|

Your Android's default browser is fine, but if it's your only option, you could be missing out. Granted, it's fast and functional, but it's not the easiest way to look at the web on your phone, and it lacks the features of some of the other browsers that are available. Here are some alternatives that you should try if you want a faster and more comfortable way to browse the web on your Google phone.

Opera Mini

One of the first web browsers to hit the Android market, Opera Mini is already a trusted name on many other mobile platforms.

Opera Mini is much more usable than Android's rather clunky browser. The speed dial feature lets you set up on-click shortcuts to your favorite sites. Other navigational aids have also been added, such as an auto-complete feature in the address bar, and a built-in search bar.

Page load times are very impressive, too. Before being served to the browser, sites are run through a compression test on the Opera servers, making them load super quickly. Opera Mini is rammed with options and settings, too. You can alter image quality, font size, and screen orientation, and there is a wealth of privacy settings too. As you'd expect, there's support for bookmarks and browser history, too.

Pros: Fast performance, speed dial, tabbed browsing, lots of options, address auto-complete

Cons: Search bar not customizable, some minor bugs

Skyfire

Skyfire is an interesting alternative, notably because it's the only Android browser that supports Flash video. You can use the browser to watch clips on YouTube, Google Video, Vimeo, and more. The FLV support isn't perfect though, and some sites block Skyfire from accessing their video content. Skyfire supports other web standards, such as Ajax, Java, and HTML 5.

Skyfire has a menu bar at the top of the screen where you can quickly access all the features for bookmarking pages, accessing settings and managing open tabs. Interestingly, cycling through the tabs you have open in Skyfire is a very similar experience to Safari on the iPhone, allowing you to quickly flick through pages and launch new ones with the tap of a button.

Pros: Flash video support, quick page rendering, Explore feature, Smooth tab management tool

Cons: Unstable and unresponsive at times, doesn't support all Flash content

Firefox

Firefox on Android is designed to provide a smoother web browsing experience. The Firefox for Android app has gone through a huge number of changes, but seems to be gradually coming to a more stable resting point.

How does Firefox look on a mobile? The browser looks a lot like Firefox for Windows. For instance, pages can be opened simultaneously in the form of tabs, which you access by tapping the number icon next to the address bar. It's an intuitive way to control multiple tabs without filling the screen.

Another neat feature of Firefox for Android is its support for Firefox Sync. This grants you access to all the bookmarks, history and running tabs of the desktop version of Firefox, so you don’t have to worry about entering addresses manually.

Pros: Add-ons, nice interface, sync support

Cons: Some minor bugs, bad reputation

Dolphin Browser

Dolphin Browser is a fast and easy-to-use web browser for Android phones. There aren't a huge amount of advanced features built into Dolphin Browser, which may be part of the reason for its streamlined performance. The ones that are there, however, are very useful, and you can beef up its capabilities by installing add-ons. Among the downloadable extras are a password manager, YouTube search, ad blocker and Google Translate.

The latest version of Dolphin Browser adds even more support for touch gestures. This allows you to draw a letter or a symbol on the screen to access a particular site or perform a function. For example, writing an 'f' will open Facebook; or drawing left and right arrows will move you back or forward through pages. You can even create your own custom gestures!

Pros: speedy, good tab options, multi-touch support, lots of add-ons

Cons: Some small visual bugs

Chrome

Much like its partner for desktops, Chrome is dedicated to loading websites and allowing you to browse quickly. If you've used Chrome before, Chrome on Android will be familiar. The interface is optimized for small screens and most websites load in their native versions, meaning you are not going to be looking at mobile versions of sites.

As always with Chrome, it looks good and loads fast. It's got all the benefit of Chrome sync and bookmarks, meaning that if you also use the browser on other platforms, browsing the web on your mobile device is a seamless experience. That said, many users complain about more recent versions, lamenting the fact that it seems buggy and has an irritating tendency to crash. Give it a try and see if you've got the same issues.

Pros: speedy, Chrome sync, excellent bookmark management

Cons: Some users report frequent crashes

For the moment, I would choose Opera Mini over anything else, but feel free to disagree with me and argue the case for a different Android web browser.

