What is the point of having a smartphone if it cannot read your super-duper-important PDF documents? In this article we take a look at all the free PDF readers/viewers available on Android Market and recommend the PDF reader/viewer we feel is the best of the lot. But be warned: You may be surprised to find a familiar name at the top of the list; dotTech is not responsible for any seizures you may experience as a result of disbelief.
Table of Contents
App Name: Adobe® Reader®  
Developer: Adobe Systems
Download Size: 2.0 MB
Version Reviewed: v10.0.2
Requires: Android 2.1 and up
- Works with normal and password-protected PDFs.
- Provides three different viewing modes.
- Has the ability to search PDFs.
- Can share PDFs via bluetooth, e-mail, or any other apps that support file input (such as Dropbox).
- Supports pinch-to-zoom in “Fit to Screen” and “Continuous Scroll” views.
- Supports app2sd.
- Minor lag when scrolling in “Fit to Screen” and “Reflow Text” views.
- Slight lag when pinching to zoom in/out in “Fit to Screen” and “Continuous Scroll” views.
Adobe Reader may have a bad reputation on Windows, but on Android it is king of the land. The Adobe Reader on Android is a brilliant PDF reader. It is fast (loads PDFs very quickly), provides three different ways to view PDFs – “Fit to Screen” (swipe left and right to scroll between pages), “Continuous Scroll” (swipe up and down to scroll through PDF), and “Reflow Text” (content is fit to screen size and shown in a manner in which the reader does not have to zoom in to read; scrolling is down left/right) – and comes with no ads*. Furthermore, users can search for text in PDFs and easily share PDFs via bluetooth, e-mail, or any other app that supports file input.
Adobe Reader can be used as the default PDF reader (i.e. click on a PDF file in any file manager  and Adobe Reader will open it) or Adobe Reader can be accessed through its own app. When accessing Adobe Reader through its own app (i.e. clicking on the Adobe Reader icon in your apps tray), users are shown “Recently Viewed” PDFs, and a list of all PDF files found on the SD card.
That said, there are two issues I would like to mention:
- When scrolling between pages/content in “Fit to Screen” and “Reflow Text” views, there is slight lag. This lag is very, very minor and not a major issue at all but it is enough to be noticeable and therefore worth mentioning.
- When zooming in/out (pinching to zoom is supported) in “Fit to Screen” and “Continuous Scroll” views there is slight lag. When zooming in you have to wait about .5-1 seconds before you can start panning the page or zoom back out. When zooming out most of the page is shown as gray for about .5-1 seconds; after the .5-1 seconds the page is shown normally. Although again this lag is only slight and not a deal-breaker by any means, it is a bit annoying and should be fixed.
I never thought I would be saying this about an Adobe PDF reading product, but Adobe Reader is the best PDF reader on Android, hands down.
*Technically speaking, there is one (and only one) ad in Adobe Reader. When you press the menu key and the menu pops up at the bottom, there is a “Adobe CreatePDF” button which takes users to Adobe CreatePDF ($9.95) on Android Market.