- Built-in ad blocker
- Easy to Use
- Compatible with Chrome extensions
- Not private
- Not safe
- Weak customer support
Due to its overall fast speeds, how nicely it handles simultaneous downloads, and the number of useful features, UC Browser is one of the most popular web browsers for Android, especially in Asia. Moreover, this Chinese browser, owned by Alibaba Group, is exceptionally user-friendly, providing you with mouse gestures on the desktop version to quickly browse through pages. On top of that, it also comes with a built-in ad blocker. Sounds amazing, right? Unfortunately, when it comes to user privacy and protection, the UC Browser leaves a lot to be desired. If the antivirus blocking on UC Browser's download page is not enough of a red flag, maybe knowing that it was caught stealing personal data from an unknown server in China is enough for you to think twice before installing it.
Features & Extensions
UC Browser comes with some neat built-in features. By default, it comes with the Avast extension installed, which is going to be essential while using UC. It also comes with Avast SafePrice, which will find you the best prices and discount coupons while shopping online. On top of that, it comes with an image previewer that lets you see full-size images without clicking, as well as the Microsoft Cloud extension. Last, but not least, it also comes with the UC Resource Hunter, which lets you download videos, images, and music from the web. However, contrary to Brave, it's not possible to download videos directly from YouTube. Speaking of YouTube, UC Browser comes with a nice feature that lets you open any video in a small window and display it on the front of the screen, allowing you to browse other pages or even open different applications with the video still playing in front of you – excellent for multitasking.
Although the default extensions come installed, they don't come enabled. The same goes for the ad blocker. Fortunately, UC Browser asks you to enable the ad blocker through a pop-up the first time you come across an ad; the other extensions can be easily enabled/disabled to the right of the address bar. Moreover, since UC is a Chromium browser, it's compatible with most extensions from the Chrome Web Store.
Privacy & Security
This is where UC Browser falls on its face and makes you wonder if faster speeds and a few nice features are worth your privacy and protection.
For this review, we installed the desktop version of UC Browser, which we had to install from a third-party website since our antivirus blocked the download page from the official website. Right off the bat, that was a bad omen, but we continued to push forward. When we opened the browser, it showed a home page with various websites to visit. Nothing strange since UC is not the only browser in the industry that makes money by recommending a handful of sites on its home page. However, the biggest problem is that our antivirus not only showed a warning every time we opened the browser but blocked a few links due to malware as well. There is no way that we can feel secure using UC Browser without having an excellent antivirus backing us up. Unsurprisingly, while browsing some users' comments about the browser, many complained about getting viruses on their mobile phones after using UC.
Protection isn’t the only thing you need to worry about while using UC Browser, but also your privacy. First of all, it's based in China, a country known for lack of online privacy and freedom. But, beyond that, the browser itself has various security susceptibilities since it uses outdated cryptography and SSL protocols. Moreover, there is evidence that UC Browser leaked important data in the past, and it was even removed from the Play Store due to policy violations.
Since UC Browser was initially designed for mobile and only later got a desktop version, it's no surprise that it's available for Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and Java. However, on desktop, it's only available for Windows.
While UC Browser has a similar layout to the most popular browsers for Windows, the same cannot be said about the mobile version, which not only offers a different interface but also more features than your average browser. More than the features, what is most impressive is the number of settings you can play with and the way everything is done in a very user-friendly manner. The way to manage videos and downloads is one of the best we've seen in a browser app. The ‘My Videos’ section will let you view videos that you stored on your mobile device, ones that are downloading at the moment, and ones marked to watch later, while the ‘Downloads’ section gives way more information than usual, such as the available space and type of files you have on your device. Moreover, it also throws a built-in file cleaner into the mix and lets you connect to the nearest PC – all of this, without having to leave the UC Browser.
However, that's not everything you get with UC Browser. In the toolbar, you can find the remaining features, which include the speed mode, QR scanner, clipboard, and more. If that's not enough, you can add extensions to the mobile browser as well, such as social media channels that let you reach the most popular apps without having to install them in parallel, or even leave the browser. Don’t worry about having several tabs opened since you can easily scroll through them with its user-friendly tab manager, which shows all open tabs the same way Android shows open applications. The best part is, everything runs smoothly and we didn't feel any type of slowdown.
Like most of the free browsers on the market, UC Browser does not offer a 24/7 live chat. Still, it provides different channels that you can use to get in contact. First of all, it's always recommended to go through its FAQ when facing a problem. Unfortunately, UC Browser’s FAQ is not that great since it only provides help for Android, the discontinued mobile operation system Symbian, and Java. Beyond that, there is also a forum, but for some reason when we clicked on the link, it didn't show the community website as you would expect, but a landing page to download the browser. UC Browser has both a Facebook page (but there has not been a new post for several months) and a Twitter channel (where questions are not often replied to). Therefore, the only way to get in touch with the company ends up being through email.
Although UC Browser is fast, has an excellent way to handle simultaneous downloads, and comes with some neat built-in features, there is no way around its troubling privacy and protection flaws. From the Play Store banning the UC Browser app for a week because it was downloading additional software libraries without going through Google's official servers to stealing users' personal information, it’s just not worth the risk. On top of that, the number of warnings and blockages we got from our antivirus is also concerning, especially since they happen while visiting UC Browser's official pages. Therefore, we can't recommend UC Browser since many competitors on the market offer a similar product without the massive privacy and protection breaches.