You might also be interested in:

Basic tips for Android

Google Play - everything you need to know

[Original article published May 20, 2010]

Commented

  • Tom Clarke |
    20/05/10
    Tom Clarke

    I've tested Opera Mini on my HTC Legend and it does not match up to Android's built-in browser. Opera Mini is buggy. It's no faster than the Android browser. It completely reconstitutes web pages using its own renderering process, which means that you don't get a 'real web' experience. But worst of all, it only has tap controls for zooming (no pinching gestures like in the Android Browser).

    Spend a bit more time with Opera Mini and you'll see it's just not up to the standard of Android's built-in app - which is definitely the best browser currently available on Android phones.

  • Matt Perkins |
    12/07/10
    Matt Perkins

    The best overall app for Android is one that Softonic doesn't have which is Dolphin Browser. It's like Firefox for the Android phones until an official Firefox version is released.

    It's as fast as Opera yet more customizable with add-ons and skins. It also works better on mobile websites such as YouTube than Opera.

    Dolphin even allows you to run your browser in iPhone mode over Android's mode. And most of the time iPhone mode is actually faster and better.

  • nav |
    13/09/10
    nav

    Hi i have started to use Dolphin HD browser, Dolphin's feature set is definitely its strength. In addition to tabbed browsing, bookmarking (that syncs to Google bookmarks), and multitouch zooming, it has the capability to flag sites to read later as well as a tie-in to Delicious. You can also search web sites via a gesture which can be customized saving typing time. this browser should be considered, i have also used Opera mini and found dolphin miles better

  • John |
    14/09/10
    John

    I started using xScope yesterday. I know the name sounds retarded, but it is just as fast as opera and has the most features out of any Android browser. It also has a task killer built into its menu. It is by far the browser for an Android 'power user.'

  • Aaron |
    15/09/10
    Aaron

    Add another vote for xScope. It may not be pretty enough or simple enough for some people, but it is easily the fastest and most customizable.

  • Brenda |
    01/10/10
    Brenda

    I was using xscope and it wanted me to update and I did and then the only way to get it back is to purchase it. Pretty crooked huh?

  • friendinme |
    12/10/10
    friendinme

    you missed DolphinHD??

  • Scott Deagan |
    14/11/10
    Scott Deagan

    I have been very disappointed in the browsing experience on Android. I have gone through two Android phones looking for a "smooth and responsive" browser, but have yet to find one. Opera is very close (smoothest I've come across), but it doesn't always render pages correct and I find the "binary zoom" a annoying (it's just a personal preference).

    I come from years of using iPhones where everything was buttery smooth and responsive. I've recently looked at the browsing experience on WinMo7 - again, smooth and responsive. The Android browser(s) just seem clunky and unrefined in comparison. I've even gone through two Android handsets trying to re-capture the browsing experience I have become accustomed to (a Dell Streak and now a Samsung Galaxy S with OCLF etc).

    I'm hoping that Firefox will solve the issue. It seems that it renders a little closer to Safari. Unfortunately, at the moment it's very alpha/beta.

  • fullofentropy |
    18/11/10
    fullofentropy

    Just started using DolphinHD...I love it!

    I used skyfire for a bit...too glitchy for me...HTC G2

  • Rafa |
    20/12/10
    Rafa

    Dolphin HD is the best browser I've used on my G2.

    Must make a review for that one.

  • Megosh |
    30/12/10
    Megosh

    Dolphin HD is by far the best browser i've used i just wish it had a front menu button like the dolphin mini.

  • Jamie Cornes |
    06/01/11
    Jamie Cornes

    I started out using Dolphin HD, after being unimpressed with the stock browser. However after trying pretty much everything I've settled on Dolphin Mini. Firefox is still too alpha feeling and Opera renders some things a little strangely, plus Dolphin Mini has both user agent control and private browsing.

  • Tam |
    09/02/11
    Tam

    Is there any good browser for international languages? I am not able to read many foreign language sites through android e.g. thatstamil.com

  • TD |
    15/02/11
    TD

    I've tried most of one mentioned above and xScope is the best one out there IMHO.

  • james |
    06/03/11
    james

    Opera mini sucked.. my vote for dolphin.

