File managers may be a dime a dozen on Android, but Solid Explorer stands out from the pack. With advanced features for managing and browsing your files, both on your phone and remotely, it’s our new favourite file manager. Update: Recently, our previous pick ES File Explorer has started adding some shady adware to its free version. The paid version ($4.14) is reportedly still safe, but we’ve decided to update our top pick to reflect this new development.
Platform: Android Price: $US1.99 ($2.69) after 14-day free trial Download Page
- Basic file management functions: copy, paste, cut, create, delete, rename, share and send files stored on your SD card or internal memory
- Select multiple files at once
- Browse Collections of photos, music and videos in one place
- Manage, install and uninstall apps, plus explore file structure within apps
- Open, read, extract and decrypt ZIP, 7ZIP, RAR and TAR files
- Manage cloud files on Dropbox, Box, OneDrive, Google Drive, Sugarsync, Copy, Mediafire, Owncloud and Yandex
- Add more storage options with plugins for Amazon and Mega
- Lock access to network locations with password
- Use root access to perform root-only actions
- Batch rename large groups of files at once with regular expressions or variables
- Remotely access files with FTP, SFTP, WebDav and SMB/CIFS clients
- Bookmark folders for quick access later
- View images and listen to audio with built-in media player
- Cast media to your Chromecast
- Customise primary and accent colour scheme
- Choose between light, dark and black background themes
- Material Design interface
Where It Excels
Solid Explorer covers almost all of the beats you’d expect from a file manager nearly flawlessly. Collections allow you to view all of your photos, music and videos in one place. You can connect your cloud storage accounts like Dropbox to manage your files remotely. It also has support for remote access protocols like FTP and you can even use it as a root file manager. Even for advanced users, it packs a punch.
On top of all this, it’s also gorgeous. While most file managers have a design stuck somewhere between 2009 and the stone age, Solid Explorer makes it a priority to adhere to Google’s Material Design spec. You can also customise your themes and colours and even choose between light and dark themes, because there’s really no reason a file manager should blind you.
Where It Falls Short
While we prefer to choose a free app when we can, Solid Explorer doesn’t fall into that camp. You can try it for free for two weeks, but after that, you’ll have to shell out $2 to keep using it. On top of that, the company also charges for some plugins like Mega, and even offers additional icon packs for more money. This is annoying, but most of the add-ons are either free or optional. The upside is that you at least know where Solid Explorer is getting its money from. Since our last pick was pulled for adding sketchy adware, we’ll call this a mixed blessing, rather than an outright negative.
The free version of ES File Explorer may have lost our recommendation, but if you don’t want to say goodbye, you should at least check out ES File Explorer Pro. For $4.14, all of the embedded app “suggestions” and junkware are removed, and there are no ads. It still has all the bells and whistles we used to like, including remote file access, ZIP support and an app manager. Of course, most of those same features are in Solid Explorer for $2 less.
FX File Explorer is also a great option for users who like ES File Explorer’s design but don’t want the junk. The free version covers the basics of local file management, while you can pay $US3.99 ($5) to unlock advanced features like cloud or networked storage and an app manager. For basic users, the free version gives an edge over Solid Explorer, but advanced users will end up paying slightly more for the big guns. Though, at the time of this writing, FX File Explorer is running a sale, bringing the price down to $US1.99 ($3), specifically aiming to court users of ES File Explorer.
It’s also worth pointing out that if you don’t need much from your file manager, Android N will have you covered as well. Google has started building a basic file manager into the system itself. You can copy and move files, rename files and folders and create new folders all within the system itself. It’s a far cry from the advanced features of other apps on this list, and Android N isn’t even released yet, but if you’re one of the few running the N Preview or are reading this in the future from an Android N device, you might not need a full file manager app.
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