If you have difficulties in choosing the best Android browser , bear in mind the relatively smaller screen compared to your laptop or desktop computer, the data plan’s monthly limit, and the different tasks required from the app for your daily needs. Below we compile a few of the most popular mobile web browsers and see which we think deserves the title, Best Android Browser 2012. Above anything else, this will help you decide which software caters to your needs.
Note: While iOS has third-party browsers like Android OS, Apple only allows the apps to run on top of the company’s own Safari browser, rather than replace it. Evaluating iOS browsers will not be as conclusive as its Android counterparts for that reason, so we chose to concentrate on the Best Android Browser 2012 here (arranged alphabetically).
Android smartphone owners who own a handset that runs on the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), the immediate topnotch browser would be Chrome for Android. The mobile version of the popular Google Chrome web browser also supports tabbed browsing and offers faster page rendering and loading times compared to its rivals. However, if you cannot do away with Flash plug-ins, this is not for you. While Chrome for Android comes with several advanced and up-to-date HTML 5 features, plus syncing features to the desktop version’s bookmarks and settings, it does not support Adobe Flash plug-ins. The Android browser has no room for extensions yet but Google will likely include support in future updates.
If you are an RSS fanatic, Dolphin Browser HD could be the next best thing in the world. It allows users to create webzines from popular websites’ RSS feeds, which helps show simplified webpage versions with less clutter for an easier reading experience. If you read many articles online, this one is for you. Dolphin Browser HD also supports gesture commands and tabbed browsing, allowing you to provide specific commands by simply drawing shapes on the touchscreen. For instance, if you want to reload a page, all you need to do is draw a circle, or you can load Facebook by drawing letter F within the browser.
Firefox for Android revolves around add-ons, which is pretty much the same as its desktop counterpart. The mobile version includes a URL Fixer to fix common typos automatically, and Reading List, which saves web pages for offline reading. It is a great choice for users who are into customizations since it allows them to fine-tune or include personal tweaks. Alas, Firefox for Android can test your patience during start up since it is a memory hog, which means it uses lots of RAM and can pose problems for older Android devices with low hardware specs. The browser supports tabbed browsing and syncs the desktop and mobile versions.
Maxthon Android Web Browser is not as popular as competition in the U.S. but it has taken a chunk of Android users in the global scene. While it is barely revolutionary, Maxthon has fast page rendering and comes with all the basic features. It offers tabbed browsing, useful plugins, bookmarks and drag-and-drop that allows you to click and drag links from emails, text documents or any app directly into its address bar. Most mobile web browsers now offer user interface customizations and Maxthon is not an exception. You can modify the theme/skin and change the browser’s toolbar to suit your preferences. Maxthon does not come with any of the extra browsing features such as spell-checker, parental controls and voice interaction. These features, while they are not necessary for web browsing, would have improved overall usability. Maxthon touts powerful security features for a safe and private web browsing experience. Like its rivals, deleting the history of a browsing session can be set up automatically or manually after closing the browser. It blocks popups, spyware and viruses, and uses anti-phishing technology to secure sensitive information. Maxthon uses Microsoft’s Internet Explorer engine so IE users will not have a hard time adjusting. All buttons are labeled and you can customize it to according to your needs. Sessions can also be saved just in case the phone hangs or the app crashes.
Note: We provided a longer review of the Maxthon Android Web Browser since it is relatively unpopular in the U.S. The other Android browsers already appeared in our review here.
Opera Software ASA offers two mobile web browsers: Opera Mobile for full page rendering at 12 MB, and the data-efficient Opera Mini at 767 KB. Opera Mini uses server-side data compression technology that squeezes pages on Opera servers before transmitting them to users’ devices, which makes it an ideal choice for those limited to 2G connections or those with low data plans. While Opera Mini has faster loading times, Opera Mobile provides a better task in rendering full-sized pages for desktop-like mobile viewing. Opera Mobile also comes with Turbo Mode to compress some of the pages’ data such as images for faster loading of pages. Both browsers do not support add-ons but they allow you to sync the desktop and mobile versions, and both have tabbed browsing.
After giving the aforementioned browsers a spin, we decided to award Chrome for Android Beta as Best Android Browser 2012 since it integrates deeply into the OS, and like its desktop counterpart, offers faster loading times, better page rendering and a smoother overall experience than its competitors (Note: I am running Android 4.0.4 ICS on my LG P500 Optimus One). Dolphin Browser HD is an RSS fiend’s best friend, changes most websites into more readable webzines, and offers support for gestures. Firefox for Android caters to those who have a thing for add-ons and want to customize their mobile web browser with personal touches. Maxthon Android Web Browser is a breath of fresh air for those who want an alternative Android browser, comes with all the basic features, and runs on Internet Explorer’s engine. Opera Mini and Opera Mobile both feature server-side data compression technologies, with the former giving faster loading times for 2G data connections while the latter offers better page rendering.
In your own experience, which of these Android browsers should receive the title of Best Android Browser 2012?