You’ve probably guessed from some of my previous articles that I’m a fan of Marvin for iPad. I follow their blog, and I knew a version for the iPhone was coming out. I updated the app on my iPad just before I left for the C3 Conference, and was delighted to receive a code while I was at the conference.

Yes, a code. Which does mean that Marvin for iPhone isn’t free. It’s $4.99, which makes it relatively expensive for an iPhone reading app. Is it worth the price? Read on.

This app is a complete redesign for the iPhone. They’ve done an excellent job at retaining the functionality of the iPad app and making it work on the phone’s smaller screen. It has all the features I’ve grown to love in Marvin for iPad, including the best library interface I’ve ever used. See the pop-up at the bottom of the screen shot? That allows you to change the sort criteria and get to the fantastic Dropbox integration.

They even added another twist to Dropbox. If you link the app to your Dropbox account, Marvin will sync between devices. I tested it on my iPad and iPhone, and it worked flawlessly. If you like to read on multiple iOS devices, you’ll love this feature. Now if they will just make an Android app, I’ll be completely happy.

The reading screen is pretty basic as you can see.

You can change font face and size. As with the iPad version, you can change font and background color. You can increase and decrease margins. It supports one column landscape view, if you like that. I don’t in a phone app, though I use landscape view frequently on my iPad. All controls are easy to access, and they use a cool bouncing arrow to guide you back to where you were. Very user friendly.

I have only one complaint with the reading view. See the title bar at the top? I never notice it when I’m reading on my iPad. On the smaller phone screen, however, changing pages shifts that bar between book title, author and percentage completed. That shift each time I turn the page distracts me. You can turn the bar off, so it’s manageable, but I wish they’d tweak the display to put just a tiny bit more space between the header and the text.

Marvin gives you the most complete options for library management, including the ability to change book covers and add metadata from within the app. All of that has carried over to the iPhone version.

So is it worth $4.99? It really depends on how much you like reading on a phone. I prefer reading on a tablet, so I’d pay for it on the iPad, but not on the phone. However, I know lots of people love reading on their phones, and I do think it’s one of the best iPhone reading apps out there.

I’ll give it a solid 4 e-readers.

Yesterday's Classics


  1. The developer emailed me and pointed out a setting I missed. From the home screen, tap the settings button (gear icon) and increase the vertical margin setting. That helps deal with the distraction when turning pages.

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