Official English UCWEB 7.0 Browser Reviewed – Great Feature Set But Many Sites Fail To Load

UCWEB 7 - Google News UCWEB 7 - Newsweek

The long awaited English version of UCWEB 7  is now available: PC Download Page, Mobile Download Page.  UCWEB is one of the most popular mobile browsers in the world with 40 million active users, most of them in China where the company is based.  The new release, which is also available in Russian and Chinese,  is offered for Java, Windows Mobile 2003 through 6.5 (touchscreen and non-touchscreen) and Symbian S60 1st through 5th edition.  Versions for BlackBerry, jailbroken iPhones and Android are said to be coming soon.

I was eagerly awaiting this release as UCWEB has always had a great feature set including tabbed browsing, the ability to open a link or bookmark in a new tab in the background, copy/paste and an excellent download manager with multiple download support, pause/resume and background downloading.  UCWEB’s weak spot has always been in the way it renders pages.  Problems have included overlapping text and images, thin, crude looking fonts and missing styling elements such as background colors and borders.  The Java version did not even wrap text properly splitting lines in the middle of words.

I downloaded the Java and Symbian native versions of UCWEB 7 to my Nokia N95-3 and have been putting both through their paces for a few hours.  I like a lot of what I see but there are still a number of rending issues plus I’m having trouble opening some very  popular sites.

First the good:

  • The Java version is no longer an inferior subset of the native ones. Its features and appearance are virtually identical to thoese of the Symbian version.
  • Font quality is much improved in both versions, no more jagged fonts.
  • The Symbian version now supports both  bold and italic. (The Java version does bold but not italic).
  • The Java version now displays text in different sizes and colors as specified by page markup.
  • Text wraps in the Java version
  • Java version has a “Zoom” (a.k.a. Desktop) mode in addition to fit-to-width “Adaptive” Mode.  Both modes have always been available in the native versions.

UCWEB 7 - IMDb Zoomed Out UCWEB 7 - IMDb Zoomed In

Things I didn’t like:

  • Overlapping text and images still occurs in Zoom mode. See the images below for examples.
  • Font sizes and line spacing are much too large on some pages in Zoom mode. You can see this in the image below, left.
  • Text is bold that should not be on some pages.
  • Bullets missing on unordered lists like this one.
  • The Symbian version sometimes tiles images that should not be tiled.
  • The ability to change the browser’s User Agent is missing from the Symbian version (the Java one still has it).  This lets you pick whether the browser identifys itself as a desktop or mobile browser. It’s great for those sites that force you to the mobile version when you want the desktop one or vice versa.

The biggest problem  is that many sites do not load, especially with the Symbian version.  I suspect that UCWEB is using a Chinese based server and the infamous “Great Firewall” is blocking these sites. Here are some of the sites I’m having trouble with:

Facebook (Desktop) – Symbian: timeout error, Java: works OK

Twitter (Desktop) (click “Standard” button after logging in ) – Symbian: Chinese message that translates to “connection failed…”. Java: login is impossible, the login screen just reloads when I try to log in (Desktop) – Symbian: Chinese message that translates to “connection failed…”..  Java: works OK

Bloglines Mobile – Symbian: timeout error. Java: works OK

Dabr (Mobile) – Symbian: Timeout. Java: partial page load with no Tweets, only the top menu displays.

Mobile Tweete: Symbian: works OK, Java: login screen just reloads when I try to log in

These errors are similar to ones I saw with the unofficial translations of UCWEB 7 which used Chinese servers. It’s impossible to be sure where the server is located as UCWEB seems to be spoofing the server’s IP address!. When I use Browser Spy to display my IP address it shows my network provider’s IP address rather than the address of the UC WEB proxy server! I didn’t even know it was possible to spoof a proxy’s IP, but UCWEB seems to have found a way.  However, all the sites I’m having trouble with in UCWEB 7 work fine in UCWEB 6.3 which uses a US based proxy server.

UCWEB 7 - Font too large, overlapping image and text UCWEB 7 - Newsweek

I have to say I’m a bit disappointed with UCWEB 7.  I love the new features and improved rendering, especially in the Java version. Fit to width “Adaptive” mode, which I prefer most of the time, never overlaps text and images.  UCWEB’s interface  is always responsive even on low end devices where Opera Min 4.2 and Bolt  tend to lag.  But a browser that can’t open some of my most used sites including Bloglines, Twitter, Facebook and My Opera, is useless to me. I’m hoping that the use of a Chinese based server, or whatever is causing these connection failures, is temporary. I’ve heard  that Chinese servers do handle requests for the international 6.3 clients when the US server is overloaded or undergoing maintainance. I’m hoping that is the case with 7.0 and that my favorite sites that are broken in UCWEB 7 will start working soon.

