UC Browser: The little browser that could

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If you’re an Android user, you probably use Google Chrome as your phone’s browser. Over the course of time, the browser by Google has undergone various transformations and optimizations in the hopes of offering speedy performance that won’t suck up all resources on your smartphone.

Sadly, though, Google Chrome has a few flaws. For starters, it takes up a hefty portion of your smartphone’s storage and is also a bit of a memory hogger. This is a significant issue in countries that have low-end smartphones and blotchy mobile service. UC Browser is aiming to change all that.

What is UC Browser?

Developed by UCWeb, a Chinese mobile internet company, and owned by Alibaba Group in China, UC Browser has been around since the year 2004. While UC Browser is a relatively unheard of in the West, the browser’s popularity seems to have skyrocketed in rapidly growing markets such as India and Indonesia.

UC Browser
Image Credits: UC Forum

Why? Because its more resource friendly. If you’re doubtful, take a look at how much storage space Google Chrome is taking on your smartphone. Chances are that its taking up around 200-300MB, perhaps even more.

UC Browser, on the other hand only takes up around 31MB of space. In comparison, Google Chrome when just installed, takes up around 125MB. According to StatCounter, UC Browser accounted for 51% of India’s mobile browser market for 2017. Google Chrome on the other hand was around 30%. It was more or less the same with Indonesia where UC Browser accounted for 41% of all mobile internet traffic compared to Google Chrome at 32%.

Why is UC Browser so popular?

Perhaps the primary reason for UC Browser to be so popular is the app’s rather small footprint of 31MB compared to Google Chrome. In this day and age where most smartphones in the US have a minimum of 32GB of internal storage, most smartphones in Asia’s developing markets still have around 8-12GB of internal storage with only around 4-5GB of actually usable storage.

When Google Chrome ends up taking one fifth of that storage, users are faced with storage issues, hence they look for better alternatives. UC Browser also has a portal-like approach to showing news, scores from sports like cricket and soccer and other content, building upon visual appearance to attract users.

UC Browser
As you can see, Google Chrome tends to go a tad overboard with storage

With only 30% of India’s population of 1.3 billion people connected to the internet and only 25% of Indonesia’s 260 million having access to the web, India and Indonesia are a few of the last untapped markets for internet users.

What’s popular may not always be better

UC Browser isn’t perfect, though. According to research carried out, the browser is not the most secure and also has a number of privacy issues. It has also been known to leak data such as IMSI, IMEI, Android ID, MAC Address and also the Geo location of users without having any encryption. This led to UC Browser being removed from the Google Play Store, but now it seems, they’re back.

While Chinese companies such as Alibaba speak openly about cooperating with authorities on security and law enforcement issues, US companies usually resist US government requests for information, opting for the issuing of a Warrant.

Google has noticed UC Browser

Of course they would. You really wouldn’t think that Google would allow their web browser to dwindle in Asia, would you? As part of Google’s Next Billion Users initiative, the company is already hard at work carrying out various optimizations to its Android components. We’ve already seen Android Go and Android Go devices being teased as well.

Because the core concept behind these platforms and devices is to run Android on low end hardware, UC Browser’s popularity might be short lived. Will Google Chrome step up to the plate and give us a browser that is both storage and memory efficient? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

If you’re interested to see what  UC Browser is about, you can install it to your Android device by clicking here.

5 COMMENTS

  1. On my phone, Google Chrome is taking up just 89MB of space. So not sure this “Google Chrome when just installed, takes up around 125MB” is true of all phones, maybe just the one person who wrote this article.

    And if you desire a slimmer browser, why not try Opera Mini? It can save 90% data too, especially on the “extreme” savings mode

    • Hi Stu,

      Currently, Google Chrome is taking 186MB of app space on my Oneplus Two. Perhaps it differs according to mobile phones. As for trying Opera Mini, Yes it is a handy browser indeed but the point here was to see how UC Browser is in fact, gaining popularity over Google Chrome in India and Indonesia.

      Thanks for your feedback. Really appreciate it.

  2. Uc browser didn’t mention its size anymore in play store, try install it, mine showing 433mb now, these are not data or cache

  3. The other reason of uc browser popularity is perhaps… Opera, maxton, chrome and most of other browsers are 3+ rated, only uc 12+ rated (sex, unrestricted internet etc.) Find this at play store (learn more)

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