Read Documents on the Go with These Top Apps
PDFs are light, portable and can support a variety of document styles, from text-heavy manuals to highly image-based documents such as ebooks and comics. Form-fillable documents can also be used as official forms and documents. The best PDF reader apps do more then just open files, providing a variety of navigation, annotation, and cloud storage functions to provide a full spectrum of document features. Check out our favorite PDF reader apps for Android and iOS devices. (Image Credit: dennizn/Shutterstock)
Adobe Reader (Android, iOS: Free)
The biggest thing that Adobe Reader (Android, iOS) has going for it is that everything just works smoothly, supporting form-fillable and DRM and password-protected PDFs while offering a variety of view modes, from your classic vertical scroll to a two page facing view that looks great in landscape mode. Adobe Reader includes text reflow, contextual search, bookmarks and hyperlink support, as well as annotation and electronic signature support. Users who sign up to a free Adobe Document Cloud account can share and sync documents online, with features like PDF editing and creation available as in-app purchases or through subscription.
Foxit Mobile PDF (Android, iOS: Free)
The mobile version of the popular desktop tool, Foxit Mobile PDF (Android, iOS) is another good choice for a PDF reader app for your mobile device. On the display end, Foxit handles normal and password protected PDFs, with support for document and user bookmarks. Annotation options let you highlight, underline or strike through text. You also can add sticky notes text boxes, or even draw freehand on the document. Text reflow allows you to read comfortably even on a small smartphone screen. Cloud support lets you upload and download PDFs from popular storage providers. Foxit has also introduced a new ConnectedPDF feature for collaborative work, annotations, comments and edits on a team's files.
Xodo PDF Reader (Android, iOS: Free)
Xodo PDF Reader (Android, iOS) might not have the big name recall of Acrobat Reader or Foxit, but it still offers a nice multi-platform reader app that includes a variety of reading modes along with organization and cloud storage tools plus productivity extras like annotations and electronic signatures. Users can open and edit their local PDF files; access PDFs from their Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive; or use the proprietary Xodo Connect platform to share and annotate PDFs over a web browser. That said, the mobile reader would be improved with a better design and layout, as features like the menu bars can use up a large amount of screen space and obscure pages, making Xodo somewhat clunky to use.
Bookari (Android, iOS: Free)
Another PDF reader to check out is Bookari (Android, iOS). Formerly known as Mantano Reader, it supports EPUB and PDF formats (including Adobe DRM support). Bookari features a customizable and feature-packed reader, with a variety of features such as reader themes, a night mode, text search, annotation and a pinnable navigation panel to let you easily jump between chapters, bookmarks and pages. The $4.99 paid version of the app delivers additional features, and a premium subscription to Mantano Cloud adds support for library and reading progress syncing across devices. It might not be as snappy as more focused PDF readers, but Bookari makes for a nice all-in-one for your EPUB and PDF needs.
Google Books (Android, iOS: Free)
Google Play Books (Android, iOS) is another app worth considering for its cloud storage functions. You can upload your own PDF & EPUB files into your Play Books library for cross-device ease of reading, though if you do most of your PDF reading away from a wireless signal, that may be an issue. In addition to cloud storage features, you can also access Play Books' marketplace, as well as customize the reader view for ease of use. Text highlighting, a built-in dictionary, and map search give you features to play with, and cross-device syncing lets you save your reading position across devices.
PDF Reader (Android, iOS: Free)
Kdan Mobile's PDF Reader is an excellent free Android and iOS PDF reader that provides solid rendering and reading as well as a neat document scanning feature. PDF Reader supports bookmarks, outlines and thumbnails; it can also open password-protected files. Text search and a page slider allow you to navigate to where you need, while a text reflow option provides a comfortable reading experience on a small screen. Annotation tools let you easily mark up documents, and cloud support allows you to upload, download and backup documents. A scanning mode lets you use your camera as a scanner and create PDF files from your camera roll.
