Feb
12
2012

Top 5 Android Browsers – All Free [+5 New Emerging Ones Reviewed]

This is exactly the case when default is too default. The browsers coming bundled with all Android devices is not bad, not bad at all – for a default one. But it’s too basic and it’s boring – there’s nothing fun about it. As a matter of fact, since you’re on this post page we assume you already know it clearly that the default Android browser is not exactly what you want. What you do want instead is a couple of alternate options, that would provide broader functionality and would be more fun to use. After all, this is what Android philosophy is believed to be – Android is for young open-minded people who like to experiment. In the beginning of our post we’ve listed the top 5 free Android browsers by their popularity among Android users. But what’s also interesting is that there’s a number of smaller players of Android browsers game, they’re all kinda niche products so they may very well be good for some narrow and specific purposes. So even there’s a whole lot of 10 browsers for Android presented here, we still suggest you to experiment and try at least several of these to know which one will work best for you. So here we go – please welcome the list of Top Android browsers!

#1. Dolphin Browser HD

User rating – 4.6 out of 5
Number of ratings – 380,000+

android browsers - top free

This is definitely the most popular browser out there. The official app profile page claims there’s a total of 10,000,000+ downloads of this browser, and that it has received a lot of awards (including #1 in PC Mag’s “The 40 Best Free Apps for 2011″ and #2 on CNET’s 100 Android Apps for 2011). And you know what – there’s a reason for all that insanity! Dolphin browser has a lot of addons and some sleek features to make your browsing experience very convenient (such as functional sidebar, speed dial and gesture options for faster access to your favorite websites).

#2. Opera Mini Browser

User rating – 4.4 out of 5
Number of ratings – 200,000+

android browsers - top free

One of two Opera’s representatives on Android market is all about the speed of use. It uses the familiar technology started by Opera some time ago – it serves the websites from Opera’s own servers which means they load faster and cost you less than if you would load them directly. Speaking of mobile data charges – it is believed that Opera Mini only consumes 10% of traffic other browsers would while loading the same websites. As for other advantages – Twitter and Facebook support is integrated, so it’s easier to share the content you happen to see while browsing. On the other hand, Opera Mini browser for Android doesn’t have addons. So it’s more of a browser for the ones just consuming content on the mobile web, not exactly the perfect option for the ones who are looking for extended features and functionality as in Dolphin or Firefox Mobile.

#3. Skyfire Web Browser 4.0

User rating – 4.3 out of 5
Number of ratings – 140,000

android browsers - top free

This one here is closing the Android browsers big three. And Skyfire is unique in its own browserish way. It includes Flash video support, user agent switching, Facebook and Twitter integration, one-touch search, feed readers and a SkyBar (a customizable toolbar including the features mentioned above and others which are also available). This Android browser has been named #2 in TechCrunch’s ‘Best Android Apps of All Time’ rating, in our list it’s on #3. We do give it a credit though, it seems to have taken its own niche and is good enough for web developers to use, since it does have a set of techie and geeky features.

#4. Opera Mobile web browser

User rating – 4.4 out of 5
Number of ratings – 97,000+

android browsers - top free

Not to be confused with the aforementioned Opera Mini, Opera Mobile is more hadrcore product from Opera. It consumes more resources and requires a faster connection (like WiFi or 3G). The manufacturers themselves claim that the difference between the two versions lies in the resources they work best with. Opera Mini is for slower connections or pay-per-traffic plans, while Opera Mobile is for fast connections and delivers a richer experience than the one Mini version does. It’s a smart move from Opera because each of us sometimes finds himself or herself in circumstances where WiFi or 3G is not available and you just have to get something from the Internet, and the other way around. So having both versions installed on your device is probably the best case scenario that Opera managers can imagine, and it’ll be good for you as well.

#5. Firefox

User rating – 3.5 out of 5
Number of ratings – 51,000+

android browsers - top free

While claiming to have brought the best from desktop browsing to Android, Firefox isn’t exactly the most popular Android browser. Perhaps it’s because Firefox is Google’s rival in the desktop browsers war? Leave this to conspiracy theorists, because Firefox for Android really sucks and that’s the reason it’s been left behind. The only reason it has made to our Top 5 is because Firefox is a famous brand and people surely wanted to try it on their Android devices. First of all, it’s slow – and time is crucial for mobile web users (otherwise they wouldn’t browse the web from their handheld device). Plus, it’s unstable and doesn’t always actually do its job. So the Android community is disappointed.

New Emerging Android Browsers to Consider

Dolphin Browser Mini

With the rating of 4,5 out of 5 possible, Mini version of Dolphin browser is optimized for faster performance still having the best features available in Dolphin HD. It may not have as many features as its bigger brother has, and no addons as well, but we’re sure there are users for whose demands this browser will be the best option. And it still has a true tabbed browsing, unlike many other Android browsers available on the market.

UC Browser Lite

Good thing about this one is that there’s an option to switch the browsing modes according to the data plan you’re currently on (data saving presumably allows to save 85% of data compared to the regular browsing mode). Other than that it’s still pretty raw, sometimes works unstable/crashes and sometimes doesn’t work at all. Still worth checking out and keeping an eye on, if the developers work it all out the right way it may become a truly good Android browser.

Boat Browser

The Boat browser for Android is really what the major players should want to become in terms of usability and customizability. It has a lot of neat customization features allowing to fine tune your browsing experience based on your exact needs and desires. For example you may switch the tabbed browsing on and off, set the volume keys to navigate through tabs, customize toolbar, set user agent and so on.

Sleipnir Browser for Android

The most important feature of this Android browser is that it’s optimized for a one-hand browsing. It’s not that you can’t use other browsers already listed with one hand, it’s just that this one has all of its features simplified for one-hand browsing. Which is ok, no big deal though. So far it’s just an average browser (better than Firefox, which is already an accomplishment).

Dual Window Browser

Major feature of this Android browser is its ability to display two web pages at a time – so as you can understand it’s better for Android tablets, will work on Android phones as well – it will just split the working area into two active windows. Clearly doesn’t have enough features to use it on a daily basis, it still does have its range of cases when using it would be reasonable.

About the Author: Trevor

Trev is an expert web design and graphic design analyst with years and years of experience in... you know - analyzing web design and graphic design. Hopefully you will appreciate the valuable thoughts he expresses in his posts. Contact him over the comments to his blog posts.

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