Weâ€™ve been here before. The Web Browser War continues to rage on endlessly across all platforms. But while it is all too common to hear about comparisons of what browser is the current king on the desktop (Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, Safari), we donâ€™t nearly as often hear about browsers on mobile devices. Letâ€™s be honest, if the browser that came with your phone isnâ€™t one of the 5 below, it probably sucks (lookinâ€™ at you Samsung), so itâ€™s best to get a replacement browser that is faster, does more (or less), and is better in general.
Today, weâ€™re going to do just that. Weâ€™re going to have a look at the top browsers currently available on Android: Google Chrome, Dolphin Browser, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, and Javelin Browser.
Weâ€™ll be looking at a few aspects. User Interface/Experience, Performance, Features, and Compatibility.
Note: Performance measurements are unscientific, and are more "real-world" evaluations.
*Note 2: Compatibility measures browser compatibility with technologies on the web which is important to ensure that everything will work in the browser as expected. *
We all know about Chrome. Google has put a lot of time and effort to create a web browser that is updated nearly at the same pace as their desktop counterpart. The two best parts about Google Chrome are that since itâ€™s such an important and mature browser, itâ€™ll work with just about everything, and also if you have a google account, you can synchronize your settings, passwords and bookmarks. Letâ€™s not forget about the speed.
User Interface/ExperienceÂ â€“ **8/10Â **â€“ As expected of a mature browser, the scrolling is smooth and lag free even on content heavy sites. Chrome has come a long way to making sure of this. Pages render correctly, animations play seamlessly, and HTML5 works as well as it should. Links to YouTube videos are finally sent directly to the YouTube app if you have it installed. Google has added plenty of subtle animations in their browser to make the usage a little more pleasing. Things like the transition between tabs, opening the menu, gestures, and more are all done in a natural and smooth manner. I do find that the lack of full screen support (though the top bar does go away when scrolling down) is a little disappointing.
Performance â€“ 10/10Â â€“ Most pages load incredibly quickly. Speed is absolutely spot on here. There are some occasions where certain Social buttons will take a moment to load or will snap into place, but this may be the websiteâ€™s fault.
**Features **â€“Â 6/10Â â€“**Â **Chrome is a relatively straightforward browser. It doesnâ€™t add too many bells and whistles in terms of extras that stand out. It does however include a few notable features. The ability to swipe between tabs by swiping the top bar is convenient. A feature for data compression is very helpful as well. Synchronization with your Google account is an absolutely delightful feature. And an Incognito mode for Private Browsing is a welcome addition as well.
Compatibility â€“ 21/26 â€“ Interestingly enough, Chrome was one of the 3 lower ranking (in this comparison) options when it comes to compatibility with tests. The main problems found had to do with Audio, SVG animations, Mutation, HTTPS, and IRI + IDN.
Overall â€“ 45/56Â â€“ 80%
Dolphin Browser is one of the champions of Android Browsers. It came along a long time ago when chrome was still struggling to deliver consistent performance and had tons of bugs. It also promised super fast performance and excellent time-saving features. Since then, Dolphin has evolved to stay ahead and in the game by redesigning the UI 3 times, continually improving performance, and adding new features such as a robust gesture support, themeing engine, and extensions ability.
User Interface/Experience â€“ 7/10Â â€“ Dolphin features an interface with tabs at the top with the search bar directly beneath it, and a constantly present menu at the bottom. You can also swipe from the sides to reveal the bookmarks bar, and the Control Panel. It also has a new tab page that you can customize with desired webapps or favorite websites. While Dolphin tries really hard to make the app as minimal as possible, I still feel that it clutters itself with all of its features. Also, less screen real-estate is a definite negative.
Performance â€“Â 8/10Â â€“ Dolphin feels very snappy. Pages load quickly and everything feels fast. The only problem here is with scrolling. While it is smooth and lag-free, Iâ€™ve noticed that when scrolling quickly, the canvas doesnâ€™t seem to be able to keep up with the fast scrolling, thus letting you see giant areas of white space until the canvas catches up.
Features â€“ 9/10Â â€“ Dolphin has a comprehensive Gesture system that you can customize to do just about anything in the browser. If you like gestures, this thing is king. If you donâ€™t like the standard white and green colors of Dolphin, fret not, because with Dolphin you can download themes which skin the entire browser. Add-ons are also a great feature that let you add new features created by 3rd party developers.
Compatibility â€“ 23/26 â€“ Dolphin essentiallyÂ experienced similar problems as Chrome, but did not have an issue with SVG animations or HTTPS.
Overall â€“ 47/56Â â€“ 84%
Mozilla Firefox is a well known browser in the desktop space, with a massive following. On mobile, Firefox has struggled for a long time in the performance department and also the User Interface which has often been very cluttered and lacking in screen real-estate. Well, times have changed and Firefox is doing extremely well. Letâ€™s see how well theyâ€™re doing.
User Interface/Experience â€“ 10/10Â â€“ Firefox has a sleek new interface with beautiful animations. Tap the tabs button and the search bar swoops down revealing the tabs currently open and access to your bookmarks. Firefox also has a menu extremely similar to Chromeâ€™s, but more condensed and even better looking. Aesthetically, Firefox, in my opinion, easily bests Chrome and Dolphin.
