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Complete Android Web Browsers Review

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.

Transformer Prime with Android Web Browsers

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.

Prime Speed Test

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

5.24 MB | 500,000+ downloads | 4.3 Stars | Version 8.2.3 | Android 2.1 +
WIKI | UC Mobile WIKI | QR Code

UC Browser

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.

UC Browser

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.

UC Browser

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

2.04 MB | 500,000+ downloads | 4.5 Stars | Version 3.1 | Android 2.1 +
Boat Site | QR Code

Boat Browser

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.

Boat screen shot

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21 Responses to Complete Android Web Browsers Review

  1. tadees May 1, 2012 at 8:45 pm #

    Very much appreciate the time and effort required to put this piece together Mat. Even though it’s not necessarily “scientific”, it still covers what probably 90+% of users are interested in.
    And much like your informal tests, I have also found Dolphin to be more than adequate at loading pages as well as some of its other nifty features. I haven’t tried any others except the default TouchWhiz 4 browser though.

    • Steve Krause May 1, 2012 at 10:15 pm #

      Thanks for the comment Tadees — Mat did a great job on his review so it’s great to get feedback from the readers!

  2. tadees May 1, 2012 at 8:47 pm #

    Hmmmm…. moderating comments, huh? Seems a little sketchy.

    • Steve Krause May 1, 2012 at 10:11 pm #

      Comments that have more than 1 link the system will hold it because 99.999% of the time it’s SPAM.

      Death to spam!

  3. Mat Lee May 1, 2012 at 9:52 pm #

    Thanks, and what do you mean moderating comments? Sorry, I’m just a writer. Thanks again for the feedback though. I tried to be as thorough as I could.

  4. Mat Lee May 2, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

    I thought he was talking about the comment error when you try to post a comment. My bad.

  5. Texstar May 3, 2012 at 3:00 am #

    Do any of the android browsers reviewed here work well with the new Google+ redesigned pages in desktop mode? Scrolling and text input is simply terrible on my Prime tablet.

    • Mat Lee May 6, 2012 at 11:38 am #

      I didn’t test that specifically, but I would imagine just off the top of my head, the browsers with great HTML5 support should render Google+ properly, but it’s hit and miss at this point. Opera is terrible i noticed with most html5 for some reason. But I get the lag. Google+ is app only for me, unless I’m on my desktop.

  6. Daniel May 4, 2012 at 5:16 pm #

    Matt, you wrote:

    “You can also change the user agent to either Android, iPhone or iPad Safari, and Desktop Chrome or Firefox. Of course I don’t have to tell you why this is handy. If you don’t know, drop a comment and I’ll explain further.”

    I’m pretty clueless, so what does this mean?

    • Mat Lee May 6, 2012 at 11:36 am #

      It means that you can see what a web page would look like if you were on any of those devices, or devices who’s browsers use those user agents. If you switch to desktop, you will always get served desktop pages, if you switch to iPhone, you will get pages formatted specifically for an iPhone, and so on.

  7. magnus May 6, 2012 at 2:09 am #

    it would be nice if you write review about MiniBrowser BETA. It seems quite nice and promising browser for ICS Android devices.

    • Mat Lee May 6, 2012 at 11:40 am #

      I haven’t seen that one yet, though I’ve been staying away from browsers after this review. But I’m ready to check out some more. Adding MiniBrowser Beta to the list. Thanks magnus!

  8. Chris May 22, 2012 at 3:42 pm #

    I don’t own a Tablet yet, would expect browser to be pre-installed, could I have a table browser with */10 points for easy reference !!!

    • Steve Krause May 23, 2012 at 6:11 pm #

      Really? Working for me with no password. I even tried in in Incognito mode w/Chrome.

      Might want to try it again.

  9. Chris May 23, 2012 at 9:32 pm #

    To download App why do I need a password, from where could I download without a password

  10. Richard May 25, 2012 at 10:47 pm #

    Nice comparison, and I’m looking around again having used Dolphin for some time. What did you not like about Opera? You score it lower than some others but it’s not really clear why.

    • Mat Lee May 27, 2012 at 11:32 am #

      I had a problem with how Opera was handling HTML 5 and rendering certain web pages, and it does NOT like Google+ at all. But they could have fixed that with the update. That’s why i put the version numbers on the browsers, because they are constantly getting fixed and updated. Other than that Opera was great, nice and fast. It’s one of the few I left installed after the review.

      On my Galaxy Nexus I kept Opera, Dolphin and of course Chrome Beta, on my tablet I kept Dolphin, Opera, Exsoul, and Boat, on top of the stock and Chrome Beta browsers. I use different ones depending on what I’m browsing.

      Thanks for the comments everyone!

  11. Mat Lee June 19, 2012 at 3:32 pm #

    Has anyone found any cool new Android browsers lately we should be playing around with?

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