App Directory: The Best Comic Reader App For iOS

If you've been looking to go digital with your comic book collection, you're probably overwhelmed with all the comic readers available on the iPhone and iPad. Fret no more: Comic Zeal is the app you want.

Comic Zeal

Platform: iPhone and iPad Price: $5.49 Download Page


  • Automatically organises all your comics by series
  • Manually organise your comics with swipe gestures and easy-to-understand options
  • Track which comics you have and haven't read
  • Search and find your comics by title and tags
  • Proceeds directly to next issue when done reading
  • Zoom lock lets you fit the page to your screen however you want and remembers it between pages
  • Tons of additional settings for brightness, navigation, and reading
  • Load comics over USB, Wi-Fi, or Dropbox

Where It Excels

Comic Zeal is, hands down, the best app on iOS for organising your comic library. When you import new comics, it automatically detects the series name and filters them all into their own categories by series. If you want to do something different -- like create a reading list for a multi-series event -- you can do so by swiping individual issues into ComicZeal's "slider", then emptying them out as you see fit. It can be a little tedious to do, but it's still light years ahead of any other comic readers. Comic Zeal also has a lot of settings for reading, which means you can get everything set up just how you like it. The "smart zoom" feature is particularly awesome.

Where It Falls Short

Comic Zeal does have a few annoyances, but they're minor enough to keep it in the top slot. Turning pages is a bit slower than it is in other comic readers, so going from page to page doesn't feel very smooth at all. Similarly, importing comics takes a long time, and you can't do anything while the app is importing -- so if you're importing a large number of comics, be prepared to set your device down and wait a while.

The Competition

Comic Viewer is slightly cheaper at $4.49, but it has enough options to keep most people happy. It has a "fit to screen" or "fit to width" mode that works flawlessly, and it has a few settings to keep the reading experience solid. It also has a silly-but-kind-of-awesome page flipping animation and sound (which you can turn off), if you want to recreate the real-life reading experience as much as possible. Its organisation is nowhere near the level of ComicZeal's (though you can manually categorise things themselves), so I'd recommend spending the extra dollar on Comic Zeal. Comic Viewer is certainly a solid alternative though.

If you want something free, ComicFlow is probably your best choice. Its "library" interface is very similar to Comic Zeal's, but with some nice filtering options (although not nearly as many good organisation options). ComicFlow, as its name describes, excels at flipping between pages with fantastic smoothness (unlike Comic Zeal). However, it doesn't remember your "zoom" level on each page, which is extremely annoying for people who don't want it to fit every page to the screen. It also is pretty bare when it comes to settings (for example, it only gives you a "dim mode" rather than letting you adjust the in-app brightness). Like ComicZeal, ComicFlow can import comics over Wi-Fi, but it will cost you $4.49 after the first 50 transfers. If ComicFlow has one incredible advantage, its that it imports comics in the background, which is really nice.

CloudReaders is another popular one. While its interface isn't nearly as pretty as Comic Zeal or ComicFlow, the reading experience is a good one. Like ComicFlow, flipping between pages is fantastically smooth, and it has a few more settings if you don't care about looks, care about features and want something free.

Of course, all the above apps are for reading your DRM-free CBR, CBZ or PDF comics. If you want to read comics from the official source, you'll want something like Comics from ComiXology. ComiXology is the place to buy, download and sync comics straight from companies like Marvel and DC (who, incidentally, have their own Marvel and DC versions of the app), as well as others like Image, IDW and Disney. If you're looking for new comics from these companies, this is the app you'll want to download.

Lifehacker's App Directory recommends the best applications and tools across multiple platforms.


    The "cons" section of this review kills this app and removes its right to be at the top. In the end, it is the material we are reading that is important, not the indexing and organisation system. So by your own words, CloudReader actually wins. Which I too feel is the true winner. It has very fast swiping between pages, great zoom in and zoom out and it remembers where you left off. That is all you need. Why would I pay for an app that is slow to turn pages when the free one is fast...

    The good things about CloudReader are also the worst though. It's treatment of zooming actually messes up quite a few comics. You don't always want to zoom in the same on every page. In my personal usage I want it to default to fullscreen on every new page and then let me zoom in as I feel like it. Having to manually reset every page totally kills it.
    But I use both readers and a few others. I have different comic series open in each and open up whichever I feel like reading. This works a lot better than having multiple series in one app.

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