Browser compare

Five feature-rich Web browsers for the Android platform

Want more than basic browsing on your Android device? Here are five alternatives with enough features to satisfy nearly everyone.

The Android platform offers its own built-in browser, but it doesn't include the selection of features available with other browsers -- features a lot of users want. There are plenty of browsers out there with features to spare. But which should you choose? Just because a browser has tons of features doesn't make it the best of the best. It takes a combination of features, performance, and reliability.

Here is my short list of best-in- breed Web browsers for the Android platform. As you'll see, the default browser has been excluded from consideration.

1: Firefox

It took long enough, but the mobile version of everyone's favorite open source browser finally arrived -- and boy is it packed with the goods. Firefox (Figure A) features browser sync, add-ons, tabs, personas, built-in sharing, location-aware browsing, one-touch bookmarks, Awesome Screen (learns your typing habits), multi-search engine integration, full-screen view, and much more. Although Firefox doesn't load quite as quickly as Chrome, it does render pages fast and renders them to perfection.

Figure A

2: Dolphin

Dolphin (Figure B) was kind of the Firefox for mobile before Firefox arrived. Dolphin was one of the first mobile browsers to begin offering feature sets unheard of by other browsers. It still offers some great features, while retaining great performance. The features include add-ons, gestures, webzine, multi-touch pinch zoom, tabbed browsing, sidebar, speed dial, smart address bar, bookmark folder, user agent, themes, and multi-language support. But what's best about Dolphin is that even with all of the features, it still performs as well as any mobile browser available.

Figure B

3: Skyfire

Skyfire (Figure C) is one of the more interesting browsers, offering features such as flash video, user agent switching, Facebook QuickView, Fireplace Feed Reader, Popular Pages, Related Ideas, Skyfire OneTouch Search, Facebook Like button, Twitter integration, Sports, News & Finance buttons, Google Reader, and customizable Skybar (scrollbar). Many will look at Skyfire as a mobile browser for the social network inclined.

Figure C

4: Opera

Opera (Figure D) is still around, and it still provides a unique browsing experience. It has always been one of the fastest-rendering browsers as well as offering one of the most feature-rich Web experiences. The mobile version does not come up short on either front. Opera offers features such as a more mobile-friendly interface, pinch-to-zoom and smooth panning, synchronize bookmarks, speed dial, and built-in Twitter and Facebook support. One especially unusual feature is that games and free apps can be downloaded from the Opera Mobile Store (found in Opera Mobile's Speed Dial). You will notice two versions of Opera: Opera Mobile and Opera Mini. For tablets and more powerful devices, go with Opera Mobile. For smaller and less powerful phones, go with Opera Mini.

Figure D

5: Miren

Miren (Figure E) is one of the lesser known browsers, but that doesn't mean it's not worth trying. It does a great job of blending desktop features on mobile devices. It's fast, it offers a solid list of features, and it has an outstanding, clean interface. The feature list includes tabbed browser with smart full-screen mode, top site navigation, smart suggestions, fast rendering speed, Flash support, multi-touch pinch zoom, bookmark management, and bookmark import/export. One of its nicest features is the ability to quickly jump back and forth between full screen and windowed mode.

Figure E

Plenty of choices

Five browsers for one platform -- and that's just scratching the surface. If you want a leaner browsing experience, you can get that as well. But if you're looking for a diverse feature list and solid performance, try one of the above browsers. Actually you should try them all, because each has something unique to offer that might be the best match for your needs and personality.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

5 comments
aphrodizzy
aphrodizzy

what I won't see on tech republic :D English rules most people have forgotten, being used as torture devices.

AtlantaTerry
AtlantaTerry

it still provides a unique browsing experience The correct word is "an".

Spitfire_Sysop
Spitfire_Sysop

Opera mini is something you should keep around for when you have a slow connection. It is noticibly faster for technological reasons: "The Opera Mini browser uses only a tenth of the bandwidth of other browsers, compressing webpages by up to 90%" Opera servers act as a proxy and send a simplified webpage to the device resulting in less bits moved. I have never seen it render a page improperly.

wizard57m-cnet
wizard57m-cnet

When a "u" word is pronounced as though it begins with a "y" (yoo nique), it's treated more like the consonant sound of the y. So, a university, an umbrella, a usual day, an unusual day.

Mathman47
Mathman47

I just learned the formal rules several months ago from a blog from About.com. English has very strange rules.