Search for Web Browser in Google Play, and you’ll get over 5,000 results. How do you know which browser is right for you? Easy, you let me do the groovy work for you. Here’s a look at 12 of the best Android web browsers available today as well as how the stock Ice Cream Sandwich ICS browser does against these alternatives.
What I Used for the Tests
Linksys WRT 54GS Wireless Router
Ubee cable modem via Optimum (was Bresnan Communications)
Asus Transformer Prime TF-201 Quadcore Android 4.03 Ice Cream Sandwich.
I’m testing everything on my Asus Transformer Prime running on balanced mode, connected to a Linksys WRT 54 GS 54MBit wireless router at about -48 to -50 dBm signal strength. There is a 30 Mbit down 5 Mbit up cable connection attached to that. To simulate real world conditions, I am streaming music from my Google Music account while conducting the speed tests. Here are a couple of results from before the tests to show a baseline of what we’re working with.
No matter which server I switch to, it maxes out at around 15 Mbits/sec down and 5 Mbits/sec up. This should be more than enough bandwidth to really see how these browsers render pages on the go.
Originally, I planned to conduct the tests on my Verizon Samsung Galaxy Nexus to see how the browsers handle a phone data connection. I expected this to give completely different results thus leveling out the playing field a bit. Having a different screen size would be interesting to see how they compare. Smaller screen, smaller pipe for bits, versus the larger tablet screen with the WiFi cable pipe.
The problem is, the Galaxy Nexus on Verizon’s EHRPD 3G network has a signal of about -93 dBm inside my place. That’s about half of what it should be at full signal. I even walked around outside to get a signal, but no dice. I guess if we want to simulate real world conditions, having a crappy signal is as real world as it gets. At the time of writing this I actually watched it disconnect and drop to the 1X service about four times. I simply don’t have the patience to sit and time half a 3G connection try to bring down web pages. Sorry.
Anyway, I had to switch to testing WiFi because of how long these pages take to load over this mobile network. All it shows is how sad and slow the service we pay for can actually be. It has nothing to do with the browser. Not when you get sub par service from your mobile carrier.
Uc browser – Free
From Google Play “Stop wasting your time for website loading, try UC Browser, the fastest, smartest mobile browser, the largest mobile browser worldwide, 300 million users’ choice in 150 countries.” On its website the company says it has an internally developed kernel and over 100 patents. UC Browser also supports a ton of different platforms, and can be used on low power older legacy devices and high power cutting edge devices alike.
I did a little digging, and apparently UC Mobile is a Chinese software company. I’m probably just paranoid but for some reason when I discovered this, my paranoid level jumped a few levels. Kinda like if you discovered the File Sync utility you use is based in Russia… There’s an interesting thread on XDA Developers forum about this very thing.
Either way, at the end of the day it’s up to you who you let have access to your data. Call me paranoid, but it may not be the best idea to input sensitive information into browsers that reside in other countries. They use their own servers to help speed up the mobile experience, but that means there is a possibility for a serious data breach if something were to happen. Although, if you are browsing using a secure connection (SSL, etc..) according to the terms of service, that traffic does not go through UC Cloud acceleration. Perhaps if you have a lower end device, but still I feel like there are better options out there.
In running my tests, the browser seems to be snappy on WiFi, but lags on 3G. We’ll see how it compares to other browsers.
Boat Browser – Free
This is a slick browser that loads fast and seems good and stable. Boat states on Google Play that it’s a “fast, smart and cool browser; it will bring you amazing premium web experience”.
Boat Browser is the first web browser that supports voice command in Android, for example, if you say “Facebook” or “Google” it will open the corresponding website. Boat Browser is also fully customizable, allowing you customize things like the button locations. You can also install various add-ons to add even more features to the browser.