Nearly every Android phone comes with a pre-installed
bloatware crapware handy office file viewer apps these days. Your device might come with Documents To Go or Polaris Office, or maybe you got lucky and your manufacturer included the Officesuite or Quickoffice viewer app. While there are others that may come pre-installed, almost all have one thing in common, they only let you view documents.
If you only have need to occasionally view an Excel spreadsheet or Word file then the free suite that you’ll find on your phone will likely do just fine. However, if you have a need for file editing or new document creation, then you’re going to need to spend a few bucks to meet your needs.
Here is my not so scientific look at office suites for Android. I’ve taken into account Google Play reviews for each app, but my final ranking is based on the fact that I’ve used every one of these apps on both my phone and my tablet. I’m only including apps that can be downloaded from Google Play, so Polaris Office didn’t make the list.
1. Quickoffice Pro – $14.99 Phone, $19.99 Tablet
I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Quickoffice for some time, and at one point even got the developer to refund my tablet purchase price only to turn around a few weeks later and buy it again. Saying that this app has the best user interface is very subjective, but I prefer it over the other apps that I’ve used, especially on my tablets.
QO has the text formatting tools that I wish were available in the Google Drive app (formerly Google Docs app), and it integrates with Google Drive very well. The latest update to the app introduced spell check and pinch to zoom in Quicksheet as well as annotations in PDF files.
My off again, on again fling with Quickoffice is on again because I have the fewest compatibility issues with files created or edited on my tablet and then opened in Microsoft Office. Quickoffice has some issues with opening some Office 2010 files, though I’ve never personally had any issues with tables and other special formatting not opening properly.
2. OfficeSuite Pro – $14.99 Universal app **On sale for .99 thru 5/10**
If I were doing this article next week, OfficeSuite might very well end up at the top of my list. Though the user interface lacks a little compared to others, OfficeSuite is an outstanding choice in office suites.
You’ll again find loads of text formatting tools that aren’t available in Google Drive and you’ll also find the best Excel compatibility. Where others fail, OfficeSuite includes over 240 Excel functions.
My big rub with OfficeSuite is that, even in the paid version of the app the bottom most item in the navigation area is always some type of self serving placement by the developer. At times the bottom item says “Vote for OfficeSuite” while at other times they prompt you to buy one of their very expensive dictionaries. Turning off the check for promotions option doesn’t stop this.
OfficeSuite is taking a bit of beating in the Play Store reviews lately, but I’m not seeing any of the issues that the reviews are complaining about.
Play Store Link: Officesuite Pro
3. Kingsoft Office – Free for Phone and Tablet
Kingsoft was a paid app that went free, then went paid and is now back to free again. Given how well this app works, I won’t be surprised at all if they start charging for it again in the future. You’ll notice that it has a unique interface that may not be made for tablets, but scales well none the less.
I found all of the formatting options that I needed in Kingsoft, but some of the UI elements weren’t to my liking. The toolbar at the top of Word files is huge, and while it can be hidden you can’t just make it smaller. The other big issue that I had with it was the number of clicks that it takes to get to the file browser from the home screen.
The latest update claims to have fixed most of the lag issues that I experienced when I actively used the app, but in my one try with a large spreadsheet file I had all of the same delays with characters showing on screen and when scrolling.
Play Store Link: Kingsoft Office
4. Google Drive (Google Docs) – Free for Phone and Tablet
This is the one that I really want to love, but just can’t. You won’t do better than $5 for 20GB of storage if you were a Google Storage customer before the Drive update, but the Google Drive app for Android leaves a lot to be desired. The text formatting tools are a real letdown and the spreadsheet editor is less than desirable. I keep it installed and use it for quick edits, but my real work happens in Quickoffice. I hold out hope that Google will add missing features as time goes on.
Play Store Link: Google Drive
5. Documents To Go – $14.99 Phone
An old favorite from my Palm Treo and Blackberry days. It ranks pretty high on my list in the number 5 spot, but that has more to do with the weakness in the competition ranked lower than it does with any greatness in DTG. The interface is by far the worst of my top 5 and editing options are easier to use in the top 2 apps. At $14.99 for the the full version, your money is better spent somewhere else.
Play Store Link: Documents To Go
6. Smart Office 2 – $9.99 Phone and Tablet
Proving that just because it looks cool doesn’t mean that it is cool, Smart Office is a lesser priced, fuller featured office suite, but I took a pass. The interface is way over the top with all of the animation and graphics, but that wasn’t why I refunded my purchase. The app offers no copy/paste functionality. I can’t deal with that at all. It does however offer in-app printing without any need for a third party app. That might be a plus, but I didn’t keep it long enough to find out.
Play Store Link: Smart Office
7. Think Free Office – $8.70 Phone | Think Free HD – $8.70 Tablet
I never got around to buying Think Free Office because of all of the lag issues that I read about in Play Store reviews and online reviews. I also couldn’t buy their tablet app for my trials because at the moment it is only Honeycomb compatible. It certainly looks good, and it reviews pretty well aside from the lag, but they need to get on the ICS bandwagon before I can rate them any higher.
8. Android Office – $5.99 Phone
I only owned this app for about 5 minutes because of two issues. First, it looks like crap. I mean, it is absolutely awful. Second, even the easiest documents that I tried were a hot mess of garbled text. I hear that it has been fixed, but the file display issues and the lack of most Excel features are a turn off.
Play Store Link: Android Office
9. Olive Office Premium – Free for Phone and Tablet
Olive Office might just be free, but that’s not good enough. It lacks a lot of the UI polish that the equally free Kingsoft Office provides, and Kingsoft absolutely exceeds OOP when it comes to document display. Simple charts and graphs were well beyond the capabilities of this suite. If free is your budget for an office suite, check out Kingsoft Office above.
Play Store Link: Olive Office Premium
10. Softmaker Office – Public Beta
Softmaker came to my attention very late, and as I only spent one day with it before this top 10 list was written I gave it a de facto rating of 10. That could change, but there are big issues that I have with this app and its marketing.
Typically I hate any application that tries to sell me on its benefits by naming a competitor and pointing out their flaws. That’s exactly what Softmaker does, and though their marketing bullet points are correct, the app has issues of its own that make it unusable for me.
By far, Softmaker has the best rendering of documents with loads of formatting added in. Even my most complex spreadsheets were rendered nearly flawlessly, with only minor spacing issues. Unfortunately, that’s just about the point where my interest ended.
The interface for the app is horrible, and the navigation buttons are extremely small. Navigating sheets in an Excel Workbook requires 3 or 4 taps on the small navigation buttons, depending on where you are at in the navigation pane, and the process is cumbersome overall.
The biggest gotcha with Softmaker is the fact that their office suite is no suite at all, it is three separate apps that are downloaded and installed individually. No pricing details have been released for the apps, but the Windows Mobile version is $40. I can see each of these being priced in such a way that makes this the most expensive office option available.
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