Related Posts:
UC Browser Version 7 Beta 2 Is Much Improved – But Popular Sites Are Blocked By The “Great Firewall”
Speed Test – Opera Mini, Bolt, Skyfire and UCWEB
New UCWEB 6.6 Beta
UCWEB 6.5 English Beta
UCWEB 6.3 Official Signed English Version Released for S60
Official Release of UCWEB 6.3 For Java ME

17 thoughts on “Official English UCWEB 7.0 Browser Reviewed – Great Feature Set But Many Sites Fail To Load

  1. I am using ucweb 6, i can’t open twitter page on that browser when ever i open twitter page the browser says ‘data rate limit exceeded’

    • I havn’t checked on qwtrey kepad but simple 0-9 keypad and s60 touch phone, and it works awesome. Actually it is less resource heavy and i can open 5-6 tabs easily (even more) on my old nokia 6233. while opera 5-6 gives memory full error on single page. Proxy can be used to browse specific sites. It has option to remember the site and clear browsing history when u exit. The main feature is it can resume download after exiting or network error. May be it is slow in ur country but it is too much fast in india after 7.8 update. Opera Fanboys….lolz

  2. I have nokia n70 and also install UCBrowser- english version. I have a problem on copy whole pages in txt form. Previous version 6.3 there is a option to copy in txt but in this v7 I didnot get. I have office also which is read easy txt formate.

    Could any one help me on this matter. Wait your suggestion on this.

  3. Good review as always. :)
    It think that S60 ver facing more problem compared to java. As you also reported at UC forum, I’ll specially point out your notes to team for bug collection. Hope for fixed in next released.

  4. Thanks for the tip JB. I uninstalled the US Symbian version and installed the Indian one. Unfortunately, it didn’t help much.

    I was able to get into Facebook once but now I’m getting the timeout again.

    I still can’t connect to My Opera, Bloglines or Dabr and now I’m also getting timeouts with Tweete, which worked yesterday.

    With Twitter I got as far as the login screen but when I try to log in it just reloads the login screen – which smells like a cookie problem. There seem to be general problems with cookies. Gmail tells me to enable cookies and none of my logins persist across sessions.

    I’m thinking that UC, like Opera, has many servers and that I’m getting connected to a broken one. That would explain I have problems and you don’t and why the Java version on my phone works with many of the sites that the Symbian one doesn’t. Do you know if there is a way to display the current server name in UC like you can with Opera’s debug: ? Or better yet, a way to force it to reconnect to a different server?

  5. @Dennis. I think it will be a good idea for you to try the Indian Edition and see if it could the sites you had trouble with.

  6. I will forward this sort of issues to the devs and look into what’s wrong with the server. I can truly visit the above sites while the latest UCWEB comes out. But it doesn’t work any more.

  7. So I did some more testing with UCWeb a moment ago. I reset the settings back to default and cleared all cache, history, cookies, etc. End result. Sites, for the most part, are loading up on both wi-fi and AT&T 3g. Dabr, for example, works with both connections. Though my log in data continuously resets which is another issue altogether. Also, I now can’t log into mobile google reader anymore. It has been a inconsistent experience all around.

    Either way, working or not, there seems to be serious issues with whatever server UCWeb v7.0 is communicating with. Like you mentioned, until that get that fixed, switched out, or whatever, this english version is pretty much a dud for now.

    And yes, UCWeb v6.3 and Opera Mini is still the way to go.

  8. kiyo21, I tried Dabr on Edge (no 3G for me on T-Mobile USA) and it loaded for me too.

    It makes no sense though that some sites would work on Edge/3G but not WiFi. If nothing worked on WiFi it would point to a firewall blocked port issue. But some sites working on WiFi, others only on 3G, I can’t imagine what would cause that.

    I’m sticking with 6.3 and Opera Mini for now, although I hope these issues can be resolved as 7.0 shows a lot of promise, particularly the Java version which could be a real improvement over Opera Mini on feature phones if it worked properly.

  9. Seems I’m not the only one disappointed with v7.0. I had high hopes that the issues I had with the translated versions of v7.0 would be resolved in this release. Seems it wasn’t the case.

    There’s still cookie issues present in this release. Log in info isn’t being saved properly and resets once you restart the app or even in the same session. Though, the biggest problem I have with this release is that the so call “improved rendering” has broken adaptive mode rendering in certain sites, mobile google reader being the prime example. Text alignment and margins aren’t interpreted too well. Site renders poorly as a result. UCWeb v6.3 seems to just ignore those html attributes and it worked very well like that. Also, images aren’t resized to screen width anymore which is extremely disappointing. Opera Mini in mobile view suffers the same image issue with mobile google reader.

    Have you tried switching your network connection from wi-fi to 3g? For some unknown reason, I could not manage to load certain site over a wi-fi connection. Dabr for example couldn’t be opened. Instead I get a timeout message as you noted. I switched my connection to AT&T 3g and, surprisingly, many sites that I couldn’t load before worked such as Dabr. Dabr actually renders somewhat better now with proper alignment. Unfortunately, there’s still issues, notably with the avatar images being too big and twitpic images not resizing. This being in adaptive mode.

  10. Good review indeed :)

    Btw, you said,
    “The ability to change the browser’s User Agent is missing from the Symbian version ”
    There is a workaround for this.

    On your phone open the following file(Its not in protected folder so no need to hack the phone. It can be opened with any text editor. I use x-plore file manager on phone)

    (fyi, “!” stands for the installed drive)

    Set the value against “UserAgent” to 3.
    (No:3 is for the standard opera desktop UA, No:4 is for openwave)
    You might also wanna fiddle with he other values in the file/ files on that folder :P

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