The browser is available for Android, Symbian and Windows Mobile devices as well as the iPhone. There is also a lightweight Java version available in case you’ve not got the latest in mobile technology. Oh yeah, and it’s free ““ of course!
The version I’m testing is UC Browser 7.4 for the Symbian S60v5 operating system on a Sony Ericsson Satio.
Much like the popular Opera Mini mobile browser, UC Browser doesn’t handle each destination within the application. Each request is handled by a server, compressed and sent to the phone. This essentially provides you with a fast, thin client perfect for use with mobile data plans.
As you’d (probably) expect by now, there’s multiple tab support and unlike Bolt Browser, you can have a whopping 12 open at a time. There’s also direct in-built support for searches too using your choice of Google, Yahoo!, Bing and Ask.com as an engine.
The mobile web browser’s home screen is an attractive and responsive hub with fast access to some oft-used services. You can pin 4 bookmarks to your home screen, and access to the rest of your favourites are only a click away.
There’s a couple of what seem to be sponsored links at the bottom, but they’re pretty easy to ignore and it’s free after all.
UC Browser 7.4 is able to tackle full web-pages, as well as the mobile web. You would probably be disappointed if it didn’t, considering most of the latest built-in mobile browsers do it by now. With this feature you’ve got the choice of multiple view modes for full web pages, to facilitate viewing on a tiny mobile screen.
Zoom mode (above) is much like Opera Mobile’s handling of web pages, providing vertical and horizontal scrolling and with text formatted so that it can be read easily. Adaptive mode (which is UC Browser’s default setting) removes the need for horizontal scrolling and works by stacking web content into one vertical stream.
I personally really liked this feature, as I find myself constantly moving the screen left and right whilst browsing with Opera Mobile ““ and the option of turning it on and off allows you to make your own mind up.
This isn’t all ““ the browser is absolutely jam-packed with other features. There’s even a file browser for sending files via Bluetooth (which I barely looked at, as most phones have that one covered), a night theme for dimming the screen in the dark (many phones also do that), quick sharing via SMS, and a powerful download manager that has a handy resume feature.
Starting UC Browser takes only a few seconds, and it’s generally very responsive. The home screen is easy to understand and provides for a nice clean interface and supports multiple themes.
Navigation is handled using the bar at the bottom of the screen, which acts as a context menu with different options appearing depending on what you’re doing. Whilst browsing a website you’ll have five options available ““ back, forward, menu, open tabs and home.
The menu button brings up an overlay menu with three separate tabs ““ Common, Settings and Tools. This is essentially the inner workings of the browser, and where you can make changes to the way the browser works.
Rendering is very fast on mobile sites and still quite speedy for full websites. I’ve not got my stopwatch out, but UC Browser is pretty much on a par with Opera Mobile (which makes both valid, speedy solutions).
There’s flash support (at least on the Symbian version I tested) for sites like YouTube, though I found I sometimes had to refresh the page in order to get videos working. Flash is not immediately loaded with the page, and you must select the object to load it.
Support is there, if a little flaky.
Download UC Browser
There’s a total of five different versions of UC Browser available for download, depending on your phone’s operating system:
- iPhone ““ download it from the App Store [iTunes link]
- Android ““ you can download the Android version by clicking here.
- Symbian ““ there are a few different Symbian versions available, choose yours on this page. Note: the S60v5 version is apparently compatible with Nokia’s latest Symbian^3 phones (like the N8).
- Windows Mobile ““ touch and non-touch versions of the browser are available here.
- Java ““ signed and unsigned Java versions are available, including low memory versions for older mobiles on this page.
UC Browser provides a well rounded mobile browsing experience that handles nearly everything you throw at it. Video support could use some work, but that’s my only real complaint. The attractive interface, speedy rendering and sheer number of features makes this mobile web browser stand out as a real contender.
The added bonus of compatibility with older mobiles means you can enjoy this one even if you’ve not got the latest smartphone. Let us know what you make of it and how it compares to your current favourite in the comments.
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