10 Best comic readers for Android and iOS

(Image credit: Dark Horse Comics)

Comics are a fantastic and diverse storytelling medium, as capable of exciting readers with thrilling superhero adventures as they are of breaking hearts with mature romances or educating through historical or biographical retellings. Unfortunately, they're not the most portable of formats – just try lugging a longbox of single issues around. Thankfully, there's no shortage of options for digital comics now with the best comic readers make sure you've got voluminous archives of classic material, brand new releases, and original content designed exclusively to be read on your smartphone or tablet.

Here's our pick of the best comics readers for taking your comic book collections wherever you go, without breaking your back.

1. Comics by comiXology

(Image credit: Amazon / Comixology)

Available on: Android, iOS
Price: Free (Subscription models available in US)

 Founded in 2007, comiXology is the granddaddy of digital comics services – and one you probably have an account with even if you don't realise it. After being acquired by Amazon in 2014, anyone who uses the online retail giant can use the comic book specialist service too. With by far the widest library of titles from close to every publisher – including Marvel, DC, Image, and Boom Studios – and the ability to set up a "Pull List" (automatically buying each issue of your favourite titles so you never miss an issue), it's practically a comic store in your pocket. Throw in regular sales, a slate of free content, original titles exclusive to the platform, and an optional subscription service called comiXology Unlimited (opens in new tab) offering an even wider array of comics for $5.99 /  per month, and you'll be spoiled for choice. As an app to read comics on, comiXology remains a pioneer with its Guided View – close-up transitions allowing you to read comics one panel at a time, which proves perfect for reading on your phone, while also allowing creators new storytelling possibilities for digital-exclusive titles. Unfortunately, you can't import comics bought elsewhere into your library, and iOS users can't buy comics through the native app. For that, you'll need to head over to the comiXology store (opens in new tab).

2. Shonen Jump

(Image credit: Viz Media)

Available on: Android, iOS
Price: Free; Subscription models available

The Shonen Jump app may be the best deal in comics. The three latest chapters of some of Japan's most popular manga series are free to read, published day-and-date with Japan, but for the absolute pittance of $1.99 per month, you get access to a frankly ridiculous archive of content to wade through. Fancy reading all of One Piece from the very beginning? All 985 chapters and counting are there for your perusal. Want 235 chapters of Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama's brilliant earlier series Dr Slump? That's there too – as for that matter is every chapter of Goku's adventures, from his debut in 1984 through to the very latest chapter of Dragon Ball Super. There's also the option to buy collected volumes of each title, though we're not sure what the incentive would be other than perhaps guarding against titles cycling out of the library in future. The reading experience isn't quite as sharp as some digital comics apps, with no panel transitions, but it does support landscape views so double-page spreads really pop. Overall though, Shonen Jump is an incredible treasure trove of manga, new and old.

3. Marvel Unlimited

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Available on:  Android, iOS
Price: $9.99 / £8.99 a month

If keeping up with the latest adventures in the Marvel Universe isn't your top priority, then Marvel Unlimited might be for you. With an archive of 27,000+ comics from across the publisher's 80+ years, it's a fantastic way to catch up on the histories of Spider-Man, Black Panther, the X-Men, Fantastic Four, Avengers, Hulk, Iron Man, and many, many more. It also uses a similar panel view to comiXology, here dubbed "Smart View", allowing users to swipe through panels on their phones, or have a full page view on tablet or desktop browser. However, the price is a little steep – about the same as a Netflix plan – and you can only have a maximum of 12 titles downloaded for offline reading. 

4. Madefire

(Image credit: Madefire)

Available on: Android, iOS, PC
Price: Free; individual comic purchases

By far the most unique option when it comes to digital comics, Madefire doesn't just serve as a storefront and reader – it presents a whole new media category with "motion comics". Embracing the possibilities created by delivering serial stories in a digital medium, Madefire presents comics with in-panel animation, music, and sound effects to bring tales to life, with stories from DC, Valiant, Transformers, and even Blizzard – including Overwatch, Starcraft 2 and World of Warcraft titles – joining exclusive Madefire originals. There's a wide selection of free and paid content for both motion and static comics, although the UX for reading the latter leaves something to be desired compared to its rivals.

5. Crunchyroll Manga

(Image credit: Crunchyroll)

Available on: Android, iOS
Price: Crunchyroll subscription required

Another manga-focused app, but with titles from a wider array of publishers than Shonen Jump. Big titles such as Attack on Titan, Fairy Tail, and Cardcaptor Sakura are joined by buried treasures including Okitenemuru and Father and Son, and many will be published simultaneously with Japan. However, while many titles have at least the first chapter available to read for free, you'll need a subscription to Crunchyroll's anime streaming service to access most of the content here. The reading experience is a mixed affair – page-to-page scrolling is smoother than Shonen Jump, but there's no landscape support. Turn your phone sideways for a double-page spread, and you'll just get each page, vertically, that must be scrolled top-to-bottom. 

