Aug 20th, 2012

When it comes to browsers for Android, it seems we consistently get two main options: lightweight, low-featured implementations for quick browsing and more robust offerings full of tricks but coming with some added bulk. But striking a line between the two is xScope Pro, a browser that aims to “redefine” surfing the web on a mobile device. xScope manages to feel quick and light despite a range of enhanced features from a wide range of input gestures to more experimental elements like a “Darken” mode designed to save battery by converting bright whites to cooler blacks, theoretically reducing the power drain of your phone’s display.

But the main draw is gestures, many of which make browsing using only one hand a total breeze in xScope. The most-touted gesture is a new method of zoom called pin-to-zoom. Double tap your thumb or finger anywhere on the page and, without lifting it, drag up or down to zoom in and out. Double-tap and swipe left to right to switch tabs. There are some limitations in this, as you can’t manipulate the focus of your zoom as you go and, if you are viewing a particularly crowded page, hitting a link can sometimes interrupt the gesture.

But the pin functions aren’t the only finger gestures supported. Swiping left to right without double-tapping seamlessly navigates forward and backward through a tab’s history, pulling down on a tab with two fingers will close it, and you get a standard double-tap zoom and pinch-to-zoom. The pinch-to-zoom isn’t great here, mostly because it can get confused for the two-finger tab close in some instances, especially when closing a tab was the last thing you wanted to do. Luckily gesture input is customizable, so you can eliminate certain functions if you want.

And if you do decide to do away with a few gestures, xScope still offers plenty. Ad blocking, Flash support, the aforementioned “Darken” mode, incognito mode, and a built-in file browser. You don’t get that in any old Android browser.

Is xScope perfect? Hardly, and its fair to say it lacks a degree of polish found in some other browser, but it’s headed in the right direction. At this point, I wouldn’t turn to xScope as my main browser (but I am a bit of a minimalist in the sense). For those looking for the perfect marriage between speed and slickness and plenty of features and a good degree of customizability, then xScope is definitely worth checking out at only $2.99 in the Google Play Store.

Thanks everyone for entering to win a Nexus 7, we have selected a winner and entries are now closed.

What’s that? You need a nice new Android tablet to get the full xScope experience? One of you is going to get one. The maker of the app, Gary Sui, is giving away a Nexus 7 to one lucky reader to comment on this review. Only your first reply counts. After 24 hours, the winner will be selected randomly. At that point we will get you in touch with Gary to claim your prize. Pretty simple, right? So go ahead and leave your comment then head over to Google Play to check out xScope for yourself.

Google Play Download Link: xScope Browser Pro

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