UC Browser Review - Fast and Bandwidth Efficient

By Cosmin Vasile on November 26th, 2010 20:01 GMT
Developed by UC Mobile, the UC Browser runs on a wide range of platforms such as Symbian, Android, Java, Windows Mobile, MTK, iPhone and Brew. Currently, the browser is compatible with more than 100 phone brands and about 2000 models.

UC Browser was originally launched in April 2004 as a Java-only application, but it has seen dramatic changes over the years. The software got more than 400 million downloads and 100 million users all over the world by September 2010.

Released at the beginning of the month, UC Browser 7.4 brings improved features such as data compression to save 85% of users’ traffic charges, pre-fetch technology, higher download speeds, built-in file manager, multi-search, save and share and night mode.

UC Browser 7.4 offers WAP2.0 support, which means that the browser is able to display more graphical elements.

Cursor mode is another added feature, along with My Shortcut. The My Shortcut feature may look familiar for Opera mini users, as it resembles the “speed dial” feature.

“My Shortcut” will display four squares in the home screen the first time the browser is open, where users can add their favorite sites.
UC Browser 7.4 is only available for Symbian, Windows Mobile and Java platforms. The Android and iPhone versions haven't been updated yet, but they're acceptable alternatives for the native Web-kit browser and Safari browser, respectively.

I've been playing with the Symbian version of the browser and I came to the conclusion that UC Browser is very fast, but this comes for a price, as rich-content webpages won't load entirely.

Before installing UC Browser, users should understand that the devs have put “speed” before “look”, so if you're expecting to see every detail of a webpage, you will be disappointed. The web page is not handled on the phone, but compressed and rendered by a server, similar to the operation of a thin client.

However, UC Browser is the perfect tool to cut your data transfer costs. Thanks to its advanced compression technology the browser can reduce data costs by up to 85%.

The application’s first boot will take about 5 to 10 seconds, but afterwards it should start in only 2 seconds.

If you’ve previously used the native Symbian browser you will be asked if you’d like to import your bookmarks the first time you start UC Browser. The application's first page features two tabs: Favorites and Home. The latter can be used to start navigating to a webpage or to search for a term.The first time you use the search feature you will be asked to choose one of the four search engines included in the browser: Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask. The search engine used the first time will become the default search engine, but that can be manually changed whenever you feel like it.

In addition to the standard “common mode” (a mode that uses the keypad or navigation keys to control the webpage), UC Browser 7.4 now offers a more advanced “cursor mode”, which enables users to browse using only the phone's D-pad button.

An interesting feature that only the Symbian version of the browser includes is the Copy/Paste function. It will let you “Free Copy” a certain text, “Selected Text”, “Selected Link”, Current Screen”, “Whole Page”, “Page URL” or “Image URL”.Phones without the accelerometer sensor for auto-rotate function won't have any problems turning the screen to landscape mode, as the browser includes its own feature in the Menu tab, Rotate Screen.

There are a lot options that can be set from the Preferences menu. Most of them are highly dependent of the phone used. Font size can be also changed, as well as the browse mode, which can be Adaptive (normal) or Zoom mode.

Page segmentation is a very useful feature for handsets with low memory. These handsets make a size limitation on Java files, so when the file exceeds the limitation it will show a “Full memory” message. This can be solved by setting a suitable Page Size, which means that bigger pages that cannot be displayed otherwise will be split in 2, 3 or 4 pages. Using page down or page up, you can browse the sub-pages.The “Find in page” feature helps users locate specific information like a word or phrase in the webpage.

The application includes a complex URL auto-completion system, which enables users to quickly enter a link in the address bar by typing in only the first few letters.

There's also an interesting Night mode function that makes the app more suitable for browsing in dark environments. It can be accessed from the Settings menu / Themes.Just like the native Symbian browser, UC Browser is able to run in the background, so users can make phone calls or text while they're browsing. Simply click on the phone's Menu key while you're navigating and select Contacts to make a call. When you decide to go back to browsing simply press and hold the Menu key of the phone until a pop-up menu will display on the screen. Choose UC Browser in the quick menu to go back to browsing.Make sure you use the Exit command when you are finished browsing, otherwise UC Browser will keep running in the background, and your data transfer connection will still be active, even if you're not using it.

UC Browser 7.4 for Symbian is available as a free download from Softpedia.
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