Markup - Annotation Expert (iOS: Free)
Markup - Annotation Expert is Kdan's beefier, professional-oriented version of its PDF viewer and annotation software for iOS devices. As the name suggests, the app includes markup and annotation tools for PDF documents and a Web highlighter through an in-app browser, as well as support for audio notes and digital signatures. The Cloud portion of the app supports a variety of storage and backup options, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, or Kdan Cloud. Limitations on the free version such as number of files stored are removed on the $9.99 Ultimate version, and a paid subscription to Kdan's Creativity 365 suite of tools includes more premium features.
iAnnotate (iOS: $9.99)
iAnnotate is a slick PDF reader and annotator that comes with a lot of nice features and customizations for your PDF reading and editing convenience. Users can open up PDF files, search for terms and keywords and navigate through bookmarks or a continuous scroll view mode. The real hallmark of the program is the powerful set of annotation features that allows you to add notes, draw, highlight, underline and strike through; you can also add digital signatures. A Web capture mode lets you convert web pages into PDFs for annotation and easy sharing. Tabbed browsing means you can have multiple documents opened for quickly flipping through your books and docs. PDFs can be flattened, imported to various cloud services, or emailed to recipients.
MuPDF (Android, iOS: Free)
MuPDF (Android, iOS) is a lightweight, open source document viewer that handles PDF, XPS, CBZ and ePUB documents with equal aplomb, though the focus is clearly on PDF files. MuPDF features support for PDF 1.7, text reflow, progressive rendering for large documents. It can also handle basic interactive features such as text search and extraction, hyperlinks, annotations, form-filling and electronic signatures. If you don't need fancy extras like cloud integration or advanced editing features, consider giving MuPDF a shot.
AnDoc (Android: Free)
Where many PDF readers provide a wide variety of features, AnDoc PDF & DJVU Reader instead aims for a minimalist, interface, hiding most of its options and navigation behind the settings button. This is a bit of a pro and con — while the reading experience is clutter free, accessing outlines, search tools, and bookmarks requires you to fire up the settings menu. That said, the app does include a surprising degree of back end options, allowing users to tweak performance and rendering settings, set the appearance of hyperlinked text and more. If you don't need annotation features and are looking for a clutter-free reading view, consider AnDoc.
WPS Office (Android, iOS: Free)
From extreme minimalism to something a bit more all-in-one, we go to WPS Office (Android, iOS), a multipurpose mobile office suite that handles documents, spreadsheets, and PDFs with equal applomb. WPS's PDF viewer is serviceable, allowing users to add and view bookmarks, jump to page numbers, text search, view annotations to a PDF file, and access PDFs from cloud storage. It's not as loaded with PDF-centric features as other viewers, but it's general office suite features make it a good addition to your app drawer if you're looking for a free mobile document editor that also reads PDFs well.
PDF Expert (iOS: $9.99)
On the iOS front, Readdle's PDF Expert line of apps is among the most impressive premium PDF tools available for mobile users. PDF Expert can open the full spectrum of PDF files, including password protected and form-fillable documents. The app also supports a variety of other document formats stored locally or in the cloud. Drawing tools, highlighting and other text annotation tools provide the means to mark up documents, while text search, PDF links and other navigation tools make getting to where you want a snap.
PDFpen 4 (iOS: $19.99)
PDFpen 4 is another high-powered PDF reading and editing tool for iOS users. The mobile app allows users to display PDF files, as well as edit, annotate, apply proofmarks, images and signatures. These features make it extremely easy to handle form-fillable files and other important documents. Users can "flatten" documents for easier compatibility, set document passwords and save or load documents across a wide variety of cloud services, such as iCloud, Dropbox, Evernote and Google Drive. It's much pricier than many of the other options listed here, but PDFpen 4 does provide a thorough suite of tools for reading and editing PDFs on your iOS device, an it's well worth it if you're a professional who needs to deal with PDFs on the go.
GoodReader (iOS: $4.99)
A powerful PDF reader for iOS devices, GoodReader offers a variety of annotation, navigation, and file management tools. Search tools, text reflow and other navigation tools allow you to easily get to where you need in a doc, while text and freehand annotation tools and digital signature let you easily make your mark. An included file manager lets you handle documents on your device, with support for uploading and downloading to cloud storage. The app continues to add new features, such as support for page management, auto-syncing of files and text-to-speech.
Kybook 3 (iOS: Free)
KyBook 3 takes the generalist approach as an ebook reader supporting a variety of formats, one of which is PDF. KyBook throws in a ton of features such as cloud storage support, text to speech, search, bookmarks, and notes, but the app does suffer compared to other readers due to its more generalist approach. PDF pages don't quite load as smoothly as a more focused PDF reader, but KyBook does do the job well enough, with customizable page turn modes, support for landscape and two-page facing modes, and a magnifying loupe. It's worth considering if you regularly consume DRM-free PDFs alongside other ebook and audiobooks. In-app purchases unlock features like DjVu support, synchronization, and PDF Reflow.