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Which Web Browser Should You Run On Your Android Device?

Which Web Browser Should You Run On Your Android Device?
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Today is our very first Web Browser Grand Prix on Android. Unlike iOS, Android-based tablets have real competition between browsers. So, how do Chrome, Dolphin, Firefox, Maxthon, Opera Mobile, and Sleipnir stack up against the stock Android browser?

The time has finally come to bring the Web Browser Grand Prix to Android. Google's scrappy little Linux-based mobile operating system enjoys massive success (particularly when you consider the first Android-based phone was sold in 2008). Although it started as an underdog to the iPhone's iOS, it's now the dominant smartphone platform.

At this point, the Android browser line-up is quite diverse. We have several familiar names from the desktop world, along with a handful of less-known contenders. Chrome, Firefox, and Opera all make the jump from the PC to Android. Mobile favorites like Dolphin, Maxthon, and Sleipnir also make an appearance.

Dolphin sports Jetpack, a new HTML5 engine in the form of a first-party add-on, which launched with some pretty outrageous performance claims. We're including the stock Android browser as well, since Chrome has yet to officially replace it on anything but the Nexus line.

How Will Android Differ From iOS?

Unlike Apple, Google doesn't impose a Draconian policy on developers. Third-party rendering and JavaScript engines get the green light on any Android-based device, jailbroken or not. This means that Firefox is free to use its Gecko rendering engine, and Opera isn't limited to a "mini" browser.

Except for Safari, Which Browser Should You Be Running On Your iPad And iPhone? had a ton of identical scores. Don't expect to see that under Android. This platform is as open as any current desktop operating system.

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  • 14 Hide
    aznshinobi , November 30, 2012 3:59 AM
    Quote:
    "Stock Android Browser" is a myth. There is NO "Stock" android browser.
    Each device manufacturer (Samsung, Asus, Lg, HTC) customise/modify the "stock" browser to match the SoC, the TDP, power saving, and specific browser benchmark targeted, for that device.

    So this "Stock" browser is actually a modified browser, customised by ASUS to work better with a Tegra3 SoC, in some specifc benchmarks which Asus thinks are more important than others. Its not a representative of all android devices.


    When you're running a Nexus device, it's a stock browser...
Other Comments
  • -5 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , November 30, 2012 3:36 AM
    "Stock Android Browser" is a myth. There is NO "Stock" android browser.
    Each device manufacturer (Samsung, Asus, Lg, HTC) customise/modify the "stock" browser to match the SoC, the TDP, power saving, and specific browser benchmark targeted, for that device.

    So this "Stock" browser is actually a modified browser, customised by ASUS to work better with a Tegra3 SoC, in some specifc benchmarks which Asus thinks are more important than others. Its not a representative of all android devices.
  • 3 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , November 30, 2012 3:37 AM
    Sunspider and Kraken are crap benchmarks. All browsers target these benchmarks for specifc optimisations, that are never actually used on the web.
  • 14 Hide
    aznshinobi , November 30, 2012 3:59 AM
    Quote:
    "Stock Android Browser" is a myth. There is NO "Stock" android browser.
    Each device manufacturer (Samsung, Asus, Lg, HTC) customise/modify the "stock" browser to match the SoC, the TDP, power saving, and specific browser benchmark targeted, for that device.

    So this "Stock" browser is actually a modified browser, customised by ASUS to work better with a Tegra3 SoC, in some specifc benchmarks which Asus thinks are more important than others. Its not a representative of all android devices.


    When you're running a Nexus device, it's a stock browser...
  • 4 Hide
    adamovera , November 30, 2012 4:02 AM
    mayankleoboy1Sunspider and Kraken are crap benchmarks. All browsers target these benchmarks for specifc optimisations, that are never actually used on the web.

    SunSpider is the next to go for sure, but I haven't heard a ton of criticism regarding Kraken yet. Between BrowserMark, Peacekeeper, and RIABench, we could withdraw all the vendor-developed JS tests.
  • 7 Hide
    tiret , November 30, 2012 4:57 AM
    give me a browser with flash support then we'll talk
  • 4 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , November 30, 2012 5:03 AM
    ^ coming soon to firefox. Project Shumway.
  • 3 Hide
    tiret , November 30, 2012 5:10 AM
    ^ interesting. lets hope it works out... my gf is rather pissed that she can't play farmville on my galaxy tab.
  • 6 Hide
    fwupow , November 30, 2012 5:33 AM
    I've already figured out that Chrome isn't so hot, but the reason why Chrome still wins for me is that it synchronizes bookmarks, passwords, history and a bunch of other stuff across all my computers and devices. That is an indispensable feature for me.
  • 0 Hide
    wildkitten , November 30, 2012 6:56 AM
    tiretgive me a browser with flash support then we'll talk

