App Review: FX File Explorer, a great productivity app with modern interface

Part of utilising your Android flagship device requires you to take control of the files stored on your smartphone. Over a period of last three years (the amount of time since I started using an Android-based smartphone as my primary device), I have meddled with a lot of file manager apps. Even though Android now comes with an inbuilt file manager accessible from the settings menu, but the point remains that the in-built file manager is not that capable.

During my journey to find a file explorer that is functional and lets me complete my task with speed, I have used ES File Explorer, FX File Explorer, Solid Explorer, File Commander, Root Explorer, Root Browser and X-plore. The previous champion EX File Explorer was a giant and quite literally unchallenged in this area before the company “ES Global” turned it into a garbage bloating with ads and junk while making a free app into a free, bloated app with ads and a paid, bloated app. For the sake of old times, I did buy the paid app for situations when I required extra control.

I moved onto Solid Explorer, and the app is hands down a gorgeous file manager app right now in the Play Store with a good balance of functionality. The developer has taken a modular approach, splitting the app into plugins for the main app. There are four plugins to the main app at the time of writing, ranging from Solid Explorer FTP Server, Solid Explorer USB OTG Plugin (paid), Mega Plugin for Solid Explorer (paid) and Cloud Drive & S3 plugin for SE. One interesting thing to note is that the main app itself is not free and you need to pay for the full version of the app after a 14-day trial period. I gave FX Explorer a spin and stopped using it because I was still in the Material design hangover caused by Solid Explorer.

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Moving to Root Explorer and Root Browser, the apps never appealed much to me except quick access to root directory at a time when modding was more important than app discovery for me. I usually went with whatever app that was mentioned in the instructions. File Commander was (and still) is a lacklustre experience with one interesting bit of allowing inbuilt file conversions. After trying them, I switched to much recommended X-plore, a feature-packed file manager with a confusing User Interface, something that I have not been able to understand despite using its counterpart on Symbian Anna. Surprisingly the Symbian interface made much more sense to me than the almost similar interface on a much more streamlined operating system, Android.

After everything, I gave another shot to FX File Explorer and fell in love with the app for some unique features that are not provided or not as polished as in FX File Explorer. On launching the app, you are greeted with a set of instruction screens, providing you with rough details about how the interface works. One on the homepage, you are presented with some quick links to folders most used which include Documents, Downloads, Media and Work folders. After the quick links, the app provides smart links to all your images, videos, music and apps

X also has an inbuilt system to manage file transfer using WiFi network and manage your cloud storage accounts with providers from Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, OwnCloud and SugarSync. The app provides an inbuilt interface to transfer files using Bluetooth along with a separate ‘File Sharing’ section. The ‘File Sharing’ section allows you to access the files on your smartphone using a web browser. Both the smartphone and computer need to be on the same WiFi connection. FX Explorer has a separate mode for other FX users which uses Wi-Fi Direct. You can customise the home screen to change what all options you want to see on the main screen.

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The home screen includes a ‘Recently Updated’ files that give you a list of recently added or downloaded files, ‘Cleaning Tools’, to check for duplicate files and large files that you may not be using. Last but not the least ‘Add-Ons’ that gives you information about what all addons you can download to add functionality to the app. One thing to note is that FX does indeed have an ‘Addon’ to give you Root access to the system, so you don’t need to use any separate app for all the modding and tweaking in the Root directory.

X File Explorer allows you to change the theme according to your liking. A FileSystem Manager is bundled with the app to give you information on different partitions of your smartphone. FX comes with a ‘System Status’ section where you can check the status, storage, CPU, and RAM usage of your smartphone at any given time. One of the most important things that no other file manager (except X-Plore) is multi-window ‘Split-view’ support where you can copy, paste, and move files with ease.

Second, FX is the only app that out of ES, X-Plore and File Commander, that supports exFAT file system format. Solid did not have the functionality (and the current implementation is patchy at best) where it could read ExFAT format flash drive. The last two features totally sold me on this file manager as multi-window support increases the speed of productivity and what better way to use the 128GB flash drive to backup Titanium Backup folder.

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However, I encountered a small bug on the app where a ghost partition appeared in the home screen and I had to reboot my phone to fix it. Lets hope that the developers fix it in the next update. One significant thing to note is that FX comes with a 7 day trial where you can use the app and see if it is worth your money or not. But considering that this only costs Rs 132, in comparison to the Rs 199 you will pay for ES File Explorer and the Rs 127 that you will buy for Solid Explorer in terms of features.