How to Get Cool Emojis on Your Android

Never see squares instead of smilies again

If you have an older Android phone, it's possible that your device doesn't support emojis. You aren't necessarily doomed to see squares instead of smilies, however; plenty of third-party apps will let you send and receive emojis.

For the third-party apps below, you'll download and install a new keyboard for your phone. Once you've added the app from the Google Play Store, head to Settings System > Language and Input > Virtual Keyboard > Manage Keyboards.

How to choose a new keyboard in Android

From there, choose the new keyboard to start using it.

If you're sending emojis from an Android to someone with an iPhone, the smilies and other icons will look different on their device, since Apple and Google have different designs for emojis — one of the only surefire ways around this issue is to root your phone, which we wouldn't recommend doing unless you're an experienced techie aware of the potential consequences.

All of the apps below should be equally available no matter which company makes your Android phone, including Samsung, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc.

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Third-Party Emoji Keyboards

Emoji Keyboard Pro on Android
What We Like
  • Many options are available.

  • Extra features like A.I. predictive text and GIFs.

  • Ties into other apps that you already use.

What We Don't Like
  • May be hard to narrow down from so many options.

  • Not all have the same features.

  • Some keyboards lock features behind in-app purchases.

Downloading a third-party keyboard is a solid option if you're looking for quantity; for example, the Emoji Keyboard app gives you access to more than 3,000 icons. Along with offering plenty of options, the app includes a prediction feature and an emoji dictionary, in case you're unclear on the meaning of any of the icons. You can also send GIFs and stickers across social apps like Facebook Messenger, Kik, Snapchat, and Instagram. While the app is free to download, you can also download themes via in-app purchases.

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SwiftKey on Android
What We Like
  • Offers all Android emojis currently available.

  • Extra features like swiping to type.

  • Free to use.

What We Don't Like
  • May run slowly on older devices.

  • Auto-spacing after periods may affect entering website addresses.

  • Emojis may not fit on the screen.

SwiftKey is a worthwhile download even if you don't want or need emojis. Its main benefit is the option to swipe between letters to type and uses A.I.-powered predictions to provide suggestions and speed up your typing. Provided your smartphone is running Android 4.1 or a more recent version of the mobile software, you'll be able to use SwiftKey for emojis. And thanks to the app's intelligent features, it can even predict which emoji you'll want to use and when.

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Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts on Android
What We Like
  • Integrates with your Google account.

  • Lets you save your chats and includes video options.

  • Includes emojis and GIFs.

What We Don't Like
  • An entirely separate app you'd use in addition to the onboard messaging.

  • Subject to availability of Google service.

  • Comes with the same privacy concerns as all Google products.

Using Google Hangouts as your texting app could be a solid option, especially if you're using an older Android phone that isn't running Android 4.1 or later. The Hangouts app has emojis built in. It also offers stickers and GIFs.

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Textra on Android
What We Like
  • Includes all available emojis.

  • Lets you choose how emojis appear.

  • More customization options than the standard Android messaging app.

What We Don't Like
  • A separate app from your phone's standard messaging software.

  • Some reports of users unable to send texts.

  • Must pay to remove ads.

This option also requires you to replace your standard texting app with Textra, but it could be well worth it, especially if you want to see emojis as they appear on the iPhone rather than on Android devices, since you can choose between Android, Twitter, Emoji One and iOS-style emojis.