Android Web Browser Test Drive
Sunday, 8th April 2012
This could well be my last Android post as I have decided to switch to Windows Mobile. I have, however, been busy testing the myriad browsers available for Android and have narrowed it down to a final six. Please bear in mind that, due to a lack of operating system updates, I'm still on Android 2.1. I don't want to be on Android 2.1, but clearly Motorola aren't planning to upgrade the Defy any time soon.
So here are my top six, which sadly doesn't feature Firefox, which opens, but doesn't serve any web pages.
This browser beat off some competition to squeeze into the top 6 although you don't get all the features in the free version, so video is absent. Handy features that are present include a switch between desktop and mobile and quick links to social networking sites to share something you have found online. If it wasn't for the constant nagging about trial periods expiring for video, it might have gotten higher in my list.
Dolphin Browser HD
I really like Dolphin. It is fast and doesn't take up screen space. I do think that the gestures in Dolphin are a bit of a gimmick, for example, hit "Gesture" and then draw an "N" to open a new tab. I didn't use these gestures ever. Other than that, Dolphin was a great little browser.
The Android Default Browser features in my top six. It is dependable and solid and it the browser to turn to if ever you get a rendering problem in one of the funkier alternatives. There isn't anything remarkable about this browser, but it works.
The Opera Mobile Browser just kept getting higher up my list the more I used it. It doesn't take over the screen like Skyfire, but still manages to pack in features like the Opera dialler. I also found this browser fast and reliable.
Maxthon Mobile Browser
This is a browser with useful gestures for switching between open tabs. The really strong point on this browser verses all the others is the "full screen" button, which whisks away the address bar and option bar to leave the whole screen free for your browsing. It is really easy to get to the address bar if you need it, but it just tucks away again afterwards.
If you want fast, Opera Mini could be for you, especially if you don't have the best connection, have a limited data plan or if the website you visit isn't optimised for mobile. Essentially, Opera use their own big servers to download the page and then squish it before they send it to your mobile. This means you don't need to download as much and pages will appear much faster. This method of delivering pages will affect some functionality, but if you are just reading some web pages this is the perfect solution.
So congratulations to the Opera guys, who get two browsers in my top six. If I could only have one browser, I'd use Opera Mobile (third place), but as you get to choose which browser should serve your request I quite like switching between my top three depending on what I'm doing. I use Opera Mini if I'm heading for reference sites, Maxthon for generally following links and Opera Mobile for sites I'm logging in to.