Best free CBR and CBZ readers for Android
More and more people are getting acquainted with classical and new comics, and now it is easier than ever thanks to the digital publication. One can buy the new issue as soon as it is available online or download some old issues for free from the public libraries. And, of course, users need good tools for reading those comics.
Digital comics are issued in CBZ and CBR formats — these are ZIP and RAR, just used exclusively for comics' pages. These unique extensions are implemented to let know that the archive contains comics pages (images in high quality) and that these files should be open by a special software. As CBR and CBZ are archives, they can be treated by the standard archivers, and any standard image viewer can display the pages.
However, it would be more convenient to have the edigital equivalent of a paper magazine with the option to scroll the pages and use bookmarks. Besides, comics lay on the visual side, and the device should be able to present the colors and have the screen of a suitable size.
Thus, CBR and CBZ digital comics belong to the sphere where e-ink ebook readers lose to reading apps for smartphones and tablets. There are free CBZ and CBR readers for different mobile OS, and the widest variety is in Android reader apps which you can install on your mobile phone or tablet and enjoy your favorite stories.
Android CBR and CBZ reader can be one of two kinds:
- A universal Android ebook reading app with multi-format support which includes CBZ and CBR.
- An Android reader app designed for working with digital comics available in CBR and CBZ exclusively.
It is up to each user to choose the best CBR or CBZ Android reader, as there can be different factors.
In this review we are going to have a look at the best examples of both the special Android readers for comics and universal ebook readers designed for an Android-based smartphone or tablet which include CBR and CBZ as the supported formats.
FullReader is a free Android reader for ebooks, documents and magazines. This reading app can open and read comics files in CBR, CBZ, PDF and DjVu formats. The neat built-in file manager provides different sorting options for files, default Favorites and Recents lists and a possibility to create your own collections.
When this free app works as a CBR reader, it supports manual and automated page flipping in horizontal and vertical directions. There is a page preview option for quick navigation in this free Android reader. Separate pages can be shared via different apps and services. Bookmarks for comics are supported.
More features of the free FullReader for Android:
- Cloud storages support (Google Drive, OneDrive, DropBox)
- Custom network libraries support
- Shortcuts for separate books on the home screen of the device
- Widgets for favorites and recent books on the home screen of the mobile phone or tablet
- Day and night mode.
Moon+ reader for Android is a free fully functional reading app which supports formats CBR, CBZ and PDF used for comics.
The file manager of this free reader has the Bookshelf skin with lists and covers display modes, sorting by tags (default and added by users) and custom collections.
As a CBZ or CBR reader, Moon+ offers page scrolling in book and scroll modes and the preview toolbar at the bottom of the book reading window which helps to get to the necessary page faster. Page flipping is smooth, Portrait and Landscape modes are supported.
The main disadvantage of this reader application is the absence of bookmarks for comics.
More features of the Moon+ reader for Android:
- Cloud storages support (DropBox and Google Drive)
- Synchronization of libraries between several mobile devices (i.e. mobile phone and tablet)
- Default OPDS directories and the possibility to add own catalogues
- Black theme for the night mode.
These solutions would suite those wishing to keep their comics collections separately. There are numerous free reading apps for CBR and CBZ, many of them also support PDF files and are able to unpack RAR and ZIP archives, provided that separate pages are kept in them. The most popular free Android readers for CBR and CBZ are ComicScreen, Astonishing Comic Reader and ComicRack.
ComicScreen is the most popular free Android CBR reader and CBZ reader. It is very simple and user-friendly, though it does not have a traditional file manager. There is a file browser instead, and users can do main tasks with files and folders on the Android mobile phone or tablet (file is highlighted by the long press and options are enabled). This free reader does not create custom collections, however, it is possible to gather files in custom folders and then add those folders to Favorites for quick access.
The free app remembers recently read files and pages in them and lets adding bookmarks. There are book and scroll modes for pages flipping, the scrollbar for quick jumping to the necessary place and the pages preview. Besides CBR and CBZ formats, ComicScreen is also good with PDF files, so, users can also read ebooks in this format with this application.
More features of the ComicScreen reader for Android:
- Access to external storages via FTP
- Images filters (grayscale, contrast, sharpen, invert colors)
- Reading comics from archives (i.e. ZIP-packed images instead of one CBZ file)
- One-page and dual-pages view mode
- Cropping the image
- Screen brightness adjustment.
Astonishing Comic Reader is one of the newest free Android reading apps for digital comics. The file manager of this comics viewer matches the latest design trends, tags and custom collections are supported. Page flipping in this reader can be performed by swiping or tapping on the screen, there is a preview option.
The main drawback of this free Android comics reader is the absence of bookmarks for comics, though it remembers the last read page of every comic book.
The PDF format support in this Android comics reader is not so good as for CBZ and CBR — no page previews, the page scrolling is slow and works with swipe only, though it is possible to use the volume buttons.
More features of Astonishing Comic Reader:
- Cloud storages (Google Drive, Box, OneDrive, DropBox, ComicStreamer)
- In-built screenshot tool for the definite page sharing
- Night mode
- Synchronization between different devices via WiFi (absent in the free edition)
- Right-to-left reading mode for manga.
ComicRack is one of the oldest and most functional free Android readers for comic books (there is also a desktop version of this software). Though its interface looks old-fashioned now, the app is loved by the majority of users.
The file manager of this free Android reader has several screens with main categories (All books, New, Unread, Recent), the library is compiled automatically with all comics files in the supported formats found in the default folders (the path is configured in the Settings menu). Quick navigation to the target page is performed with the bottom scroll bar showing page previews.
The free application allows jumping to a new comic book directly from the current reading window. However, users can open the next and previous comics this way only. The last read page is remembered, and users can add bookmarks.
More features of ComicRack reader for Android:
- Customizable tap zones with settings for quick and long touch
- Internal snapshots tool
- Colors adjustment for images
- Posting to Twitter from within the app
- Possibility to rate the comic book when it is read
- Standard archives reading (if they contain images)
- Synchronization with the desktop version via WiFi (in paid edition)
Thus, if you need to find the best reader for your comic books library on your Android-based smartphone or tablet, the choice might depend on more criteria besides the ability to treat CBR and CBZ formats.
If you are a reading person having lots of ebooks and magazines in different formats, and you would like to manage them all with one app on your Android mobile device, then you might consider the universal readers like FullReader and Moon+ or another free Android app for ebooks reading. Just install them on your smartphone or tablet and get to the library to choose the story to read. And if you are a devotee of sorting the things and keeping them separately, then the special free Android CBR and CBZ reader will match your needs best of all.
In any case, there are so many free variants that you will certainly find the best CBZ and CBR reader for your comics collection to read them on the Android mobile device.