Which browser is best optimized for the Android tablet?

Jack Wallen conducted a test of five popular browsers to see which one was best suited for the Android tablet. Find out which one came out on top.

It's is a tough question to answer, but of the many browsers available for the Android tablet, which one should find its way as your default? How can this possibly be measured when opinions differ so greatly? And with the built-in browser already optimized for the platform, how could any other browser stand a chance?

I wound up putting the best Android browsers to the test, and the conclusion actually surprised me. But before I get on with this, let me explain which browsers I tested and the criteria I used to test them.

The browsers

Chrome is also a fantastic browser, but since it isn't available for the majority of Android tablets (it requires Android 4.0 and up), I opted to leave it out of the mix.

The criteria

  • Speed of opening application
  • Speed of rendering pages
  • Ease of use
  • Interface
  • Overall experience

I want to preface the rest of this by saying that I used real-world testing. In other words, I approached this from the perspective of an average user, who typically isn't concerned with benchmark test results. Instead, I simply experienced the browsers on my Verizon-branded Samsung Galaxy Tab and judged them accordingly. The individual criteria above was awarded a score between 1 and 5 for each browser, and the highest total score at the end was deemed the winner.

Built-in Android browser

This is the browser all Android tablets ship with, and it's the most-used browser for these devices. It isn't nearly as feature rich as some of the other browsers on the list, but it does the job admirably. Here are the end results for the built-in Android browser:

  • Speed of opening application: 5
  • Speed of rendering pages: 4
  • Ease of use: 4
  • Interface: 2
  • Overall experience: 4
  • Average Score: 3.8

Favorite feature of the built-in Android browser: Easy incognito mode.


Firefox is far more feature-rich than the built-in Android browser, and the latest iteration of the open source flagship browser packs a power house punch.

  • Speed of opening application: 5
  • Speed of rendering pages: 4
  • Ease of use: 5
  • Interface: 4
  • Overall experience: 5
  • Average Score: 4.6

Favorite feature of Firefox: Incredibly easy bookmark tool.

Dolphin for Pad

Dolphin (Figure A) offers a number of interesting features (gestures, "Sonar," add-ons, and more). I should mention that, as of this writing, Dolphin For Pad is in beta. But even in beta, the browser is solid and a worthy contender for your Android tablet. Figure A

Dolphin has a simple, familiar tab interface.
  • Speed of opening application: 5
  • Speed of rendering pages: 4
  • Ease of use: 4
  • Interface: 4
  • Overall experience: 4
  • Average Score: 4.2

Favorite feature of Dolphin for Pad: The gesture system is amazing.

Skyfire Web Browser 4.0

Skyfire offers some really unique features, such as Facebook and Twitter integration, one of the easier tab managers (Figure B), and a paid video optimizer add-on. Skyfire also offers the easiest means for switching between mobile and desktop modes. Figure B

Skyfire's tab manager makes it much easier to handle numerous tabs.
  • Speed of opening application: 5
  • Speed of rendering pages: 4
  • Ease of use: 5
  • Interface: 5
  • Overall experience: 5
  • Average Score: 4.8

Favorite Skyfire feature: Social integration is, without question, the best in breed.

Opera Mobile web browser

Oddly enough, Opera (Figure C) has been around for quite some time, and it's been available for Android for longer than most people think. Opera has a unique feature called Opera Turbo that compresses images for faster loading. This is done using a system of proxy servers, so the speed increase is really marginal at best. Figure C

Even with numerous features, Opera offers a very clean interface.
  • Speed of opening applications: 3
  • Speed of rendering pages: 3
  • Ease of use: 4
  • Interface: 4
  • Overall experience: 4
  • Average Score: 3.6

Final verdict

In order, from best to worst, the browsers score:

  1. Skyfire Web Browser 4.0
  2. Firefox
  3. Dolphin for Pad
  4. Built-in Android browser
  5. Opera Mobile web browser

Surprisingly, Skyfire came out on top. Not only did the app load more quickly, but it rendered pages noticeably faster. Couple that with the extra features offered by the browser, and Skyfire is the hands-down winner.

Again, this test was based on my personal experience, and so not everyone will agree or feel the same. However, Skyfire is built to perfectly suit the Android tablet and offers the speed and features that any user would be happy to have. Do you use Skyfire on your Android tablet? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.

By Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic, The New Stack, and Linux New Media. He's covered a variety of topics for over twenty years and is an avid promoter of open source. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen....