The Best PDF Readers for Android

Currently, I’m buried in a stack of digital medical records about 900 pages thick. These are a combination of documents I merged together to facilitate easier review. Of course, anyone who has ever read through their client’s medical history will attest that it’s nothing you’ll eagerly share over drinks. Boring doesn’t even begin to describe the misery. However, productive review of documents is essential for any legal matter, which means you’ll need to find any methods that further efficiency and accuracy.

Enter the PDF

Adobe literally revolutionized the world of document review with the introduction of Acrobat. When combined with a scanner, Acrobat allows users to create duplicate images of documents in digital format.

Adobe Acrobat Logo

Now, rather than having misstrewn pages of paper, Acrobat created stacks of documents in compact digital files. Most law firms quickly accepted portable document format, PDF, as the new normal. Other software developers quickly clamored to create similar, sometimes comparable, PDF editor programs that cost less than Adobe Acrobat.

Moving to mobile

One of the biggest advantages of PDF documents is their size. Instead of toting bankers’ boxes filled with papers, users can simply copy and paste digital files onto any device. The advent and acceptance of mobile tablets and smartphones enabled the reader to tote full-size documents on devices smaller than the copied sheets of paper.

Simply reading PDF documents isn’t enough. In fact, recognizing that digital documents function exactly like their tree-killing counterparts is essential to becoming a mobile warrior. Fortunately, there are several PDF reader applications that allow Android users to efficiently work with digital documents.

Note: it’s good practice to use optical character recognition (OCR) on any PDF document you wish to comment or annotate. Most of the Android PDF readers will require OCR to highlight text. If you’re going to share a document with others, you’ll want to ensure that your PDF reader has “page flattening” that prevents someone from changing comments.

Adobe Reader  (free)

The most basic of the Acrobat apps is Adobe Reader.

Adobe Reader

This app functions very similar to its desktop predecessor, but allows you to comment on any opened PDF document. Anyone looking for a basic PDF reader app will love Adobe Reader.

Pros

  • Easy-to-use PDF reader
  • Easily convert different file formats to PDF
  • Full function keys for commenting or annotating
  • Cost (free)

Cons

  • No direct cloud (Dropbox, Google Drive, Box.net) integration — you must save documents to your device and then upload them to the cloud
  • Basic functionality; no flattening of pages or similar advanced functions

Get this app on Google Play

RepliGo PDF Reader ($2.99)

RepliGo is my favorite all-around PDF reader app.

RepliGo Reader

RepliGo is another PDF reader with basic functionality (doesn’t feature flattening) and a relatively low price tag. If you’re not concerned about someone else manipulating your comments, then RepliGo is a great viewer. The biggest advantage of RepliGo versus Adobe Reader is that RepliGo has great cloud connectivity.

RepliGo DropBox Sync

Pros

  • Cloud interface and connectivity (view and save to the cloud with ease)
  • Easy-to-use PDF reader
  • Fast opening of document, quick page turning

Cons

  • Missing some advanced editing features (crop, flattening, difficulty filling in some forms)
  • Cost

Get this app on Google Play

 

Update: As of June 30, 2014, RepliGo Reader is no longer available. The developer discontinued support. You can still sideload the app here.

ezPDF Reader – Multimedia PDF ($3.99)

This application used to be my favorite PDF editor, though somewhere along the way these developers focused more on external glitz than internal glam.

ezPDF Reader Pro Bookshelf

That doesn’t mean that I totally dislike the program, I’m just frustrated with two primary problems: slow speed and cloud integration.

Unfortunately, ezPDF Reader’s biggest problem is that the app doesn’t have usable cloud integration. The setup process is very confusing and doesn’t work well, or at all. RepliGo works much better, and is much more visually appealing.

Pros

  • Has the most annotation options
  • Features comment flattening and other advanced utilities (including crop)
  • Multimedia friendly to view other media file formats (ePUB) and page viewing options

Cons

  • Sometimes hangs when viewing larger PDF files
  • Extremely poor cloud integration (you’ll pull your hair out trying to use the cloud to save)

Get this app on Google Play

A final honorable mention: Adobe CreatePDF

Finally, if you’re just looking to create a PDF document from a file on your Android device, you should check out Adobe CreatePDF (free).

Depending on your need, or the necessity, Android has three applications that make working in PDF my preferred method for mobile digital documents. Now, carry on mobile road warriors.

4 Responses to The Best PDF Readers for Android

  1. What about privacy? When installing, you authorize Adobe access to the camera on your device “to make photos and video’s” and also “complete Internet-access”.

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Jeff Taylor

I’m just an ordinary guy living an extraordinary life. I’m also an attorney and I blog about Android for lawyers. You can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google+.