    Since Adobe themselves has ended Flash development for all mobile platforms, I don't think you will see many browsers keeping support for it for long. Likely in a year, maybe 18 months, you won't see any support for Flash as, well, what's the point.
  • 7 Hide
    Anonymous , November 30, 2012 7:01 AM
    Firefox Beta has flash support once you download and install the flash apk - I have it working well on my Nexus 7
  • 8 Hide
    Anonymous , November 30, 2012 7:14 AM
    It is not benchmark results that counts when choosing my mobile browser. And what counts?
    - some kind of adblocking utility, like urlfilter.ini in Opera, adblock in firefox
    - minimum font size. On my 8" 160dpi screen fonts are too small to be read comfortably. In Opera I can declare a minimum font size and have all webpages readable and well formatted.
    - declare to be a desktop browser. I most browsers I have to declare this for every site I visit, in Opera I do it once and it is set
    - smoothness on any hardware, not only Quad-core. Try stock browser or firefox on a single-core A10 machine and it will freeze for 10s when composing your webpage. Opera won't be butter-smooth, but it will let you scroll througn the page from the beginning.
    So Opera is the worst browser according to Thg, but is the best for me, the average user.
  • 1 Hide
    Tomtompiper , November 30, 2012 7:15 AM
    Read this on Dolphin on my Galaxy Tab, Dolphin has been a fixture on the Tab for two years and for good reason. Forget the scores, even if it wasn't top I would still use it, the actual user experience is head and shoulders above the competition.
  • 4 Hide
    obarthelemy , November 30, 2012 8:23 AM
    piotrjakubIt is not benchmark results that counts when choosing my mobile browser. And what counts?- some kind of adblocking utility, like urlfilter.ini in Opera, adblock in firefox- minimum font size. On my 8" 160dpi screen fonts are too small to be read comfortably. In Opera I can declare a minimum font size and have all webpages readable and well formatted.- declare to be a desktop browser. I most browsers I have to declare this for every site I visit, in Opera I do it once and it is set- smoothness on any hardware, not only Quad-core. Try stock browser or firefox on a single-core A10 machine and it will freeze for 10s when composing your webpage. Opera won't be butter-smooth, but it will let you scroll througn the page from the beginning.So Opera is the worst browser according to Thg, but is the best for me, the average user.


    This. A review of performance only is useless. Features are more important.
  • 1 Hide
    obarthelemy , November 30, 2012 8:24 AM
    Also, Opera has a night mode that works, the only browser I could find with one. It's a little hacky though (http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1326434)
  • 2 Hide
    gilahacker , November 30, 2012 8:35 AM
    "Boat Browser" (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.boatbrowser.free) supports flash just fine. I've used it on a Galaxy S3 and a Nexus 10. Just go download the latest Flash apk from Adobe:

    http://helpx.adobe.com/flash-player/kb/archived-flash-player-versions.html#main_Archived_Flash_Player_versions_for_developers

    Scroll down a bit to get to the Android listings.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , November 30, 2012 10:13 AM
    naked browser

    the ui is very minimal though so might not be newcomer friendly
    but the responsiveness is on par with dolphin
  • 1 Hide
    swyn01 , November 30, 2012 10:51 AM
    Chrome is the default browser for Nexus devices running Jellybean. Browser is not even installed on neither the Galaxy Nexus nor the Nexus 4.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , November 30, 2012 11:30 AM
    Chrome is not only the default for Nexus devices...Razr M, HD, and Maxx HD also come with Chrome as the only browser installed. It's been great for me and I especially like being able to swipe between tabs.
  • 5 Hide
    Anonymous , November 30, 2012 11:59 AM
    so, according to real life browsing opera has fastest browsing, but because it scores last in syntethic benchmarks it comes last?
  • -2 Hide
    Mygind , November 30, 2012 1:06 PM
    I've had the TF300T for some month using Dolphin... And It is still slow, slow, slow.

    My next buy will be a labtop Core i5 / HD 4000 with a SSD and a mouse with a wire. It will be set up so it is always on standby - and wakes up in 2-4 sec.

    Tablets are for todlers and teens :-)
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