditional Google Play store.

Some apps have in-app payment/freemium models, but Uptodown is not getting a piece of the revenue, and that usually results in cheaper APK apps overall.

Available for Android
SlideMe Logo
You can find both free and paid apps on SlideMe.

SlideMe was founded in 2008 and market themselves as “the best alternative to the Google Play app store”. While they offer both free and paid apps, they don’t have the same large number of apps as Google Play.

You pay for apps through SlideMe by using either a PayPal or Amazon account to fund your purchase.

When we code an app, we are able to take advantage of some of SlideMe’s really cool features , including a lower 20% revenue share fee (Google Play charge 30%) or SlideLock – a tool to protect your app from tampering by third-parties.

They have a dedicated SlideMe team to approve every app. This is to make sure users don’t end up with rogue apps with ill intend. They are also creating a safer environment for kids by not allowing gambling, adult content or illegal themed apps.

It’s a worthy alternative app store to get your APK apps from, or to publish an app on.

Available for Android
Bemobi Mobile Logo
Bemobi offer both their own app library and links to other stores.

Formerly Opera Mobile Store, Bemobi Mobile Store offer not only Android apps, but also Java, Symbian, Blackberry, iOS and even Windows Mobile apps across 7,500 device models. They are available in 230 countries and boast 2 million downloaded apps per day.

They are not a traditional app store, but a hybrid between a traditional app store and an APK store library linking to apps from other stores.

For example, if you find an Android app you like and click download, you may get the app’s APK file directly from Bemobi or be referred to the download link on Google Play.

The Bemobi Mobile Store can be accessed from desktop and mobile browsers.

For app publishers you can reach a massive audience on this versatile mobile store.

Available for Android
Huawei AppGallery Logo
The third largest Android App Store is the Huawei AppGallery.

The Huawei AppGallery, more commonly known as just AppGallery is the third largest Android store in the world. It was launched in China 11 years ago and available to international audiences 4 years ago.

With more than 530 million users across 170 countries, it’s a thriving hub for mobile users and developers alike. Since 2019 the developer base has grown 77% to 2.3 million registered developers. The top-rated apps are familiar faces like TikTok, Snapchat and JustEat, but it doesn’t take much effort to find more alternative apps such as Earntogether (make money by chatting), Snaptube (download HD videos and MP3s from any site) and MEGA (client device encrypted cloud storage)

Enjoy Apps spanning 17 categories and Games offered across 6 sections. It’s possible to sort by ‘Most Popular’ apps in each category as well as browsing through the ‘Featured’ section. They offer exclusives with competitions, rewards and in-game events only available to AppGallery users.

All apps are download either from the Huawei AppGallery website directly or from within the AppGallery app.

Available for Android
HappyMod Logo
Existing apps with modifications added are offered for free.

This is an unusual alternative app store as it doesn’t offer original created apps, but rather “modded” apps. Their catalog offers more than 200,000 modded apps to choose from.

Every app is a downloadable APK app file that has been modified to extend the functionality of the app or with certain original app restrictions removed.

For example, ads may be disabled from games, in-game currency is unlimited or the number of days of a trial period extended indefinitely.

Due to these principles the HappyMod store is not a good choice for app publishers and not one we recommend for our clients. However, for app users there’s plenty of selection to circumvent the micro-transactions popularized by mobile games and apps.

HappyMod users will give feedback on whether the apps are working and malware free. If the APK apps get don’t meet these requirements they will be removed. In addition each app is manually checked by a HappyMod staffer before approval.

HappyMod claims compliance with the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) and publishers can request their app taken down from the APK store if they feel there is a DMCA violation.

Available for Android
Itch.io Logo
You can only download itch.io apps from their website.

We thought Itch.io deserved a bonus spot.

Itch.io is an app store available via Itch.io’s website and just recently also available as a download through Epic Game’s store. The Itch.io APK store offer apps for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS and Web platforms.

For Android it focuses on delivering Indie games and currently have almost 24,000 games in the catalog. Some are free and some are paid apps.

Finding popular games like Among Us is unusual. The games are – for the most part – not listed in other app stores and created by game communities and volunteers who spend a short amount of time to release a game they are passionate about. The quality is usually high despite not being developed by a professional app development agency like Inspire Visual.