  • Andy |
    11/03/11
    Andy

    I have to go with Dolphin HD too, it's great. I only wished there would be an option to automatically download flash without the additional click. But it's still the best browser out there.

  • zooki |
    20/03/11
    zooki

    after using default browser, dolphin HD&mini, Skyfire, Opera..and finally Xscope, I would give Xscope high mark above others since it is fast, got that extra zoom that render page correctly to the screen, follows your fingers correctly, fit the page according to zoom factor, also got tabs, etc same with others.

  • Chuck Berry |
    06/04/11
    Chuck Berry

    Of all the mobile web browsers, including android. My vote is also for Dolphin HD. Really easy to use and fast as lightning. Very nice interface clear images. I tried Marathon and Opera, but to much difficulty to log in. I am going to try skyfire.

  • Dan scott |
    19/04/11
    Dan scott

    Guys try Netfront life v2 u may need to access it from their website but its worth a look :)

  • Brian |
    15/06/11
    Brian

    I just got my first Android and have been playing with browsers all weekend but wasn't satisfied with anything. I read a bunch of comments here about xScope and it's the best one so far. My handset isn't very powerful (600mhz) but performance is great in xScope, plus it has tabs and a minimal interface that maximizes screen usage.

  • Richard |
    17/06/11
    Richard

    Here's the list of worthy Browsers - XScope - Miren Browser - Dolphin HD - Dolphin Mini - Opera Full - Opera Mini

    I've tried them all and from personal experience, I've placed them in order from best to worst, starting from top to bottom

  • Haseebkhalid |
    26/08/11
    Haseebkhalid

    I can't acces my gmail in standard view on all of these browsers.. But though I think Dolphin is bettr than others...

  • show |
    27/10/11
    show

    Which browser is the best opening video to stream live TV? I am currently utilizing sky fire and am able to see live football but recently they have blocked the video with an add infront of video . How do I close it?

  • bizflint |
    06/12/11
    bizflint

    Oh ! Yes it is easy,fun & "Fast" One "Great" Bower !

  • s1hasan |
    09/04/12
    s1hasan

    Great!!!!!!!

  • Joe Berger |
    28/05/12
    Joe Berger

    In my opinion, the built in Android browser is not bad. I tried the Operas,went back to the Android. Then i tried the Maxthon and I like it a lot, smooth, two fingers pinch, zoom.I still miss a favorit or bookmark possibility.May be i did not find it jet and is buildt in, some times I overlook things right in front of my nose :-(.

  • Bangor |
    15/07/12
    Bangor

    yeah yeah yeah

  • Egg |
    03/09/12
    Egg

    Who's paying to have these browsers plugged? Another one for Dolphin HD and shame on Softonic for leaving it out.

  • Webstr |
    11/10/12
    Webstr

    Well, you seem to have included the best browsers. 1.Chrome is now available on phones running android 4+ 2. The Real Firefox mobile is finally here. 3. Dolphin is another great browser.

    Out of these I would recommend Chrome

  • Everton Robinson |
    16/10/12
    Everton Robinson

    Iam new to this

  • rover3500 |
    10/12/12
    rover3500

    I couldn't download crome from market as it said not comapatible with my huawei ascend g300,but I put it on SDcard and installed and it's worked fine so far,and quicker than rest I've used including Opera and dolphin.

  • Angelica |
    14/01/13
    Angelica

    I have tried all of the above mentioned browsers on my laptop and on my GalaxyS2. For my money I'll take Maxthon Cloud Browser hands down. I love the fact that it's a cross platform browser and you can even customize the mobile browser with your own browser title and splash screen and theme. Just put the Maxthon Cloud on my laptop and again, it's the best. No problems with page loading and rendering. It's also fast as H**L! It takes a little getting used to to find commands and controls.....but none of us really knew how to use other browsers on first use. And because it is a cloud based browser you can also upload and download files and I can also sync those files with my smartphone. Its worth checking out!

  • wayne |
    17/09/13
    wayne

    Boat browser is by far my best it plays flash video .(YouTube)..with out messing about its got a home button and much more stuff..just check it out ..its cool..

  • nakulsoniji |
    18/11/13
    nakulsoniji

    i like opera......................

19/09/14
Your avatar