Performance â€“Â 6/10Â â€“ Firefox begins to show some places where it suffers here. The app itself is extremely responsive and fluid, but when it comes to page loading, things get a little iffy. Thereâ€™s stuttering when scrolling, itâ€™s clear that the canvas canâ€™t keep up with loading tiles as you scroll so you again see a lot of white space, and scrolling seems to be severely limited in speed. Sometimes it even takes a little bit for Firefox to register my touch in a swipe. Itâ€™s acceptable performance, but it just doesnâ€™t compare to the competition.
Features â€“ 4/10Â â€“Â Firefox is also a pretty straightforward browser. No big bells and whistles here. Essentially the same featureset as Chrome.
Compatibility â€“ 24/26 â€“Â Firefox performs the best when it comes to supporting the different web technologies. Only some issues with SVG animations and IRI + IDN support.
Overall â€“ 44/56Â â€“ 79%
Opera is another oldie in the browser game. Opera underwent a massive change a couple of years ago and has since become a surprisingly impressive experience. Opera was the pioneer of the â€œSpeed Dialâ€ new tab function that virtually every browser now employs. Itâ€™s good to see it alive and well here. Letâ€™s see what else has changed.
User Interface/Experience â€“ 6/10Â â€“Â Opera uses a unique interface that has elements that feel more like the new iOS multitasking from iOS 7 for tab management, mixed with a slightly outdated looking search bar. If youâ€™re a former iOS user, Opera may actually feel quite good to you. Thereâ€™s nothing particularly wrong with the app; it just feels a little dated.
Performance â€“Â 10/10Â â€“Â Opera is fast. Very fast. While I do recognize the occasional stutter, I never see any canvas loading issues and white space, and pages pop up incredibly fast. Hard to determine if this or Chrome is faster.
Features â€“ 7/10Â â€“Â Opera has a hallmark feature known as Off-Road mode (Chrome has something similar). Off-Road mode is a feature you can toggle on and off right in the menu button, that will run the pages through Operaâ€™s servers before coming to you, in order to compress the pages and save you data, and potentially increase page loading speed. This feature is extremely handy if you have a small data cap, or are in an area with bad service and slow speeds. Opera also sports a Discover page which is basically just a mini news aggregation page. Speed Dial is here and it works like a charm.
Compatibility â€“ 23/26 â€“Â Opera performed identically to Dolphin.
Overall â€“ 46/56Â â€“ 82%
Javelin Browser is the new kid on the block, and itâ€™s here to potentially change the way we browse. With itâ€™s brilliant â€œLink Bubbleâ€-inspired Stack feature and a fresh modern flat design, and full screen (KitKat and above) ability, itâ€™s truly a new take on the browser, while retaining the simplicity of browsing. Did I mention it has a built-in Reading Mode that is awesome?
User Interface/Experience â€“ 10/10Â â€“ Javelin uses a modern flat design, with sliding menus on the left and right for a side bar and options menu. The top search bar and itâ€™s tabs are similar to what youâ€™d see in a desktop browser, but with the new bright and flat design.
Performance â€“Â 8/10Â â€“ Javelin is fast, but does exhibit some canvas loading issues. During scrolling, youâ€™ll see the white spaces, an occasional stutter, and presumably to make itself faster, text blurring (which means it hasnâ€™t loaded yet). Besides that, the app itself is lightning fast and fluid, and it has no problem loading elements relatively quickly.
Features â€“ 10/10Â â€“ Javelin succeeds where Dolphin did not. It adds a ton of features that are truly useful and incredible, without making the app feel cluttered or bloated. Quite the contrary, this is the least cluttered app of the entire comparison as it maintains a minimal design language. The most exciting feature is the Stack. Letâ€™s say youâ€™re browsing Twitter and you find a link to an article youâ€™d like to read. Normally you would click it, and it would take you to your browser, where you would wait until it loads, youâ€™d read it, and youâ€™d have to exit the app to return to Twitter to continue browsing. Not with Javelin. If you use Facebook Messenger, think about ChatHeads (the floating bubble). When you use Javelin, you tap on the link and a bubble pops up on top of your Twitter feed and it animates to signal that itâ€™s loading. When itâ€™s done animating, you can tap it and hovering above your feed is the entire article (which you can activate Reading Mode to reduce the entire thing into pure text). When youâ€™re done, hit the back button and the bubble goes away and youâ€™re still in your Twitter feed. True multitasking. I mentioned Reading Mode, which is awesome. It also has several powerful security features such as blocking location detection, VPN, a built-in Ad-Blocker, and opt-out of Analytics. This is an incredible browser that you should definitely try, at least because of Stack.
Compatibility â€“ 23/26 â€“Â For a new browser, Javelin performs admirable and on par with the rest of the browsers in this comparison (even above Chrome), making sure to support most of the web standards and technologies.
Overall â€“ 51/56Â â€“ 91%
OK, I have to clarify something here. Browsers will forever be a matter of personal preference, so take the above â€œWinnerâ€ with a grain of salt. While I sincerely hope that you enjoy Javelin as much as I do, the other browsers are incredibly well built and will serve you extremely well as well. Iâ€™ve long been a Chrome user, and before that a dedicated Dolphin user, and only recently have I switched to Javelin. Things change. Thatâ€™s why articles like these pop up all the time. The three I just mentioned, are my favorites, and you should definitely try at least these three out.
So what Mobile Browser do YOU use? Do you use one I didnâ€™t mention? Let me know in the comments below!