Browsers War: The Search For The Best Android Browser

Just like a computer, your Android device comes with a standard browser pre-installed. For many people, this browser will work great. The standard Android browser is fast and has a few cool features.

However, being the default browser doesn’t mean it is the best Android browser. There are other options out ther. Depending on how you use your Android device, you may need a more feature-rich web browser. If you are running a version of the Android OS below 2.2 or have a device that doesn’t support on-page video, you may want to try a browser that can fix that.

Standard Android Browser

The standard browser is a pretty decent browser that is both lightweight and works out of the box. Whether you have 2.1 or 2.2 installed on your device, the browser is pretty much the same.

Unlike other operating systems (Blackberry 5.0), the Android web experience is more like a desktop app. You can have multiple windows (not tabs) open (4 with Eclair, 8 with Froyo).

Another thing I personally like is how your browsing history carries over from desktop to phone when you are signed into Google.


Skyfire is a fantastic browser for the social web. It is well integrated with Facebook and several other social networks. By using the Fireplace and popular sites features, you can see what your friends find interesting enough to share via Facebook.

The main selling point of Skyfire is that it supports Flash out of the box. I was able to play videos from several sites which I wasn’t able to before. The quality might differ from a desktop experience, but at least it works where others failed.

If you do not like the look of a site’s mobile page, you can toggle to the desktop version easily using the page load button. If you prefer one way over the other, there is an option to set your choice as the default.

What I did not like about Skyfire was the screen seemed cluttered with a lot of icons and other stuff.


Appbrain link

Opera Mini 5

Opera Mini is one of the best all round browser no matter the platform. While it isn’t the most feature-rich browser on the list, Opera has a few things the others do not. For starters, Opera was fastest loading of the browsers tested.

If you are a fan of the Opera desktop application, you will love Opera Mini. Much of your information like speed dials and bookmarks will sync with your Android.

A feature I used a lot on my Blackberry was being able to copy and paste from the web. Opera lets you do just that and also adds in an on-page text search.

While the single touch zoom in on non-mobile web pages is nice, pinch to zoom would be better.


Appbrain link


Dolphin has several versions: Dolphin Mini, Dolphin and Dolphin HD. The differences between them let you choose the amount of features and personalization you need. Dolphin HD is by far the most customizable browser on the list.

Dolphin Mini

Dolphin Mini is a no-frills browser with the emphasis on speed. You get everything you need and nothing you don’t. Mini would be a great choice if you are looking for a speed demon. You will gain Speed dials as well as being able to open as many tabs as you feel you need.


Appbrain link


When you choose the middle tier of the Dolphin Browser line, you gain a lot. Bookmarks from your standard Android browser as well as your Google bookmarks can be synced with Dolphin.

Dolphin lets you gestures to open a URL, reload the page or go forward or back. This will greatly speed up your web surfing.

I don’t think there is a real need to have a middle of the road browser. Most people seem to want all the bells and whistles or a minimalist browser.


Appbrain link

Dolphin HD

The big bad daddy of this group, is Dolphin HD. What you gain is a whole lot of customizing choices. Most of this is done via plug-ins, much like you would use in Google Chrome. Some examples of the plug-ins are: Lastpass, screen capture, Xmarks, speed dial, read later, ad blocker, rss readers,, Delicious, Twitter. Many others are available with a quick search in the market.

Other features to set Dolphin HD ahead of the pack include pinch to zoom, unexpected tab recovery and the support of multiple languages.

If you use your phone to surf the web a lot, you may get bored with the look and need a change. Change the look of your Dolphin HD browser with different themes.


Appbrain link

Firefox Mobile

Of all the browsers, Firefox has the most stringent requirement as it only works in Android 2.0 and above devices and requires 32MB internal storage, plus 12MB SD storage. Nevertheless, it does comes with several useful features that make it stand out from the rest.

Mozilla has been working hard to make the mobile experience similar to the desktop version. One very good feature is the ability to sync between the desktop and the mobile version. The Firefox sync is in-built in the mobile browser and you can easily configure it to sync with your desktop browser. It also supports the awesome bar, tabs, session restore, addons (not the same addons as the desktop Firefox’s extension) etc.


