Try Android Without Buying a Phone

September 21, 2011, By Christian Cawley

Fancy trying Android but don’t want to buy a new phone just in case you don’t like it? Other than heading to a local mobile phone store and trying a handset for yourself (something you should do before buying anyway, just in case…) there is one great and easy way to try out Android – as a virtual machine!

As you may know, a virtual machine (also known as a VM) is a software environment on your computer that replicates the actions of a physical computer. Creating a virtual machine requires you to download a suitable application, setup the virtual machine and then install the chosen operating system.

Try Android Without Buying a Phone

This is possible with some versions of Android that have been customized for use with netbooks. One example is Android 2.6, and this can be downloaded and installed on VirtualBox for you to begin interacting with the popular mobile operating system.

Download and Configure VirtualBox

Whether you’re using Windows, OS X or a Linux distro there is a version of VirtualBox for you! Simply head over to and grab the right installer file for your operating system. Once downloaded, install the application!

Like VMware or Virtual PC, VirtualBox is a free to use virtual machine environment that allows you to create a VM and install an operating system on it. In order to do this you will need to download the Android virtual appliance from – you will need a Bittorrent client in order to download this file.

With VirtualBox installed, while the VM is downloading you will need to create a virtual machine for Android to run in. Go to File > New and create a VM with the following configuration:

OS – Linux
Version – Linux 2.6 or Oracle or Other
Memory – 512MB
Video Memory: 12MB or more
ACPI: enabled
IO APCI: enabled
PAE/NX: Enabled

Once this is done, alter the virtual hard disk setting to Use existing hard disk and browse for the Android VDI file. Click through to the end of the process and you will find that you now have Android installed on your computer in VirtualBox!

Hang on – How Do I Use Android?

Once you have Android up and running in VirtualBox, you should be ready to start opening the Apps list, scrolling between desktops and other tasks – but hang on a moment!

Android is a touch-based operating system, so you’re probably wondering how you can use it on a standard computer desktop.

The answer is simple: the version you’re using has been designed for standard computer devices such as netbooks, and as such you can interact with this version of Android just as you would with any other desktop OS.

In fact, it shouldn’t take you long to get online and trying out some of the apps that come pre-installed on the virtual version of the popular mobile operating system.

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