Well, one can say, there is Chrome, there is Opera, there is Firefox, and for those on iDevices there is Safari. But you see, there is always something else, and UC Browser is here to show how to do things differently.
Design and Usability 8/10
Well, it looks like a decent browser with all it takes: a search/address bar at the top, a quick bookmark list on the default page, a multitab view, and its own addition to the keyboard that makes entering addresses easier. Its squirrel as a mascot is cute, too, and colors make reading easy. The dark mode is also here, both on iPhone and Android; on my AMOLED screen it’s just great.
My curiosity also led me to borrowing an iPad to see it there. Quite good on an iPhone, it just isn’t iPad-ready, so the poor device had to display the expanded iPhone version, and it looked miserable. They say, though, there used to be an iPad version.
Key Functions 10/10
It takes split seconds to load a page, due to in-between servers processing pages and cutting all but the core. This way UC Browser also delivers them ad-free and rid of everything unnecessary. With it, you save your data (if your plan is limited) and get your pages opened quicker. It also offers video streaming in separate windows. Its Android version is even capable of saving videos locally to watch them later when offline. It’s also integrated with WhatsApp, so pages are easier to share. Finally, it has its own QR reader that opens pages quicker.
Where the browser severely fails is desktop syncing (while syncing across mobile devices is fine). It has always been convenient for me to have my bookmarks, passwords, and history synced across all my devices, regardless of the platform. With UC Browser, that’s not the case. Not only is its iPad version absent; its core audience is in China, India, and Indonesia (I’ve read it on Wikipedia), and the developers mostly care about budget device owners. So there isn’t a Mac version either. Not that I should care now, on Windows and Android, but it makes it harder to recommend.
Security & App Purchases 7/10
Being free, the app probably generates income from processing big data provided by users. It may also charge the services it advertises on its default homepage. Whatever. For us, users, it’s free.
As for security… Hmm. It’s probably one of the most scandalous browsers since it appeared in Snowden leaks and often after that (it’s not me that smart, it’s Wikipedia again). It’s owned by Alibaba Group, one of the biggest Chinese corporations, and now, after all these scandals, it must care about its reputation even a bit. At least, so I hope.
I wasn’t ready to give up my Chrome for UC, because of easy syncing across its mobile and desktop instances. And it’s not a question of trust; it’s a question of comfort. Still, if you only use the browser on your phone and don’t care about syncing (or intendedly avoid it), UC Browser is quite an option.