Events are also held in which developers only get a few days to complete a game which is then published to this alternative APK store.

Developers have unparalleled freedom in how their apps are sold, from choosing their payment model and timing to extremely customizable app listings.

Where as Google Play require 30% revenue sharing, Itch.io is based on an open revenue sharing with developers able to choose how much, if any, they want to share (the standard is to share 10% with Itch.io).

Available for Android
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How to install APKs from one of the alternative Android app stores

If you’re ready to install an APK from one of these stores you may need some help getting it on your phone. While it’s a little more work than downloading them from the official Play store, don’t worry it’s quite easy.

Once you have installed the third-party app store on your phone, you can install more APK files within the alternative app store.

How to get an alternative Android app store on your phone

Depending on if you are running Android 8.0 or later on your Android phone, or if you are still running Android 7.0 Nougat or older, the installation method is slightly different. Go to the appropriate section below for instructions to your specific device scenario.

How to install a third-party APK on Android 8.0 Oreo and later OS’s

Google changed how APK installations are installed from Android 8.0 Oreo and later OS’s. There are only 4 steps you need to do to install APKs on the latest Android versions.

  1. Download the APK you want from one of the alternate app stores above.
  2. Click on the completed download in your web browser OR go to your Download folder with a file browser app and click the downloaded APK.
  3. Once downloaded, Android will request your permission from the mobile browser of file browser to install the downloaded app. Give permission to install and you should be redirected back to the installation screen. If you are not redirected, manually go to your Download folder to try again.
  4. The app will install and you are done.

Once the app has been installed, you’ll find the newly installed app in the app drawer. If an app does not install correctly it is probably because it is not compatible with your device. In that case you will have to try on another device or find a similar app that is compatible.

How to install a third-party APK on Android 7.0 Nougat and earlier OS’s

With Android Nougat and earlier versions, you have to enable the ‘Install from Unknown Sources” setting in Settings. Follow these steps to install on older Android systems.

  1. Download the APK you want from one of the alternate Android app stores listed.
  2. From your Home Screen, go to Settings, Security and Enable the ‘Install from Unknown Sources” setting.
  3. Use a file browser and go to your Download folder, then click the APK file you just downloaded.
  4. Your new Android app is installed and ready for use.

If you have any install issues it could be because you are running an old version of Android. In that case you’ll need to update your Android OS or buy a new phone if you really need that app.

Final thoughts

When you download APK apps from an alternative app store, you are not protected against malware, viruses and security treats the same way you are from Google Play.

Be vigilant about what you are downloading and where it is coming from.

Downloading from the Samsung Apps Store will likely be safer than downloading a modded app from HappyMod. That said, all of the app stores listed are well established and generally safe to use. Many of the stores also have their own verification teams making sure the apps are safe to use before they are allowed in the marketplace.

Do note, that with apps downloaded from third-party app stores, you will have to accept to “install from unknown sources” on your Android device at your own risk.

Our first choice when we publish apps for our clients is of course the Google Play store, however most of these alternative Android app stores are a great choice to expand the user base and promotional platforms.

They are also a great source of software developed for Android users, who are looking for more than what the mainstream Google Play store offers. Each with their own specialty, whether you’re an app techie, anime fan, or just love modded apps.

If you’d like to have your own app published some day in one of the Android stores, we at Inspire Visual are experts at the entire development process. We hand-pick resources specific for every project and only use senior talent.

You can learn more about our app development phases and our core strengths that set us above our competition.

Get it touch with us today to discuss your app project. We’d love to help you realize your new app.

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About Inspire Visual
At Inspire Visual, we believe that compelling design, functionality and content help drive effective results. That’s why we work hard to provide innovative, visually inspiring and functionally sound solutions to address your marketing challenges and extend your brand’s reach.

We offer decades of experience helping brands worldwide with websites, mobile app development, email marketing, direct mail campaigns, brand identity design, UI/UX, graphic design, print design, tradeshow design and more. We feel privileged to be allowed into our clients’ businesses, and we strive to provide personal service and close collaboration throughout your project.

Call 407.476.1950 or email [email protected] to contact us, so we can meet you, learn more about your business and answer any questions you have. We’d love to connect with you!

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One Comment

  1. Irony Grid August 7, 2021 at 6:07 am - Reply

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