There are dozens of great web browsers available for Android with all sorts of features. Whether it’s syncing with your desktop or super-speedy browsing or support for Flash navigation, there are plenty of options — some popular, others not so much. This week we’re going to look at five of the best Android browsers.
Firefox for Android has come a long way since its days in beta. It’s fast, it’s free, and it fully supports Firefox Sync, so if you use Firefox on the desktop, it’ll bring in your bookmarks and passwords. It’s the first mobile browser to truly support Do Not Track, and the “Awesome Page” start screen shows you all of your recently visited tabs. It even supports add-ons and Personas, although there aren’t too many of them yet. [clear]
Chrome for Android finally left beta late last month, which means now it can go on to be the new “stock” browser on Android devices… assuming you’re running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich or Jelly Bean. It supports Incognito Mode browsing, bookmark syncing via Chrome Sync, and now anything that Chrome can sync on your desktop will be right there waiting for you on your Android device. The only downside is that Google hasn’t made it available for phones running older versions of Android. [clear]
Dolphin Browser is our favourite web browser for Android. Its options and tools are unparalleled, even when compared to the big-name browsers. It also supports dozens of third-party plug-ins and tools, speech to text and on-screen gestures to open bookmarks and navigate. Dolphin Browser comes in two flavours: the “HD” version for phones that can handle all of its features, and a “Mini” version for device owners who want speed and snappy performance over options. Even if you gravitate to one of the big names, Dolphin is worth trying. [clear]
Back in the early days of Android, one of the first browsers to challenge the stock browser was a now-vanished app called Miren. If you liked Miren, Boat Browser is its spiritual successor. Fast, lightweight, and completely free, Boat is intuitive, supports add-ons and has a powerful voice control engine (so you can say “Facebook” and the browser will bring up Facebook for you). You can even skin and theme the UI, customise the speed dial start page with your favourite sites and more. If your phone can’t handle the full version or you just want a lighter browser, Boat Mini is there for you. [clear]
If you’re a fan of Opera on the desktop, Opera Mobile will suit you perfectly. Opera Mobile supports Opera Link, so you can sync your bookmarks, speed dial and other user preferences with your desktop Opera install. Aside from that, Opera Mobile is fast, free, and compresses data in the background so you can browse your favourite sites without blowing through your data allowance. Opera even has its own mini app store, full of third-party add-ons and games. Have an older device? Opera Mini might be a better choice — you get most of the features with even more speed. [clear]
This week’s honourable mention goes out to the stock Android browser: the one that ships on most phones pre-Ice Cream Sandwich. It varies from OEM to OEM, but plenty of folks are happy with the one that comes with the phone.
Have something to say about one of the contenders? Want to make the case for your favourite Android browser, even if it wasn’t included in the list? Make your case in the comments below.