Like Adobe's own reader, Xodo meets a great balance between utility and design. The app meets many of the same marks we just saw with Acrobat Reader: it's well-designed, fully functioning, and fast and efficient when handling your PDFs. It meets nearly every standard set by Adobe's own application for reading PDFs, and while we're awarding it the runner-up award, it is in no shape or way any less of a great offering than Adobe's reader.
The app features a material design layout, complete with a flat, minimalist layout and a sliding menu to the left side of the display. Xodo's layout is so clean that nearly every feature you could ask for is easy to locate and identify from one of their two menu bars. Upon opening the app, you'll be able to view an entire list of every document located on your device; if one of your documents isn't there, just tap the circular plus button in the bottom-right corner. You can sort how your documents are viewed here: in list or column form, as well as by both name or date modified. And of course, you can search for documents if your list is populated by extensive file names.
Along the side menu, we have plenty of options. Though the app opens by default on "Viewer," you can also view your recent documents and any documents you've marked as a "favorite." Below these, you can browse folders, documents, and your SD card for additional files and folders. And, of course, no PDF viewer would be complete without extensive cloud-based offerings, including Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft's OneDrive service, and Xodo's own Xodo Connect. You can use one, all, or none of these services as you see fit; for most users, Google Drive support alone might push Xodo's offerings above what's offered through Adobe.
A quick dive into the settings menu before we talk about the actual viewing experience, and you'll find Xodo's own options to be far, far more extensive than Adobe's. The settings page is long and detailed, divided into several different categories. Going through each and every option available here would be at best overly long, and at worst a massive waste of time; instead, allow us to highlight some of the best options from several different categories. For viewing settings, a full screen immersive mode can be enabled or disabled, as can a screen sleep lock that hinders your device from going to sleep while reading through a document. You can change how pages turn, with both taps, animations, and page number indicators. And something neat: if you're reading something like a PDF scan of a manga, which typically goes right-to-left, you can enable that in your settings as well. When it comes to annotation settings, you can disable or enable continuous edits, auto-select annotations, select styli to be read as pen input, and even change the text annotation fonts from a long list of free texts. There's some ink smooth options available here, as well, and the ability to copy your annotated text to a note. Finally, some quick cloud options for setting OneDrive cache size and displaying mobile download warnings for high-data usage, and the option to set your name for annotations.
But we hear you: how's the actual reading experience for your PDFs? Well, it wouldn't be our runner-up if it wasn't good. By default, Xodo keeps your reading view in a similar mode to single page in Adobe Acrobat, allowing for quick sliding and zooming over pages. In an unscientific speed test, the app felt a bit faster in loading and refocusing images than what we saw from Acrobat, and the added ability to flip through pages by tapping like an eBook reader is excellent for long PDF documents. The viewing mode options are largely the same as what we saw with Adobe's reader: single, double, cover, and reflow options, as well as a toggle for vertical scrolling mode available for any mode you want to keep it on. You can use Xodo to rotate or crop pages, which is super useful when reading PDFs with incorrect formatting. Finally, there's a color mode that allows for inverting black and white, as well as a sepia-tone version that makes it easy to read PDFs with colored images at night. You can even customize your experience with over a dozen other color options.
What really makes Xodo stand out from the crowd are the extensive annotation and editing methods included within Xodo's reader. There are so many options for taking notes within a PDF, it starts to get a bit silly: you can draw and type, highlight and underline, add arrows, circles and other shapes and lines to highlight your PDF's good and bad portions, merge and split PDFs, and even use optimized styli like the Galaxy Note's S Pen for expanded feature sets. All of this is on top of being able to view every annotation at once, and being able to delete pages, change the page order, and insert blank pages right inside of your PDF browser.
So needless to say, Xodo is an amazing PDF reader, compounded by the complete ad-free experience and lack of in-app purchases that so often drag down free PDF viewers. It' s truly astounding how much Xodo has packed into this one app, and the 4.6 rating on Google Play shows that their fan base of over a million users have fallen in love with using their app to read PDFs on a regular basis. Between Xodo or Adobe, it truly is a toss-up on which application is better or worse between the two. In this case, we view both apps as equals, and it's worth trying out both applications to see which one you enjoy using more. Xodo is runner-up in name only: it's just as worthy as being on your device as something like Adobe Acrobat Reader, and that's no faint praise.