- Gorgeous interface
- Easy to use
- Lots of features
- Some stability issues
Panelfly (Free) has one of the best interfaces of any comic app we’ve tested, but some annoying crashes force us to downgrade its rating. Once Panelfly adds more comic publishers and fixes their stability issues, this app will be among the best -- if not the best.
Panelfly's interface sets it apart
The Panelfly Comics app includes dozens of different publishers, including big names like Marvel alongside smaller publishing houses. However, the app lacks some bigger comic publishers available in other apps like iVerse or Comixology -- IDW, Red 5, and Image are notable omissions in the Panelfly app.
Panelfly has a truly excellent interface -- the snazzy red design looks modern and sleek, and it’s all very intuitive and easy to use. The comics downloaded to your library are displayed with attractive thumbnails, and the covers are cycled as the background on the app’s homepage. The most popular comics are compiled under the Top Ten tab, where you can browse through various categories like action/adventure, manga, or superhero. Like its competitors, Panelfly prices most comics at US$0.99 to $1.99.
Downloads are relatively fast, but they are a little bit slower than some of the other comic apps we’ve tested. Most comics downloaded in three to four minutes over a 3G connection. The first time you download a comic, you’ll be greeted by a short instruction screen that details how to use the comic reader. This is very useful and something we’d like to see on other comic apps as well.
Unlike some other comics apps, Panelfly doesn’t reformat comics for the small screen, so you’ll get a whole-page view. This can be good or bad, depending on how you like to read electronic comics. Some comic apps standardize the frame size so you can quickly scroll between each panel, which is how I prefer to read comics on a small screen like the iPhone. If you have an iPad, the full-page view on the Panelfly app more closely replicates a print comic.
From the full-page view, you can double tap to zoom in and out of an individual panel, which is useful for reading on the iPhone’s smaller screen. You can add a bookmark anywhere in a comic to come back to it later; all bookmarks are compiled and available from the home page.
Panelfly really nailed it on the interface, but the app feels slower than other comic apps. It’s not horribly slow, but the app is not quick and speedy either. You’ll see lots of “loading” pages when navigating in the Panelfly Comics app, but fortunately that doesn’t extend to the comics themselves -- I encountered no delays or pauses when scrolling between frames and pages. The app did crash a few times, usually when I was navigating back to the home page after downloading a new comic.
The Bottom Line
The Panelfly Comics app is one to keep an eye on. The interface is fantastic and one of the best we’ve seen among comic apps. Once the developers add more publishers and fix those pesky crashing issues, the Panelfly app will be among the best comic apps, but it’s not quite there yet. Overall rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
What You’ll Need