- Well-rounded built-in features
- Easy way to add RSS feeds
- Possible to download YouTube videos
- Supports extensions and features
- Privacy concerns
- Older look
- Customer support isn't the best
Released under the name of MyIE in 2002, Maxthon was a browser that sought to add customization to Internet Explorer. Now, many years later, Maxthon offers a vast array of built-in features and claims to be the fastest and most secure browser on the market. Considered as one of the best multi-platform browsers in the industry, it's available for all desktop and mobile operating systems. Of course, to provide excellent cross-platform user experience, Maxthon offers cloud syncing that lets its users share bookmarks, passwords, settings, and even notes throughout their devices. Still, not everything is perfect, and Maxthon has seen itself caught up in a significant privacy scandal back in 2016. At the same time, some of Maxthon’s decisions have made people question their marketing statements.
Features & Extensions
Maxthon offers more built-in features than your average browser, something that you can extend even further through the various extensions you can find in Maxthon's Extension Center.
If you usually download media from websites, then you’re going to love the Resource Sniffer. This built-in tool finds all media files – images, videos, and audio – on a web page and lets you download them with just a couple of clicks. More importantly, it works with the most popular websites, including YouTube.
On the other hand, if you are more of a reader, Maxthon comes with a reader mode as well. In reader mode, you can change between light and dark mode, adjust the zoom, modify the font, and turn on the automatic website reader. On top of that, Maxthon searches for RSS feeds while you’re browsing the internet and, if it finds one, it will show the RSS button on the right of the address bar where you can click on and subscribe to your favorite sites without any hassle.
Additionally, there’s a snap tool, download manager, night mode, built-in translator, and feed reader. When it comes to customization, Maxthon has some predefined themes that you can use, but you can upload your own images as well. You can also choose what to show on the user interface and, basically, make Maxthon your own.
Privacy & Security
Maxthon claims to put users' security and privacy above all else, but their actions tell a different story.
In 2016, experts found that Maxthon was storing users' sensitive information on a server located in China. Maxthon claimed that this information was part of the ‘User Experience Improvement Program’ and that users consented to share the information. However, the same experts discovered that the browser was also sending information even from users that opted out of this program. On top of that, such information was shared through an insecure HTTP connection, which is an easy way for a man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacker to intercept the data and use it for phishing attacks.
It's important to note as well that Maxthon is based in China, a country known for forcing companies to implement back doors to allow for government surveillance. Maxthon claims that they will never do this but we’re not convinced. Maxthon also states that it will provide users' information when requested by law or a court order, so there is no 100% certainty that such statement is true.
Maxthon is available for desktop systems including Windows, macOS, and Linux, and mobile devices with iOS and Android. On desktop, Maxthon's performance is indeed better in comparison to other popular browsers, such as Chrome. Still, it's far from being the fastest on the market when compared to browsers like the cloud-based Puffin. On mobile, though, we found it to be slower compared to others.
Interface-wise, Maxthon is not one of the cleanest desktop browsers and is not very modern looking. Still, Maxthon arranges all its built-in feature icons nicely, making it not too overbearing for the user. Moreover, since the user can change most of the interface, it's possible to end up with a clean look without too much information on it.
On mobile, the application is better looking, but it lacks the customization that the desktop version offers. Nevertheless, it comes with various built-in plugins that are not typically seen on browser apps, such as an ad blocker, UUmail, smart image display, among others.
Though we may go easy on browsers' customer service because they are usually free, Maxthon's customer support is below market standards. It does have an FAQ on its website, but it's hard to find the necessary information since it isn’t well organized and doesn't have a search bar. Fortunately, the community forum does have a search function, and people are eager to help.
Maxthon is present on social media through both Facebook and Twitter, but the activity level is low. While on Facebook Maxthon hasn't posted anything for more than a year, on Twitter, it has only tweeted a few times during the same period. So, the best option to contact Maxthon directly is through email.
Maxthon is an excellent browser for people who prefer to have a selection of built-in features instead of installing third-party extensions. It's also a great browser for people who usually download media files from the internet due to the user-friendly Resource Sniffer. On top of that, it has all the built-in features needed for those who love to read and follow blogs online. However, for the privacy-focused internet users, Maxthon has way too many red flags for us to recommend it. The amount of information that they store is too much, and there is no clear way to know if the data is being shared through an insecure HTTP connection. In the end, Maxthon does not excel at anything compared to its competitors, but it still is a great browser that offers a well-rounded product.