Appbrain link

Now that you have seen our choice of browsers, tell us what is your favorite browser and why?

image credit: Johan Larsson

Trevor Dobrygoski Trevor Dobrygoski

Trevor is a freelance writer covering topics ranging from the Android OS to free web and desktop applications. When he is not writing about mobile productivity, He is coaching and playing the world's greatest game... Soccer.


  1. You definitely should mention XScope as it is a great browser, but I’d say Dolphin HD is the best. The gesture support is fantastic, and the slide left for bookmarks is also pretty great as well.

  2. @Tiger333 and @ynoti — Xscope is a really great browser. It was not included because it is a pay application.

    @james — I like all of the different add-ons for Dolphin HD. They give it more of s desktop browser feel.

    Thank you all for the comments.

    What other browsers are out there that were left out of the list?

  3. I just discovered another browser that looks very promising : NetFront Life Browser (

    Good points:

    – It has a fantastic, revolutionary view one tap away, different than usual tabs (copied from Opera? I don’t know);
    – Tab manager with tag system;
    – Back/forward buttons;
    – You can swipe/slide open tabs or open search tab the same way;
    – Pinch zoom;
    – Youtube videos are straight in full screen mode !!! (but no flash support other than that);
    – There is a 45° view !!! (while browsing but not not watching videos);
    – Bookmarks import (from default browser, doesn’t work with Dolphin);
    – Quite fast, faster than Dolphin to me;
    – Popup blocker;
    – Copy/paste;
    – Page preview while loading.

    Bad point :

    – Yahoo! search by default and didn’t find how to change to Google;
    – No extensions (yet?);
    – No option to prevent screen from automatically switching off;
    – Impossible to change sound volume while watching a video when not in Youtube (i.e. Google News);
    – No Flash support (only Youtube videos).

    I quite like it but don’t want Yahoo! Search… Hope they change it or I will keep Dolphin DH (or maybe try Opera).

    1. I have not heard anything.

      What is it about IE that you are looking for that feel you can’t get in one of the options?

  4. Just wondering why you’d want pinch zoom over the single touch zoom in opera? You said pinch zoom would be better. Why?

  5. Miren was my favorite until the gingerbread update, then it lost it’s ability to C&P which sucks ass!

    1. I feel your pain. I never realized how much I copied and pasted until the feature was gone.

  6. I have worked with all these browser…the default android browser really suckzz…Dolphin HD seems great but they are trying to bring whole desktop browsing experience into small mobile which is not that user friendly…Dolphin lite is better than HD…Opera Mini is mini for Android and it is best for low end mobile…Opera Mobile is the best browser… it has decent features and it is very fast… i love it and i am using it…

    1. Opera is an underrated browser on all platforms. It IS really fast and has a lot of cool features. I used it a lot when I had a Blackberry. It was great.

  7. I have to stick up for the native browser. Using Honeycomb, so my experience is based on tablet use rather than phone use, but I like having a clean sceen. Nothing hanging on the top, no unnecessary toolbars that are always visible. I just touch the edge of the screen when I need something, or start typing to get the address bar. Add to that a desktop widget that opens to any of my favorites directly, and I haven’t had any complaints.

    That being said, I look forward to trying Fennic but will wait until it is usable.

    1. the native browser is not horrible. I think if they had the ability to add on some extensions, it may be a bit nicer. 

      1. I think Google emphasizes that we have choices, at least in respect to which browser we use. When it comes to privacy… well, I won’t even get into that. If they really wanted to compete in the mobile browser arena, we’d probably all be running Chrome (with some dessert name attached) out of the box that Verizon, et alli, wouldn’t let us open ourselves lol… I think Google is also aware of the software bloating issues that come along with the perma-installed apps within android, and I thank God they’re at least trying to minimize it. Random response from the comment fairy!!

  8. Don’t forget Sleipnir. I have been a happy xScope user for a very long time, but xScope hasn’t been updated for ages, so I am looking for a replacement – and so far Sleipnir looks like a worthy candidate. Resource usage seems to be much more efficient

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