6. 2000AD

(Image credit: Rebellion)

Available on: Android, iOS
Price: Free; Individual comic purchases

The legendary British sci-fi comic now delivers zarjaz thrills directly to your pocket with its own dedicated app. No idea what "zarjaz" means? No worries – you'll be able to pick up the publication's unique slang thanks to a selection of free titles, serving up a best-of platter of titles from publisher Rebellion. There's also the option to buy individual single issues of 2000AD dating back to 2003, pick up graphic novel collections of characters such as Judge Dredd, Rogue Trooper, or Sláine, or subscribe to either the weekly 2000AD or the monthly Judge Dredd Megazine. Bafflingly, there's no library view – you instead need to filter to "purchased" or "downloaded" from the store pages – but the reading experience is clean, with smooth page transitions.

7. Dark Horse Comics

(Image credit: Dark Horse Comics)

Available on: Android, iOS
Price: Free

There's a lot more to publisher Dark Horse's back catalogue than Hellboy, as evidenced by its dedicated app. Alongside Mike Mignola's iconic paranormal skull-cracker you'll find groundbreaking material such as the original The Mask, hard sci-fi including The Massive and video game adaptation EVE, superheroes – both sincere and deconstructions of the genre – and even a host of manga, including the legendary Astro Boy. Accordingly, as a comics reader, it supports both left-to-right and right-to-left progression, covering western comics and manga alike, and has an intelligent panel-zoom option that almost matches comiXology's for performance. Sadly, there are some regional restrictions on certain content (usually on titles Dark Horse has licensed rather than created independently) that might not be apparent until a series has already caught your eye.

8. Chunky

(Image credit: Michael Ferenduros)

Available on: iPad
Price: Free

Moving away from digital comic storefronts, Chunky is a pure reader targeting the iPad exclusively. The lack of iPhone support may disappoint – as might its absence from Android tablets – but this is an app designed to make your digital comics look as good as possible, which means the biggest screen possible. Supporting CBR, CBZ, and PDF formats, Chunky will automatically upscale low-resolution material, with pretty impressive results – as the developer says, it's "built by graphics-geeks, for comic-nerds". It will also automatically arrange your collection as you import files, and recognises metadata tags from ComicRack and ComicBookLover. In fact, the more you dig into Chunky, the more features you'll uncover – such as auto-contrast features, parental controls, western and manga reading modes, and both portrait and landscape display support. Best of all, it integrates with just about every cloud storage option out there, allowing you to easily load your comics into the app. 

9. CDisplayEx

(Image credit: Progdigy Software)

Available on: Android
Price: Free

Consider this Android's revenge – a fully featured reader app that's absent from iOS, and works on both phones and tablets. While it doesn't have fancy upscaling abilities, it does support practically all public digital comic formats, offers right-to-left reading for manga, integrates folders seamlessly, and allows readers to move files over their home networks. It's also something of a power user option, with an array of highly specific options to experiment with, right down to the speed of page transitions. Unfortunately, "free" means ad-supported, though an optional one-time purchase removes these and unlocks support for cloud storage integration, plus several other bonus features such as Night Mod

10. Astonishing Comic Viewer

(Image credit: Aerilys)

Available on: Android
Price: Free

Astonishing by name, astonishing by nature. At a surface level, this is a reader that again supports CBR, CBZ, and PDF files, curates your collection, offers cloud storage integration, and supports western and manga reading directions. Look a little deeper though and you'll find it packs in a few other tricks too, such as continuous reading between issues, the ability to share favourite panels or pages, and even support for casting your comics to other screens – reading comics blown up on a 4K TV is a unique experience!  

Honourable Mention – DC Universe 

(Image credit: DC Comics)

A bonus entry, and somewhat of an oddity for this list, as DC's answer to Marvel's dedicated app isn't just focused on comics – it's essentially a hub for all things DC, irrespective of medium. It's ostensibly a streaming service in fact, serving as the home for original DC shows such as Titans, Swamp Thing, Stargirl, and the animated Harley Quinn. Unfortunately, it’s all restricted to users in the US at the moment, but Americans who sign up can also explore a rotating selection of DC's comic book library. This has real potential if it ever expands outside of the US, but rumours abound that it might instead be folded into HBO Max. For now though, it's a nice extra digital comics service – if you can get it. 

Love comics but don't know where to start? Here's our guide to comic shops and what to expect.

Matt Kamen is a freelance journalist specialising in games, media, and technology. His work can be found online and in print for publications like Empire, Wired, GamesRadar, Newsarama, The Observer, and more.