The latest version of Internet Explorer 11 that comes with every Windows Phone 8.1 device is a pretty good browser and will be more than enough for most people.
IE 11 has all the basic stuff like private browsing, in-line videos, basic file downloads, data compression built right in.
But if your interests sway more towards the tech and geek side, you probably need more features either to absolutely get by with your life or for fun.
1. Speed Dial
Just like the browsers on desktop that offer a feature-rich startpage, listing your most visited sites, your bookmarks, apps or pinned sites, these two apps have a similar startpage.
On UC, you get pre-formatted shortcuts to famous websites as tiles. You can make them larger or smaller. You can add a lot of stuff here. Downloads, bookmarks, search, QR code scan, settings and of course, a link to a web page.
Maxthon has a similar startpage but here you can only add a link to websites.
2. Download Management
IE 11 lets you download files, but that’s all it does.
Before downloading any file, UC Browser prompts you with a list of options. You can either download a file directly in background so you can continue with your browsing, or download the file to UDisk. UDisk is UCBrowser’s cloud storage solution, much like Dropbox. You get 6GB storage for free. So if you are running out of storage on your phone, use their service and just download or stream stuff as and when you want.
Maxthon also comes with similar download functionality but it doesn’t have background downloads or the cloud download support.
4. Night Mode
Both UC and Maxthon come with Night Mode feature but have different implementations. UC Browser just dims the display so it doesn’t hurt your eyes. Maxthon on the other hand inverts the colors of a webpage. In this way, the white background of most sites turns into black and it is ultimately easy on the eyes.
5. Scan QR Code
Before Cortana took over the search responsibility, there used to be a QR Scan button on the search page. A lot of websites, especially the app and mobile related ones feature a QR Code for app downloads. It is just easier to scan the code than opening the Windows Store and searching for the app yourself.
Both browsers come with QR Code scanning capabilities built in.
6. Cortana Support
This is a UC Browser-only feature. Essentially, you can wake up Cortana and say “UC Browser Bookmarks” and she will open the app and take you straight to the bookmarks folder. You can also ask her to scan QR codes or go to Downloads in the same way. But you can’t ask her to open a web page. Hopefully the feature will be added soon.
7. Preload Next Page
This is another UC exclusive. It is turned on by default, if not, you can do so in the settings. The feature allows you to automatically load the next page even before you get to the end of the current one. If you are browsing a multi page article or the homepage of Reddit, this feature will be helpful.
Other UC Browser Features
It is clear that UC Browser is the one with most features. For the customization fans, UC comes with themes that you can browse through and apply in one click.
It is the only browser to offer its own cloud storage UDisk where you can save files if you don’t have local storage space.
UC also comes with a feature to share files between two Windows Phone devices over Wi-Fi.
Third Party Browsers
Both of these browsers are robust and powerful but you need to remember that they are third party browsers. Which means they are based on the basic browser, only with added features.
UC or Maxthon might never be as fast or stable as Internet Explorer but that’s just the way it is for third party browsers on mobile. Just look at Chrome on iOS. Is sacrificing a little speed for feature is worth it? That’s for you to decide.
Let us know your views on default vs third party browsers in the comments below.
Last updated on 03 February, 2022
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